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Many Aspects, Many Measures

Doctors and real estate agents

There is an age-old competency test that asks the question “What do you call the person who graduated first in their class in medical school, and what do you call the person who graduated last in their class in medical school?” And the pat answer is, of course, “Doctor”.

A similar standard exists in real estate, except a 4-year post-graduate degree and 2-year residency aren’t required. In fact, an agent can get their license in a matter of months, so long as they’re able to score 70% or better on a 100-question test. And while the DRE notifies you of your score if you fail, you never find out what your grade was if you pass. By this measure, it would follow that there are a fair number of agents out there exhibiting a C-minus level of comprehension in their chosen field of expertise, who can’t be differentiated from the ones who turned in an A-level performance in their test. 

Then again, there is a lot more to being a successful agent than simply testing well. An agent must also interview well and promote themselves effectively, but none of these factors necessarily confirm how good an agent is at doing the actual work. Some measure greatness in terms of production, but the sheer number of transactions handled doesn’t speak to quality of performance. And it can be dangerous to rely on third party rating services or testimonials as those are often hand-selected or paid for to get placement. However, it can help to get some first-hand accounts from other professionals or clients the agent has worked with.

Ultimately, there isn’t a set standard for measuring an agent other than observing how they perform in the line of duty, using their due diligence, negotiating and transaction skills where you find out what they’re made of. However, there are some key indicators that help me assess aptitude in an agent—or anyone for that matter: How they navigate stress and contrary viewpoints, how effective they are as a communicator and project manager, their responsiveness and attention to detail, their adherence to fairness and ethical conduct, their ability to identify issues and connect with people’s needs on a relatable level, and their commitment to following up.

Of course, there isn’t a degree or a course that could address all these core competencies, as many are acquired as part of a person’s development outside of formal education. As well, there is a high failure rate among agents which renders it impractical to require the level of requisites in other fields like medicine. Instead, our profession has a system where the new agent works under a broker for at least two years before they are allowed to work without oversight. And the inherent hope is that this time is used as a period of mentorship where the newer licensee can gain a better sense of what it takes to be a good and successful agent. 

Developed over the course of 100-plus years, the system appears to be effective, because in my experience there are more good agents out there than bad ones. The key is knowing how to recognize what makes an agent truly good, and that too is a skill that isn’t formally taught.

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Absolute truth presented here.

Extremely useful information.

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