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Real estate training requires time, investment

June 20, 2005|by MALINDA SHAVER of HomeSource

Today, the real estate market is often described as "hot" - and the idea of a career in real estate sales has attracted many thousands of people across the country recently.

Hagerstown, which qualifies as a "boom town" according to MSN, seems to offer lucrative possiblities. But what does it really take to build a successful real estate career? To start with, the requirements to obtain licensing and professional accreditation in the field are demanding, and there are financial costs as well.

Local real estate brokers offer seminars from time to time, introducing attendees to the prospects and pointing them down the road to licensing as a real estate professional.

The first major milestone is completion of a 60-hour classroom course that prepares the student to take the state examination. The course is offered here at Hagerstown Community College. It requires enrollees to meet attendance standards - no cutting classes here! After completing the course, a certificate gets you into the Maryland exam. Those who pass become licensed real estate salespeople and can work as an independent contractor, under the supervision of a licensed broker.

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There's much more to learn, too: computers and the Internet are very important; the MRIS (Metropolitan Regional Information System), an indispensable tool in real estate, requires time to learn to use it to best advantage. The techniques of marketing and finding new customers have to be developed. And in two years, renewing the license requires 15 hours of continuing professional education, although it's possible now to get that training online.

The program manager for certification and licensure at HCC is Cynthia Hull. She will be teaching this summer's basic real estate course. (See the box for more information.) She recommends, "People thinking about getting into real estate should spend some time learning about the business before they spend the money" to take the training and get set up in business.

Statistics from the National Association of Realtors (NAR) reveal that 86 percent of new licensees in Maryland quit the business within one year. Seventy-five percent of agents sell only one house in a year. Since they are responsible as contractors for all their own expenses, hard work, determination and competitiveness are essential traits.

For those who can "cut it" and serve their three rookie years, there are many opportunities for further professional growth. Areas of specialization can be considered, such as the Accredited Buyer Representative, Certified Residential Specialist, or Commercial Investment Manager - all requiring studies and exams, of course. Passing a Broker exam allows to you supervise other agents. A top credential comes with becoming a Graduate of the Realtor Institute or GRI, after 105 hours of training in three series of courses.

Still, the membership of NAR was 1,165,000 at the end of May, about 150 percent of the 1995 figure. With more agents competing for the business of both home sellers and potential home buyers, those who succeed have obviously learned their lessons well, both in the classroom and in the real world.

INFO BOX:

To learn more about the HCC course: Cynthia Hull at 301-790-2800 ext. 520 or www.hagerstowncc.edu/ go to Continuing Education, then select Certification and Licensure.

Class runs June 2July 22 (3 full days/week) or Sept. 27-Dec. 15, 2005 6-9 p.m. Tues./Thurs. evening

Related Web sites:

Maryland Real Estate Commission - www.dllr.state.md.us

National Association of REALTORS - www.realtor.com

Maryland Association of REALTORS - www.mdrealtor.org

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