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NAR’s AHWD Certification Teaches Real Estate Professionals How to Effectively Service All Cultural Groups

For real estate professionals looking to gain a competitive edge as the industry continues to change and evolve, it is more important than ever to adapt to increasing cultural diversity in order to meet the needs of today’s clientele.

In addition to being personally equipped, real estate professionals should also ensure they are administering real estate transactions while taking the nation’s—and their own community’s—diversity, fair housing, and cultural differences into account.

The National Association of REALTORS®’ (NAR) At Home With Diversity® (AHWD) certification, which is designed to help real estate professionals work successfully with and within a rapidly changing multicultural environment, is a great place to begin.

“The one-day course lasts six to eight hours and helps real estate professionals increase sensitivity and adaptability to future market trends by examining diversity, fair housing and cultural differences,” says Margo Willis, a real estate broker and retired U.S. Army First Sergeant. “Participants learn practical skills and tools to effectively service all cultural groups and clients,” adds Willis, who is no stranger to racial bias and insensitivity.

Motivated to become an instructor in 1999, Willis has taught the AHWD certification course nearly 100 times over the years.

“Since I became an AHWD instructor, I feel that those in real estate need to have not only a mix of experiences themselves, but a diverse mix of instructors,” says Willis. “We have an essential role in ensuring everyone has equal access to housing, whether we’re selling or leasing. We’re the ones on those front lines who have the best vantage point to ensure that equal access. That’s our job.”

When relating case studies to her students, Willis always cites her own experiences, including one that occurred when she herself was searching for her very first home.

“My ex-husband and I—both Black and dressed in our military uniforms—were looking for a home in a new development where we encountered an agent who sat behind a desk and let us walk through the model that was available,” recalls Willis.

At the same time, three white couples arrived. All three were warmly greeted, and two were given plans and additional information about the development before they left.

“We were not,” recalls Willis, who goes on to explain facing a similar experience at the next stop. But the third time, as they say, was the charm.

“This agent, who was not of color, was the epitome of what we all should be striving for. Not only did he take time with us, he helped us get pre-approved for financing and even helped us settle in the community we really wanted to live in,” says Willis. “These are all of the things we hope real estate professionals are doing today.”

According to Willis, it’s these personal anecdotes that serve to reinforce one of the basic pillars of the AHWD training: inclusion along with equity. While real estate professionals may include all people they encounter, it doesn’t mean they are necessarily treated with the same respect.

“Understanding the importance of acknowledging and showing respect for every individual are some of the things we talk about, along with the protected classes, how to create cross-cultural conversations and make clients feel comfortable. By doing so, you build relationships that last, sometimes for a lifetime,” says Willis.

“This should never be about a transaction, which is something I’ve applied in practice for a long time with clients…and now I’m selling homes to their children,” concludes Willis.

As part of the Right Tools, Right Now program, the online version of the AHWD certification course is currently being offered for just $49 through Dec. 31, 2020. Learn more at nar.realtor/ahwd.

John Voket is a contributing editor to RISMedia.

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