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At the beginning of any new year, our ideas for growth are often endless, and our energy is limitless. The problem comes a few months into the year as we veer off track, we get busy, we start to tighten our budget, or we simply forget to invest in ourselves.

Continuous learning is what gives us a firm foundation in this business. A study completed in 2018 by Real Estate Express shows that real estate professionals that invest in their education and stay up to date on best practices earn two-and-a-half times more than agents who don’t invest in developing their skills.

Below are some steps for increasing the return you’ll reap from your learning investment in 2019. Outlining all of this now will help create an education plan you can stick to throughout the year.

Evaluate the Past
Take an in-depth look at each opportunity you took advantage of last year. Did the time and money you put into the activity translate to more knowledge? Time saved? More money made? Write down the activities you feel were least successful in helping move your career forward. These areas represent a loss for your return on investment, and you’ll want to consider if you’re going to tackle them again this year.

Identify the Skills You Need to Hone
What skills do you need to develop in 2019? Write them all down and then stack rank them regarding time commitment (how long it will take you to build that skill). Next, order them in terms of monetary investment. Finally, order them according to the potential return on investment. The skills that float to the top of each list are a great place to start building your 2019 plan.

Devise Your Learning Plan
As you look to the year ahead, think about your learning goals, and the best resources to use to achieve them. Include opportunities you found success with the prior year and consider eliminating the activities that didn’t provide value. Talk with your broker to identify resources that could help you improve. Research the what, where and how of the opportunities. Develop a calendar outlining when each opportunity takes place and add a line item to your budget to cover the cost of the course or conference.

Get Creative
As you identify how to up your knowledge in each of these areas, seek educational resources that give you the most leverage. If you need to complete continuing education hours, look for courses that will build on your learning goals. Save time by enrolling in an online course. Maybe weekly coffee with some top agents in your office will give you the insights you need. If you’re looking to up your tech game, identify newer agents with the skill, and create an inverse mentorship.

Develop a Budget and Look for Ways to Save
Add a line item for education and professional development into your budget. Next, look into a few ways to save money on your training:

  • If you decide on a conference or workshop, check to see if there’s an early-bird special and try to book in advance, or inquire about group rates.
  • Opt for a good mix of learning formats. You may not be able to afford to attend multiple conferences, so consider adding in on-demand learning, such as webinars, podcasts and online courses.
  • Check with your broker to see if they have any education partners that offer discounts.

Tom Davidson is the general manager of Real Estate Express, a national leader in online learning for pre-licensing, continuing education and professional development. Davidson has nearly 15 years of experience in the real estate industry. From sales training and product development to growing the business, his multi-faceted background encompasses crucial functions to a successful career in the field. To learn more, visit

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