When I began my career in real estate almost forty years ago, it was a retiree’s game . . . at least in Austin. Most of the agents were in a second career. Many were retired military or retired school teachers. Even today, I think the national average age for REALTORs is somewhere north of fifty . . . probably closer to sixty. It was a very difficult path to begin selling residential real estate at the ripe old age of 22. Potential clients were understandably concern that I had little to no real world experience. In fact, ALL of my clients had bought and sold more properties than I had. It was not until I became a homebuilder at the age of 24 that those concerns seemed to dissipate.
Today we have record numbers of young people entering the business, and that is a great thing. I think in many ways they are better equipped as beginners than I was at that age due to technology. In the 70s, we had no computer data base, no on-line tax records, no digital maps, and no financial calculators. We had to actually drive neighborhoods to learn them. Today we are able to make a few keystrokes and know a great deal about any property and the surrounding area. Technology has been a great equalizer for the inexperienced. In fact, the younger generation probably has a substantial edge over the older agents when it comes to mining data and preparing digital marketing materials. That is the good news for young agents and their clients. The bad news is that there is no substitute for education and experience.
The old saying, “You don’t know what you don’t know.” is completely on the mark when talking about real estate and the stakes are quite high considering the dollars involved.. There is no substitute for education and experience. Technology cannot replace judgment that has been tested and seasoned with years of various transactions and past problems. Even with education, it is difficult to teach wisdom.
So how can a prospective buyer or seller check out an agent before committing to them? First and foremost, I would suggest personal referrals. Second, I would consult the Texas Real Estate Commission (TREC) website – trec.state.tx.us . The public search for any licensed agent in Texas and find information about when we were licensed (our license number) and what educational classes we have taken in past years. Feel free to look me up – 207762. You will see that the records only go back to 1991, but mine shows I have taken approximately 70 classes for about 225 classroom hours. In my case, that is just a fraction of my education hours. It does not include all my undergraduate real estate related course, graduate hours in ethics, nor all of my CCIM coursework which are graduate level real estate analysis courses. There are other real estate classes as well where I did not need the credit, so I did not apply the hours.
Obviously I bring this up for a reason. Recently a family member used a rookie agent in another town. When I learned of some of the contract mistakes, I researched the agent on the TREC website. The agent had only been licensed a short time and his only courses were titled as “Introduction to . . . .” Again, it is hard to know what you do not know. If you are not certain of your real estate agent’s experience and skills, I urge you to check them out at the TREC site . . . me included.
Jeff Stewart, CCIM Broker Associate firstname.lastname@example.org
Stanberry & Associates