Dec 252015
 

Holiday Greeting

My best days are still the ones when the phone rings early in the morning and I’m needed at school. The kids haven’t run out of things to teach me. They may be small people, but they really do have big brains and it’s fun to look ahead and imagine a world run by these future leaders.

I’ll never forget the day “Johnny”—a fourth grader with a fifty-year-old outlook—stopped by my classroom after most of the kids had left. It seems he wanted to have a “mature” conversation on a wide variety of topics. At one point he informed me, “Pre-k and kindergarten were the best years of my life.” When I asked for further explanation, he added, “Because I really didn’t have to do much.” I decided not to suggest that the best years of his life might be yet to come but they probably wouldn’t be about “not doing much.”

Have a meaningful holiday and a new year filled with health, happiness, and prosperity. It’s a busy time of the year and you probably have a lot to do, but you can still make these the best years of your life!

All the best,

Signature

 

Share
Oct 212015
 

bored_reading_paper_400_clr_5342Now that I’m teaching more real estate continuing ed classes, I have found the second most frequently asked question is “Where are the handouts?” (The most frequent question is “Where is my certificate?”)  This, of course, has set me to thinking about the role of handout material in and after class. The following article addressed the topic contributes some important ideas. Watch for some differences in the courses I develop–and expect to be reminded that learning isn’t supposed to stop when the class is over!


The following article was published in the October 2015 issue of Training Doctor News — one of my absolutely favorite publications on the topic of training and adult education. It is reprinted here with permission. Visit www.trainingdr.com for more information!

Are Participant Materials “Necessary?”

We recently had a lively discussion with a training group regarding this statement: Participant “materials” (workbooks, job aids, infographics, etc.) are “nice to haves” but people rarely use them back on the job.

The group unanimously agreed that rarely do participants use these items on the job, and, more often than not, they are left behind “in the classroom.”

This lack of respect for training materials is quite detrimental to adult learning for a number of reasons:

Most people are visual learners

80% of Americans are visual learners, which means they “understand” information better (and retain it longer) if it is presented in a visual manner. If 80% of your audience spoke “in another language” wouldn’t you present in that language? And yet, we often completely ignore providing tangible, visual elements that complement our training offerings.

Seven-to-ten days after training, people remember only 10 – 20% of what was taught them in a training class
If your “training” consists of providing information, with no reference materials, how can anyone be expected to remember what was taught? Back on the job, it would be helpful to have a job-aid or infographic to refer to in order to do one’s job or refresh one’s memory about the proper process / sequence / tasks.

Temporal contiguity

Brain research tells us that it is better to present concepts in both words and pictures than solely in text format. Typically, 3-days later, text-only information is recalled at a rate of just 15%, but the same information, when presented in both text and visual (a’la an infographic) is recalled at a whopping 65%!

Muscle memory

Muscle memory is not a memory stored in your muscles, of course, but memories stored in your brain (although its origin is related to physical fitness). Providing workbooks or worksheets in which participants actually work (answer questions, complete diagrams, underline pertinent facts in a case study) aid in retention because the body is also physically involved in the learning process.

Solution?

The “problem” is not that participant’s don’t see the value in the learning materials you provide, but rather, the problem lies with us trainers who do not show people how to use these materials while they are in the training. The solution is to utilize the training materials at the time of teaching. Don’t teach a process and then say “Here is a job-aid to take back to your desk,” but rather teach the process as participants follow along using their job aid. The solution to participant materials being “left behind” is to utilize them during the training process so that their usage becomes part of the learner’s muscle memory.

Share
Oct 152015
 

stick_figure_presenting_with_pen_150_clr_3808I’ll be teaching an AGSRE Continuing Education Course at the Ramada Inn in Bangor on Tuesday, November 17. This course is being offered as part of a full day of courses being offered–check out all the offerings here.

Starting at 5 PM, I’ll be teaching Do You Need to Take an Aspirin When Writing an Offer? For a complete description, check out my Course Calendar and click on the name of the course.

You can register online at the Arthur Gary School of Real Estate website or call 856-1712.  I’m looking forward to seeing some “alumni” from licensing courses I’ve taught!

 

Share
Oct 022015
 

panic_button_400_clr_2667Many will recognize the title of this post as a line delivered often by Henny Penny in a folk tale that by some estimates has been around for more than twenty-five centuries. As with most stories that old, there are various endings–some happy, some not so happy for Henny as she and her friends get eaten by a fox. The moral therefore has several twists, but the commonalities are usually around the theme of having some courage and not believing everything you hear. We might also conclude, rightfully, that hysteria is often contagious.

TRID (TILA-RESPA Integrated Disclosure rule) is coming this weekend. Actually, it’s been coming for a long time. Now it’s finally arriving.

There has been a certain amount of “The Sky is Falling” hysteria surrounding the implementation TRID. This is evidenced by some of the dire warnings that licensees should expect problems, add extra time to their closing windows, etc.

Personally, I think it may rain for a while, but the sky will not likely fall. Why? For one thing, the changes aren’t really that massive. However, any change that impacts an entire industry (real estate, lending, legal/closing) will surely create some temporary disruption. Learning curves are real, but their steepness often depends on the learner. The changes didn’t come as a surprise. I suspect some lenders are well prepared and will find the change relatively smooth. One thing that will help those lenders is for the other parties to become informed and stay calm.

The CFPB (Consumer Financial Protection Bureau) has actually created a “Real Estate Professional’s Guide” on their website that might be very reassuring, particularly if you accept the idea that we most greatly fear the unknown. Did you know, for example, there are only three changes that will trigger a new three-day review period? (And one of those three has existed for quite some time–it’s not new.)

I’m not suggesting it wouldn’t be a good idea to prepare customers and clients for the change. In fact, educating your buyers about the “new” process will streamline the steps between pending and purchase–as it always has. I’m less certain that we need to start adding days and weeks to closing. We still need to focus on our clients’ needs. Another thing that hasn’t changed is the reality that the length of time required to close is still dependent on the capability of each and all of the involved parties: borrowers, licensees, lenders, title companies, attorneys, etc.

In at least one version of the tale, the panic starts when an acorn falls on Henny Penny’s head and she mistakenly concludes it’s the sky that is falling. The implementation of TRID will be an acorn for those licensees who do not panic, become informed, and facilitate keeping their client’s transactions on track. If it helps, you can give yourself the nickname “Ducky Lucky” and be like a duck: be calm on the outside while you’re paddling fast beneath the water.

 

Share
Oct 012015
 

stick_figure_presenting_with_pen_150_clr_3808I’ll be teaching two AGSRE Continuing Education Courses at the Senator Inn in Augusta on Thursday, October 15. These courses are being offered as part of an AGSRE Education Spectacular starting on October 13–check out all the offerings here.

Starting at 9 AM, I’ll be teaching Transaction Trouble Shooting and then at 1 pm Getting Licensees and Appraisers in the Same Boat. For complete descriptions, check out my Course Calendar and click on the name of the course.

You can register online at the Arthur Gary School of Real Estate website or call 856-1712.  I’m looking forward to seeing some “alumni” from licensing courses I’ve taught!

 

Share
Sep 022015
 

figure_trips_custom_text_13907There’s a little girl at school who I’ve known for several years. She’s a great kid, smart, and fun. If I were allowed to have favorite students, she could qualify. The one troubling thing about her is that she often cries when she realizes she’s made a mistake, even a small one.

Today, I know how she feels. I made a mistake yesterday and missed an event I was scheduled to speak at. (Fortunately I wasn’t the only speaker!) I can say in all honesty, this is only the second time in my career I have missed a speaking or teaching assignment.

Perhaps I can balance my sadness by telling the story of the time I almost missed a teaching assignment. Actually, I didn’t totally miss it and it’s a sorta funny story. Let me explain.

I was conducting a series of supervisor training classes in conjunction with a project at a client’s site. I was on site, working in a spare office. One of the other consultants, Bill, stuck his head in the door and announced, “You know there are a bunch of supervisors waiting for you in the training room?” I immediately realized I’d forgotten I had a class scheduled and jumped up in panic.

Bill started laughing. You have to be creative and flexible in the consulting business. Bill was certainly not an exception. He motioned me to sit down and then told me the rest of his story.

“I was walking by the room and noticed them all in there… so I walked in and asked them what was going on. One of the students explained that they thought ‘Walter is punishing us…’ When I asked why, they explained that many of them had been late for the last class and they were pretty sure you were showing them how it felt by not being on time yourself.”

Now it would be great if the story ended there. But Bill had more to tell me.

“I asked them how the class usually started and they explained that they usually reviewed homework as a group. So I suggested they start without you. That way they could show you that they were learning to accept responsibility and becoming self-starters. So if I were you, I’d give it a couple more minutes, the stroll in casually and act surprised.”

I did just that.

When I walked into the room, one of the students was standing at the flipchart recording the group’s answers while another student was facilitating a discussion of the homework. After that portion of the class was over, I thanked the self-appointed leaders and continued with the rest of the class as if I’d actually planned it that way. We “debriefed” the process and decided to rotate the responsibility among the students for the homework discussion during future classes.

Thanks to Bill’s quick thinking we truly made lemonade from a lemon. My reputation remained intact, the students learned something, and future classes were actually improved.

Unfortunately, I haven’t come up with a similar solution for this time. I suppose I could call Bill to see if he has any ideas, but it’s probably too late. Due to distance and time there was no way I could make it by the time I received the phone call asking where I was. It didn’t occur to me to cry, but I did (and do) feel really bad.

Today I’m trying to remember some of the things I say to my young friend when she cries. “Making mistakes is okay… sometimes what you think is a mistake isn’t… we can learn from our mistakes…” Ultimately, it is about perspective, right?

The shared story happened about thirty years ago. So if I can go another thirty years without forgetting a teaching or speaking assignment, I guess that’s not a bad record, really.

Wait! I didn’t actually miss that class thirty years ago–I was just late. So if I can go this long before I miss another teaching or speaking assignment, that will be a pretty good record. And I’ll also be really old!

 

Share
Jun 162015
 
Check out this resource!

Check out this resource!

I somewhat stumbled on to an interesting resource for real estate licensees this morning: The First Tuesday Journal. Let me quickly point out that this claims to be the “California real estate news source,” and, therefore much of the content is based on California law and practice. That said, there is enough general information to make this site useful, plus there can be some interesting comparisons to how things are done in Maine. (My bias is that just about anything that makes you think has value.)

There are some “FARM” templates that appear to be free for the downloading–and some of them are quite well done! Here’s a quote from one entitled, “How to gain an advantage when buying a home.”

Take an open house promenade. With the convenience of online browsing, fewer homebuyers are taking advantage of open houses. Visiting the home in person gives you the advantage of knowing exactly what you’re getting, instead of relying on stylized pictures and generic listing descriptions.

I use this particular example to demonstrate the need for caution when using material from the site. While there are no legal issues with this bit of advice, you might want to consider changing the word “promenade” (commonly used in California) to “tour” (commonly used in Maine).

This site is not recommended for sales agent students–my strong recommendation is those just getting started stay very focused on the “need to learn” material and avoid branching out into other resources. For others, you’ll want to use material from this site with caution, perhaps even to the point of reviewing anything you plan to use with your designated broker.

Share
Mar 272015
 

take_a_walk_150_clr_8169At first, this seems like an easy question. But there are a number of factors contributing to the answer. Let’s review some basic facts.

A sales agent license is non-renewable and is valid for two years. In other words, you must be prepared to apply for and receive your associate broker license upon expiration of your sales agent license. (There are some circumstances which allow for a one year exemption, but the are exceptions. You should plan on becoming licensed as as associate broker at the end of your two year license term.)

An associate broker license includes two important qualifications. First, you must have been licensed as a real estate sales agent for two of the past five years. Second, you must complete the Associate Broker Course. (MRS Title 32, Chapter 114, Section 13199) In other words, you must successfully complete the Associate Broker Course before your sales agent license expires. But you still can’t become an associate broker until you’ve completed two years as a sales agent.

So an “easy” answer is “You should take the Associate Broker Course while you are licensed as a sales agent.” It would also be an accurate answer, but it doesn’t tell the whole story. A good follow up question is “Should I take the Associate Broker Course soon after I get licensed as a sales agent, or wait a while?”

The answer to that question depends on several important factors:

  1. How much practical experience are you gaining as a sales agent? The Associate Broker Course is designed to be more about experience and application than the Sales Agent Course. In fact, the Associate Broker Course is based largely on case studies and scenarios. Until you’ve been involved in an actual transaction, the course simply won’t have full value. In addition, completion of the Associate Broker Course includes a requirement you submit a completed Documented Field Experience Form. This form is completed in partnership with your designated broker or mentor and is designed to insure you’ve had some “hands on” experience.
  2. How available is the Associate Broker Course in your area?  The course is 60 hours long and is not something you can complete at the last minute in a few days. In the Bangor area I tend to teach it twice a year–spring and fall for the Arthur Gary School of Real Estate. That means there are three opportunities to chose from during your two year term as a sales agent. Note, however, that we alternate between weekday and weekend courses. If your schedule limits when (day of the week) you can take the course, that limits your choices.
  3. How certain are you that you are going to remain licensed? There are many different reasons that someone might decide not to pursue a career in real estate. Since taking the Associate Broker Course is an investment, it might make sense to wait until your second year as a sales agent.

There simply is not one answer to the question–you have to consider the factors. I have had students get licensed as a sales agent and come back to take the Associate Broker Course within a few months. Their explanation is “I want as much education as I can get as quickly as I can get it.” How can you argue with that?! (Again, understanding you’ll gain the best education if you’ve had at least some hands on experience.) I’ve also had students procrastinate taking the course for various reasons. Unfortunately that sometimes means I get a frantic email or phone call when they realize they are facing expiration of their licenses next month. It really is easier to plan ahead.

Let’s take a hypothetical student named Suzie who gets licensed on March 15, 2015. Her license is set to expire on March 15, 2017.  Using the “Spring/Fall” schedule I teach, that means Suzie can plan to take the Associate Broker Course in in fall 2015 at the earliest. She’ll have a spring and fall opportunity in 2016. She might have an opportunity to take the course in spring 2017 but will need to have completed it by March 15th.

Remember that the Bangor course I teach with the Arthur Gary School of Real Estate alternates as a weekday or weekend course. The spring course is typically a weekday course and the fall course is a weekend course. If Suzie is working full time and can only take the course on the weekends, she’ll need to take it either in the fall of 2015 or the fall of 2016. There are, of course, other courses available from other providers and instructors. I just happen to like having students return! I wish I’d kept track, because I know there are a number of students who have completed all of their licensing courses with me from sales agent through broker.

If you find this confusing or are uncertain what will work best for you, don’t hesitate to give me a call or email. We can talk through your options and figure out what works best!


Marc Corriveau

Marc Corriveau

 

If you listen to Walter, pay attention to his anecdotes, ask questions, and study with your fellow students; you are assured to benefit from the Arthur Gary School of Real Estate. I attended the class in September of 2014, and was quickly picked up by the ERA Dawson-Bradford Real Estate Agency in Bangor. The Arthur Gary Class and Walter’s teaching method have propelled me into the career I wanted.

Share
Mar 182015
 

bored_reading_paperAs we begin another season of licensing courses, it’s a good time to consider our study habits.

“If you study to remember, you will forget. If you study to understand, you will remember!”

Truer words were never spoken—at least for most! This course is intense and for most students will include new concepts, new vocabulary, and require some basic math skills. While there will be some things that require memorization, much of the course is about applied learning and understanding how you will be using information once licensed. Most people underestimate the difficulty level and commitment it will take to succeed, but most people also end up getting through the course and passing. Failure is certainly possible, but it is the exception.

If you’ve been out of school for a while, you’ll want to develop a plan for studying. Most students will affirm, you can’t simply sit in class and expect to pass the course. Some successful techniques students have used:

  • Create a daily study plan or routine, regardless of the time between classes. Even if it’s only 15-30 minutes, review at least some portion of your notes every day. Remember that studying isn’t just about going over material. Think about how you will best learn and remember. People “chunk” information differently. Consider how you’ve learned things in the past and plan your learning. I remember one student who created a second notebook and quite literally re-wrote (in long hand) her entire notes after every class. I wouldn’t learn that way, but she surely did!
  • Hone your note-taking skills. Remember they are your notes and they should reflect how you best learn and remember. Attempting to take down everything the instructor says verbatim may not be most effective. I’ve seen students draw pictures and diagrams or concept maps. One memorable student needed extra space for her multicolored highlighters and stick on flags. While I never fully understood her system, it did seem to work for her.
  • Flash cards can be a great study aid—particularly with vocabulary. As part of your study plan, use index cards to record a word on one side and the definition on the other. You can create them from your notes. You’ll have quite a pile by the end of the course, but you want to flip through them, testing yourself. When you find yourself getting the answer right consistently remove the card from the deck so you are working on the concepts and definitions necessary. (You should probably review all your cards before the final exam!)
  • Consider finding a “study buddy.” While a classmate can be ideal, it can be someone who actually doesn’t understand the material. One student gave her young daughter her flashcards and had her ask questions during a long trip they made together while Mom was taking the class.
  • Where you study can be important. It might go without saying, you’ll want a place that allows you to concentrate. You should have everything you need and nothing you do not need. Turn off the smart phone. In general, avoid distractions and create a block of “quality” study time. Although I remember one student who was struggling until she decided to spread her flashcards on her kitchen island. Every time she passed the island she’d pick up a random card. You have to discover what works for you and remember that how you study may be more important than what and for how long.
  • Avoid studying to the quiz (or test). As the quotation at the beginning of this article suggests, study to learn and understand. When you focus on a quiz or test it can create additional anxiety. Shift your thinking from “I’ve got to pass” to “I want to learn.” Relax! Give yourself breaks and rewards and try to stay positive. If you find yourself getting anxious and confused, take a short break.
  • Teach the material you’re trying to learn. It’s generally accepted that a very effective learning technique is to teach the material. You can do this with your study buddy from class or even someone who knows nothing about the topic. He or she may not know if you are correct, but if you can get them to understand it, you probably understand it as well!
  • Talk to your instructor if you are having difficulty in general or with a specific aspect of the course. He/she understands there are different learning styles and sometimes a “one on one” conversation can create an “Aha! Now I get it!” that may not be possible in a group setting.

Picasso said, “I am always doing that which I cannot do, in order that I may learn how to do it.” Focus on the doing. Challenge yourself! There may be times when you feel you aren’t getting something, but just keep doing. Don’t think, for example, “I can’t do cap rates!” Do them. You will learn how.

Share
Feb 162015
 

Necessity never makes a good bargain.

attributed to Ben Franklin

Ben was a rather practical fellow and in this case I think he wanted to remind us that necessity can reduce our leverage and make us too impulsive. During the sales agent licensing course, I often describe “pop-tart” agents–usually newly licensed, they sit at the “up desk” waiting for the phone to ring or someone to walk in with at least a remote interest in real estate. They then “pop” out of the chair thrilled with the opportunity to demonstrate their new skills. “Let’s go look at some houses!”

But are they demonstrating their skills and value, really?

Oh no! What have I done?!

Oh no! What have I done?!

I recall some years ago watching this happen. In less time than it takes to tell, a newly licensed agent took a highly motivated buyer on a showing, wrote an offer and got it accepted. You can well imagine her excitement. But she only had twenty-four hours to celebrate her luck and skill before the designated broker found himself negotiating cancellation of the agreement after it turned out the buyer was afflicted with oniomania or CBD (Compulsive Buying Disorder). CBD is characterized by an obsession with shopping and buying and is believed to affect nearly 6% of the population. Fortunately, the seller was sympathetic and understanding.

We can certainly dissect Ms. Poptart’s performance and come up with a number of places where she probably went wrong. It would make for an interesting case study or group discussion and I suspect the answers would include comments about qualifying the buyer, asking for proof of funds, etc. All good points.

But note that those types of answers are actually defensive in nature–geared to avoiding something (such as a failed contract). While preventing problems can be an important part of the role of the agent in a transaction, it’s actually a very narrow focus. A comparison: do we use a GPS to keep from getting lost?

Many agents come to understand this difference after a few transactions. They learn to love calls from buyers or sellers that come way in advance that’s when they can do my best work for their clients. That best work is to devise a pre-buying or pre-selling action plan. These agents start their client relationship with questions like

  • “Have you bought and sold real estate before?”
  • “What did you like best about the experience/transaction?”
  • “What did you find least enjoyable about the experience?”

These are data-gathering questions that allow the agent to work with the client in a relatively unhurried and relaxed environment and build an approach everyone can can work with. One of my personal favorite questions is “Have you considered how you are going to go about this?” More often than not, the client doesn’t understand the question which suggests the answer is “no,” and this points up the need to for a plan. You may be good at preventing and solving problems, but you should be even better at planning!

Everyone benefits from good planning. I recall an agent telling me she had shown a potential buyer sixty properties. I’m guessing the buyer had a plan that didn’t really include buying. Clearly the agent did not have a plan–other than to go with the buyer on showings.

There’s a difference between a motivated client and an impulsive client. Impulsive clients can sound very appealing, but they can also be a nightmare to work with… and are often prone to the dreaded “buyer’s (or seller’s) remorse” Another observation you’ll hear in my classes is “You never want to get a call from a client that starts with ‘You never told me…‘”

Unhappy clients rarely blame themselves for what happened. Since you are the likely target of blame, why not accept the responsibility for what happens by creating a plan? Just remember, it’s not your plan. It’s a shared plan, developed with your client. You may slow down those impulsive clients. You may speed up those unmotivated or fearful clients, but it’s all part of the plan. Necessity never makes a good bargain, but intelligent planning often does.

 

Share