By Lisette Hilton

The DANGER Report recently commissioned by the National Association of Realtors includes a warning that the low entry and minimal education requirements serve as a detriment to the profession. Some real estate agents also see a lack of viable experience as equally harmful.

Real estate agent Alex Bracke started his career in 2013, after ten years in law enforcement. With $14 million in sales this year, Bracke, an agent at Pearson Smith Realty in Potomac Falls, Va., said he feels sorry for some buyers and sellers on the opposite side of his transactions. According to Bracke, the agents representing them, who may only do a deal or two a year and rely on pre-licensing education for their knowledge base, put their clients in compromising positions by making foolish errors. Some agents don’t understand the contracts — including simple legal concepts in real estate or contracts in general — and some don’t have an adequate grasp of how the buying process or contract/addenda ratification process even works, he said.

“I regularly have to walk these agents through the process, and the deal ends up reaching settlement in spite of the other agent, at times, rather than because of that agent,” Bracke said. “[Clients] are putting everything on the line — their dreams, and, much of the time, a large chunk of their life’s savings. Their trust in the agents puts everything they’ve worked for and dreamed of at risk, and they have no idea until it’s too late.”

To make sure new agents are prepared, some agencies are relying on in-house programs.

Chantel Ray, of Chantel Ray Real Estate, in Virginia Beach, Va., heads a team that has closed more than $1 billion in real estate and is on track to close more than 1,000 transactions this year, according to the firm’s marketing director. Ray cites stats from a 2014 report by the Real Estate Information Network, which serves real estate brokers from Williamsburg, east to Virginia Beach, and south into North Carolina. The report suggests that nearly 40% of real estate agents in the region didn’t sell a single home last year.

“At our agency, we are well aware of this statistic and have developed a hands-on training system,” Ray said. “Every single new agent is given a mentor, who has been in the business for 20 years, to guide them through their first six transactions.”

According to Ray, the investment has proven to be extremely lucrative.

“Our approach has been very successful, and our agents are selling three to six homes a month,” Ray said. “I believe it takes a full year or 24 transactions to be fully trained, whichever comes first.”

Ryan Monceaux, a real estate agent with Platinum 1 Properties in Houston, is also a staunch proponent of mentorship for inexperienced agents.

“A hairstylist would never be granted a license without having in-chair, practical experience,” Monceaux said. “Yet a real estate agent can write a contract for a million-dollar home on her first day with a license. An apprentice program could be a critical step for agents to excel long term in the profession.”