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Over the course of my career, I’ve learned that we need to continually ask ourselves: What can I do better in the future? In the wake of a successful year, or a less-than-stellar period, you can’t rest on your laurels. The market is changing; our customers are changing; and we, too, need to be refining and retooling.

This year we completely retooled the two-day Accredited Buyer’s Representative (ABR®) Designation Core Course into a brand new, hands-on course in how to build and nurture relationships, how to handle all aspects of a real estate deal, how to work with different types of buyers and how to demonstrate the value that ABR® designees bring to the table.

It’s a new course for a new year and a changing marketplace. The National Association of REALTORS® (NAR) Profile of Home Buyers and Sellers 2012 offers insight into the myriad ways our market is changing. Here are a few examples:

Rise in online home shopping heightens buyers’ needs for collaboration. The use of the Internet in the home-search process rose slightly to 90 percent, and for buyers under the age of 44, it increased to 96 percent. What has become increasingly clear is that the Internet doesn’t replace the need for good brokers. If anything, the overload of information heightens the need. The new course teaches students how to communicate and demonstrate their value by helping buyers understand the market and working with them to devise a strategy.

Today’s consumers value (and expect) transparency. With so much information available today, transparency is a priority, and understanding compensation is one area where buyers may need help. In 43 percent of sales, the agent initiated the discussion of compensation, while the client brought up the topic 31 percent of the time. Fifteen percent of sellers didn’t know the commission or fee could be negotiated. The new course offers guidance for students about how to have frank conversations with buyers about how agents get paid in addition to helping buyers understand that they have options when choosing their agent.

Consumers expect a tailored approach. The two-day program tracks four different buyers with significant differences in their real estate needs and helps students distinguish their services and value proposition depending on the needs of those clients. This is a critical differentiator in helping agents build relationships with buyers, establish trust and demonstrate their value and competency.

It’s all about relationships. Nearly nine in 10 (89 percent) of past ABR® buyer-clients say that they would work with this individual again and, even more importantly, recommend them to others. The new course focuses on how agents can establish and nurture relationships with buyers throughout the process and beyond.

A wholly-owned subsidiary of the National Association of REALTORS® (NAR), The Real Estate Buyer’s Agent Council (REBAC) is the world’s largest association of real estate professionals focusing specifically on representing the real estate buyer. With more than 30,000 active members, REBAC awards the Accredited Buyer’s Representative (ABR®) designation to REALTORS® who work directly with buyer-clients.

To learn more visit