HOMEFINDER: Real estate agents’ skill set ever expanding
Time was, a Realtor’s job was to identify potential homes for clients then guide them through the myriad legal details surrounding the buying and selling of property.
Those roles are still there, but technology and clients’ expectations have brought changes that have re-shaped the Realtor’s career.
“The role of the Realtor has changed, especially in the last 10 or 15 years,” says Tim Ayres, president of the Victoria Real Estate Board.
He notes that while much of the Realtor’s job had been information gathering for home shoppers, the Internet now allows people to do much of that legwork themselves.
Today, a Realtor’s value is not only in how well-versed they are on the legal ins and outs of home buying and selling, but also in their marketing skills and ability to stay well-informed about the community in which they’re selling. Examples are trends in the marketplace, demographics, schools, transportation issues, and development plans.
Fortunately, Greater Victoria is small enough that Realtors can familiarize themselves quite easily with neighbourhoods from Sooke to Sidney. But Ayres suggests Realtors often find success in focusing on a particular part of the region.
This diverse knowledge base is all the more important when working with clients from outside the region, such as those relocating with the military or RCMP, or retirees seeking the promise of mild winters.
While the Internet has changed the Realtor’s role, it’s also dramatically changed the way they do business. Realtors selling a property should be savvy to today’s technology, using video, photography and floor plans to provide prospective buyers with a full picture of a property, for example.
“An online presence is key,” Ayres says. “Make sure what you’re doing (to market a property) is what people want to see.”
Homes can be viewed via iPad, prices negotiated by text and contracts reviewed via smart phone.
At the same time, there’s a lot to be said for a Realtor’s ability to connect with clients on a personal level.
Patrick Skillings has been a Realtor for 30 years, and believes in the time-honoured approach of one-on-one contact with clients, and of being genuinely interested in those he meets – as people, not only the means to a potential sale, he says.
While it takes work, maintaining contact with clients in the years following a home sale or purchase also helps keep connections active and promote word-of-mouth advertising. Skillings points out, for example, that he recently worked with a client he’d helped to buy a home almost three decades earlier.
“Clients like the fact that we communicate on a variety of different levels, not just about a particular piece of property,” he says.
Q: HOW DO YOU BECOME A LICENSED REAL ESTATE AGENT?
The Real Estate Council is B.C.’s licensing and regulatory agency for real estate professionals.
Applicants must successfully complete the council’s education requirements specific to careers in real estate sales, rental property management services or strata management services, offered through the University of British Columbia Real Estate Division.
As a blended learning course, students can register at any time, but the course must be completed within one year.
Those with prior real estate education or experience may receive an exemption from course work.
Applicants must be at least 19 years old, although the course and examination may be completed earlier; individuals have up to one year from passing the exam to apply for licensing.
Real estate-related post-secondary programs are also available at the University of British Columbia and the B.C. Institute of Technology.
GREATER VICTORIA MARKET UPDATE » AS OF JUNE 24/14 COURTESY VICTORIA REAL ESTATE BOARD
» 546 / 664 – NET UNCONDITIONAL SALES / TOTAL, JUNE 2013
» 1,008 / 1,240 – NEW LISTINGS / TOTAL, JUNE 2013
» 4,680 / 4,833 – ACTIVE RESIDENTIAL LISTINGS / TOTAL, JUNE 2013