In the last 3 weeks, I spent 7 hours in front of 125 real estate agents! A captive audience. Curious how I got there? If you’ve read this far, this is not a brag post. It’s an opportunity for you to get in front of your target audience and with someone else driving them into your seats! It’s to make you realize, you have to be different from your competitors to get different results than they get. And…it’s not for everyone. In 1994 when I got my first job as an originator in a small CT mortgage company, we had no computers, no cell phones and certainly no social media. There was no NMLS. No licensing requirements, no education or testing or fingerprinting. Having been an accountant before a loan originator, I wasn’t used to feeding people to get business. Sure, there were the occasional business lunches, but not full blown catering! On my first day of my new career in mortgages, I remembering asking my boss two questions. After all, here I was with my 3-ring binder, with those tabbed dividers, ready to sit down and 3 hole punch all the mortgage rules and regs I could find.
- How will I learn the business? and…
- How will I get business?
Imagine my surprise when she responded:
- “Oh…you’re just too funny” and…
- “Just go get an HP calculator and bring donuts to Realtors!”
What? First off, I don’t know how to use an HP and NEVER learned (to this day I use the Qualifier 3X) and DONUTS? And…that was the beginning of my interest in training mortgage loan originators and real estate agents. I realized I had to spend a ton of time learning the business and then hit the pavement. It wasn’t long before I met every other mortgage person in our area who were all running around in and out of all the local real estate companies trying to get business from those same agents and brokers. (Sound familiar?) I actually thought I got lucky when my first agent asked me to do an open house with her. Until she told me the last mortgage person brought white table cloths, chafing dishes and wine! To an open house? Really? She told me the agents in “her town” were “used to hot lunches and don’t forget the dessert.” These were full blown catered affairs and they weren’t interested in donuts! It was right there and then that I decided, they want me to pay for business and my waitressing days were over! I had a college accounting degree and thought of myself as a professional. They were looking for a caterer! I wasn’t going to BEG the office managers to PLEASE let me have TEN MINUTES to hope to speak at the next sales meeting, where they told you 15 agents would attend, and 8 showed up. I was going to teach them about mortgages. and be paid for it. No more sales meetings and open houses. And so it began. Why not take all my mortgage knowledge and turn it into real estate continuing education courses? No begging! And…it would be a captive audience. They needed elective CE and they were tired of hearing about radon and fair housing. I would write my own courses, using my mortgage knowledge, and give them classes they would love and learn from.
That was in 1995. My first courses were The Underwriter Wants What? All About FHA, Credit Reporting and Credit Scores, and Money for Sale! I loved teaching! And…even though you can’t sell products or services when you are teaching for CE Credit, I started getting business; business from agents I didn’t know, but who took my classes. It took me many years, but I figured out all the pieces. Course locations, content approval, elective vs mandatory, real estate school regulator approval, how and what to talk about, course timing, outlines, the politics of real estate associations, NAR, state licensing requirements, marketing and compliance. I was even asked to sit on the board of my local real estate association. I didn’t pass out business cards, I never mentioned my business other than in my “why I am teaching” introduction to the class. Not only did they show up, not only did I get business from them, I also got paid! Mind you, my primary goal was not income, but exposure. Exposure to my target audience. The paycheck was an unexpected benefit. Our mortgage business grew. Over the course of my 25+ years, and funding over $1 billion in residential mortgages, we never paid for advertising, marketing, direct mail or leads. We grew our business one relationship at a time by educating and nurturing those relationships. While I may sound like a dinosaur, the mortgage and real estate business is and will always be a relationship business built on trust, integrity and competencies. Remember, social media is a tool…not the blueprint.
Here I am in 2023, still teaching real estate agents about mortgages, they get CE credit for it and I get in front of them. I’ve taught real estate agents in FL, CT, SD, NY, NJ, PA, and LA. In small classes of 10 and larger classes for 200. Small board rooms and large banquet halls. My 4-hour, March 2023 CE class with the Greater Central Louisiana REALTORS® Association “Why Deals Fall Apart!” had 60 agents attend and…they paid all my travel expenses and I don’t even originate in Louisiana! This week I had 65 real estate agents through the Greater Hartford Association of Realtors in my Money For Sale-AML course. In 2022, the National Association of Realtors approved me as a national instructor for their new certification program the Home Finance Resource Certification. This strategy works. The best compliment I ever received was from an agent who said “I don’t care what you’re teaching. If you have a course, I’m attending!” If you have the desire, professionalism and knowledge to teach real estate C.E. I’m ready to teach you how! Are you ready to learn? #Cloesonline #realestate #continuinged #MLO #mortgage #teach #professionaldevelopment #lenders #teachnow Debra Killian firstname.lastname@example.org (866)256-3766
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