Home Buyer Education Seminars

I am teaching two Home Buyer Education Classes this month sponsored by the Washington State Housing Finance Commission.  Anyone who is interested in buying a home can attend Рour class is not limited to first time home buyers.

Home buyers who are interested in programs offered through the Washington State Housing Finance Commission, such as the Home Advantage Program with down payment assistance, are required to take a WSHFC sponsored class.

If you’re interested in attending a class where I will be teaching, you have two opportunities this month:

  • Saturday, July 13, 2013 from 11:00 am to 4:00 pm in West Seattle at the High Point Library. My co-instructor is Ira Sarachoff.
  • Saturday, July 20, 2013 from 11:00 am to 4:00 pm at the Greenlake Library in Seattle. My co-instructor is Jim Reppond.

Lunch is being provided at both of these classes… however, if you have dietary restrictions (or you’re a picky eater ūüôā ¬†you may want to bring your own sack lunch.

Both classes are FREE. If you’d like to attend, you can rsvp here.

I’ve always felt that an important part of a mortgage originators job is to educate their clients and make sure their questions are answered before they get to the signing table. I’m very excited to be a part of the Washington State Housing Finance Commission’s program.

13 Reasons Why 30% of LOs Fail the National Loan Originator Exam

The first time “pass” rate of the national loan originator exam has fallen to 69 percent.¬† This is an indication that the test is not too easy.¬† A high pass rate means an exam is too easy.¬† A low pass rate means an exam is too hard.¬† The numbers that tell a different story are the repeat test takers.¬† Test candidates who fail the LO exam the first time and retake the exam pass the exam only 44 percent of the time.¬† The SAFE Mortgage Licensing¬†Act is working¬†the way it was intended.

This blog post is for loan originators seeking help who are trying to pass the test the second, or third time.  Test candidates must wait 30 days between tests and if they fail after their third attempt, they have to wait 6 months before taking the test again.  I know it sounds unfair, but in all seriousness, not everyone is going to be able to pass this exam. The six month cooling off time is like a forced reflection period for a candidate to either get serious in addressing their repeated fails or get serious about studying.  The SAFE Mortgage Licensing Act of 2008 is only the beginning.  Over the next decade loan originators will slowly transform from being less like retail salespeople and more like professionals. The loan originator exam will never be as easy as it was in 2010.

I teach the SAFE Pre-Licensing course for new to newer loan originators which is a 20 hour course. I also teach an exam prep course for experienced loan originators and have had the opportunity to interact with hundreds of loan originator students. In this blog post I’d like to share¬†some reasons why¬†folks are not passing the exam so those who need help can identify their challenges and meet or reset their goals.¬† The following reasons are numbered for conversation sake and do not appear in any particular order.

1. One reason why people are not passing the loan originator exam is the same reason why people all over the world don’t pass comprehensive exams: Not enough studying. A 20 Hour pre-licensing course is definitely not enough time to teach and learn all the¬†complex knowledge required to pass the national LO exam.¬† 20 hours could be three, 7-hour days or two, 10-hour days.¬† Take a look at the test content outline.¬† There’s NO WAY an average human, who has never been in the mortgage lending industry, is going to be able to learn let alone understand, memorize and¬†apply¬†this content with only 20 hours of education.¬† One reason the number of classroom hours¬†was¬†set at 20¬†may have been¬†because during 2010 there were a huge number of experienced LOs who worked at non-depository lenders who needed this course.¬†Two days is plenty of time to spend with an experienced¬†originator but not someone brand new.¬† In the future, expect the pre-licensing hours to be expanded to a full week of education.¬†Until then, some students will have to spend way more time outside of the classroom studying on their own.

NMLS Resource Center2. “There’s no good study material available”
NMLS-approved course providers are not allowed to take the test only for the purpose of telling everyone what’s on the test.¬† In fact, we agree to NOT do this.¬† If we’re caught doing this we lose our ability to teach NMLS approved courses!¬†If you think about it, if it were that easy to cheat on the exam then why bother with the SAFE Act? Why not just give anyone who wants a license a license and not test them.¬† The Nationwide Mortgage Licensing System (NMLS) does not provide a study guide book. Instead they encourage test takers to seek out study material from course providers….however, slow down a bit and you’ll see right inside the test content outline, NMLS TELLS YOU WHERE THE TEST QUESTIONS COME FROM. Look at page 3 of this pdf.¬† Those who are seeking good study material don’t have to pay to get it.¬† It’s all available for free. However, that means you’ll have to actually read it. More about reading soon.

3. Wanting the answers/not wanting to study
Loan originators ask¬†their compliance person for the answer when¬†they have¬†a question about Fannie Mae, RESPA, disclosure requirements, etc.¬† So in attacking this exam, LOs expect to call a course provider and have that course provider hand them a set of 100 questions that will be on the exam.¬†And by the way, anyone who claims to “have THE 100 questions you MUST know” is probably wrong. Any list of questions floating around out there will eventually make their way to NMLS and I’m sure they’ll pull those questions. Okay, so maybe you don’t expect the answers but you expect someone to sell you a book that tells you what will be on the exam.¬† That book doesn’t exist either.¬† What about a book that summarizes the test content outline?¬† Yes there are books available and I think those books would be very helpful for some folks but no book will tell you the exact test questions you’re going to get! Relying only on a book is a mistake.

4. “I know the material, I just can’t pass the test.”
It’s possible you don’t know the material. Re-read numbers 1-3. Or perhaps you have test anxiety.

5. Test Anxiety
I¬† have met several LOs who are have a high degree of test anxiety that goes way beyond normal nervousness.¬† Yes, passing the test is important. In their mind, people¬†with high test anxiety go from “not passing” to “living in a van down by the river” in one heartbeat.¬† Test candidates get themselves all worked up so they can’t eat, sleep, think, or do anything let alone actually learn and understand the test content.¬† There’s lots of tips and ideas that have been written about dealing with test anxiety and even a little self-quiz you can take here.¬† One thing the experts agree on is that a person with high test anxiety isn’t going to be able to learn much while studying.¬† If you want to pass the LO exam, you must deal with your anxiety first and foremost before taking any exam prep classes.¬† There is¬†no time in anyone’s classroom to give personalized psychological counseling.¬† Besides, most of the instructors teaching classes whether they’re live or online specialize in mortgage lending not test anxiety. Your challenge is different. Know thyself….pass the test.¬† Maybe your anxiety comes from not wanting to be honest with yourself about a possible learning disability.

6. Maybe you have an undiagnosed learning disability.¬† As I’ve mentioned in other articles,¬†back in the 1970s there were no para-educators available to follow kids around giving rambuncious kids extra support. Instead students survived in other ways.¬†Humans listen and talk at a much faster and higher rate than we read and write.¬†¬†Some LOs are high functioning talkers but low functioning readers.¬† Some people are dyslexic or have other bona fide learning disabilities that they know about but don’t want to deal with the stigma associated with being labeled.¬† Well if you want to pass the LO test this might be that point in your life where you finally are going to have to come out of the closet and get some help.¬† Repeated on purpose: Most of the instructors teaching classes whether they’re live or online specialize in mortgage lending and not learning disabilities.¬†Ask your primary care physician for a referral to a doctor or counselor who specializes in diagnosing learning disabilities in adults.¬† The Nationwide Mortgage Licensing System will make reasonable accomodations for people with documented learning disabilities.¬† See page¬†14 of the MLO Testing Handbook for more details.

7. Subprime LOs who fell out of the industry during 2008 and are trying to re-enter the business are having a very, very hard time passing this test.¬† The main reason is because they¬†think they already know how to originate and don’t want to spend the time studying or don’t think they have to study so they repeatedly fail the test. Anyone who entered the industry¬†around 2002, left the industry in 2007 or 2008 and only originated subprime received very little compliance training if any. 2011 is a radically different world compared with 2007. If you still think stated income loans should come back, if you still believe that a pay option ARM is “the right product for the right person” and if you think it’s unfair that people can’t use seller downpayment assistance programs please do not re-enter the industry.

8. “The test contains trick questions!”
Actually, the test doesn’t have any trick questions.¬† Test writers try very hard NOT to write trick questions. The reason the test question sound tricky is because LOs are not use to looking up answers and reading the statute.¬† Instead they ask their boss or the compliance person, their processor or the person sitting next to them for the answer and move on.¬† People use language differently in different parts of the U.S.¬† Teaching a class in Oklahoma or Idaho is vastly different compared with teaching in Seattle or Virginia.¬† Test writers can’t use spoken language and coloquialisms from different parts of the U.S. when writing test questions for an exam to be delivered in all 50 states. The¬†only fair way to write test questions is to copy and paste directly from the law.¬† That’s why the test questions sound and look “tricky” but really the trick is on you. If LOs would simply study directly from the law, the test questions would look very, very familiar. Re-read number 2.

9. You’re ESL
English language learners are my best students. Why? Because they are typically more emotionally mature, know good and well that they have to listen, ask lots of questions, and study over and over again to pass this test.¬† ESL LOs…you WILL pass the test. Read more here.

10. The test has too many “situational” questions
So you know RESPA. You know TILA.¬† You’re scoring high on all your practice exams but the test isn’t going to be as easy as just knowing that you have to send out early disclosures within 3 days of¬†the application.¬† Instead the test will contain situational questions that will require you to understand how and also why TILA and RESPA interact with each other.¬†This requires you to look at a test question and understand what information you DON’T need and cast it aside. Only then will you be able to understand what content the test writer is testing you on.¬† This means memorizing test questions is a bad way to study. Instead you’re better off studying the laws and rules that govern mortgage lending.¬† Mortgage loan origination is all situational. These are highly appropriate questions for the exam and I hope we see more in the future.

11. Part Timers
The national LO test sets a bar and asks people who want to originate to show proof of knowledge of a body of information. Loan origination is no longer a sales job. It’s transforming into a profession. It’s really hard to be a part time doctor, lawyer, engineer, dentist, CPA unless that person is entering semi-retirement. The knowledge, skill set, and industry changes are too wide and deep and the consequences of screwing up are too high.¬† Welcome to mortgage lending in 2011.¬† You must be on your game full time or no one will want to hire you. And those companies that do hire part timers¬†are going to have huge liability issues supervising you in 2011 and beyond.¬† Commit to origination as a profession. Now start over and re-read items 1-3. Part timers have a high opinion of their knowledge of mortgage lending and are sometimes too proud to want to hear that they need more basic education on the entire mortgage lending process.

12. Lack of Basic Education
The SAFE Mortgage Licensing Act does not require a high school diploma or equivalent to become a licensed loan originator. Instead, those without a diploma simply must have proof of three years of experience in the mortgage lending industry.  Subsequently, the national LO exam will be that barrier to entry for folks who may have a learning disability or folks who may not have the ability to think, reason, and understand above a 9th grade level. Some of the math questions on the exam will require a basic understanding of 9th grade algebra. Some of the questions will require the ability to understand how two federal laws relate to each other and to the consumer.  Some people only have the ability to understand one federal law at a time.  Mortgage loan origination today requires the ability to multi-think all day long.  My recommendation: Finish high school first.  The discipline required to obtain a GED will be good practice for studying for the LO exam.

13. Learning Style Not Matched with Study Choice
Visual, auditory, tactile, whole body, emotional…These are all learning styles and passing the test means knowing how you best learn. Learning requires understanding. If you can teach another person something, this is a good sign that you know that concept and will be able to select the correct answer on an exam.¬† Some people have to see pictures. Other students need to hear the content.¬† Sometimes instructors tell stories about legal cases. Stories evoke emotion which triggers long term memory.¬† Sometimes students learn best if they get their whole body involved in the learning process. Everyone is different. Choose a course provider that understands learning styles and find one that matches your particular style.¬† In my experience, most students have a mixed style so find an instructor/course provider that mixes it up for you. One student had me on the phone grilling me with questions about my course for at least 15 minutes. We figured out that we’d be a good match for each other. She attended my course and passed the test the next day.¬† Don’t be afraid to call course providers and ask lots of questions.

Every test candidate is different. Some people listen at a higher/faster rate than they can read and write. Some people need¬†to simply read through 400 sample¬†test questions and that’s all they’ll need.¬† Some people have undiagnosed learning disabilities.¬† If you’ve taken the LO exam and failed, re-evaluate your learning style, the time you’ve spent studying and any of these other ideas and try again.¬† If you still cannot pass the exam ask yourself how much you love the mortgage lending industry because there are other positions available in lending that do not require an LO license.¬† And remember, you can always go work at a depository bank.¬† Bank LOs do not have to pass the exam…..yet.¬† Someday they will.

Interview with Jillayne Schlicke – Part 1: LO's Are You Ready for 2009?

I recently contacted Jillayne to see if she would be open to an “interview”¬†geared to Loan Originators who plan to sticking around beyond the end of this year…of course, she agreed!¬† ūüėȬ†¬† Jillayne offers training and clock hour approved courses to LOs and I thought this would be good timing to touch base with her.¬† This¬†will be¬†a two part series with the next post addressing the SAFE Act (national licensing). My questions¬†to¬†Jillayne are¬†in italic text.

What should Loan Originators be doing right now to prepare for 2009?

Jillayne:¬† Well, let’s first define LO’s.¬† In my¬†mind, we’re talking about LO’s who work for non-depository lenders such as mortgage broker LOs and CLA [correspondent lenders, credit union and consumer loan]¬†LOs.¬† Loan originators who need to work for an FHA lender have all ready made that move.¬† Those who have not, will.¬† LOs who work for a lender or broker that is not FHA approved are all ready finding other sources of money.¬† Some LOs have¬†already positioned themselves nicely but are experiencing a dramatic drop in income.

Many LOs made six figures income during 2006 and 2007 and subsequently have a six figure lifestyle that they are already trying to pare down to match 2008 income levels.  Income levels will remain volatile in 2009.  Existing client bases will not return the same income level as prior years.  LOs must prepare for the recession and start to research what kinds of industries survive and thrive in a down market and begin to reach out to people in those industries today.

Loan modifications have popped up out of nowhere to become the current “get rich quick” scheme marketed to hungry LOs.¬† Stories are circulating about LOs wo are closing 60 loan mods a month.¬† This is a possible untapped revenue source for LOs, however, there are some big liability pitfalls to navigate in the form of state laws, federal laws and contract laws.¬† Loan mod salesmen have been pitching lots of different programs, charging LOs thousands to buy into a “system”, without knowledge of state and federal laws.¬†¬† LOs must be cautious and do their homework before jumping in head first.¬† Massive government intervention in foreclosures may make that “system” investment worthless.¬† There are ways to do loan modifications without putting your license in danger.

What trends are you seeing in the mortgage industry?

Jillayne:  Mortgage lenders, no matter where they work; banker, broker, consumer lender, credit union, ought to be prepared for more regulations at the state and federal level.  The winds of change are blowing in favor of the consumers.  The industry went through this in the 1970s when we saw a wave of consumer protection legislation such as the Real Estate Settlement and Procedures Act (RESPA), Truth-in-Lending, the Equal Credit Opportunity Act, and the Fair Credit Reporting Act.

We have only seen the beginning of what will likely be more consumer protection.¬†¬† The consumer must be told in a clear way what fees will be charged and how much the loan originator is making on the deal.¬† The mortgage broker industry mis-used Yield Spread Premium.¬† Because of this, the government will now tell mortgage brokers exactly how to explain that fee, and the brokerage industry won’t like it.¬† Watch for RESPA reform to pass and a new Good Faith Estimate.

I expect that underwriting guidelines will continue to go up as banks and conforming paper sold to Fannie and Freddie will raise minimum credit score requirements to 800 and require 20% down.  Everyone else will be pushed to FHA.

On the broker side, we’ll likely see more of the smaller, non-FHA approved brokers joining larger, branch office brokers with FHA-approval already in place.¬† Brokers who do not want to join the FHA party could take a look at the hard/private money side of the industry, which will likely grow as more people who always will be subprime return to their broker.¬† Brokers always have been a source of non-traditional money.¬† Now more than ever, subprime borrowers need that broker.¬† FHA is not the world’s subprime lender.¬† It was never intended for that purpose.

If we continue to push subprime towards FHA, then we will soon be looking at an FHA bailout.¬† Let’s not act surprised when it happens.

We are likely to see government intervention in the foreclosure crisis on a massive scale. FHA Secure and Hope 4 Homeowners will be deemed colossal failures because the underlying lenders simply cannot write down the principal balance on those non-performing loans without sending their own banks teetering into receivership.  I believe we are inching closer each day toward eventual nationalization of banks.

What are your most popular classes that you’re teaching right now?

Jillayne:¬† The short sale class, which I’ve taught for over ten years now, is very hot.¬† Other best sellers:¬† Foreclosure; Losing the American Dream, Current Issues in Lending, FHA Loans, Fiduciary Duties for Mortgage Brokers, and for Real Estate Agents: How to Survive in a Down Market and How to Become an REO Agent.¬† I’m starting to teach the fundamentals of a loan modification inside the Short Sales/Short Refis class and my class last week loved it so watch for one on loan mods.

On that note, I really recommend that Washington State LO’s make sure they’re signed up for their 2008¬†clock hour classes, if they have not all ready met their education requirements for licensing this year.¬† Be sure to check out Jillayne’s new Professional Education page here at RCG and watch for Part 2 of my interview with Jillayne where we discuss national licensing: The SAFE Act.

Free Class!

If anyone is interested, I am offering a free class tonight at the Phinney Neighborhood Center (Blue Building Room 6, 6532 Phinny Ave. N. in Seattle) from 7:30-8:30. I’ll be addressing legal issues relating to the purchase and sale of a home, as well as the advantages and disadvantages of buying or selling without an agent. I hope to see you there!

New Law To Regulate Mortgage Professionals

On March 9th Washington State’s Governor Christine Gregoire signed House Bill 2340 which will regulate all Loan Originators in the brokering of residential real estate loans. According to Washington Association of Mortgage Brokers the new legislation requires the following:

  1. All Loan Originators will need to pass a basic compliance skills examination prior to January 1, 2007;
  2. Continuing Education will be required on an annual basis;
  3. Background checks will be required prior to licensing, removing felons’ and person with criminal histories that do not warrant the public’s trust.

Washington Association of Mortgage Brokers (WAMB) also states:

(The licensing) creates new consumer protections by raising the bar for practitioners in our industry by achieving two key objectives: 1) it will help weed out those in the industry who do no have the consumer’s best interest in mind and creates a revocable license for those that employ unethical and illegal practices; and 2) it will strengthen our industry by exposing educational opportunities needed for brokers that care about doing things right, but may be lacking the knowledge to remain compliant in accordance with State and national regulations.

WAMB provided some interesting facts about other states that have implemented a licensing requirement:

  • In Ohio 10% of loan originators were removed due to felony convictions.
  • In Utah 25% of loan originators never passed a basic compliance skills examination.
  • Many ‚Äúout of state

A Funny Thing Happened On The Way To The Forum…

Actually it was a great evening at the MIT Enterprise Forum program last Wednesday (3/15) on the topic of Online Real Estate. I was on the volunteer program development team that put the evening together, and I got tagged to put together this note for you ūüôā And my own personal thanks to all who helped us with insights and contacts to build the program, including Dustin. There‚Äôs already been a lot of great timely comments on the program in this blog, so this note is primarily to report some of the stats and survey results, and a couple of my own comments on disruptive technologies and market inertia (or active resistance, as the case may be).

Attendance at the dinner/program meeting was a sold-out 400 people, one of the highest numbers ever for an MITEF program. The program panel was made up of three local online real estate companies – House Values (Niki Parekh), Redfin (David Eraker) and Zillow (Spencer Rascoff), plus a broker, Real Property Associates (Gordon Stephenson), and an Internet savvy agent, who was also our moderator (Jim Reppond, Coldwell Banker). So it was a good crowd, and a good spectrum of players on the panel. The program consisted of introductions of the players and their companies, key questions and panel responses led by the moderator, and open Q&A from the audience.

Wednesday morning (3/22) we reviewed the results of the online survey we sent out to the 298 attendees that we had emails for – we got 96 responses back, which is a pretty good sample. Here’s some highlights of the responses:

  • 63 % were there because the program was relevant to their work or job – usually not that high; lots of Realtors present, as expected. For over 60%, this was their first time at an MIT Forum event. The other large segment was more the regular MIT Forum attendees who follow, and lead, tech-driven companies and their business issues.
  • 87 % said the topic was relevant to them; 78 % said the program met or exceeded their expectations.
  • 69 % said the level of detail was just right, but 31% said it was too general – higher than we would have liked.

Enough of the stats. Here’s some quotes from the comments that show more of the flavor of the event, and some of the mixed reactions it generated:

“Having Zillow, Redfin and House Values in the same room at the same time was the reason I decided to attend. Not necessarily the speakers themselves, but the companies they represented.”

“I was expecting to hear about more revolutionary technology. It seems the real estate industry is still in the technology dark ages.”

“The topic was “The New World of Buying and Selling Real Estate”. The moderator and the audience of R.E. agents didn’t allow for a real discussion on the future because they feel so threatened by these new technologies. Boos from the crowd of R.E. agents and a moderator who encouraged it stifled an open and honest discussion.”

“It is difficult for businesses to share the future directly as competition is present and they cannot release product plans before they are ready to launch.”

“It was good to hear the stories on the companies’ background and how they work. Although, at times it almost seemed as though I was at an infomercial.”

“Great topic; always fun to hear the spirited discussion that an industry in transition generates.”

All of the above once again proving that it is very difficult to satisfy all of the people all of the time, and that divisive subjects generate divisive reactions. It would be fun to do this again a few years from now, when more of these companies are bigger, and public, and have more visible business strategies.

So now I get to put in my nickel comments, based on my own background as a tech exec, seven years working with the MIT Forum on these kinds of programs, and now full-time realtor for several years. I think that this is an industry in the very early stages of being hit by disruptive technologies and the new business models that they enable. The mass and momentum of the industry are huge, and the consumer market is highly diverse. It may take quite a while for the new business models to clarify and engage their target segments of the market and start to get real (no pun intended) traction. The players we see today may not be the players of the future (for example, see Dustin‚Äôs earlier post about Google Base vs Zillow). But some will get traction, and as they do we will see a lot of resistance and delaying actions by those whose market is being disrupted. Some resistance will be tightened corporate policies, some will be PR campaigns, and some will be lobbyist-driven regulation. Anything sound new here? We’ve seen it in industries as diverse as airlines and telecoms and travel and books and so on … Delaying change is worth $billions to the incumbents, and they are pros at the game. But it still looks to me like the technology train is on the tracks, and gathering speed. Personally, I will take every advantage I can of the technology-driven changes… and I will continue to welcome ‚Äėold-fashioned‚Äô people-driven referrals ūüôā

Raising the Bar

Since Real Estate Sales is a unique beast and over the years has gotten more and more complicated and litigious, I thought it would be interesting to follow up on Robert’s post about the education needed to become a real estate agent. There are so many fields of knowledge that are needed to practice adequately, and requirements to get a license don‚Äôt even skim the surface. I‚Äôve never understood why the standards for entering this profession are so low given the magnitude of the effect an agent‚Äôs knowledge has on a customer.

Every real estate contract I’ve ever written has had potential to blow up into a legal battle. None have so far, but that’s probably because my errors mostly went unnoticed, were negotiated away or didn’t do any financial damage. Agents can get in trouble when first opening their mouths to talk to a client about buying or selling real estate and I know that the average agent doesn’t even know what he or she doesn’t know. Despite the many years as I’ve been in the business, I learn something scary on nearly every deal.

When I wrote my first contracts in 1978, I didn’t even know what title insurance was and yet I was HANDWRITING a title insurance contingency (I had language that I copied). Things have changed, the contracts are now boilerplate, but most agents still don’t understand that boilerplate well. Experienced agents understand a whole lot more than the newbies since most of us learned it by doing it wrong at one time or another.

For instance, my buyers were under contract on a vacant house last year and I brought in a heating contractor to get a bid for replacing the furnace. Oh oh, the CO level was at 92%, according to the technician and guess what, he had to decommission the furnace (a state law, apparently) in the middle of a very cold January. The seller was livid, my broker was stumped, the other broker was stumped, but we negotiated our way out of it. The seller (an attorney by the way) paid for the furnace and my buyers refunded him at closing since they wanted to install a new furnace anyway. I got lucky.

That’s just one of hundreds of stories. The scope of a real estate transactions is so broad, that experience in construction, architecture, inspections, repairs, real estate contract law, title and escrow issues, Fair Housing, underground storage tanks, septic systems, well water, lead paint, mold, radon, multi-cultures, finance, accounting, a working knowledge of condominium law and association lawsuits, and all the lawsuits relating to OSB siding, Cadet heaters, etc etc almost seems to mandatory..

Before you think I’m being dramatic here, these issues all come up during a normal realtors practice on one level or another. If an agent isn’t scared of saying or doing the wrong thing, then they’re not aware enough of what can go wrong. Since attorneys aren’t in the showing and listing business, it’s not practical to have one tag along with the agent all day to make sure that every written and spoken word is legally correct.

The only cure for at least raising the odds of being competent is to require a higher level of education. To sell real estate, I don’t think you need English grammer (would be nice) or calculus or History of the World, but you do need to know how to compute fractions, percentages, and know how to qualify a buyer for a home or at least understand how the lender does it. You need to understand the accounting basics of the normal transaction, some basic understanding of 1031 exchanges and for sure, understand all of the multiple forms, what they mean and how to fill them out legally. We’re supposed to say “I’m not an accountant (attorney, etc) and I can’t give you advice in that matter