Real estate continuing education courses are required for real estate license renewals in all 50 states. The requirements vary by state, with some states (like Illinois and Kentucky) requiring as little as six credit hours of continuing education for sales agents, and other states (like California and Wyoming) requiring as much as 45 credit hours for sales agents.
Many states, like Washington and Florida, have different requirements for first-time real estate license renewals than for subsequent renewals. In Texas, for example, new agents have two years to complete a 90-hour Sales Apprentice Education (SAE) course before they can renew their license for the first time. But subsequent license renewals in Texas require only 18 hours of real estate continuing education.
And it’s not just sales agents. Real estate brokers are also required to complete continuing education courses before renewing their broker licenses in each state.
The Purpose of Real Estate Continuing Education
The purpose of real estate continuing education (which you’ll often see referred to as “real estate CE” or even just “CE” within real estate groups) is primarily to keep agents and brokers up-to-date on changes in real estate laws and regulations. But CE courses also give agents a chance to refresh some of their general real estate knowledge or even to expand their knowledge in real estate niches like property management or real estate investing.
And, while much of the feedback from agents about real estate CE was positive, there were also some negatives and some warning signs.
If you want to know all about real estate continuing education, here’s the good, the bad, and the ugly.
The Good Things About Real Estate Continuing Education
In a recent survey by Aceable Real Estate School, 75% of agents agree that continuing education courses have been impactful in their careers.
Let’s look at the individual factors that contribute to agents feeling good about investing in continuing education.
CE is a Chance to Learn New Things.
A whopping 87% of agents reported frequently learning new things in their real estate continuing education courses. One of the great things about getting into real estate is that most states allow you to earn your real estate license fast by completing a comparatively quick pre-license course. There’s no two-year or four-year degree required, so you don’t have to wait long to launch your real estate career! The downside to this fast track is that your pre-license courses don’t cover everything you’ll need to know as a real estate professional.
Not only will CE give you a chance to get up-to-date on regulation changes in the industry, but it will also give you a chance to fill in the gaps in your general real estate knowledge.
Many Agents are Actively Using CE to Become Better Agents.
As a real estate professional, you’ll naturally have areas of strength and areas where you could use some improvement. Seventeen percent of agents report using CE to address areas where they struggle. Subjects like contracts, real estate law, and real estate finance are complex and don’t come naturally to everyone. So it’s good to hear that nearly one in five agents is taking advantage of real estate CE to improve in these areas to become better, more well-rounded agents.
You Might be Able to Get the Costs of Your Courses Reimbursed.
We don’t want to get your hopes up, but it may be possible to get the cost of your real estate continuing education reimbursed. While 90% of surveyed agents report paying for their courses themselves, 10% reported getting assistance from their broker or their local professional association.
But don’t worry too much about these expenses if you have to pay out-of-pocket. Most state-approved continuing education courses are affordably priced and are tax-deductible as a necessary professional expense.
Online Real Estate Schools are Making Real Estate CE More Accessible
For decades, continuing education meant driving to a real estate school and sitting through a daytime course, which cut into prime real estate sales hours. Then online real estate courses became available, and suddenly agents and brokers could fit their CE courses around their work schedule.
Today’s new online real estate schools are taking this a step further by designing CE courses specifically for your tablets and smartphones. Now you can work toward your CE requirement while in line at your coffee shop or when a client is running late for a showing.
The Bad Things About Real Estate Continuing Education
It can’t all be sunshine and rainbows. Here are a few of the bad things about real estate continuing education.
The Course Offerings Might Not Always be New and Exciting.
Seventy-eight percent of agents surveyed expressed that they would be more interested in CE if the topics focused on what’s new in the industry. Yes, your CE courses will likely cover updates to industry regulations. But that’s not exactly the cutting-edge, business-changing content real estate agents are excited to jump into.
The good news is that you can always take professional training courses to cover these more exciting topics. Courses on how to nail listing appointments and how to generate leads with geo-farming might not count toward your state CE requirement, but they can infuse your real estate business with fresh ideas.
Your Work Schedule May Leave Little Time for CE.
Despite 75% of agents agreeing that CE has been impactful in their careers, 55% said that the most important thing about CE is that it be fast.
This typically comes down to the fact that CE may be important, but it’s not usually urgent (until you’re a month away from your real estate license expiration, that is). Real estate agents and brokers juggle a lot. Between prospecting, marketing, appointments, listings, showings, and navigating escrow and closings, you often have a lot of urgent tasks to address. So even if real estate continuing education is important to you, it likely gets bumped for tasks that are both important and urgent. This means most agents value a CE course that they can complete quickly.
Again, we’re lucky to live in an age where your coursework can be completed online 24/7. And when you can use your downtime to access your coursework from your phone, the time factor becomes more manageable.
The Ugly Things About Real Estate Continuing Education
And now we’ve come to the few things about real estate CE that are downright ugly.
Many Agents Forget About CE Until the Last Minute.
As mentioned, real estate agents juggle lots of tasks, both large and small. So it might not be terribly surprising that 50% of agents forget about their CE requirements until either their broker reminds them or they realize that their license renewal is due in a month. In fact, one candid respondent reported that he or she waits until there’s a week left to renew his or her license. Yikes!
Waiting until the last minute doesn’t do you any good. At that point, you’re not able to take advantage of your CE requirement to learn a new real estate skill or improve your knowledge. You’re stuck just going through the motions so you can pass a course as quickly as possible to renew your license.
What Happens if You Forget To Take Your CE Course?
It is important to remember that your CE Course is crucial to renewing your real estate license when it is up for expiration. Failure to take the CE course can result in your license becoming expired and inactive, which will legally make you ineligible to sell homes. You will then be faced with other fees and obstacles to reinstate your license. These fees vary by state, but can start anywhere from $200 and up.
Set yourself a calendar reminder today about your real estate CE. Maybe set it for six months before your license expires so you’ll be able to take some time to make the most of your real estate continuing education requirement. And once your CE course is done, set yourself a reminder for the next one!
Lots of Agents Choose Their CE Courses Based on Questionable Criteria.
While most agents take continuing education seriously, there are lots of agents who see it as nothing more than a requirement to get through as quickly, easily, or cheaply as possible.
Aceable’s survey found that:
6% choose their CE topics based on whatever’s easiest,
7% choose based on whatever’s fastest,
7% choose based on whatever courses are offered for free (or reimbursed).
We have nothing against efficiency or being cost-effective. In fact, we pride ourselves on offering affordable courses that can be completed as quickly and easily as possible! But when those are your top criteria, you might miss out on a great opportunity to learn something new.
Real estate continuing education is critical in giving agents and brokers a refresher in real estate principles and practices and in keeping them up-to-date on regulation changes. Real estate CE also offers agents and brokers an opportunity to expand their real estate knowledge and skill sets.
Most agents see the value in these courses and appreciate that these courses help them and their colleagues continue learning and growing as real estate professionals.
But agents are also exceptionally busy. So to make the most of your real estate CA courses, it’s important to plan ahead, take courses that will be relevant to your work, and choose an online real estate school that gives you the flexibility to learn on-the-go.
Enroll in your real estate continuing education courses today!