JTHS Council of the MIAMI Association of REALTORS - Jupiter, Tequesta, Hope Sound



Educating Realtors with Powerful, Real World Lessons

by | Dec 22, 2016

By Chris Umpierre

Rick Burch’s deep, baritone voice is hitting a new octave now. The entire building can feel it.

The bearded, charismatic leader of Florida’s fastest growing real estate school has incredible passion for teaching, real estate and his students. You can hear it in his pitch as he inspires (no, check that — implores) his students to devote all of their time to their new craft.

“I’ve heard everything from Realtors,” Burch tells his class before changing his voice to a comical, squeaky pitch.

“They’ll say, ‘I’m toooooo busy to find buyers and sellers. I’m going to a developer’s showcase tonight. I’m going to have wine and cheeeeeeese.’”

The classroom bursts into laughter. Burch shakes his head, runs his right hand through his stubby beard and quotes American essayist Henry David Thoreau. How many real estate instructors do that?

“Henry Thoreau said, ‘It’s not enough to be busy. The question is: what are we busy about?’” Burch said. “If you’re not moving your business forward every day, maybe you’re not doing it right.”

It is these simple, direct and down-to-earth lessons that have made Burch and his young school so popular. The four-year-old South Florida Real Estate School — which will expand from six to seven locations in 2017 and regularly hosts sold-out classes in Miami-Dade, Broward and Palm Beach counties — is tasked with a critical mission.

Real estate is a multi-billion dollar industry locally, and South Florida Real Estate School’s six full-time instructors train thousands of agents. The school makes sure the people who are selling your home are doing it the right way.

Sure, prospective agents must pass a state-mandated course and exam to become licensed, but the course doesn’t teach licensees how to sell real estate. It teaches Florida law, mortgages and deeds.

Many area brokers, who hire agents, don’t offer skills training, either. So if new agents want to learn how to get listings, create listings, input listings correctly into the Multiple Listing Service, promote properties, communicate with buyers, work with sellers, manage community associations, earn income from properties or become a listing agent, they need to attend a real estate school.

“When you get a real estate license, what you have is a license to learn,” said Burch, repeating one of his favorite classroom phrases. “You have a license to learn how to do real estate. That’s where the South Florida Real Estate School comes in.”

Running with the Big Dogs

The South Florida Real Estate School’s No. 1 goal is to get licensees and real estate professionals running with the “big dogs,” which is how Burch refers to the region’s top-producing agents.

“You want to be running with the big dogs; you don’t want to be with the Chihuahuas and the Pekingese!” Burch tells his class.

To run with the big dogs, you need to devote total investment to the industry and the craft. Investing part of your time won’t work, Burch says.

“You’re in the highest paying industry in the United States if you want it to be. If. You. Want. It. To. Be,” Burch said. “You have to get out there. You have to make it happen. It’s your decision.”

Burch opens his skills training class — “Foundations for Success” — with Florida Realtors® and National Association of REALTORS® (NAR) statistics. Florida has about 155,000 agents, but 90 percent of all real estate transacted in the state is sold by 10 percent of the Realtors.

Many real estate professionals don’t invest all of their time. About 64 percent of Florida Realtors with two years of experience make $10,000 a year gross income. Many are committing part-time hours to a full-time occupation, Burch says. Many agents don’t take skills training classes.

Some agents think selling and buying a home is easy. HGTV’s “Property Brothers,” after all, buy homes for clients in a 30-minute show.

Real estate is complicated. Real estate is time consuming. Real estate is not for everyone.

Agents often spend months and months and long weekends showing homes to buyers, who could leave for another agent at any time. Agents often have to write eight, nine, 10 or more offers before one is accepted.

“There are no magic bullets,” said Lenny Batista, the owner of Bayside Realty Associates and a longtime SFRES student. “You have to go out and do the work. If you come to Rick’s class and don’t do the things he says, you might as well stay home. But if you apply what he teaches you, you can be successful.”

Changing Lives

Burch and his fellow instructors have endeared themselves to the community with their engaging, real-world style. Many area Realtors credit Burch, a Miami broker with 30 years of experience in the real estate industry, for helping them find success in a competitive industry.

Their passion for Burch — who comically refers to himself as Ricky Real Estate — is so strong that sometimes students stop him out in the community. “Rick,” they’ll say as they run up to him. “Do you remember me? I passed my state exam! It was everything you said it would be!’”

Gabriel Pulido of Realty World calls Burch a “character” who teaches real estate in a simple way. Julio Esquenazi, a 30-year real estate broker with Florida Realty of Miami, calls Burch a mentor who has helped him enjoy business success.

“You remember what he tells you in class,” Esquenazi said, “and you use it a lot in your daily business.”

Generation after generation have studied under Burch, both in his time at the South Florida Real Estate School and at his previous instructor stops. Fathers and sons; mothers and daughters. They all want Richard Burch’s real estate advice.

Lenny Batista, a broker with Bayside Realty Associates, has taken four Burch classes: pre-licensing, post-licensing, broker training and skills training. He thinks so highly of Burch he made his 26-year-old son, also a Realtor, and his agents enroll.

“You need someone to make the material interesting and Rick’s wealth of knowledge is unbelievable,” Batista said. “Thirty years of experience in real estate. He knows the market.”

Lessons that Transcend Real Estate

Burch doesn’t just teach you about real estate; he teaches you about life.

Listen closely and you can use his instruction to help yourself or learn about others in business dealings, with family and friends, in the community and more.

They are Burchisms:

On proper body language: “Lean in when you’re talking to someone. It will let them know you’re paying attention.”

On the power of positivity: “Nine out of 10 things people worry about will never happen.”

On the power of visualization: “If you want a human being to do anything, you need to get them to think it.”

One particular lesson that leaves a memorable impression are his famous personality tests. The lesson begins with Burch asking students to pull out a paper and draw a square, triangle, circle and a crooked line. Then he asks them to quickly, without thinking, pick the design they most represent.

Each geometric design has its own personality trait, Burch explains. Squares, for instance, are workaholics. They are detail oriented and organized. So how do you interact with a square personality? “Be soft spoken in your approach and don’t make them feel guilty,” Burch tells the class.

How do you work with triangles, who are motivated by power?

“Do your homework and don’t be slow and indecisive,” Burch says.


Finding his Passion

Burch said there’s nothing like the rush he gets when he helps others reach their goals. He said he had no one help him when he was new to the industry. That’s why he wants to give back.

Burch is so committed to his students he hasn’t taken a vacation since starting the South Florida Real Estate School in 2013. Burch teaches on the weekend. Burch is the only SFRES instructor who instructs a state review course on the weekends.

When he’s not teaching, he’s writing books (he’s co-authored two real estate education books), scheduling classes and ordering books.

After spending decades buying and selling real estate for clients, Burch has moved most of his efforts to education.

“I work harder now than I’ve ever worked,” Burch said with a grin.

The best part of his job is seeing the same faces in his classroom year after year. They are, after all, his family.


Launching his Teaching Career

Burch didn’t grow up thinking he’d launch a real estate career, a real estate school or even become an instructor. Real estate found him.

Three decades ago, Burch thought he would retire young. As a hobby, he began purchasing Miami homes with the idea of renting them out. His girlfriend, a top producing Miami Realtor, asked him why he didn’t get a real estate license.

Burch relented, got his real estate license and threw himself head first into his craft. His knowledge and expertise developed so fast, friends asked him for advice.

Soon, educating Realtors became his full-time job. He became an instructor at a large local real estate school.

For a broker who worked in real estate for decades, teaching came easy. Burch reached adult learners like no one else. Many of the real estate professionals or prospective agents who come into his classes have not stepped foot into a classroom since high school.

Many of them are nervous. Many of them are uneasy. This is a new career for them. It has new responsibilities, new challenges.

Many start real estate as a second career after being laid off from a previous job.

Burch knows how to put these newbies at ease. One of the first things he does is reassure them that despite the highly-competitive industry and the multitude of Realtors that they can be successful. Just listen to his advice and commit total investment to the craft, Burch tells them.

His coursework is like him: fun.

“If I’m laid back and I have fun,” Burch said, “then they’ll be laid back and have fun.”


The Birth of a School

Four years ago, Burch was working as an instructor at a large real estate school when he came up with an idea to shake the industry.

He approached the MIAMI Association of REALTORS® (MIAMI), the nation’s largest local Realtor organization, about launching a real estate school out of its offices. Burch would run the school and teach.

With the association and MIAMI’s many Realtor services behind the school, the South Florida Real Estate School could provide a cost-effective, state-of-the-art environment for students. MIAMI has nearly 45,000 members today.

Each office would be licensed as a state-approved real estate school classroom. The South Florida Real Estate School officially launched on Jan. 1, 2013.

Early on, Burch taught almost all of the classes. He now has five other full-time instructors to match the growing demand for his school.

Each year, the school has added to its curriculum. The school recently added a Community Association Manager course. The license is required by law for licensees wanting to manage a condo association. The school also added a property management course, which trains students on how to earn income from managing property.

Today, the South Florida Real Estate School’s classes are in English and Spanish and held during the day and night. Its prices are significantly lower than the competition’s. The school’s 63-hour pre-license sales associate course costs $395 (the competition charges $500).

Not only is the price better, but so are the locations and the facilities. No other local real estate school has as many South Florida locations. SFRES has six locations: Miami HQ, Coral Gables, Northwestern Dade, West Broward- Sawgrass, East Broward – DCOTA and JTHHS – Jupiter. A seventh location, in Broward, will open in January 2017.

Every South Florida Real Estate School location offers state-of-the-art facilities with comfortable arm-chair seating, desks and dual-screens for Power Point presentations.

“I was a vice president of a real estate board. I was voted Realtor of the Year. I know the business, but I still need to be here,” said Esquenazi, the broker associate from Florida Realty of Miami. “I always go back to the classes here at the South Florida Real Estate School because they are the best.”



Fast Facts

1  Number of days it took for Rick Burch’s “Foundations for Success” class to sell out in December in Coral Gables

6  Number of South Florida Real Estate School locations (A seventh location, in Broward, will open in January 2017)

6  Number of full-time instructors

395  Cost (in dollars) to enroll in South Florida Real Estate School’s 63-hour pre-license sales associate course (the competition charges $500)

475 Cost (in dollars) to enroll in South Florida Real Estate School’s broker course (the competition charges $600)


How to enroll

What: South Florida Real Estate School

Where: Six locations: Miami, Coral Gables, Northwestern Dade, West Broward- Sawgrass, East Broward – DCOTA and JTHS – Jupiter. A seventh location in Broward will open in January 2017

Who: Any person looking to enter the real estate industry or anyone looking for post-licensing, broker courses, community association management, skills training and more.

When: Day and night classes; English and Spanish instruction; Visit the school website to see the many classes offered from January through March.

Website: www.SFRESchool.com

Phone: Dade: 305-468-7068; Broward: 954-335-5200; Jupiter: 561-746-2707

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