Housing Up & Licensing Keeps Pace

If you have ever purchased a home in Utah, you have likely worked with one of the many professionals licensed through the Department of Commerce, Real Estate Division. The division works to protect the public and promote responsible business practices through education and licensure of real estate professionals to include real estate agents as well as individuals and businesses who provide mortgage and appraisal services.

As Utah’s economy and housing industry continues to improve, the Real Estate Division is experiencing an increase in licensing applications. To meet the demand without requesting additional resources, the division has implemented several SUCCESS Framework strategies—strategies that focus on improving internal processes and increase the overall speed for issuing licenses.

This is no small feat as the division was already performing at a very high level—processing 75% of all applications within five days. By implementing a few simple strategies, the division now processes 85% of applications in five days—despite the fact that the average number of monthly applicants has increased from 195 to 258 or 32.8%. In addition, by doing more with the same resources, the Real Estate Division cost per application has decreased by approximately 25%.

A key improvement strategy has been to reduce the number of licensing applications that are submitted without being complete. Incomplete applications dramatically slow down the process as staff must contact the applicant, request the missing information, and wait for the information to be provided before approving or denying the application. Staff created a checklist cover sheet for every type of license to remind applicants not to turn in an application without including all the required information. In addition, the division now provides the checklists to real estate schools and testing providers so applicants are well aware of licensing requirements before they apply. Licensing staff also reviewed all the required documentation and have found more efficient ways to authenticate the information submitted.

Division management also reviewed how they were utilizing their most important resource—the staff. Primary and secondary backups have been trained and assigned for all critical process steps. Cross-training ensures the critical process steps are not delayed for any reason. Additionally, standard work instructions have been developed for all functions to support cross-training as well as new employee training.

In addition to these formal improvement strategies, department employees have individually embraced the challenge to improve. One great example is that employees have implemented ways to avoid “batching” work by proactively getting applications from the reception area rather than allowing them to pile up in in-boxes. This extra focus and effort has yielded great results in a short period of time. The results speak volumes for the work of the Real Estate Division and their dedication and willingness to make improvements to better serve their customers.