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ARCHIVED  November 5, 1999

Educating Realtors

Changes in curriculum, requirements lauded

Doing business in real estate in Colorado is not as easy as it used to be. As educational requirements and accreditation standards climb, the proverbial high bar has been raised for industry professionals.

In addition, Colorado’s real estate industry has seen several changes to traditional industry definitions as well as a comprehensive change to contracts and the role of agents. When push comes to shove, industry professionals say that those able to handle the changes are those who have the most education and training under their belts.

“We’re big on education,´ said Bruce Willard, broker and owner of Austin & Austin in Greeley, who looks at this way: “Are you going to see a general practitioner or a specialist for a brain tumor?”

Willard is a certified residential specialist (CRS), a certified commercial investment member (CCIM), and certified residential broker (CRB). He pays for brokers in his office to attend CRS classes.

Colorado became the first state in the nation to eliminate the sales license for Realtors and require all real estate professionals to take 168 class hours instead of 72 to become brokers. The sales license was dropped when the state determined that the public didn’t understand the difference between a Realtor and a broker, and that brokers needed more schooling.

“From a management perspective, it’s been a really positive thing,” Hermie LaPoint, vice president of operations for Coldwell Banker Everitt & Williams Real Estate in Fort Collins. “We’re seeing people come into the industry who are much better trained. It’s really upgraded the professionalism in the industry.”

And seemingly the additional hours and expense required to become a real estate broker has not dimmed interest in the business. “The numbers are still up,´ said Kathleen Ramos, a real estate compliance specialist II for the state. “There was a major push at the end of 1996, which leveled off at the end of 1997, but it’s not a stable number. It is still growing.”

Numbers from the Colorado Association of Realtors support Ramos’ statement and show that the number of real estate professionals in Northern Colorado is up by 200. According to the association, which has 634 broker members in the area, there are approximately 2,000 real estate professionals in the Northern Colorado area.

Willard agrees that the change in education requirements has had little effect on the number of brokers in the market and believes that Colorado should require more education before doling out licenses.

“I think that the changes were modest,” he said. “I think there needs to be a lot more educational requirements, not less.”

Not only does the state require more hours of training, the curriculum for real estate licensing was revamped.

Contractual issues have been at the forefront of many training programs this year, due to a change in the standard real estate purchase contract that was implemented September 1. The changes essentially shift risk responsibility from the seller to the buyer.

“They basically did a complete 180,´ said Willard, who explained that the language in the new contracts shifts responsibility from the seller to the buyer, especially with regard to obtaining loan money and informing the seller in writing before the closing date if there are any problems.

If the buyer does not get the loan and does not inform the seller in writing before the closing date then he or she is in default, Willard said.

Previously if the money didn’t come through, the contract was simply dissolved.

“As long as both parties involved understand the requirements, risks and responsibilities then they are fine,´ said Willard, adding that more edification on contract law is needed. “The kinds of contracts I see floating around out there are terrible,” he said.

Identifying a need for instruction on the new contracts, Coldwell Banker sponsors courses on contractual issues for its associates. The company usually sponsors one or two courses annually for employees to help them earn the required eight hours of continuing education.

Course hours, either for licensure or continuing education can be obtained from 35 different course providers approved by the state, and now online courses are available.

“Many if not most educators are interested in moving in that direction,” Ramos said of Internet-based training.

One provider that currently offers online real estate education for licensing is VAN Education Center located in Niwot. Students interested in taking classes, tests and receiving their grades online can access the company at www.vaned.com. Semester credit hours are priced at $11.25 each, and the school currently has about 15 to 20 students enrolled per month.

VAN Education Center has just completed its second year in business, and owner Vann Hilty, who has 25 years of experience in the real estate industry and has taught principles and practices in real estate at University of Colorado, Boulder for 11 years, is excited about the future.

“The business is growing, and we’re starting to look at private placement,´ said Hilty, who wrote the school’s curriculum himself and says that the changes in licensure requirements are “keeping the industry standards really high.”

Currently, people pursuing a career in real estate go to school for 168 hours to get a real estate certificate. With certificate in hand, the next step is to take the state exam, which costs $74. Students who pass the test, which can take up to four hours to complete, receive a license and become independent contractors. They must find a real estate broker to practice with for two years. After that time, the professional can practice independently or with others. It is at this stage that the broker must take eight hours of continuing education to retain certification.

Perhaps in response to the number of online educators popping up around the state, the real estate industry is positioning itself to serve as a gatekeeper for educational quality. A pending rule from the Real Estate Board of Commissioners would require all distance-learning courses, such as vaned.com, to be approved by the Association of Real Estate License Law Officials (ARRELLO). The Real Estate Commission will vote on the rule this month, but it is not expected to pass.

“I anticipate that there will be some changes made to the process” by which ARRELLO awards approval and in the fee structure, Ramos said. “But I do not anticipate that the rule will be passed in its current form.”

Changes in curriculum, requirements lauded

Doing business in real estate in Colorado is not as easy as it used to be. As educational requirements and accreditation standards climb, the proverbial high bar has been raised for industry professionals.

In addition, Colorado’s real estate industry has seen several changes to traditional industry definitions as well as a comprehensive change to contracts and the role of agents. When push comes to shove, industry professionals say that those able to handle the changes are those who have the most education and training under their belts.

“We’re big on education,´ said Bruce Willard, broker and owner of…

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