Realtors diversify training in turbulent market

In a move to raise their level of professionalism and better serve customers in a changing marketplace, realtors are turning to training.

So says a recent survey from the National Association of Realtors (NAR).

The number of members holding at least one professional designation increased by nearly 21,000 over the past year, reaching a total of more than 428,000. The median expense for professional development for the typical member was $710 in 2007.

“While three-fourths of NAR members specialize in residential real estate, almost all of them have secondary specialties,” said NAR President Richard Gaylord. “For example, realtors are in areas as diverse as relocation, commercial brokerage, property management, land development, appraisal, counseling and other real estate specialties like international and auction.”

South Florida brokers are focusing on training that meets with the unique demands of doing real estate business in Dade, Broward and Palm Beach counties. Specifically, training for condo sales in a credit crunch, short sales, foreclosures and bulk sales are gaining momentum among local brokerages.

International Sales Group, an integrated real estate sales and marketing firm in Aventura, is investing time and money into Miami condo sales training through internal coaching programs.

Craig Studnicky, principal of the company, said developers, both financially and emotionally exhausted, are providing ISG some of its defaulted inventory at substantial discounts compared to their all-time high of 2005.

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“In many cases you are buying at one-third less than current replacement costs, forgetting any opportunity for developer profit. In many neighborhoods in Miami, prices have in fact bottomed-out. We coach our sales people to make that the backbone of their sales presentation in 2008,” Studnicky said.

ISG is also coaching its sales team how to leverage mortgage financing sources. Brokers need to be well-schooled in the financing changes or they won’t be able to close the deal, Studnicky said.

“There are sources of new capital that a lot of buyers don’t realize they have at their disposal, such as their IRA accounts,” he said. “You’re allowed to use your money from an IRA to buy investment real estate without any tax implications to an individual buyer. It’s a source of money that many buyers do not consider.”

Aventura’s Macken Realty recently invited an attorney and mortgage specialist in to speak with its brokers about short sales and foreclosures. Even though Macken tends to focus more on high-end transactions, the firm is equipping brokers to service investors who are looking for bargains, said Jodi Macken, associate director at the brokerage.

Macken also encourages its agents to attend short sale seminars, marketing and motivational classes, real estate professional assistant certification classes, top producer seminars and staging certification class, as well as update their computer training.

“All of these designations enable our professionals to have a well rounded understanding of all aspects of real estate sales,” Macken said. “Since providing this training, our agents have become more involved in listing and selling short sales, foreclosures, and bulk sales.”