Earlier this year, a friend suggested we take a real estate class together. I agreed, partially because I enjoyed the fire station renovation and I'd like to do more projects. I have to admit I didn't fully understand the ramifications of the decision. Thus far, I've successfully taken the coursework and met requirements to become a licensed REALTOR® in Maryland and Pennsylvania, with West Virginia soon to follow.
After talking with Janelle about the pretty intense training sessions I've been taking, we decided there are some correlations between becoming an architect and a real estate agent. Here are a few:
- Education - Your education gives you a great basis but doesn't prepare you for the realities of the job. Architectural education teaches design in a primarily conceptual manner. You often design without worrying about fees, codes, and sometimes gravity. It's not until you work in the field that those realities hit home, especially that whole gravity thing. Likewise, real estate training courses teach the legalities, but not how to do the day to day work of being a real estate agent. They also don't tell you where to get a good blazer for your real estate agent uniform.
- Titles - In both fields, your education does not earn you a title until you are licensed. In the case of architects, that means someone has 5-6 years of schooling plus 2-3 years of work experience before they are even eligible to take the licensing exams. At this level, the title of Intern or Architectural Designer might be used, but you're never an Architect until you're licensed. Similarly, you aren't a real estate agent until you've passed the licensing exam AND working under a Broker.
- Professional Organizations - In both architecture and real estate, you become licensed in a state after passing a test or series of tests. However, both industries are supported by professional organizations, the American Institute of Architects (AIA) and the National Association of REALTORS® (NAR). Being a member doesn't just give you a new title, but it also holds you to a higher standard of conduct. Until recently, I thought real estate agents and realtors were interchangeable generic terms. Wrong! Among other things, a REALTOR® is held to a higher ethical standard and gets to use the fun trademarked name and yes, it has to be in all caps.
- Tools - We have seen for years a disconnect between the software architecture schools teach and what is used professionally. This leads to a lot of on the job training. Real estate agents aren't trained on any software during pre-licensing but have to quickly learn some basics, like how to work the Multiple Listing Service (MLS), desktop publishing and how to best position themselves on the internet.
- Architectural Styles - Ok, this one isn't quite the same. Architects do learn architectural styles in school. Surprisingly, this isn't something that is ever covered for real estate agents. I had about a 5-minute overview of styles and was told anything that is 2 stories is Colonial. Janelle's response when I told her this was "that explains a lot."
As I embark on this real estate journey, it's nice to know others have traveled down similar paths. I'm also relieved that I have a team to consult when I'm not sure about an architectural style, though there could be a fierce debate if it comes down to Georgian or Federalist. Now I just need some training on finding the right blazer.