Like many other professionals, real estate agents have to keep learning. The state regulators who oversee licensing require them to take additional courses before they can renew their licenses. As an agent, you’ll need to know about real estate continuing education.
What Is Continuing Education?
To be a real estate agent, you must have a license. During the licensing process, you learn the most recent rules and regulations. Because these change over time, regulatory bodies require agents to undergo regular training.
These are called continuing education (CE) courses. The purpose of CE requirements is to make sure agents’ professional skills and knowledge are up to date.
The best agents are constantly learning new material, of course. Real estate markets, technologies, and financing are constantly changing and smart agents learn these changes to better serve their clients.
Not only does regular self-education make you a better agent, but also helps you from being passes by your competition. And many new developments, such as customer relationship management (CRM) software, can make an agent’s life both easier and more productive.
From an agent’s viewpoint, state-required CE may seem less interesting than voluntary professional development. However, continuing education courses are required for license renewal.
Your Real Estate CE Requirements
Tip: Click on your state to see your local real estate continuing education requirements.
The first step to getting the CE necessary to renew a license is to understand the continuing education requirements. State real estate authorities set the rules for this. The only way to know what’s required is to check your local real estate commission’s website.
The websites for many real estate schools have lists of state real estate commissions and contact information. Simply clicking on the name of the state where you work will take you directly to the information you need.
In some cases, you may need to contact the real estate regulatory agency by phone, mail, or in person. The procedure for doing this will be on the agency website. The key CE information to get from a real estate commission website includes:
- Rules for renewing your type of license, such as sales agent or real estate broker
- Date by which you need to renew
- Number of hours of CE you need
- Specific courses that have to be part of your CE
- Fees for renewal
- CE schools approved by the real estate commission
Pay close attention to all of these. The state may call for agents and brokers to get different amounts and types of real estate continuing education. In Illinois, for instance, managing brokers must take 24 hours of CE every two years. Brokers, on the other hand, only need 12 hours.
It’s also common to have different requirements for agents renewing their license for the first time. In Florida, agents renewing for the first time must take 45 hours of CE and take a test. Second and later years only call for 14 hours.
Complete Your Continuing Education In Time
The due date also varies widely by state. In some states the CE must be completed the day the license expires. Other states may require the coursework be done a week or two before expiration. This will give enough time to issue a new license before it expires.
Many real estate licenses have to be renewed every two years. In Texas, real estate licensees renew every two years. This must be done by the end of the month during which the license was initially issued.
Many states leave it up to the licensee to know when to renew. Texas licensees get a renewal notice 90 days before the license expires. Until you get this notice, you can’t renew.
Real Estate Continuing Education Courses
States also have widely rules on required and elective real estate CE. California agents’ first renewal calls for five three-hour courses on ethics, agency, trust fund handling, fair housing, and risk management.
California agents also need 16 clock hours of consumer protection courses to renew. Another 14 hours on either consumer service or consumer protection completes the required 45 hours.
Courses on ethics, changes in the law and fair housing are required by many states. Other common mandatory topics include fraud, sexual harassment, and discrimination.
Many CE rules call for about half the hours of real estate education to be electives. These could be on market tends, social media, personal safety, or other topics of interest to real estate professionals.
Note that real estate regulators also often require a minimum amount of seat time. That is, students have to spend a certain number of hours actually working on the course.
Tip: It may be tempting to sign up for an online course and only study just before the test. However, online course software tracks the time students spend engaged in the course content. Real estate officials may disqualify students who don’t take part in online class activities.
Finding a Provider
Real estate authorities won’t take CE from just any school. For your CE to count for license renewal, it has to come from a state-approved provider. States maintain lists of approved CE providers.
You can probably check your state’s list of approved providers by looking at the website or contacting the state commission or department of licensing. Many CE providers delivered their instruction online. But there also should be face-to-face classroom options available.
Continuing Education Cost
CE fees are usually modest compared to the value of maintaining a real estate license. However, they can vary significantly depending on the state and the provider. The 18 hours of CE courses to renew a Texas agent’s license, for example, costs about $140 from one school. The same school charges $130 for a 22-hour course for New York agents doing first renewal.
The point of doing CE is to renew a license. So, although renewal fees go to the state instead of the school, it’s still part of completing the process that includes. The state renewal fees are often about as much as the cost of the CE. Texas, for instance, charges sales agents $110 for the renewal.
If the license has expired, the cost goes up. Texas charges $143 to renew an agent license up to 90 days after expiration date. From there up to six months it’s $176. Up to two years late, the fee is $190.
Our Favorite Real Estate CE Program
Real estate agents can view CE as an inconvenient burden or an opportunity to update their skills. Either way, it’s a necessary part of any real estate career. Working in real estate requires a valid license from the states. Planning ahead and making sure to complete required CE courses before a license expires is the only way to keep it that way.
Once you understand your requirements, it’s time to choose a provider. Personally, we love the flexibility of McKissock Learning. Not only is their material interesting, but you can complete the courses anywhere. For that reason, we highly suggest checking them out. You won’t be disappointed!
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