For many years, real estate professionals in New Mexico contended with long, tedious, and stale education courses for mandatory continuing education. Complaints and filings against real estate licensees ratcheted up, and their errors & omissions insurance providers were in the red.
To turn around the state's education, in 2014 the New Mexico Real Estate Commission hired consultant and CCIM Senior Instructor Todd Clarke, CCIM, to review the state's mandatory course and E&O insurance. His mission was to find out if this turnaround could be achieved through education.
“This was a rare chance to change the real estate industry for the better,” says Clarke, owner of NM Apartment Advisors in Albuquerque, N.M.
His consulting assignment encompassed a survey of nearly 2,000 licensees to find out what they wanted from their real estate education; a review of 1,377 E&O complaints and filings; and an audit of the mandatory course, which had been created 14 years earlier.
Changing the Paradigm
Clarke's evaluation discovered the eight-hour course was too long and held too infrequently, only once every three years. The training was delivered in a lecture style to the lowest common denominator. While 38 percent of the students chose the course to be taught by a particular instructor, 20 percent selected their course to avoid an instructor.
While E&O insurers were losing money to support their real estate licensees' policies, it appeared most of the complaints involved the basic 10 broker duties. Simply diagnosed, too many New Mexico licensees did not know their broker duties well enough to perform them in compliance with the law.
The source of these concerns came back to who taught the classes, what was being taught in the classroom, and how the knowledge was conveyed. “To get back on track, we had to find some new instructors, adapt different train-the-trainers techniques for new and existing instructors, and change the course content, with more opportunities for games and interaction among the students,” Clarke says.
Clarke and his team, including Robin Dyche, CCIM, designed, coordinated, and taught two instructor boot camps, resulting in 36 new instructors. Clarke and Dyche modeled the New Mexico boot camp training on CCIM Institute Instructor Charm School.
“I have always believed state education can be better education,” says Dyche, a CCIM instructor and co-owner and broker of Rio Real Estate Investment Opportunities in Albuquerque. “For training the instructors, we incorporated a lot of role-playing and group activities, moving away from lecturing. We helped them build knowledge centered on the students, not on the content.”
One of the instructors, Vic Bruno, wrote, “I keep thinking about ways to do more through audience participation, and believe I can add more of that going forward.”
Sharing Best Practices
Clarke's recommendations included a new four-year CORE course to be taken annually for four hours; a CORE elective course based on a specialty for four hours every year; all courses to reflect an interactive level of teaching; development of online feedback to capture student scores on curriculum, venue, and instructors; and creation of input to ensure a new CORE course was created every year.
“We modeled the CORE course content on the success of Harvard Business School and CCIM Institute offerings, in which new knowledge is shared and tested through real-world case study,” Clarke says.
Most relevant, however, is how the new training for real estate licensees - both commercial and residential - may affect the real estate industry in New Mexico. The first impact will be on increased professionalism, according to Clarke. The new program includes metrics to measure the professionalism of its participants.
The second impact centers on not wasting real estate licensees' time or money. “Rather than taking mandatory continuing education as a punishment, we want the new program to become a great place to learn and network,” Clarke says. “I also hope these state courses will become a bridge to taking CCIM Institute core courses to earn the designation.”
So far, student responses to the new program have been wildly enthusiastic. “You have elevated the education from a boring lecture to Ted Talk status,” writes Jennise Phillips, a recent student.
In the end, the New Mexico Real Estate Commission has raised the bar for its mandatory real estate licensee education, has agreed to support all the recommendations made by Clarke and his team, and has gained positive feedback in definable metrics. Now the program will affect every single New Mexico real estate licensee annually.
During the first 150 days of 2017, the CORE course has been offered 66 times, and 29 approved instructors have taught the new course to 1,418 students.
Recognizing his work was done, Clarke resigned as a CORE course instructor on June 1, 2017. He leaves New Mexico real estate licensees with a brighter future in their chosen profession and a blueprint for other states to follow.