When the economy dips and layoffs rise, it’s not uncommon for workers to want to retool their skills and return to the classroom. But what is happening to education within the real estate sector, which has played a pivotal role in the unraveling of America’s economy?
This month, The Real Deal has decided to lift the curtain and take a look at the health of real estate education. It turns out that the scope of programs is as varied as the industry. While much of real estate is in the doldrums, interest in graduate education at the country’s top real estate programs remains strong. To their applicants, these programs are the equivalent of MBAs. MIT’s Center for Real Estate and NYU’s Real Estate Institute, two of the country’s leading centers, report that interest from both applicants and employers remains strong. MIT in particular has been expanding its focus on development abroad, especially in Asia, where the scale of building is far greater than in the U.S.
Yet learning about real estate doesn’t always require years of study and gobs of money. Short and inexpensive seminars offered by groups like Property Shark and the Learning Annex are gaining in popularity. But in one story, our reporter finds the quality of the classes uneven. While Property Shark offers solid tips for novice homebuyers, Learning Annex classes like “Buy New York City real estate at 1970s prices” tantalize, but don’t altogether offer convincing lessons.
The present downturn in the housing market may be one reason why fewer brokers and agents are renewing their licenses. In New York State, the dip has been modest, but it still shows that fewer individuals view the real estate profession as a viable line of work.
To prepare new agents for a changing environment, the city’s largest brokerages all tout in-house training programs. These range from quick orientations, such as those offered by Corcoran, to six-week-long classes hosted by Bellmarc.
Finally, there are those on the lending side of the business. In light of the subprime fiasco, calls have increased for better training and stricter ethical guidelines for mortgage brokers. Although the mortgage industry is in broad agreement about the need for tighter standards, another story shows that it remains divided about which professionals should be obliged to attend.