School’s Out Forever?

Mike Brennan

By Mike Brennan

Someone once suggested that there should not be an education and a licensing requirement to sell real estate. I was processing what they were suggesting and wondered why would this person want to eliminate the educational component and the licensing element of the industry? So, after class, I asked some questions to identify the rationale behind the concept.

I was struck by the following two statements: “It’s not that hard and education/ license requirements do nothing to improve the level of professionalism in the field.” The agent went on to say, that continuing education was a great burden on them as it takes time away from being in the field or office work.

I listened intently yet was befuddled by the sentiments expressed.

The real estate purchase is typically the largest financial, extremely emotional and extraordinarily mental event in a person’s life. Generally, most consumers will be involved with seven real estate transactions in their life.

A real estate professional is on the job guiding them, counseling them and advising them of the steps along the way. Remember completing your income taxes with your first job? You had one W-2 and completed a form 1040EZ. Now imagine it is a few years later and you own a house, make charitable donations, paying property taxes, 1099-INT forms, Schedule A – and to top it off, the deductions schedule has changed! A person would be well served to hire a professional who is up to date on the tax laws, understands the current forms and can provide applicable, useful advice.

Similarly, a real estate transaction is one where the laws change regularly (annually at times!) necessitating new forms. Suddenly in 2016, there is a thing called FIRPTA on the purchase contracts which references Internal Revenue Service section 1445 of the tax code, citizenship status of the seller, potential tax consequences … and the last time I bought my house was X years ago and the purchase contract was three pages, none of which addressing these things.

As a professional guiding a person through the maze of disclosures, pointof- sale inspections, negotiation, scheduling inspections, working with lenders/ title, settling an inspection issue, performing a walk through, attending the closing … there are many things we may understand and can perform while sleepwalking, but the consumer has been through this probably only a handful of times, and likely the last time was years ago.

Education is crucial. Having a professional understand and be able to educate the consumer is the payoff of attending class.

Dealing with large sums of money, whether earnest money, security deposits/ rents, escrow disbursements at closing, a licensing requirement of education, background checks and government clearances are essential to establish a level of competency, reliability and control.

So, as with our new required module where we learn about trusts, estates, wills, conservatorships and more, while the underlying sentiment may be “this does not pertain,” rest assured, it will eventually. And wanting education now, learning it now, discussing it, digesting the information with others and understanding it makes for a smoother transaction in the future when you need it.

Mike Brennan, DREI candidate (Distinguished Real Estate Instructor), C.N.E, RENI Instructor, CDEI has been teaching license and continuing education courses for over 12 15 years. Mike teaches at the MN Realty School and has been in the real estate business for over 20 years, first as a sales agent, then broker and now instructor. Author of many courses, Mike was a nominee for Inman News’ Most Influential in the United States in the real estate business. Mike teaches license courses and is actively involved in the development of CE classes, required modules and the real estate industry. For more information, call (651) 644-5856 or visit