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Grace, Other/Just Looking in

Does it make sense to get a degree in real estate?

Asked by Grace, Sun Feb 9, 2014

Hi all,

I am considering a career in real estate and have no experience or license. I am new immigrant from China and hold a degree in non-business major. I have been living in Chicago for ~4 years.

I have some options: 1. go to a better university for a general business masters degree and then take RE courses/get license; 2. go to a university with low rank for a real estate masters degree and get license; 3. just get a license.

Which option would be better for my career? Is it worth the time and money to get a degree?

Many thanks!

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Barbara Lowe Barker’s answer

This business is really about mentoring, working in the field, learning from mistakes, experience, research, licensing and asking for help when you need it. You'll learn more in real life than you will from the books. I've found that after I got my Real Estate Salesperson's Licence, they taught me nothing about how to sell real estate and I learned nothing at school about the anatomy of a purchase. These things I learned from experience.

You can start with a Broker's licence and add everything "a la carte" or "designations". If you are heading towards commercial sales, you would get your Broker's license, then go back for a CCIM. Here is a list of designations you can get:

Hope this helps.

Barbara Barker
3843 N Broadway St
Chicago, IL 60613
0 votes Thank Flag Link Sun Feb 16, 2014
the business is 30% knowledge and 120% effort..just get started as quickly as possible
2 votes Thank Flag Link Tue Feb 11, 2014
That is it in a nutshell. And it won't take long to figure out you don't need to be a rocket scientist to do what must me done in the effort arena.
Flag Tue Feb 11, 2014
There are many dimensions the the real estate industry. At the highest levels such a degree would not only be beneficial but mandatory. However, you have not shared with us what your real estate goals are.
Academics have a trend of becoming voice pieces in an industry in which they do not participate. It is easy to see the fingerprints of these folks on every dysfunction system in the USA. -------------- If your intent is be be engaged in the purchase and sale of residential real estate, the benefit of a degree will ONLY be realized if YOU can create a competitive advantage though proper marketing. This degree WILL NOT MAKE YOU MORE KNOWLEDGEABLE or MORE COMPETITIVE. ------------------If your intent is to become engaged in the commercial side of real estate a business degree will prove extremely beneficial in all aspects of this real estate segment. ------------------------Grace, it is important to understand, one's success in real estate is directly related to the commitment, desire and vision of the individual and depends very little on their formal academic credentials. Please take a few day to develop a description of what you think, or want your real estate business to look like. THEN, those who have so much experience and success can prove helpful in getting where you want to go.
------Annette Lawrence, Broker/Associate, Remax, 727.420. 4041--------------- Of course there is much personal satisfaction in knowing you are the most educated and smartest person in the office. For many that will be the total of their achievement as they make preparations to return to their day job at the insurance company.
2 votes Thank Flag Link Mon Feb 10, 2014
For me the best bet was to get my license and then immediately on my CRS which I completed in less than 18 months. I'm not sure that having a degree in Real Estate will give you any leg up but there are definitely some designations that will help you in the long run.
1 vote Thank Flag Link Mon Feb 10, 2014
Grace, if you are already a college graduate and are considering a career in residential real estate, there is no need to spend the time and money on a masters degree unless you plan to go into another industry or career down the road. Even the course to get your license is more geared to the legalities of real estate and not the practical application of the business. Do your research about the type and location of firm you want to work with and select one with an excellent training program and possibly a formal mentoring program. You'll learn far more in the field than you will in any classroom.
1 vote Thank Flag Link Mon Feb 10, 2014
I have seen a few people that have earned a masters degree in real estate but I don't think that it will really make a difference for residential sales. However, should you decide to join a top commercial brokerage or investment firm, then absolutely it will help you. Residential real estate has shockingly low barriers to entry as far as education is concerned.

I would recommend getting an MBA in general business possibly with a concentration in real estate financing or real estate investment. Having the background knowledge of an MBA will only help you in this business, especially when you get to the point where you have to manage people. I would also recommend going to law school and earning a JD with a concentration track in real estate. Having a JD in this business will be extremely valuable to you.

NAR offers an online degree program that is an MS in real estate, but if you want the best in-person education, look into the Mays School of Business at Texas A&M in College Station.
Web Reference:
1 vote Thank Flag Link Mon Feb 10, 2014
A business degree will definitely benefit you and your clients,however it is not essential to the field. Real Estate does require continuing education in order to maintain your license as well as other training and education.
1 vote Thank Flag Link Mon Feb 10, 2014

I see no problem with getting a degree in Real Estate. Currently there are MBA with an emphasis in Real Estate. Once you have your MBA it can definitely open doors for you, especially in the corporate setting. You can also start your career by getting your license and starting work now gaining value life experience in Real Estate.

Before I would begin I would research several brokerages and figure out what they offer newbies and ask them what is their turnover rate of New Agents. Know that everyone is different and if you have the drive you will be successful.
1 vote Thank Flag Link Mon Feb 10, 2014
If your goal is simply to become a licensed agent, then the advanced degree is not necessary. The best education is experience and working with a good mentor. If you want to work as an executive in a real estate company, then I would suggest an MBA or similar business degree. Good luck.
1 vote Thank Flag Link Mon Feb 10, 2014
If your career path and aim is to be employed in a corporate setting then I would think a business degree with a concentration in real estate would be beneficial towards your goal. But, if your thinking is geared more towards residential or commercial sales rather than a corporate management position then obtaining a real estate license should IMO suffice. That being said, I would never discourage anyone from increasing their knowledge of any field through further education. Knowledge is power! Good luck!

Broker Associate, GRI
Lang Realty
9858 Clint Moore Road
Boca Raton, FL 33496
1 vote Thank Flag Link Mon Feb 10, 2014
In my experience, having a degree of any type makes little difference in real estate. In this business the strength of your resume is what you've actually accomplished - closed transactions - not what degrees you have or where you went to school. However, if you want to grow your business (add people to your staff, open your own office, etc.), you will find business training helpful. Very little in the MBA curriculum applies directly to operating as an agent and there really is no substitute for experience in the field. You may want to get your license and try working in the field for awhile before investing the time and money in a degree.

John Souerbry BS, MBA (
1 vote Thank Flag Link Mon Feb 10, 2014
There are a lot of different things you can do with a real estate degree. Make sure that you definitely want to do it before you get a degree for it though.
1 vote Thank Flag Link Mon Feb 10, 2014
If you have the appetite for more education and you have the means to do it - then do Option 1 - better university /MBA. This will in theory give you more options 2 years down the road. If you know you really want to be Realtor - then get your license, find a good company w/ training and a mentor/s and spending the next 2 years "paying" tuition by learning on the job.
1 vote Thank Flag Link Mon Feb 10, 2014
There's no question......Going the MBA route will give you greater flexibility on what your advance degree can help you with. An MBA will open many doors for you! Then if you are still interested in real estate you can take your licensing courses.
1 vote Thank Flag Link Mon Feb 10, 2014
I have been doing this 28yrs and if I was starting out like you, but knew what I know about how the business has changed (for the worse) in the past 10 yrs I would NOT get a license. I would find something else to do.
1 vote Thank Flag Link Mon Feb 10, 2014
Hi Philip, can you elaborate a little on the change in the business? What would be the worse side of the business? Thanks!
Flag Mon Feb 10, 2014
Most people who sell real estate (Realtors) do not have a degree in real estate and usually come from different professions. You learn all the basics on real estate that you need to know in the licensing courses. And after getting licensed there are a variety of designations you can get to further your education and create specialties. However, this is a SELLING business. So while it is important to know about the technical parts, you won't be successful if you aren't good at marketing, networking, and talking to people. Those aren't really things that you learn in school or the licensing courses. As a result, I would not recommend spending that extra money because it can be several months until you close your first deal and this is a 100% commission job. However, there are real estate teams here in Chicago that you can work on where you get paid more like a wage or salary plus incentives.

My company, EXIT, offers great training and mentorship programs that get you on the fast track to closing deals quickly. If interested in learning more, contact me directly at
1 vote Thank Flag Link Sun Feb 9, 2014
I don't think anyone would have a lot of respect for a degree in real estate. I have never seen anyone in the business with that degree. If you decide to go into something else, it would not carry much weight there either. Get a business or other masters and a real estate license. You can get the real estate license at anytime.
1 vote Thank Flag Link Sun Feb 9, 2014
I would never discourage someone from getting an education. Anything you learn in any field can be useful in other fields. On the other hand, to do the day to day work of an agent, no degree is required and most agents I know with degrees, have them in other fields.
If you goal is to sell residential real estate, you may be best served by getting a license and learning the business first. You can return to school and your classes may take on more meaning as you have had real world experience in the business.
If you want to get into a specific aspect of real estate, having education in it may make sense. Doing standard residential real estate is fine, if you want to get into higher end investment, commercial or mortgage banking, expanding your education may be beneficial. It will all come down to your goals, interests, abilities and how hard you are willing to work.
1 vote Thank Flag Link Sun Feb 9, 2014
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