Make a Professional Development Plan That Sticks

Jan 1, 2019 by

At the beginning of any new year, our ideas for growth are often endless, and our energy is limitless. The problem comes a few months into the year as we veer off track, we get busy, we start to tighten our budget, or we simply forget to invest in ourselves.

Continuous learning is what gives us a firm foundation in this business. A study completed in 2018 by Real Estate Express shows that real estate professionals that invest in their education and stay up to date on best practices earn two-and-a-half times more than agents who don’t invest in developing their skills.

Below are some steps for increasing the return you’ll reap from your learning investment in 2019. Outlining all of this now will help create an education plan you can stick to throughout the year.

Evaluate the Past
Take an in-depth look at each opportunity you took advantage of last year. Did the time and money you put into the activity translate to more knowledge? Time saved? More money made? Write down the activities you feel were least successful in helping move your career forward. These areas represent a loss for your return on investment, and you’ll want to consider if you’re going to tackle them again this year.

Identify the Skills You Need to Hone
What skills do you need to develop in 2019? Write them all down and then stack rank them regarding time commitment (how long it will take you to build that skill). Next, order them in terms of monetary investment. Finally, order them according to the potential return on investment. The skills that float to the top of each list are a great place to start building your 2019 plan.

Devise Your Learning Plan
As you look to the year ahead, think about your learning goals, and the best resources to use to achieve them. Include opportunities you found success with the prior year and consider eliminating the activities that didn’t provide value. Talk with your broker to identify resources that could help you improve. Research the what, where and how of the opportunities. Develop a calendar outlining when each opportunity takes place and add a line item to your budget to cover the cost of the course or conference.

Get Creative
As you identify how to up your knowledge in each of these areas, seek educational resources that give you the most leverage. If you need to complete continuing education hours, look for courses that will build on your learning goals. Save time by enrolling in an online course. Maybe weekly coffee with some top agents in your office will give you the insights you need. If you’re looking to up your tech game, identify newer agents with the skill, and create an inverse mentorship.

Develop a Budget and Look for Ways to Save
Add a line item for education and professional development into your budget. Next, look into a few ways to save money on your training:

  • If you decide on a conference or workshop, check to see if there’s an early-bird special and try to book in advance, or inquire about group rates.
  • Opt for a good mix of learning formats. You may not be able to afford to attend multiple conferences, so consider adding in on-demand learning, such as webinars, podcasts and online courses.
  • Check with your broker to see if they have any education partners that offer discounts.

Tom Davidson is the general manager of Real Estate Express, a national leader in online learning for pre-licensing, continuing education and professional development. Davidson has nearly 15 years of experience in the real estate industry. From sales training and product development to growing the business, his multi-faceted background encompasses crucial functions to a successful career in the field. To learn more, visit

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5 Action Items for Your 2019 Business Plan

Dec 5, 2018 by

As real estate professionals, we often try to predict what will happen next. What are the threats to our business? Where will I drum up new leads? What do I need to do next?

With 2019 on our doorstep, I thought I’d share the crucial skills our seasoned instructors recommend you capitalize on, or at least bake into your 2019 business plan.

Incorporate Thoughtful Networking
“2019 promises to be a year full of potential, despite anecdotal feelings of a softening in some markets, especially for real estate professionals focusing on the luxury price point. With that said, perhaps the most critical skillset to focus on is thoughtful networking outside of traditional venues. Relationships with other providers of (luxury) goods and services, professionals who share a similar client base and other successful upper-tier agents can result in connections to buyers that wouldn’t happen by simply listing a property and creating effective marketing materials. Focusing on positive opportunities will make the difference between an average year and a great year.”
– Tami Simms, REALTOR®, CLHMS, Institute for Luxury Home Marketing Trainer

Cultivate Relationships
“Relations still—and always will—matter. One thing real estate professionals need to learn, especially those just starting out in their career, is something that will carry them into every listing, sale and property management agreement: Real estate is all about relationships. There are many ebbs and flows in the business, and always something new to learn. You can learn the laws, take the exams and figure out the technology, but without the capability of building a relationship, your survival in the business is dubious.”
– Jolita Brazzano, Broker/Owner, Real Estate Express Instructor

Improve Your Communications and Simplify Transactions
“Industry expertise and local market prowess will no longer be sufficient. Those attributes must now be coupled with faster-paced communication—think text message and video chat—and using tools to streamline transactions, just as consumers have experienced in other types of businesses and now expect from the real estate community.”
– John Walker, Broker/Owner, Superior School of Real Estate Instructor 

Consider Competitive Commission Structures
“Sellers are driving the competition for the commissions they pay to sell their house. The seller only wants to pay for the services rendered, and only for the services they think are warranted and ‘needed’ in selling their house. Sellers also want to get away from a ‘fixed percentage’ for commissions. Learning how to navigate this structure, and how to better position the fees you charge, will provide valued transparency so your listings thrive.”
– Linda Leavitt, Broker, Real Estate Express Instructor

Strike Balance With Technology and Personal Interaction
“Remember that technology can’t make up for what our business is: a people and service business. No machine can replace you, as long as you provide excellent customer service and treat people as if you’re in it for the long haul. Do this and you’ll find success throughout your career.”
– Melanie McLane, REALTOR®, Real Estate Express Instructor

Tom Davidson is the general manager of Real Estate Express, a national leader in online learning for pre-licensing, continuing education and professional development. Davidson has nearly 15 years of experience in the real estate industry. From sales training and product development to growing the business, his multi-faceted background encompasses crucial functions to a successful career in the field. To learn more, visit

For the latest real estate news and trends, bookmark

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Creating a Business Plan With Team Buy-In

Oct 22, 2018 by

It’s that time of year again. Fall. Fourth quarter. Business planning. Some teams think the quiet time between Christmas and New Year’s Day is the best time to update their business plans, but I think it’s a great time for personal reflection and goal setting for the year ahead (e.g., fitness goals, travel planning). Teams who think strategically are working on their business plans well before the final week of the year.

To be ready for a seamless transition into a new year, a strategic team leader is preparing their troops for business planning with the goal of having it set in stone and underway by the end of October. Why so early? In order to hit the ground running in Q1 with business coming in, we need to be manifesting that business 2-3 (or even four) months beforehand. Hence, now is the time to get things rolling.

On many teams, the team leader or manager creates the business plan for the year and then dictates it to the rest of the group. There may be a small amount of community brainstorming, but it’s the team leader who determines the goals, budget and action plan. In order to be truly cohesive as a group and to get everyone on board, however, working together is the best way to produce the most effective business plans.

Here are five steps to make this happen:

  1. Individual Plans – Each member of the team creates their own written business plan. Provide a template or workbook for each team member that shows, step by step, how to think about their business, from individual SWOT (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, threats) analyses to training plans. As REALTORS®, our own drive, motivation and planning creates individual success which then impacts our team as a whole. So, each person on the team, whether they are a sales agent, manager or working on the administrative side, needs to create their own individual goals and plan. This cannot be dictated—it has to come from within.
  1. Team Plan – The team leader creates their own plan, but this one is at the macro level—a plan for the overall business with projected revenue for the team as a whole, the budget, net revenue goals, etc., and the team leader’s plan for execution. Again, the same template or workbook is used, but this time at the highest level.
  1. Meet to Review Individual Plans – The team gets together, preferably for a day or two, to dive into the planning. As a team or in small groups, work together to dissect each individual plan from step one and enforce team accountability by sharing individual goals, strengths, weaknesses, etc. This is a time to be honest, be helpful, be strategic and get motivated as individuals for the year ahead.
  1. Bring It All Together – Now, as the team leader, you have your macro goal and budget and your team’s individual plans. Rolling it up, are you all on the same page? Is one person’s weakness another’s strength? Will the individual goals reach the goals you’ve set for the team? If your team goal is 100 transactions for the coming year and the individual goals total 75, where are the other 25 going to come from?
  1. Fill in the Gaps – Look at your numbers: your transaction goal, your sales goal, your budget goal and your gross and net revenue goals. From step four, you know what you need to do. If the individual goals exceed your team goal projection, then perhaps you are reaching too low. If they don’t quite meet your plans, it might be time to look at adding to the team to achieve the growth you are projecting.

Planning as a team creates excitement and buy-in long before the year starts. If the team leader is creating the plan alone, the team members have no say in the goals and plans, and are therefore working in their own silo. This leads to frustration for the team leader as goals aren’t met. (“Why does no one pay attention to our numbers but me?”) Sharing in the planning goes a long way to creating a cohesive team and vision, and will provide a solid foundation for the year ahead.

Sarah Bernard came to real estate from a career in corporate marketing and property management. Licensed in 2014, Bernard sold $ 6 million in properties with 12 transactions in her first year and was Rookie of the Year. Five years later, she has grown a team that includes three buyer agents and support staff. Expected sales in 2018 are $ 18-$ 20 million and 80 transactions. She hopes to double her business in 2019, and is committed to learning and improving her team management every day. For more information, please visit

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Never Stop Refining Your Digital Marketing Plan

May 28, 2018 by

For real estate brokers, online marketing may be one of the most difficult aspects of your job. First, you need to develop strategies that will promote your brand while also supporting your listings and your agents. On top of that, your marketing options keep changing as technology and consumer preferences continue to evolve.

The best digital marketing plans are a constant work in progress. Getting the best results, however, requires consistently adhering to these three values:

  1. Learn. It starts with a thirst for knowledge. Fortunately, there are plenty of ways to stay informed about marketing tactics, and many of them are free. To read about the latest tips and tools in the real estate industry, check out resources like Placester’s Real Estate Marketing Academy, the Geek Estate Blog, and others.

NAR events, such as the REALTORS® Conference & Expo or Broker Summit, are more great ways to hear fresh thoughts on real estate marketing, providing opportunities to exchange insights with other brokers, as well.

  1. Test. You must be willing to take a few risks and try new things. Maybe it’s video, used for email marketing or live streaming, or perhaps it’s a targeted Facebook ad campaign. Just be sure to measure your results; it’s the only way to decide if a new tactic should be scaled or set aside.

Also, don’t abandon a new marketing technique until you’ve given it your best effort—and enough time to generate results. Blogging, for example, remains one of the best ways to drive traffic to your site if you consistently publish solid content.

  1. Collaborate. While brokers need to demonstrate leadership in the office, it’s also essential to encourage your agents to ask questions and make suggestions. A culture of collaboration goes a long way toward putting fresh ideas on the table.

It also helps generate buy-in on everything from your branding policies (e.g., logo guidelines) to the best ways to utilize any enterprise solutions you’ve invested in (landing page generators, CRM platforms, etc.).

A Word About Recruitment
Brokers who are committed to the latest online marketing techniques and related technologies put themselves in a much better position to recruit some of the best talent (like-minded agents who will help drive your business forward in the coming years).

On the flip side, make sure new recruits share your enthusiasm to learn, test new ideas and collaborate with the rest of the team. Ask yourself whether the agent will embrace the technology you’re offering and help carry the brokerage forward.

An Offer From REBAC
Our most recent issue of Today’s Buyer’s Rep (the monthly REBAC newsletter) explores online advertising and marketing strategies, with a special emphasis on helping REBAC members improve their lead generation results by thinking beyond what happens after you’ve designed and placed your ads.

We encourage REBAC members to check it out. We also encourage brokers to support the ABR® training and other educational opportunities for your agents. If you’re not a REBAC member, but would like to read this issue, please reach out to us at for a digital copy.

Gould_Marc_60x60Marc D. Gould is senior vice president, Member Development, for NAR and executive director of the Real Estate Buyer’s Agent Council (REBAC). A wholly-owned subsidiary of NAR, REBAC is the world’s largest association of real estate professionals focusing specifically on representing the real estate buyer. With more than 30,000 active members, REBAC awards the Accredited Buyer’s Representative (ABR®) designation to REALTORS® who have completed the designation requirements. To learn more, visit

For the latest real estate news and trends, bookmark

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Most Affected Tax Plan Metro Areas

Jan 7, 2018 by

The Most Affected Tax Plan Metro Areas have been laid out by NAR. CLICK HERE to go to their interactive map. CLICK HERE for the Housingwire article.

The post Most Affected Tax Plan Metro Areas appeared first on National Real Estate Post.

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