by Scott Murphy
The Emergence of Palomar College
When discussion about California real estate licensing comes up, it often drifts to the number of real estate agents in the business, how one out of every fifty Californians has a real estate license, and how agents are starving because of the market slump.
We also hear lots of bitching about the lack of education required of agents, and how someone who clips California fingernails for a living is required to go through far more training than a California real estate licensee.
So what are the facts, and how has Palomar College in San Marcos adapted to the market and the demand for real estate education?
The number of real estate classes offered by Palomar College has exploded in the past few years. In 2003, for example, Palomar only had two sections of Real Estate Principles, which in those days was the basic required class for obtaining a California real estate license. Because of increased demand, Palomar College now offers six sections of this class. Additionally, because the state now requires three classes in order to take the real estate examination, Palomar has responded with additional courses including the required Real Estate Practice along with other qualifying courses.
Recent class additions include Real Estate Exchanges, Real Estate Investments, as well as Advanced Appraisal and Advanced Escrow. These optional courses are rotated, alternating between spring and fall semesters–and also qualify for the California Department of Real Estate’s required continuing education hours. Palomar is also looking into a real estate computer applications class, but no date has been disclosed, said Jenny Al-Shafie, the business administration assistant at Palomar College.
“Palomar College has an outstanding real estate program for a person looking to get into or continue in the business,” said Al-Shafie. “Real Estate has become very popular in the past four years, and colleges like Palomar are having to increase available classes,” she said.
Many real estate practitioners believe requirements for real estate licensing should be even more stringent. Brian Brady, president of World Wide Credit Corporation in San Diego, believes that real estate licensing should be at least as strict as securities licensure because real estate agents guide people into what for most is the most expensive investment of their lifetimes. He also believes separate licensing should be required for lending and real estate sales.
Brian also agrees that real estate licensing educational requirements for both California agents and lenders should exceed that required for manicurists.
If that were the case, Palomar might respond with the required classes for the respective licensing. When asked about hiring additional instructors to meet the growing demand for classes, Al-Shafie said that many of their real estate instructors had been there a long time, which would give them priority of choice when classes became available. New instructors would only be hired as the need arose.
This fall, Palomar offered 18 real estate classes, whereas for spring 2008, the college is offering 20. The most popular real estate course is Introduction to Real Estate/Principles that is offered not only each semester, but as an online class as well.
So what are the true numbers when conversation turns to real estate and the glut of real estate agents?
According to the California Association of Realtors, there are currently 541,580 real estate licensees in California, compared to 511,459 a year ago–and 323,858 in 2002.
A call to Sandicor, which is San Diego County’s Multiple Listing Service, reveals that San Diego has suffered a slight drop in the number of affiliated licensees. There are currently 22,487 active members of Sandicor, a drop from 2006, with 22,800 licensees, but a major increase from 2004 when there were just 16,100 members.
Sandicor’s numbers may be the first indicator of California licensees dropping from the field of real estate sales.
The MLS is a critical key for conducting real estate business, because without MLS access and lockbox access, agents cannot conduct their business. Membership in the local Boards of Realtors, though, is often carried by title and escrow representatives as well as lenders and other affiliated businesses. Those businesses, however, are not allowed MLS membership or access to listed properties.
More will be known about the number of licensees dropping from the business when association dues, fees and errors and omission insurance premiums become due at year end and the first of the year.
I’ll be watching that number closely, and wondering if the State of California might require future and remaining agents to formally beef up their knowledge and skills. That would keep enrollment growing at colleges like Palomar.