Since claiming their diplomas at REALTOR® U’s first-ever MRE graduation ceremony, some of the graduates — nine in total — say that they have already used the teachings from their classes to advance themselves in their local markets. Graduating from the program has also allowed them to add the MRE designation to their titles.
The ceremony was held during the REALTOR® Party Convention & Trade Expo in Washington, D.C., in May, when more than 8,000 REALTORS® descended on Capitol Hill to talk real estate policy with their elected members of Congress.
“We didn’t make it easy for you,” REALTOR® University President and National Association of REALTORS® CEO Dale Stinton told graduates at the ceremony, which was held in a room of about 200 attendees at D.C.’s Omni Shoreham hotel. He noted that the graduates each put in 2,000 hours of coursework over two years to attain their degrees. “That’s half your life for two years. That’s amazing,” he said.
“You are truly pioneers in the best sense of the word,” Stinton continued. “You represent a powerful knowledge gained through rigor and curiosity. Yet your degree comes with a great responsibility, as the challenges we face are not insignificant in our industry. Now you are charged with expanding the borders of knowledge for all REALTORS®.”
Becoming a Better Communicator
Tami McHugh, broker-owner of Heritage Real Estate in Meridian, Idaho, was the first person to sign up for the MRE program. She was honored at the ceremony for having the top Capstone project among the class. For her project, McHugh looked at the top 100 performers in her local MLS to see if there was a correlation between their sales volume and their educational background. She found that 60 percent of the top 100 performers had earned a bachelor’s degree or higher, and mean sales volume increased with higher educational degrees. (The mean sales volume of practitioners with a high school diploma was $10.8 million, while the mean sales volume for those with a post-graduate degree was $15.5 million.)
McHugh says the MRE program taught her how to be a better communicator and makes her more relatable to a wider pool of potential clients.
“The reputation that real estate professionals are like car salesmen has been a struggle,” she says. “In this industry, education helps you communicate better — to write more concisely and speak more eloquently. It makes you more relatable to people who are more highly educated themselves.”
She also learned about topics that she was unfamiliar with prior to her coursework.
“I learned more things about sustainability and expanded my understanding of real estate law,” McHugh says. “I have a wider base of knowledge to pass on to my clients. As issues like sustainability become more and more important, I now know what questions to ask my clients. And I can write a better contract that protects’ my clients’ rights.
“I’m a strong supporter of education, and I encourage people to think bigger than [the real estate market in Idaho] — to think globally. People often look at the microcosm of our market, and they think that’s all there is. Education brings us together as REALTORS® of our country, not just our states or our communities.”
Spreading the Knowledge
Vernice Ross, GRI, PMN, broker-owner of Ross & Ross Realty in San Diego, admits that the MRE program was incredibly strenuous. Over two years, she logged 20 to 25 hours a week in coursework, all while running her business and being a single mom.
“I had been out of school for a while, so the first couple of classes were very challenging, and I was like, ‘Oh my gosh, why did I do this?’” she says. “But after the first couple of classes, I got the hang of it.”
Ross says every class she took was a practical one that she applies to her business in the field every day. Her favorite classes include developing online marketing plans, how to examine the competition, commercial real estate issues, risk management, and using the latest technology for the industry.
“This program makes you look at your business differently,” Ross says. “It has been eye-opening.”
She’s so thrilled with her experience that she says she plans to become an ambassador to REALTOR® University. “When my local association has orientations or conventions — or wherever there is a platform to speak — I would like to speak on behalf of REALTOR® University.
“Because of REALTOR® University, I have new contacts all over the country, and if I need anything, I know I can call them up. They’re part of my family now.”
Putting New Skills to Use
Kirill Gorbounov, SRES, associate broker at RE/MAX Allegiance in McLean, Va., has already begun applying the things he learned through the MRE program to his everyday business. Not only does he help clients buy and sell, but he’s also an investor. He’s in the process of buying a new investment property, and he’s using skills he acquired through REALTOR® University to close the deal.
“My depth of understanding of the investment process has improved a lot, and I’m now more confident in my approach in deals,” Gorbounov says. “And just having this degree allows me to be more competitive in my marketplace. It decreases my competition because so many people are not on my level anymore.”
He says that he expects many more doors to open for him in the future, both in his real estate business and investment practice. He works most often with buyers and sellers in the high-price market, and those clients, he says, are more likely to be influences by a real estate professional’s educational credentials.
“A lot of people probably don’t notice your educational background,” Gorbounov says, “but individuals in the upper price range, they care about that stuff. They see me as being of more value to them.”