Continuing education (CE) is mandatory for all licensed salespersons and brokers in the real estate industry, but the requirements are set by each state and vary widely.
For example, in Alabama, real estate salespersons must take 15 hours of continuing education courses by Sept. 20 of every even year. Meanwhile, in Georgia, the state requires 36 hours of continuing education every four years. For many states, even-year deadlines are approaching. Are you up-to-date on CE?
While states also vary in the elective and mandatory courses they offer, most allow salespersons and brokers to complete their continuing education through either in-person classes—at their brokerage/association, local colleges or real estate universities—or through cyber classes offered by multiple online sources. In a fast-paced tech world, which option is better suited for the modern real estate agent: cyber courses or concrete classrooms? The answer is not as clear-cut as you think.
- Local Colleges/Real Estate Schools/Local Associations
While adding commuting time to a busy REALTOR® schedule may seem like a disadvantage compared to in-house education or online sessions, many agents and brokers prefer to learn in an environment they are not familiar with. In many cases, this can help individuals to better focus and retain information. Additionally, real estate professionals may seek courses offered by their local association as a way to ensure they are learning from a valuable source with local real estate experience.
“I prefer, as most of my office does, to complete CE online with the Wisconsin REALTOR® Association,” says Jennifer Parr-Murphy, REALTOR® at Coldwell Banker Advantage in Wisconsin. “We used to do them in-person with a local trainer, but attendance dwindled. Some agents also completed a couple of courses at the annual convention, but due to scheduling changes, you ended up missing a whole day of convention classes.”
- Broker Classrooms/Education Centers
Many brokerages now offer their own classrooms or education centers with state-approved CE courses. Industry professionals find this extremely valuable, not only because it saves time, but also because they are receiving information from a trusted source. This is the best option for agents who prefer more hands-on, interactive training than the self-learning format of internet classrooms.
“I prefer taking my CE at my brokerage’s training/education center because the courses are led by instructors who are still practicing in real estate,” says Marissa Brown, property management director at Snap Realty Property Management in New Orleans. “Since real estate is ever-changing, I feel it is important to learn and hear stories from those who are still working in the field. I also prefer in-person learning over online.”
- Online Courses
For the extremely busy agent who prefers to lead-generate and go on appointments without interruption, this option offers flexibility. It also eliminates the commuting factor, allowing agents and brokers to complete courses in the location of their choice.
“Online all the way!—for the same reason I prefer Amazon and Shipt to the mall or the grocery store,” says Sean Ready, owner and CEO of Ready Realty Group at Keller Williams Realty in Florida. “I don’t want to pause my day and drive out of my way for something I can have on-demand. In real estate, or any sales-driven industry, your time has value; in fact, it is your most valuable asset! Focus on protecting it, and using it for what provides the most value to your clients and your business.”
The National Association of REALTORS® (NAR) provides a list of approved online CE courses, all of which are available through the Center for REALTOR® Development. A map at the bottom of each course description allows real estate professionals to check whether the class meets their state’s CE requirements.
Exceeding CE Expectations
For those REALTORS® looking to expand their knowledge of real estate even further, NAR offers a variety of designations and certifications that can help them stand apart from the competition. The skills and knowledge earned through CE classes can set up REALTORS® with a competitive edge and ensure that they are up-to-date on any significant changes to real estate law and procedures.
For REALTORS® interested in obtaining NAR’s Accredited Buyer’s Representative (ABR®) Designation or becoming a Certified Real Estate Team Specialist (C-RETS), the Center for REALTOR® development is currently offering these courses at a 25 percent discount for the entire month of February. You can find these courses on RISMedia’s Realtor® Courses portal.