To stay competitive in a busy market, REALTORS® may need to differentiate themselves from the crowd. While great marketing and networking can help grow business and maybe lead to more referrals, gaining more knowledge about the factors and trends affecting the industry also can give REALTORS an edge over their competition.
Continuing education classes are often offered by the National Association of REALTORS (NAR) to help agents gain knowledge about a variety of trends affecting the industry. What classes are most beneficial for REALTORS, though? These real estate classes can increase your competitive edge, and many are free!
Why Take Continuing Education Classes?
REALTORS need to take a certain number of continuing education classes. While these classes might be part of the profession, taking additional classes can be a means to boost industry knowledge and know-how.
Staying on top of key trends and factors that impact the industry can help REALTORS better advise their clients and guide them on their buying and selling journey. These classes also can help REALTORS feel more confident and stand apart from the competition.
In addition, some REALTORS may focus on a key area of the industry and take as many classes as possible. This could become their expert focus, and this focus also could be impactful on helping a REALTOR gain an edge in their market.
Keep in mind, however, that these courses aren’t part of the continuing education for NAR.
Introduction to Personal Branding
REALTORS need a personal brand. Creating a personal brand can help a REALTOR become more recognizable to potential clients. The Introduction to Personal Branding class is offered by the University of Virginia. Through the class, students will work on three social media platforms (to get established online) and write their personal mission statement.
Mastering Real Estate Negotiations
Learn to boost negotiation skills and lower stress during negotiations. This class costs $50; for REALTORS licensed in North Carolina, the class can be used towards a CE Credit (an extra $10) or a CRS Elective Renewal Credit ($20 extra).
Real Estate Photography
For REALTORS who don’t feel confident in their photography skills, opt for a class that teaches the fine points of great photography. While this is aimed at those starting a photography business focused on real estate, REALTORS could get some great tips. The class is $19.99.
Drone Photography for Real Estate
One of the trends in real estate is to incorporate an overhead shot of the property using a drone. This class can help REALTORS master the art of drone photography. Again, while it might also focus on those starting a business in this field, REALTORS can get some good advice for snapping those overhead photos. REALTORS can learn about the best equipment, how to edit photos and how to take good shots. The price is $19.99; there are a few topics that don’t pertain to REALTORS; check out the class before committing to ensure it’s a good fit.
Social Media Marketing
This course is offered by Hubspot and can help REALTORS learn how to better navigate their social media and elevate their visibility. The class is four hours, and, yes, it’s free!
Classes to Consider from the National Association of REALTORS
NAR offers a list of continuing education classes and certifications. REALTORS who are unsure about free online courses can stick with what they know and pursue classes offered by NAR. Receiving certifications through NAR further expands a REALTOR’s expertise.
Certifications and designations that REALTORS can consider include:
NAR’S Green Designation
Go green and help buyers better understand the benefits and features of green homes. Those who are certified will be listed in the online Green directory, get access to webinars and free content for social media focused on green topics.
At Home with Diversity®/AHWD Certification
This designation teaches REALTORS how to best navigate the new diverse market, and understand the sensitivities and create a plan to help each client.
Digital Marketing: Social Media Certification
Get certified and get social! This certification helps REALTORS become experts in social media/digital marketing. Learn to effectively market both the business and different homes on social media.
Smart Home Certification
More homes are now wired with smart capabilities that connect to digital devices and smart assistants. The Smart Home certification helps REALTORS better understand the technology and privacy issues with the smart home.
Costs for NAR certifications and designations can vary. REALTORS interested in these courses also may be able to sign up for classes in their area or just take them online.
Other Courses that Could Benefit REALTORS
There are many different continuing education courses and specialized designations certifications offered by NAR. REALTORS can visit the site to explore all the options and to find the classes or certifications that most interest them.
In addition, there are an extensive number of different classes online that are separate from NAR. These classes won’t count for any continuing education requirements, but REALTORS may find them interesting for their own business or to help them with their personal brand.
New REALTORS also could explore finance classes to help manage personal finances—especially if business is up and down. There also are classes that REALTORS could take that focus on networking.
In certain states, there also could be additional classes focused on energy-efficiency or other green initiatives. In Missouri, the International Association of Certified Home Inspectors offers courses on home energy efficiency, saving home energy and home energy score for real estate agents. The courses are free.
Other Ways to Gain an Edge
Classes and certifications can help a REALTOR add expertise in specialized areas. Yet, there are a few strategies that can help all REALTORS gain visibility without additional classes. Here are 10 ways a REALTOR can boost visibility and market their personal brand:
- Stay social online. Use social media to reach out and engage with followers and potential clients. Post regularly to ensure greater visibility and so followers don’t lose interest. Talk about new listings, update followers on any events, or just wish everyone a great weekend. To ensure that content stays fresh, REALTORS could even create a social media calendar to outline content for the month.
- Participate in local events. Is there a Fourth of July parade or maybe a local fair? Consider walking in the parade or hosting a booth at the fair. Be engaged and active in the community. Check out if the local Association is involved, though. For example, the Minneapolis Association of REALTORS has a booth at the state fair.
- Join the Chamber of Commerce. Joining the local Chamber of Commerce is yet another way to network and stay visible in the community.
- Volunteer with a non-profit. Consider volunteering for a charity. This isn’t about boosting business; it’s about getting involved and helping the community. There are so many great charitable organizations, REALTORS can volunteer for one that speaks to them.
Remaining competitive in the real estate industry can mean that REALTORS need to stand apart from their competitors to somehow differentiate themselves. REALTORS can focus on pursuing an area of expertise in the industry—like energy efficiency. They also can take classes that help them gain an edge online or a class to learn how to become a better photographer. NAR also offers many different designations and certifications that can help REALTORS build expertise in areas of the industry. Find a specific niche in the industry and develop skills and knowledge to stand apart from the competition.