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Real Estate Degree

Everyone needs a place to live. It’s a truism used to explain the constant demand and relatively steady growth seen in the real estate industry over the past few decades.

Would You Like to Get in on the Hot Property Market?

A couple signing a property contract

Everyone needs a place to live. It’s a truism used to explain the constant demand and relatively steady growth seen in the real estate industry over the past few decades.

In fact, it is the hot real estate market that has driven the creation and proliferation of higher education degrees in a field more typically dominated by state-licensed professionals.

The real estate degree along with the many opportunities available in the industry opens up a relatively new higher education pathway that is definitely worth consideration. The real estate major is particularly appropriate for those who would like to operate their own business, or at least add a lucrative side line to their usual job.

And beyond the typical benefits conferred by an undergraduate or graduate degree, a real estate major can put a degree holder in position to become extremely wealthy. It is something that you should look into, and all the information needed to get started is right here.

What is Real Estate?

As used in a North American context, real estate refers to real, or physical, property in the form of land and/or the buildings and other structures on it. This includes rights to any natural resources on the land or minerals under it. Depending on jurisdiction, real estate may also include rights to a portion of the air space above the real property.

Residential real estate describes single or multifamily structures that are used for occupation rather than business, industrial, or commercial purposes. Such structures can include existing or newly-constructed homes.

Commercial real estate refers to buildings and/or land intended to be used to generate income either from capital gains or rents. Hotels, malls, stores, office buildings, factories, and warehouses are all examples of commercial real estate. Commercial real estate is subdivided into three main types of properties: retail, office, and industrial.

Land refers to any vacant land as well as land used as working farm and ranches. Two main categories of land are developed and undeveloped.

As a general field of study, training, and professional occupation, real estate encompasses the marketing work needed to sell real property, the technical work required to transfer ownership, and the representation extended to the sellers or buyers of such real property. This work is done by real estate agents or real estate brokers, state-licensed professionals who negotiate sales and purchases and assist parties to a real estate transaction with the documentation and procedures required to complete such a transaction.

A real estate degree, whether associates, bachelor’s, or graduate, is a typical higher education degree. These degrees can serve as an added credential and higher qualification for holders of a real estate license, or they can be used to work in a variety of real estate-related business fields. Brokers and agents can be high-school educated, but an increasing number of occupational roles in the real estate field now require a degree.

Real estate is for the most part an entrepreneurial field in which brokers and agents work independently or for partnerships. Work is almost always on a commission basis. The field demands skill and hard work, and it has yielded wealth for many practitioners and massive fortunes for some.

What are the qualities and skills a real estate student needs?

A management student studying

There are a number of different study paths to a degree in real estate, and various career specialties that a graduate may pursue. The field can be roughly divided into sales/marketing and quantitative sectors. All students should possess the core skills and qualities typically required of any business major then focus their training according to the sector they intend to study and work in.

Hard skills useful to real estate majors include analytic and numeracy skills. Students should be superior academic readers because most of the occupational categories in real estate involve dealing with heavy documentation requirements.  A capacity to absorb and retain information is important, as is the ability to organize and present information to others. As in every other business field, good technology skills are foundational to success.

Real estate degree holders planning on entering the field as sales professionals will need to have the soft skills common to most sales occupations. These include:

  •       Interpersonal and communication skills
  •       Ability to Listen
  •       Commitment
  •       Competitiveness
  •       Confidence
  •       Enthusiasm
  •       Empathy
  •       Honesty and integrity
  •       Independence
  •       Networking Capabilities
  •       Patience
  •       Resiliency
  •       Thoroughness

Students on a sales career track are advised to build a knowledge base in the areas of marketing and advertising. This is particularly crucial for graduates who go on to open their own business or agency. The successful real estate student brings deep knowledge of product and market together with the technical and analytical skills need to work through complex transactions.

What is the best preparation for studying real estate?

Preparation for entering the real estate field at the undergraduate level is similar to what is required for undertaking any business major. A strong academic background with good numeracy skills, advanced academic reading skills, and practice with analytical work will be helpful. There is such a broad range of real-estate related career choices, from Appraiser and Assessor to Title Examiner/Researcher, that quality generalist preparation together with an interest in the field is enough to get started with.

Admission to real estate graduate programs does not normally require the completion of a bachelor’s in real estate. Many real estate graduate students come with diverse backgrounds including business, economics, geography, urban planning, and liberal arts. Entering graduate study in real estate primarily calls for maturity and knowledge of the professional and occupational landscape rather than any specialized undergraduate preparation.

There are relatively few reputable programs that offer a stand-alone bachelor’s degree with a major in real estate. A more practical approach is to complete an undergraduate business administration program with a concentration related to the desired graduate pathway into the real estate field. A bachelor’s degree in business with a real estate-related focus could lend itself to later study of an MBA with a specialty such as urban planning, development, or real estate finance.

What coursework is required for a real estate degree?

Pure real estate degree programs are designed to teach students about the industry and various related fields such as construction management, mortgage finance, development, real estate marketing and so forth. On-campus programs for full stand-alone bachelor’s degrees in real estate are still rare. It is much easier to find a Bachelor of Business Administration or Bachelor of Science with a real estate concentration or minor. Some schools offer a major in finance with an emphasis in real estate. Most schools that offer a 4-year degree in real estate have established online programs intended to serve working professionals in the real estate industry.

Whether you study a in an online program or choose an on-campus program, required courses in addition to General Education Requirements are likely to cover topics such as introduction to real estate, real estate brokerage, property investing, and real estate law.

Additional courses are often drawn from the business or finance catalogues and include coverage of accounting, management principles, finance and credit, and other familiar business school subjects.

Graduate degree programs in real estate were once limited mainly to majors or minors in business, but have been proliferating since the late 2000s. Students seeking graduate level qualifications in the field can opt for a traditional master’s degree, the MBA for example, with a concentration in real estate, or they can study a stand-alone Master in Real Estate Development or Master of Science in Real Estate.

Programs vary in required credit hours, and most can be completed in one or two years. Core curricula will generally have course titles like:

  •       Appraisal
  •       Advanced Real Estate Finance
  •       Introduction to Real Estate
  •       Corporate Real Estate
  •       Financial Modeling
  •       Asset Management
  •       Private-Public Project Finance
  •       Public Entitlement Process
  •       Negotiation and Conflict Resolution
  •       Real Estate Development Principles
  •       Market Segmentation and Analysis
  •       Real Estate Finance and Analysis
  •       Real Estate Development Project Management
  •       Real Estate Site Analysis and Design

A Master of Science Real Estate degree is designed to give students the grasp of theoretical and practical approaches to real estate issues, and the problem solving skills needed to be leaders in the real estate industry. In most programs, students also have the opportunity to network with real estate professionals and experience real-world project work.

What are the benefits of a real estate degree?

A real estate model

Getting a real estate degree opens far more possibilities in the field than simply acquiring a license or certificate. The course of study also leaves students with comprehensive knowledge of the field that ranges from law and policy to construction and site planning. The coverage of core business-related topics imparts useful skills in finance, marketing, data management, team leadership, and communication that can make a graduate competitive for any number of business job roles.

The knowledge gained by study for a real estate degree can also be used in developing a personal real estate investment portfolio or for managing rental properties.  One of the unique aspects of real estate as a major is that the skills and knowledge gained in earning the degree can be combined with appropriate licensing and certification and put to immediate use starting a small business providing various real estate services such as title search, appraisal, or property management.

Real estate is also a field that has afforded investors and even homeowners the ability to make significant capital gains wealth. The real estate market has been producing outsize returns on investment for over two decades and appears poised to continue to do so, particularly in the hot real estate markets around the world. Individuals with an entrepreneurial bent can find great opportunities in real estate without the need for years spent climbing a corporate salary ladder.

What can you do with a real estate degree?

The real estate field arguably presents more variation in occupational possibilities, job growth outlook, and salary expectations than almost any other major. This is because, aside from work as an agent or broker, there are hundreds of potential directions a graduate could go career-wise.

Complicating the picture further is the fact that so many real estate professionals work on a commission basis as independent business people. In many of today’s sky-high housing markets, an agent may appear to have no income for months until a deal on a multi-million dollar home closes and a 4-6% commission is forthcoming.

The sales sector of real estate is essentially for risk-takers. For students wanting a steady job, the correct degree with the right specializations can lead to careers like these:

Jobs for Real Estate Majors

  •       Building Inspector
  •       Community Developer
  •       Construction Manager
  •       Corporate Real Estate Manager
  •       Historic Preservationist
  •       Lease Administrator
  •       Land Use Planner
  •       Leasing Agent/Management Specialist
  •       Property Acquisition Manager
  •       Real Estate Entrepreneur
  •       Real Estate Lawyer
  •       Title Examiners
  •       Relocation Director
  •       Site Selection Specialist

Job outlook for the real estate profession is as varied as the field itself. The Bureau of Labor Statistics puts overall projected growth in the core real estate occupations of real estate broker and sales agent at 6% through 2026. The variation between sectors is exemplified by the forecast for property, real estate, and community association managers, who will see a 10% increase in job growth during the same period. Job opportunities for appraisers and assessors are expected to grow by 8%.

Salaries for Real Estate Majors

Those same property and community association managers earned a median salary of $58,670 per year in 2017. Brokers and sales agents came in at $47,880, appraisers and assessors at $54,010 annually. The picture was brighter for urban and regional planners. These positions require a master’s degree and were compensated at $71,490 in 2017. While real estate degree holders can make a decent living, it is clear that the sales and development side of the profession is far more lucrative.

Is a real estate degree right for you?

There is a reason for the rapid growth in the number of online real estate degrees: Most of those who enrol for studies in a real estate major are knowledgeable professionals working in the field. They know the correct choice of degree concentration and additional qualifications can prepare the real estate graduate for a good job in a title office, in a municipal position as an assessor, or in one of many other positions on the mid-salary scale.

Those jobs are safe, but sales, development, and management are where the action is in real estate. The prepared real estate degree holder who is not afraid of risk and is capable of working as a self-employed professional can earn substantially more than the job holders as long as the markets are moving well. If you have the character for sales and the temperament of an entrepreneur, a real estate degree might be right for you.

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