Higher education for residential real estate brokers?  Indeed, yes.  Rodney Dangerfield would tell us that as a group we don’t get no respect.  But now there’s a new designation and course from REBNY to encourage the best among us to step up and go forward to be recognized for our commitment to excellence and professionalism.  


Developed over a two and a half year period by REBNY’s Residential Sales Council, of which I’m a member, approved by REBNY’s Board of Directors and supported by its affiliate firms, the New York Residential Specialist, or its acronym NYRS, is a newly created credential for top residential brokers.  It can be earned by qualifying brokers upon the successful completion of 30 hours of a prescribed course of study.   


I’ve paid my $375 tuition, and I’m looking forward to classes which begin on January 21st and end on April 7th.  First offered last semester, the program awarded NYRS status to 30 graduates who will benefit from the experience, and who can also use the emblem on their marketing materials.


According to REBNY’s President Steven Spinola, “The course is not for everyone—it is for the ultimate professional who wants to lead by example and is willing to put in the necessary time and effort.”  In fact, not all brokers are eligible for the distinction.  To qualify, agents must be at the associate level and must have worked in New York City for a minimum of three years and completed at least 30 deals totaling a minimum of $30 million in sales or $12 million in rentals.


Alan Pfeifer, the current co-Chair of The Residential Sales Council and a Halstead Senior Vice President, led the Council’s NYRS Credentials Subcommittee.  “Its primary purpose,” he explained, “is to recognize the business and educational achievements of committed professionals and at the same time allow buyers and sellers to easily identify those who have reached these credential levels.”  


Standing Out From the Crowd


The 30 hour course is taught by recognized industry experts including Barbara Corcoran, Frederick Peters, Clark Halstead and Jonathan Miller.  Subjects cover psychology, negotiation, ethics, information management, communication, new development, and leadership.  Conforming to Albany’s educational model of 3 hour instructional blocks, 18 of the 30 hours have been approved by the state to satisfy continuing ed requirements for broker license renewal.  


Steve Goldschmidt, Warburg Marketing Group’s Senior Vice President, is looking forward to teaching a section on current technology again.  “I offer training to agents at the top of our profession.  Often,” he observes, “new technology can be a revelation to even the most experienced among us, and the intimate setting of our class makes brokers feel comfortable admitting how much they don’t know about what’s available on the web.”


The NYRS inaugural class was comprised primarily of veteran brokers.  According to REBNY Senior Vice President Eileen Spinola, “Most of those attending [the first semester] are senior brokers and no longer need the credit but are doing the designation course to stimulate their creative juices, expand their knowledge base and to stay competitive.”  


In addition to class participation which fosters lively discussions, the course has a required reading list and a final project.  Essential titles for the current semester are Emotional Intelligence by David Goleman, Smart Negotiating by James C. Freund, and The Handbook of Emotionally Intelligent Leadership by Daniel Feldman.  According to the course application, there’s room for creativity in the program’s final project which can range from oral presentation to essay to website creation. 


The course is attracting those who are highly motivated who are looking for fresh areas of growth.  While still in its infancy, the new credential goes well beyond the state’s standard educational requirements.  Looking to the future, Frederick Peters, President of Warburg Realty Partnership, predicts, “I think the NYRS designation will grow in importance as the course continues, and I strongly urge those who are eligible to sign up.”


For the industry, the new credential seeks to raise the level of professionalism, ethics and leadership.  For brokers who gain the new title, a certain competitive edge can be earned.  NYRS professionals will comprise the industry’s leaders—experienced and successful professionals who stand above the crowd.