Successful real estate agents are likely to credit their instructors as one of the reasons they excel. My passion and inspiration for being a great instructor came from a high school teacher I had named Sister Gail DeMaria. She taught me to think beyond the material that needs to be presented and care deeply about each student and how the subject matter applies specifically to them. You likely have examples of teachers through the years who have also had a monumental impact on your life as well.
The world and the way we learn is changing, and that’s posing new challenges for real estate instructors. But the fundamental characteristics of an effective instructor are the same as they were when Sr. Gail made her profound impression on me as a teenager. We just need to seek out and embrace new ways to apply them. Here are, from my perspective, the top 5 traits of an effective real estate educator today. Each builds on the other, starting with the first trait.
Trait #1: In the Know
Being an effective instructor takes more than simply knowing real estate in general. You also have to know customers. Just like a real estate agent has to be up-to-speed on buyer and seller behavior, so does the instructor. Great instructors study the market and keep up with consumer trends and patterns. Knowing the buying and selling habits of real estate consumers enables an instructor to fashion courses that help agents understand how to relate to today’s clients.
Consumers change the way they shop for real estate, so it’s important that agents keep pace in the way they serve the consumer. Today, most homebuyers are finding the home they eventually buy online, before they ever speak to an agent. Agents need to better understand how to be a resource for these consumers and provide added value to the experience. An instructor who understands the varied types of buyers and sellers in today’s marketplace peppers their courses with this insider knowledge and better serves the students.
Trait #2: Relevance
A great instructor teaches material that is relevant to students. Real estate is a fluid topic, with new laws and techniques emerging frequently and regularly. To be effective, courses must be constantly updated so the subject matter is cutting edge and ahead of the curve. In a sense, to excel, real estate instructors must be students themselves, familiarizing themselves with all things new and continuing their own education to make sure their students are prepared.
A good example is understanding the role that digital tools, such as a mobile-friendly web presence, QR codes on printed materials and for-sale signs, and a social media strategy for generating and nurturing leads, can play in real estate sales—and then conveying this to the students.
Trait #3: Belief
It’s not enough to just teach material. Great real estate instructors believe in what they are teaching, and they also believe they’re the best people to deliver the material. This is usually fueled by their understanding of why they are teaching in the first place. In addition, these beliefs should carry through to the students. When students believe in their instructors and the material, they are more likely to learn and retain the material…and be successful.
Trait #4: Passion
A passion for teaching real estate because it will make a difference in students’ business practices is a must-have in order to be effective. That passion should stem from a desire to be involved in the process of discovery as well. Students can tell the difference between an ordinary delivery and an outstanding delivery based on enthusiasm for the material being presented. They’ll respond to the passion too, because it’s what takes information from being rote to something memorable.
Trait #5: Skills
Good instructors start with an ability to handle classroom management issues easily. They become great as soon as they master presentation skills that incorporate interactive teaching techniques. In today’s engaged world, constant lecturing can be a turnoff. Most real estate students want to be involved in their learning, so instructors who have polished their ability to ask questions and encourage student participation will help students retain information and materials. Incorporating group work, dyad work, and individual (seek and find) activities should come natural, as should encouraging students to learn on their own.
Now You Know
These traits are like stackable blocks.They start with knowing real estate customers and the market and end with the skills to manage the classroom and be an effective presenter, but each is a required ingredient for effective instruction. For Sr. Gail, these traits seemed to come naturally. Although some of them might be innate, all of them can be developed and improved upon over time. If you have a passion for today’s real estate consumers and helping others learn how to give consumers what they want, you’re already well on your way to being a great real estate educator.
Free Download: 2018-2019 State of the Real Estate Education Industry Report
We talked to over 300 real estate educators across the country to learn more about what and how you are teaching, where you see the industry going, how you’re spending your marketing budget, and what challenges you’re facing. We compiled the results in this free report.
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Theresa Barnabei is a best selling author of Multiply Your Business, 10 New Marketing Realities for the Real Estate Industry. She has been in real estate for over 30 years, owns her own real estate school sanctioned by the Arizona Department of Real Estate, and has spent the last 8 years as a national speaker and trainer for many brokerages, associations, and state regulators. Theresa believes the only reason she teaches is so that her students “get It, use it, and become more successful because of it!” That philosophy drives her courses and her willingness to volunteer on the Board of Directors for the national Real Estate Educators Association, where she facilitates on the education committee creating powerful Instructor Development Workshops.