Brokerage firm revives new-agent training program

With a growing economy and a large number of millennials entering their home-buying years, more people in Georgia are considering a career in real estate. And metro Augusta’s largest residential real estate brokerage, Meybohm Realtors, is hoping to get the cream of the crop.

 

The company plans to reactivate its Meybohm Success Center – the new-agent training program it shut down in 2008 –once its new Columbia County office opens at The Plaza at Evans Towne Center development in April.

The 2,500-square-foot training center on the ground floor of Meybohm’s four-story office is where newly licensed agents who choose to affiliate with Meybohm will receive six months of sales training and mentoring before working out of the company’s nine offices in the Augusta-Aiken area.

“When a new agent gets a license, that license has taught them about real estate law and agency relationships, but it doesn’t teach them how to take that license and go out and be a productive, professional real estate agent and make a living with that license,” said John Chambers, the company’s general manager and broker-in-charge.

Obtaining a real estate license is fairly easy and inexpensive – Georgia requires only 75 hours of pre-license exam education; South Carolina requires 60 – but few license holders become “full time” sales agents.

“In the old days, it was more about being a good ‘salesperson,’ ” said Chambers, who has been licensed since 1992. “Now, with everything that has to be done with the contracts, you’ve really got to know what you’re doing. I would hate to come into this brand new today without the proper training.”

The uptick in newly licensed agents at Meybohm is mirrored statewide. Membership in the Georgia Association of Realtors through Nov. 31 is up 8.8 percent from 2016, said Brandie Miner, the association’s director of marketing and communications. Year-over-year percentage growth from 2015 to 2016 was 10 percent, she said.

“So we have definitely been seeing growth,” she said.

Last week, the National Association of Realtors said sales of existing homes rose last month to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 5.81 million units. Home sales were last this strong in December 2006, when properties sold at annual pace of 6.42 million.

A separate report from the National Association of Home Builders showed confidence jumped unexpectedly in December, with the association’s index rising five points to 74 – the highest reading since 1999. Fifty is the line between positive and negative sentiment. Sentiment stood at 69 in December of 2016.

Chambers said several agents who graduated from the training program’s previous incarnation – which was co-located with Meybohm’s insurance affiliate at 3512 Wheeler Road – are now among the top in the company and the market.

“They were fully trained and fully equipped so that when they got into our fully functioning offices, they were so far ahead of the curve it was crazy,” he said.

The new center will feature an open floor plan for the two to three dozen agents expected to rotate through the six-month hands-on program, which includes an intensive 90-day “boot camp” regimen designed to prepare agents for the rigors of selling real estate in today’s landscape, said John Cates, Meybohm’s general counsel.

“We want to be the gold standard,” he said. “We feel like this is a good way to give people that gold standard of training. We would rather have 10 professional agents than 30 agents we’re not sure about.”

Meybohm has 250 licensed agents. Chambers said he could see that number increasing to possibly 300.

 

Reach Damon Cline at (706) 823-3352 or damon.cline@augustachronicle.com.

 

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