As a kid who grew up in a north central Arkansas town with a population of 764, the basic college courses of Art Appreciation and Music Appreciation opened my eyes to sights and sounds I’d neither seen nor heard in my formative eighteen years. Until that time, it had never been my job to know what lay beyond this country boy’s knowledge of the arts. When gaining that knowledge finally did become my responsibility, was I ever surprised at just how much I didn’t know.
As instructors Ron and Cheryl Kelton began the first phase of the pilot broker course last week, shock began to register on several of the students’ faces as they covered each new area of a broker’s many responsibilities. That’s when I remembered sitting in my Art and Music Appreciation classes with that same stunned look, and it occurred to me that maybe we should rename the pilot course: “Broker Appreciation”.
Our initial twenty-five students rather quickly became twenty-four after the second day when one student realized that being a broker simply may not be for everyone and dropped out. Unfortunately, it was too late at that point to enroll one of the other applicants who would have appreciated having that seat. Hopefully, with the two remaining rotations in Northwest and Northeast Arkansas, each student will give serious consideration as to whether they are willing to commit to completing the course and if not, step aside so others may take advantage of this opportunity.
Each day, Deputy Executive Director Andrea Alford and I met with a small group of the students. The one observation that we heard repeatedly was how surprised the salespersons were to learn of the responsibility the Principal Brokers and Executive Brokers have for their business operations and for the licensees associated with their firms. Many expressed concern and appreciation for their own supervising brokers who are currently shouldering the responsibilities of the firms with which they are licensed. In fact, we understand several of these brokers may have received an “I’m so sorry!” phone call in response to this revelation.
Despite the initial skepticism and some trepidation, we feel this first class of students that committed to completing the sixty-hour pre-licensing curriculum of the broker education pilot project possesses the skill and determination that it takes to become leaders and excel in the real estate profession.
The days were long and the content was substantive but each of the students seemed to persevere and endure the process to the sixtieth hour. Each will now take the broker real estate exam, then move on to the thirty-hour post-license phase of the pilot project.
This pilot project is intended to provide the information that is needed to shape Arkansas’ real estate broker education for the future. These students will be asked to provide feedback not only on the curriculum of both the pre-licensing and post-licensing classes, but input will also be sought on class size, qualifications of instructors who should be teaching broker education, the examination itself and any other component that the students find relevant to making the broker licensing process meaningful and productive.
The fact that the students selected for this first class are busily involved in their real estate careers was evident at each break as they got out the smart phones, iPads, laptops, etc. and took advantage of every free second to check on their office activities. The energy level was high and you could sense that this group effort has the potential to have some long-lasting effects for the real estate profession in Arkansas, as well as for the students who complete the project.
During the past few years, as the number of new entrants to the real estate profession has dwindled, there has been much discussion as to where the next generation of leaders will come from. Well, don’t worry, they are out there and they will rise to the top. And I don’t think it will be a coincidence that many of those future leaders will have participated in one of the phases of this broker education pilot project. The persons who have committed to this educational effort have shown the drive and determination that it takes to commit to the profession they have selected for a career. That same drive and determination will carry them through other opportunities that come their way.
AREC’s second initiative on broker education is proving to be a success as well. It appears that well over twelve hundred Arkansas brokers have signed up for one of the AREC broker continuing education courses being offered across the state by instructors who qualified to teach the course.
The one thing that has become evident through these two initiatives is that there is a demand and a desire for quality broker education in Arkansas. The limited market for such education has long been a deterrent to there being an ample supply of broker specific education. Hopefully, this experience will demonstrate that the effort to prepare and present quality education for brokers as well as other specialized areas of real estate can be rewarded with a market of professionals ready, willing and able to take advantages of the opportunities to receive such education. There will always be those that are waiting to the last moment and looking for the closest and easiest way to meet their educational requirement with the least amount of effort. However, hopefully the presumption that the majority of real estate professionals have that mindset can be overcome by the reality that most real estate professionals aren’t merely looking for a way to meet their mandated requirements, but are truly interested in obtaining knowledge, skills and abilities that will improve their careers and the experiences of the clients and customers they serve.
Gary Isom is the Executive Director of the Arkansas Real Estate Commission. He can be reached at Gary.Isom@arkansas.gov.