By Kenny Parcell
The real estate market that appeared — somewhat surprisingly in the wake of COVID-19 — has shifted to a new, post-pandemic normal. Mortgage interest rates have roughly doubled in the last year, and home prices are rising at much slower rates than they have in the past.
This rapid turn presents a wave of challenges not just for consumers but real estate agents, too. Many people — younger adults in particular — have never seen a housing market like this one.
Fortunately, there’s no shortage of resources available to Realtors®, who are members of the National Association of Realtors®, that can help them develop the skills and expertise needed to succeed in this volatile environment. These tools, in addition, boost the economic fortunes of their communities in the process.
The COVID-19 pandemic made just about everyone more comfortable with working and learning online. But virtual education does not end with the pandemic. Real estate professionals can consider online courses to learn everything from the latest technology tools to the ins and outs of new market research.
Acquiring a new designation or certification offers another way for Realtors® to invest in their professional growth and demonstrate their expertise to homebuyers and sellers. A host of options are available — from the Accredited Buyer’s Representative (ABR®) designation to credentials recognizing a person’s mastery of social media marketing and advanced pricing and negotiation strategies.
NAR also offers the Commitment to Excellence (C2EX) program, which empowers Realtors® to evaluate, enhance and showcase the highest levels of professionalism in all aspects — ranging from proficiency in real estate transactions to knowledge of data security regulations. C2EX sets Realtors® on the path to broadened and ongoing skill development through tailored education plans and action steps.
Meanwhile, real estate master’s degrees are offered at some of the nation’s top universities — including Georgetown, New York University, and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology — aimed specifically at imparting a rigorous understanding of the nation’s real estate market dynamics.
NAR, for its part, has partnered with Columbia College to form the NAR Academy. The partnership includes a range of offerings — from certificates, Associates, Bachelors, and master’s degree programs — for real estate professionals looking to gain a competitive edge and develop their expertise across various real estate specialties.
Of course, agents can boost their knowledge of the real estate market in much shorter time frames than degree programs. Real estate summits, for example, present opportunities to dive deep into the latest market developments, engage with expert-led panel discussions, and participate in training workshops — all in a matter of one or two days.
These collaborative, educational gatherings can be state-based, such as the New York Build Expo Real Estate Summit, or even global conferences, like those hosted by CoreNet.
Many of these educational opportunities can allow real estate agents to explore new fields of knowledge that are crucial to the profession today.
Take fair housing and the association-wide efforts to promote diversity, equity, and inclusion.
NAR’s At Home With Diversity® certification is designed to educate Realtors® on the subtleties of U.S. fair housing laws while instructing them on best practices for conducting work in a way that prioritizes sensitivity to diversity. Another course, Bias Override, helps Realtors® confront stereotypical thinking to ensure they offer equal professional service. And Fairhaven, an online training simulation, enables them to identify, prevent, and address housing market discrimination in real time.
Resources like these will prove particularly critical as the housing market remains complex and competitive. Meeting the needs of historically underserved racial and ethnic communities, in particular, could go a long way toward promoting a fairer housing market — and preparing real estate professionals to serve America’s rapidly diversifying population.
Investing in professional development ensures that real estate agents will be well equipped to rise to the challenges confronting the present — and the future.
Kenny Parcell, a REALTOR® from Spanish Fork, Utah, is the 2023 President of the National Association of REALTORS®.