2 Parts
11
QUESTIONS

Impact of COVID-19 on the U.S. Real Estate Schools

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A new RealEstateBees.com survey of over 2,000 active real estate schools found that despite the negative impact on their business caused by the COVID-19, more than 70% are seeing new opportunities opened by the pandemic.

The following segmented report provides results of a large scale survey—Impact of the Coronavirus on the U.S. Real Estate Businesses—conducted by the Real Estate Bees research team, leading real estate platform for real estate professionals.

The following statistics reflect the situation among the US real estate schools. We reached out to over 2,000 active real estate schools from all the 50 U.S. states and Washington D.C. to collect their insight on the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the industry in general and their businesses in particular.

The report is divided into the following two parts.

1. Multiple choice questions where the professionals had to choose one of the suggested answers to each question:

1.1 Is there a negative impact the pandemic is having on real estate schools?
1.2 Has the pandemic opened any unexpected opportunities for real estate schools?
1.3 How are you adjusting your marketing budget?
1.4 Are you transferring your business to a “work from home” basis?
1.5 Have you noticed any benefits of transferring your business processes to a “work from home” basis?
1.6 Have you noticed any drawbacks of transferring your business to a “work from home” basis?
1.7 Will you keep your business processes transferred to a “work from home” basis after the pandemic is over?

2. Open questions that allowed the experts to share their insights on various aspects of the impact of the coronavirus pandemic on the U.S. real estate schools:

2.1 What are the specific negative impacts the pandemic is having on real estate schools?
2.2 What unexpected opportunities have the pandemic opened for real estate schools?
2.3 If you knew the impact of this situation on your business in advance, how would you prepare your business to mitigate your losses or even profit from it?
2.4 What marketing channels do you prefer to use during the pandemic over the rest and why?

Multiple Choice Questions
1
QUESTION

Is there a negative impact the pandemic is having on real estate schools?

2
QUESTION

Has the pandemic opened any unexpected opportunities for real estate schools?

3
QUESTION

How are you adjusting your marketing budget?

4
QUESTION

Are you transferring your business to a “work from home” basis?

5
QUESTION

Have you noticed any benefits of transferring your business processes to a “work from home” basis?

6
QUESTION

Have you noticed any drawbacks of transferring your business to a “work from home” basis?

7
QUESTION

Will you keep your business processes transferred to a “work from home” basis after the pandemic is over?

Open Questions
8
QUESTION

What are the specific negative impacts the pandemic is having on real estate schools and CE classes?

Key takeaways from the real estate schools’ answers:

  • Enrollment was down, and most classes that were scheduled prior to the pandemic had to be canceled to adhere to stay-at-home orders.
  • Schools that decided to continue holding classes had to bring their lectures online, which meant eliminating person-to-person contact and interaction that has become part of the classes.
  • Schools that are teaching online aren’t earning much, even if they piggyback off of bigger companies, which split the profit from online classes. Some schools that have been doing online classes pre-pandemic had to make changes to their course offerings.
  • Switching to a virtual environment for online CE courses also meant requiring instructors to train for this new method of teaching. Instructors had to learn how to present in an online class, come up with ways to manage interactivity, and ensure that realtors are meeting all of their requirements.
  • Schools that aren’t equipped for online classes either had difficulty functioning or had chosen to close.
  • As some schools were closed, agents had to find a way to get their licenses renewed, even opting for free CE classes online when there weren’t a lot of online classes being offered.
  • Agents that have completed their pre-licensing classes had a hard time getting through PSI testing sites for their state exam, which resulted in backlog and delay.
  • Overall, the shutdown caused by the pandemic has halted the development of relationships within the real estate industry. Agents are questioning their decision to move forward in getting a real estate license. Rise in unemployment has also caused tuition for pre-licensing courses to go up.

 

Robert F. Aubrey, Aubrey and Associates Realty

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Robert F.-Aubrey Real Estate School

I have been in the real estate business for more than 28 years, so I have been through the ups and downs of the market. We gained a lot of experience in the Great Recession, so this fared very well during the shutdown.

Aubrey and Associates Realty is a virtual company, so there was a very minimal change to our day-to-day operations. We held office meetings and non-CE training online. Our quarterly office luncheon was canceled, our monthly top producer’s lunches were converted to Zoom meetings. I would email my top producers a gift card to Chipotle, then we all get on a Zoom meeting and hang out.

We did have to make some adjustments to our continuing education offerings. The Utah Division of Real Estate does not have a live virtual class classification; there are only classroom and online courses. The online being video-type classes, where people watch a video broken up into small chunks and answer a question each step of the way.

My classes are certified for classrooms only. When the shutdown and physical distancing started, I approached the Division of Real Estate and we worked out a solution to provide students with CE.

The main concern was attendance and student engagement. We use Zoom with the webinar feature, which allows students to ask questions, raise their hand, and chat. So the engagement was already built into the software. To handle the attendance, we use Zoom’s Attendee Report, which is generated after the webinar and gives you the time the student logs in and out.

We also use what we call attendance questions. We post a word on the screen, we do not say the word out loud, the students need to write the word, and after the class, we email them a link and they have to answer the questions. We chose not to use content-related questions; we felt that using these questions may make a little easier to guess.

Zoom has a feature called an attentive report, which shows what percentage of time the student had the webinar open on their computer. I am not 100% confident, though, with that reporting. I feel that if they listen, get the attendance questions correct, then we’re good.

I am working with the real estate commission to make this style a permanent solution. There was a proposal by the Director of Licensing and Education to the Real Estate Commission; it was pretty restrictive, mostly on class size. There were discussions and public comments, as some felt that the government should stay out of that part and not restrict a business owner on how much they can earn.

 

Heather Gagnon, Cadema Education Associates

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Heather Gagnon Real Estate School

Schools that are not equipped to offer virtual/online classes are not able to function. So availability of classes being offered is limited.

In the state of Connecticut, students that completed pre-licensing classes and are ready to sit for the state exam have either not received confirmation from PSI testing sites or have attempted to reach the PSI testing sites and have not been able to get through. There is an incredible backlog and delay.

 

David McGowan, Professional Studies Institute, Inc. DBA Inland Real Estate School, Inc.

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David McGowan Real Estate School

The pandemic has created a sense of uncertainty with a number of individuals. Many people are questioning the vitality of the real estate industry because of the events.

And for those students whom I had an opportunity to speak with, they felt that there is real concern which initially caused a number of them to question the decision to move forward in securing a real estate license.

We have a definitive concern as to how this is going to evolve over the next six months.

 

Tina Baker, Home Market Pros Team @ Real Broker, LLC

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Tina Baker Real Estate School

We closed our physical location due to limitations, and we are no longer offering pre-licensing and courses for new affiliates at all. Our CE class, usually taught in person at our local board, could be taught online via Zoom, but with many Realtors® hesitant to be live on camera (required for credit), demand for non-required courses just isn’t what it was.

 

Laura Kovacs, Scottsdale Area Association of REALTORS

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Laura Kovacs Real Estate School

For us, switching from live to online presentations required retraining instructors to prepare and present differently, and to devise ways to manage interactivity, student behavior, and making sure that all requirements are met throughout the process.

 

Bruno Quintela, New Direction School

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Bruno Quintela Real Estate School

Many real estate schools are not equipped or technically ready to handle online classes. Many have closed or will most likely close.

9
QUESTION

What unexpected opportunities has the pandemic opened for real estate schools and CE classes?

Key takeaways from the real estate schools’ answers:

  • Stay-at-home orders have paved the way for using online methods of teaching. This technique has boomed and has opened doors for real estate schools to start offering a new kind of service.
  • Offering video presentations online has also given agents the chance to get updated on topics that weren’t available for them before.
  • In some areas, the number of realtors taking online courses has increased, as many realtors are using the lockdown time to renew their license or enhance their professional qualifications.
  • Using this time to learn online keeps realtors from rushing to earn their CEUs at the end of the year.
  • Virtual teaching has also opened doors for instructors to harness their online skills and reach a wider audience by trying different video conferencing platforms like Zoom and GoToMeeting.
  • Those who are adept at presenting online have found themselves a new job opportunity, as more schools become open to hiring virtual presenters.
  • For the future, real estate schools are expecting the teaching model to further shift to a hybrid of in-person and virtual learning which will allow a more efficient educational process than the old school in-class education.
  • Going the virtual route will enable schools to save on expenses. Since classes are being held online, they don’t have to pay for print copies of receipts, handouts, and certificates.

 

Allan Migdal, Chicago Real Estate Academy, Inc.

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Allan Migdal Real Estate School

For my school, Chicago Real Estate Academy, Inc., enrollment is down. Even before the Pandemic students have become very price-conscious. They were opting to take courses online instead of in person since most schools charge less for online courses because they don’t have to pay for an instructor. I’m currently set up for home study/distance learning but not online courses.

Then when the COVID-19 restrictions were in place, you couldn’t have any classes where there would be more than 10 students, so in-person classes went to zero and I only have a handful of students taking the home study/distance learning courses.

There was a change to the pre-license course requirement (most schools’ most popular courses). It used to be a 75-hour course and a 15-hour interactive course. The 15-hour interactive course had to be taken in class or via live webinar.

Now the pre-license requirement is a total of 75 hours, comprising a 60-hour course and a 15-hour interactive course that can all be taken online. Most schools that offer online courses piggyback off of companies like Kaplan/Dearborn and split the profit but it’s not very profitable for the schools.

I’ve recently entered into a contract with a different publisher to use their material and since I have skills to build my own website online course, I’m making my own online courses. It should be up and running in two months.

Generally when unemployment rises, so does course enrollment (I’m referring to pre-license courses) because people are looking to change/find new jobs. Also, since the pre-license courses can be done entirely online, my market will increase from just the people who were in driving distance to one of my locations (3) to the entire state of Illinois.

Since the pandemic caused so much unemployment and with the increase in my market, I actually expect to increase total enrollment, albeit at a new competitive price (from $500 to $250).

 

Candy Joyce, Middle Tennessee Association of REALTORS

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Candy Joyce Real Estate School

The opportunity that opened up for us was the chance to advocate with the Tennessee Real Estate Commission to allow existing CE approved classes to be offered via online (Zoom) format without applying for ARELLO certification.

The original request was granted through May 18th, and consequently extended through the end of 2020. Specific visual proctoring requirements for attendees to receive the CE also engaged more folks to hear updated info on topics they may not have attended before.

 

Tina Baker, Home Market Pros Team @ Real Broker, LLC

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Tina Baker Real Estate School

In times of challenge, there are always opportunities for those who are willing to seek them out. Personally, it has caused a shift of educational focus from helping people become licensed, to helping them actually get started in the business. Far too many realtors get licensed but ultimately leave the business in short order feeling defeated.

It is now my goal to help realtors bridge the gap between licensing and having a sustainable real estate business.

 

Heather Gagnon, Cadema Education Associates

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Heather Gagnon Real Estate School

Absolutely! I was two days into a live class when the state required us to work from home. I was able to pivot my class to virtual online with state approval and graduated one of the first virtual online pre-licensing classes in the state of Connecticut. I am now one of the few that is able to continue offering online pre-licensing. This was not an option before the pandemic.

 

Karen Bohler, Arizona Living School of Real Estate

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Karen Bohler Real Estate School

The online segment of the real estate education industry has experienced a very big gain. The classroom-style courses have had to be canceled. Several affiliates of Arizona Living School of Real Estate that provide ONLY classroom-style education have really suffered. Some have even had to close their business.

10
QUESTION

If you knew the impact of this situation on your business in advance, how would you prepare your business to mitigate your losses or even profit from it?

Key takeaways from the real estate schools’ answers:

  • Preparing for a virtual way of teaching early on could have helped schools be more established and proficient with this method. Schools could have invested in high-quality technology tools to keep the business going.
  • Since most schools have already been offering online courses before the pandemic, it is expected that they improve their courses to ensure better participation from realtors.
  • Restructuring online courses to fit remote presentations will allow instructors to deliver lectures that are more appropriate for distance learning.
  • Putting away a rainy-day fund can help schools prepare for any unexpected event in the future and cushion the impact of unpreparedness.
  • Schools could have prepared their teams to reach out to their network of clients and prospects much sooner to establish and strengthen the connection before the pandemic.

 

Karen Bohler, Arizona Living School of Real Estate

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Karen Bohler Real Estate School

Because I offer online courses as well as classroom courses, I was well positioned. However, some of the required courses (such as the six-hour contract writing bootcamp course) are prohibited from being offered online.

For schools that provide such courses, the alternative is remote presentation of the course through web-based conference calling (like Zoom).

If I had known that remote presentation was going to be the delivery method for this course, I would have structured the course content for better remote presentation in three-hour stints, rather than one long six-hour stint.

Remote presentation of educational content is tedious and requires an entirely different skill set than what is required for classroom presentation. The content needs to be presented in shorter increments, and in a manner that is multisensory, colorful, and creative.

 

Doug Sinclair, Badger Real Estate Seminars

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Doug Sinclair Real Estate School

If I had known that we could use Zoom for a format, then I would have prepared earlier in March. Everything was in limbo with the Real Estate Commission trying to figure out a direction and get it passed by the General Assembly.

Zoom has worked the best. But as we go towards doing end-of-course exams, there is a new challenge. How do you proctor an online exam?

 

David McGowan, Professional Studies Institute, Inc. DBA Inland Real Estate School, Inc.

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David McGowan Real Estate School

If I had advanced notice of this circumstance, I would have been looking at creating a more efficient way of doing live webinars. But this is speculation. All we can do is be reactive and try and figure out a method of survival with the new circumstances that involve life.

 

Candy Joyce, Middle Tennessee Association of REALTORS

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Candy Joyce Real Estate School

I would have procured quality tech tools in hand and trained well to keep communication and training moving forward. I would have also signed fewer contracts for trainers that don’t want to cancel classes and lose their income.

 

Tina Baker, State Broker and Team Leader at Home Market Pros Team @ Real Broker, LLC

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Tina Baker Real Estate School

I would have implemented a virtual option from the day we opened our physical school location and then we could have had that established option when the pandemic hit and been less affected.

11
QUESTION

What marketing channels do you prefer to use during the pandemic over the rest and why?

Key takeaways from the real estate schools’ answers:

  • Social media channels are good, cost-effective tools to use to access more people while complying with social distancing protocols. Complementing these tools with blog posts and video conferencing tools like Zoom can make marketing CE courses easier to reach out to more realtors.
  • Sending emails to realtor boards and past attendees is a smart way to keep in touch with an existing client base.
  • Marketing through the company website should be utilized as well, to offer more information and entice realtors to sign up for courses.
  • Utilizing video is a great way to reach many people at a time, as it not only provides information but also allows people to know your company better.
  • Referrals and direct connections are effective tools as well to gain new clients, which can be generated via sponsorships.

 

David McGowan, Professional Studies Institute, Inc. DBA Inland Real Estate School, Inc.

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David McGowan Real Estate School

We are still using all of our channels, from social media to email blasts. Unfortunately because of the lockdown, our building is closed to outside visitors, limiting our presentation to live interactive webinars.

There have been a number of students whom I’ve spoken with that feel more comfortable in a physical classroom with that one-on-one interaction with an instructor. While I would like to attach this concept to a specific age bracket, there is no clear indication that age has an impact on this concept.

 

Marti Barnewolt, Internal Dynamics School of Real Estate

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Marti Barnewolt Real Estate School

My course offerings are marketed using the same methods as in the past. What is different now is the temporary ability approved by ADRE to offer live streaming courses. Since the requirement for social distancing, we have offered only live streaming pre-licensing courses for those pursuing a real estate career and the continuing education courses for renewal of licenses.

 

Candy Joyce, Middle Tennessee Association of REALTORS

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Candy Joyce Real Estate School

Email is still preferred, though text promo and Facebook also can touch or remind folks of opportunities. Email is trackable (for delivery and read receipts), and allows for convenient responses via cellphone or mobile device. The engagement rate of text is harder to follow and Facebook is smothered with messages, and promos can be buried.

 

Tina Baker, Home Market Pros Team @ Real Broker, LLC

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Tina Baker Real Estate School

I prefer Facebook Ads to other marketing channels, as it provides the most cost-effective way to reach the most people, while abiding by social distance requirements.

 

Heather Gagnon, Cadema Education Associates

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Heather Gagnon Real Estate School

Facebook is my primary source of marketing. I’m able to target my market, drive business directly to my website, and register people directly with the best ROI.

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