Individuals interested in real estate can pursue an associate degree to build a foundation in the various aspects of the discipline. For example, one may learn finance, law, or accounting applications in real estate. In general, students seek an Associate of Science (A.S.) or Associate of Applied Science (A.A.S.) in real estate, and full-time studies take about two years. Many schools offer the degree as a specialization of business or business administration.
Online Associate Degree in Real Estate: Coursework and Overview
Degree requirements usually encompass both real estate and general education classes. Students also often take courses in other areas of business. While the curriculum varies by school, there are a number of courses common to many degree programs. Below are some examples:
Real Estate Degree Courses
- Principles of Real Estate: Courses provide an overview of real estate concepts and licensing. Potential topics of study include terminology, real estate law, and appraisal.
- Financial Accounting: Students develop and analyze financial statements, such as income statements and balance sheets, using the generally accepted accounting principles (GAAP). Courses often teach students how to calculate and record such figures as revenue, expenses, liabilities, and assets.
- Real Estate Appraisal: Students learn about the purpose of appraisals and about basic appraisal concepts, such as value estimation, market data analysis, and appraisal reports.
- Real Estate Finance: Courses offer an introduction to financing real estate, covering such topics as loans, lending policies, and financing methods.
- Real Estate Law: Courses explore various legal aspects of real estate, including contracts, conveyance, and property ownership.
General Education Courses
- Statistics: Students calculate and analyze a number of statistical figures, commonly including regression, probability, and correlation. Some degree programs offer a statistical applications course for real estate.
- Computer Applications: Courses help students gain proficiency in word processing, spreadsheet, and presentation software. Students may be required to take a specialized course in computer applications for real estate.
- Communications: In these classes, students can develop and advance their verbal, written, and interpersonal communication skills. Some schools require students to take a specific course in speech or business communications.
Potential Careers for Individuals with an Associate Degree in Real Estate
While working toward an associate degree in real estate, students can learn the fundamentals of the real estate market and skills that they can apply to a variety of careers. Some of these careers are outlined here:
- Real estate brokers assist clients in buying and selling properties and sometimes help individuals rent or manage properties. Licensed to manage their own business, many brokers are in charge of a real estate office. Brokers need to stay up-to-date on financing options, types of mortgages, and government programs. Courses in real estate law and finance can help students learn about these different aspects of the career. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (bls.gov), experience is typically required for a broker's license, but some states may accept a bachelor's degree in lieu of experience.
- Real estate sales agents work with brokers to help clients buy, sell, and rent properties. As agents are not licensed to manage a business, they usually work on a contract basis. Like brokers, they must be familiar with real estate, zoning, and fair housing laws. Students interested in this career can gain an overview of real estate from introductory courses. State-accredited coursework is usually required for licensing, but bls.gov reports that some states may accept college credits in real estate in lieu of pre-licensing course requirements.
- Residential appraisers valuate properties in which one to four families live, such as single-family homes, duplexes, and condominiums. To approximate value, appraisers consider distinct characteristics of the property and its surrounding area. For example, a loud nearby highway or the condition of a building's foundation could affect the value. Bls.gov states that most residential appraisers have at least an associate degree and can benefit from courses in real estate law, finance, and economics.
- Commercial appraisers generally have the same responsibilities as residential appraisers except in regards to commercial properties, such as hotels, office buildings, and stores. While approximating a property's value, appraisers consider a variety of factors, including location, previous appraisals, and income potential. Appraisal courses can help students interested in this career gain skills in value estimation and analysis of the real estate market. Bls.gov mentions that commercial appraisers typically need at least a bachelor's degree.
- Assessors valuate properties for property tax assessments. Rather than valuing a single property, these professionals usually value a group of homes using mass appraisal techniques and computer-assisted mass appraisal systems. Taking an applied computer course in real estate could serve in preparing students for the technological aspect of the job. A real estate finance course can also help potential assessors stay current on tax assessment procedures.
Real estate professionals often need a license to practice. Licensing requirements vary by state and type of property. For example, as bls.gov mentions, residential appraisers must be Certified Residential Real Property Appraisers.
Individuals interested in expanding their knowledge of real estate through further education can look into bachelor's degree programs in real estate. A bachelor's degree may not only help students develop additional skills useful for a real estate career, but it can also help them meet qualifications for certain careers, such as commercial appraisal. Students looking for more information on earning a bachelor's degree in real estate should speak with an admissions counselor.
Additional Resources for Individuals Pursuing an Online Associate Degree in Real Estate:
Appraisers and Assessors of Real Estate, Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2012
Real Estate Brokers and Sales Agents, Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2012