Agents suspicious about 'real estate university degree'

by Olivia D'Orazio22 Sep 2014
The move by another major Canadian university to introduce a real estate-centred program has Realtors divided, with some suggesting it will fail to professionalize an industry where licensing may be too easy to win.

“I like [the idea of the program] but I wonder to what end,” says Toronto Realtor David Fleming, pointing to the slew of brokerages so focused on attracting new blood that they advertise 90-day licensing programs. “You’ll never get a real estate salesperson [to spend several years of] their time at Ryerson if they can get [licensed] through TREB.”

Cynthia Holmes, who led development of the Ryerson program introduced this fall as part of business management degree, says the curriculum will touch on a wide variety of topics in the real estate sector and will funnel students into such career paths as urban planning, real estate management and real estate law.

“I think … consumers would be better served if brand new Realtors have strong foundations across many disciplines,” Holmes says.

There is a real need for that kind of book learning among agents struggling to serve increasingly sophisticated clients with increasingly complex transactions, says Fleming,

“You have to understand your market,” he says. “I took a commerce degree – I learned about finance, accounting, marketing. I wish there was a course on real estate. I understand market dynamics, but we didn’t touch on housing.”

But agent Danny Fini says big name universities, like Ryerson, will unfortunately provide the same level of education that the Ontario Real Estate Association does – some of the Ryerson real estate program, particularly its introduction courses, is borrowed from OREA’s educational literature. That is, only as much as participants are willing to take from it.

“It doesn’t matter if you’re there or not,” he says. “The difference is that, at college and university, you’re paying $10,000 for your education, and that’s what limits people from trying just for the sake of trying.”

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