By Joel Koval
I got my real estate license in 1984. My office was state-of-the art…. we had a new-fangled thing called a dumb terminal, essentially a video screen, dot matrix printer, and keyboard connected to a push-button phone that you dialed, waited for a screeching tone then dropped onto a cradle. Using this device, we could communicate with the local MLS and obtain rudimentary listing data. We still had to wait for the bi-weekly book for a picture and detailed information, but we were cutting edge. I became a branch manager in 1988 and bought the first desktop computer for the office. It was the same year I banned smoking, which almost caused a mutiny. What’s my point you ask? Point is, things have sure changed a lot in 35 years!
Buyers today don’t rely on us to get them the hot new listing information. Sellers don’t really need us to expose their property to the world. Those duties have been taken over by the aggregators, and whether we like it or not they are the “go-to” source for public listing information. If that’s all we did we’d be on some very thin ice right now as an industry.
Professional REALTORS® know that our job is much more complex than placing and retrieving listing data. First and foremost, we’re the guides who shepherd a very complicated transaction through to a successful closing. We understand the laws and customs involved, we provide the trusted resources such as attorneys, lenders, and inspectors, we’re the calming influence when things get sideways and the principals start losing their cool. Sometimes we’re the wise sage that realizes it’s time to pull the emergency brake and kill the transaction before our clients suffer greater harm. We’re all of these things and more, and that’s why we’re still an integral part of the overwhelming majority of real estate transactions that occur every day.
How do we stay relevant? I believe the most important thing we need to do is continue to up our game each year when it comes to education. New York State requires us to complete 22.5 hours of continuing education every two years. Anyone who thinks that’s all they need to do to be a competent Realtor is fooling themselves and hurting our industry to boot. An incompetent agent stains us all.
We have great assets at our disposal as members of GCAR and NYSAR. GCAR’s school, the Real Estate Professionals’ Institute, offers outstanding classes in an interactive classroom environment. Please get on GCAR’s website and take a look at what’s being offered. NYSAR has their fall business meetings coming up September 22-25 at Turning Stone. If you’ve never attended one of these meetings, you are missing a lot. Legal updates, CE classes, a general session that brings us all up to date on important issues going on around the State are just part of what goes on. Have you considered joining a NYSAR committee? I’ve found my involvement with both GCAR and NYSAR to be tremendously beneficial to my knowledge and career in general.
Let’s face the facts, passing the NYS exam to become an agent or broker is not a very high hurdle. If you think your state license and 22.5 hours of some online education every two years is all you need to provide value to your customers, I’m here to tell you that you are wrong. If that were all it took we’d have already gone the way of the travel agent.