In this crazy world of Covid-19, if businesses weren’t online before the pandemic, they most certainly will be soon or they’ll find themselves out of business. There are clear advantages with our online world, however we also need to be careful and aware that our online world has significant and often less discussed disadvantages.  As we all wrestle with the inevitability of doing business online, we need to pay close attention to what we may be losing in the exchange. One of the newer developments of our march to move online is the ability for real estate schools to offer 24×7 online learning solutions (which by the way, I accept and embrace). Now let me share with you a story I recently heard multiple times that highlights the benefits and potential drawbacks of online solutions.

The story I heard involved folks who don’t speak or read English.  These people wanted to get licensed as real estate agents in the state of Washington and they recruited a close relative who did read, write and speak English to go through their pre-license classes for them (which they had to do online to pull this off). This relative also took the state licensing exams for his family and successfully passed both times. Now there are at least 2 people in Washington State who don’t speak, read or write English and they are actively selling real estate and have likely not learned what they need to know about Washington State rules, regulations or laws that are in place to protect consumers and real estate agents alike.

Since online classes/training became available, people in all disciplines have been figuring out how to game these online systems.  In this particular instance, recruiting a teenage boy to complete required online training and having this boy also complete the assessments that are meant to determine the necessary proficiencies to be successful as a real estate agent is an example of gaming the system. No one comes away better for the experience. This couple gets involved in real estate completely unprepared and open themselves up to the significant liabilities of this new profession. The family relative learns that cheating is acceptable to get what you want in life (a terrible life lesson). And finally any consumer who interacts with these newly minted real estate agents are sure to find their experience lacking and potentially financially damaging on a number of levels.

It has really become a world of Caveat Emptor (let the buyer beware).  We all need to be more cognizant and recognize the need to conduct our own due diligence when engaging with people and professionals with whom we are entrusting our hard earned money – whether this relates to real estate agents or plumbers, it’s a life lesson worth learning the easy way.

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