Real Estate Classes Online vs. Classroom
From this guide, you will learn about the differences between online and in-person real estate classes so that you can decide which option is better for you to get your license.
We reached out to two experienced real estate agents — Jennifer Murtland and TJ Gausman — for advice on this topic.
Jennifer and TJ recorded a video sharing their experiences with both types of learning approaches and provided their expert insight on how best to study for a real estate exam.
Real Estate Classes Online vs Classroom: Video Guide
Jennifer Murtland: Hey everyone. I am Jen Murtland with Team Synergi at eXp, and I work out of Cincinnati and Northern Kentucky. My co-host today is…
TJ Gausman: TJ Gausman. How are you? I am a local realtor here in Cincinnati.
Jennifer Murtland: Yes. And his team is called:
TJ Gausman: TJGG! TJ Gausman Group.
Jennifer Murtland: Awesome! So today we are going to talk about the difference between getting your license online versus in the classroom and some of the pros and cons of that.
This video is recorded exclusively for Real Estate Bees, which is a one-of-a-kind real estate platform dedicated to helping industry professionals skyrocket their business. Now let’s dive in, TJ.
Real Estate Classes Online
Jennifer Murtland: Let’s talk about online classes right now. TJ, please give us an overview of what the online classes are, and then we will dive into some pros and cons of those.
TJ Gausman: Typically, there are a couple of ways real estate agents can do it. You can have in-person learning, which is traditional. It’s where you go to the classes at set times, you have an instructor, and you sit with a group of people.
Then there’s the online option, which has really become much bigger of late — over the last few years you see it a ton more — and that’s going to be completely independent. Typically, there is nothing in-person. It’s not any kind of a hybrid: it’s one or the other.
And then, there are some schools that are exclusively online, but most of them do both. So, they kind of give you an option, which is nice, depending on your style.
Jennifer Murtland: Right, that’s nice. And I have found, too, that they have basically the same cost. I don’t think that they charge differently.
TJ Gausman: Yeah, that’s my experience as well. There are some cheaper brands, but it’s not based on the type of learning. So, it’s just going to be dependent on you.
Jennifer Murtland: So, let’s dive into the pros and cons. What are your pros to online learning?
TJ Gausman: The biggest thing about online learning for me is flexibility. I did online learning myself and being able to have flexibility while learning was a big one. At the time, and like most of us when we were getting our real estate license, a lot of us had other careers back then, so you really have to work around that. And it was nice because I could just jump in when I wanted to.
Jennifer Murtland: It is not live.
TJ Gausman: Exactly.
Jennifer Murtland: Right. So definitely that is a pro, which is there is a lot more flexibility for your schedule. However, I would say that because they are not live, the con would be if you have a question to ask, it may take longer for the question to get answered. You may have to dig through frequently asked questions or something like that in order to get to what you want to know.
TJ Gausman: You know, there’s a decent amount of cons on both sides, in my opinion, and this is why this is actually a decent topic. So, the fact that you can’t ask questions to a live instructor, there’s no networking.
Jennifer Murtland: Right, and no camaraderie.
TJ Gausman: No camaraderie, and there’s also no networking with the instructors. At least in my market, they are taught by realtors, so you get the opportunity to meet some realtors, hear about some brokerages. With online learning, there’s none of that. That’s something that you lose a little bit of.
Jennifer Murtland: When I first got my license, I went to the live class. I don’t even know if they had an online option, but at the time, and this was years ago, it was definitely not as common as it is now.
But for my post-licensing courses, like my continuing education courses, I went strictly online because I liked that I could do it at my own pace, and a lot of times, you can go through them faster.
For example, if I understand a topic, I can skip through it instead of having to dive deep into a topic that I already know about.
TJ Gausman: Yeah, right. I mean, you literally won’t focus on the amount of hours that it says is the amount of hours. Like if the amount of hours you can spend on that is three hours, you are not going to spend five hours on something you can do in three. I think that’s what you’re trying to say, right?
Jennifer Murtland: Right, that’s what I am trying to say.
So, I think they are offering online courses for everything — CE, pre-licensing, post-licensing — I mean, everything, right? Have you seen any that are not offered online as of now?
TJ Gausman: No. The way I know it, if you can do it in-person, you can do it online.
The other thing I will say about online, especially with pre-licensing, which is going to be dramatically more than you are going to do once you’re licensed, you’re going to do essentially 12 hours a year is what it comes down to.
But pre-licensing, it’s a ton of information. There is a lot to it. Some of it is pretty deep and not awesomely interesting, right?
Jennifer Murtland: Boring, I think, is what you mean.
TJ Gausman: Yes, boring. But I think that with online courses, it’s easy to just skip through or not focus all your time on a particular topic. The problem is, you get tested on this stuff, right? We need to know it.
Jennifer Murtland: So, you might not retain it.
TJ Gausman: Correct.
Jennifer Murtland: But another pro for online is, let’s say you are getting licensed in another state. It’s going to be a lot easier than having to go to that state every time there’s a class.
TJ Gausman: Yeah. I mean, that’s a no-brainer, and it has given us that opportunity to get licensed in places where we aren’t, which I think is really cool.
I have also noticed that a lot of the schools now don’t allow you to skip. They don’t allow you to fast forward, so they are actually making you do the work, which is good. I mean, ultimately we learn it because we need to delve into it, right?
Jennifer Murtland: Yeah, but you could also be doing your laundry. No, I’m just kidding. That’s flexibility.
TJ Gausman: Yeah, absolutely.
Jennifer Murtland: Exactly. Okay, so just to wrap it up, we both think, hands down, the flexibility of online learning is the pro. We also both agree that the negative part is not being with other people and all that comes with that, like asking questions, networking, etc.
TJ Gausman: Yes. I think that sums it up pretty well.
Pros of Online Real Estate Licensing Classes
- Ability to learn on your schedule.
- Ability to spend as much time for each section as you need.
- Ability to get licensed for a different state without moving there to attend classes.
Cons of Online Real Estate Licensing Classes
- No networking and camaraderie.
- Not as easy to get your questions answered.
- Require more self-discipline.
- Require having a quiet space for learning where you won’t be distracted by anyone.
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In-Person Real Estate Classes
Jennifer Murtland: Let’s talk about in-person classes. Back in the day, this was the only way for real estate agents to earn a license.
TJ Gausman: Yeah. I think up until about five or six years ago, online wasn’t that prevalent. So, this is not like something that’s been here for a while. It’s definitely a newer way to learn.
Jennifer Murtland: Exactly. So like we said, the cost of learning online and learning in-person is basically the same; we don’t know of anything why it would be different. And then the pros of in-person classes are that you get to network and connect with other agents that are coming in.
As for me, when I am learning something that I don’t know, it’s just a lot easier with in-person classes because I can focus more if I’m there, compared to when I’m at home doing the classes.
TJ Gausman: Yeah. That’s the thing, because a lot of these classes are done after work, right? But you’ve got your wife, family, kids, whatever your story is, so it’s not easy to carve out time. And online learning forces you to carve out time and do it in X amount of time, so we don’t procrastinate.
Jennifer Murtland: So, if you’re a procrastinator we recommend in-person classes.
TJ Gausman: Yes, I agree. If you are not a good time manager or you don’t have a good space to do online learning, just do the classes. It’s not that bad. They are not horrible. They are actually kind of interesting.
Jennifer Murtland: They are. But one of the topics that most new agents have struggled with is the Math portion. I think if you’re not a Math person, online classes might be a little tough.
TJ Gausman: Yeah. Because there’s appraisal, which is a lot of Math. The way that it’s taught
and if you are somebody that is not kind of a deep diver, you are not a good retainer when it comes to that kind of intricate stuff. Those are the areas which you’d probably find yourself in La-La Land where your head escapes.
Jennifer Murtland: Right, like your head would just wander off.
TJ Gausman: Yeah. But there are some schools that allow you to do hybrid learning, too. That’s something to consider, that you could find the best of both worlds there.
Jennifer Murtland: Correct. On the other hand, though, as a con for in-person learning, sometimes they are not very conveniently located. I remember when I was attending mine, it was more than 30 minutes away and it was such a pain.
Because like you said, it’s either you’re doing it after work or whatever, and sometimes you’ll be caught in the rush hour, and then you’re tired but you have to sit there all day. Of course, you take the breaks that they give you, but with online learning, you can stop and just rest for a while.
With in-person classes, you have to do the work while you are there, and that can be difficult, for sure.
TJ Gausman: Yeah. And, you know, it’s not like you’re attending the classes for just an hour a night. Where I live, for example, you have to attend the classes from 6 o’clock to 10 o’clock, which is four hours after work. You’re getting home late. It’s not perfect.
I don’t think there’s a better way with the traditional work schedule to do it. So yeah, that’s something that you’re going to be willing to sacrifice.
Jennifer Murtland: My in-person classes were all day, from 9 am to 4 pm, and I attended these classes for three weeks. I was like “Oh my God”.
TJ Gausman: Yeah, that’s brutal. I mean, you have got to be ready to immerse yourself in these classes and invest your time. But the cool thing about it is once you are done, you can go and make a ton of money and sell a bunch of houses. So, there’s a quick turnaround.
Jennifer Murtland: I think the amount of time takes whatever you allocate to it. Because that’s one thing people always ask me: How long does it take to get your real estate license?
I would say, if you did it back to back to back, most of the programs would take three weeks to complete. But if you are going to only do it on the weekends or you are only going to do it at night, it’s going to just take you longer.
And if you miss a class, you have to wait for it to come back around, if you are doing in-person classes. But if you are online, you can probably take it a lot easier, you know?
TJ Gausman: Yeah. But what I would be interested to find out is, who does it quicker? My guess is in-person students actually get licensed quicker because they are forced to do it.
Jennifer Murtland: Do you think so?
TJ Gausman: You know, you are forced to do it. I think mine took about five weeks, and I did it all online. So, I can’t say that enough: if you are a procrastinator, do the in-person classes.
Jennifer Murtland: And if you are serious about getting your license, you certainly want to start it, you want to get the information, and retain it. And that’s what I want to talk about next. What are some tips for passing this test?
But let’s summarize the pros and cons of in-person classes. With in-person, there is a lot less flexibility, and you get to hang out with people if you’re like a social butterfly. Then the con is that you have to go there and show up for the classes.
TJ Gausman: Yes, that’s a good con. You have to attend and you are limited to their schedule and their location.
Pros of In-Person Real Estate Classes
- Minimize your chances to procrastinate.
- Allow you to network and gain connections.
- Allow to have your questions answered by the instructor.
Cons of In-Person Real Estate Classes
- Require time to travel to the school’s location.
- Offer no flexibility.
How to Pass a Real Estate Exam
Jennifer Murtland: When people talk to us about how they can pass the test, we, realtors, would always joke about it and tell them to, well, just learn it. They are only teaching you how to pass the test, then forget everything and we’ll teach you as it is in the real world when you come back out.
That’s kind of true, but there are definitely some things from these classes that you need to retain?
TJ Gausman: Yes, I completely agree. And, you know, it’s about the foundation. I think sometimes, as realtors, we do get a little jaded because they don’t tell you what you really need to know.
Jennifer Murtland: They don’t teach you how to open a lock box, and we all learned that when it’s raining and there’s no cover and we are trying to open the stupid lock box.
TJ Gausman: True story. Yeah. But they give you the foundation of understanding the why’s or the details of some of the things that we do.
Jennifer Murtland: The concepts of the whole thing, too.
TJ Gausman: Yeah. The concepts, I think that’s a good way to look at it. On the other hand, there are some things that we use that we just don’t realize that we use, which we just learned on our own. So, you know, it’s not everything.
Jennifer Murtland: We don’t use that equation, though, that they teach us for acreage.
TJ Gausman: Yes, we don’t.
Jennifer Murtland: And that was on the test.
TJ Gausman: Yes. I don’t remember that to this day.
Jennifer Murtland: You don’t?
TJ Gausman: No. There’s so much I don’t remember, but at the time I knew it well, because I didn’t want to take the test twice and you have to pay for it twice.
Jennifer Murtland: Yeah, exactly. But what has served most of the people that I know is that the best way to study for the test and to pass the first time is to practice or review. A number of people don’t pass the first time, but I think that’s more about the anxiety of the test-taking than the test itself.
Most of us are adults and the last time we took a test was a long time ago. So, it’s just that — you’re anxious. What I have found to calm me down is just practicing for the test. There are some practice tests online. There are some YouTube channels that have practice tests.
They would also sometimes give you some practice tests on a CD or a thumb drive. If you just practice those and score above 90%, then you are good to go.
TJ Gausman: Yeah. I think you’re right on that. I not only took the practice test; there was a cram session. It was branded. I don’t exactly remember, but it’s just a ton of test stuff. And then when I took the test, a lot of the wording was different.
That’s the hard thing, because you will then think that they’re trying to trick you. But the bottom line is, if you understand the concepts, you can put it together. And, you walk out thinking that you did okay because you practiced for it.
Jennifer Murtland: Right. You also need to look for patterns, too. For example, if they use this word in a question, they are probably looking for this word in the answer.
That’s what practicing and going to these cram sessions can do for you, as well as engaging with the professors and asking them what some of the questions are which will help your brain learn what the test wants so that you can pass.
TJ Gausman: Yeah. And, you know, there is no shortcut, I think this is the other piece worth noting.
Jennifer Murtland: What, there is no magic pill?
TJ Gausman: No. You actually have to work.
Jennifer Murtland: Exactly.
TJ Gausman: You are going to have to actually put time aside to study, remember and retain these lessons to pass tests. The cool thing is that once you pass it, you never have to worry about it again. Just continue your education, keep it simple. It really is a one-time pain in the butt, but once everything’s done, you get licensed and you are good to go.
Jennifer Murtland: And then you’re done!
TJ Gausman: You’re done, yeah.
Jennifer Murtland: Exactly. Cool. Well, we hope this helps people figure out what avenue they want to take. Thanks for being on, TJ.
TJ Gausman: My pleasure. Thanks, Jen.
7 Tips for Passing a Real Estate Exam
For more detailed advice on the best ways to study for a real estate exam, read my other article How to Pass a Real Estate Exam from the First Time.
- Before the exam, take a cram course.
- Take additional practice tests available online and try to score at them above 90%.
- When taking practice tests, try to understand concepts rather than wording. The wording will be different at the real exam.
- Read questions carefully. They are often meant to trick you in order to check your real understanding of the subject matter.
- Rather than spending time trying to answer questions you aren’t sure about, answer as many questions you know answers for. Then return to the harder ones.
- Avoid choosing answers that weren’t in the preparation materials.
- Create a list of things that are hard to remember. Write them down and go over them from time to time. Make a voice recording on your phone. Listen to it whenever you can. For example on your way to and from work or while doing housework.
What Are the Types and Cost of Real Estate Classes?
Online and in-person classes are divided into the same types and price ranges. Cost varies depending on the location, state requirements regarding the minimum number of hours, and real estate school. Below are approximate price ranges:
- Pre-Licensing: $300-$800
- Exam preparation: $50-150
- Post-Licensing: $100-$300
- Continuing Education $30-100
How Long Does It Take to Get a Real Estate License in the Classroom Compared to Online?
It all depends on your schedule and how fast of a learner you are. You may complete an online course quicker if you have enough time to learn more material than included in a daily in-class program.
This was the case with Derek Vaughan, a licensed real estate agent, who shares his experience in the article How Long Does It Take to Get Your Real Estate License in California? that he wrote for us.
You may need more time to process some of the sections more thoroughly than it’s done in the class. Or you may not be able to dedicate to learning as many hours per day as it’s previewed by an in-person program. In this case, completing an online course will take longer.
Additionally, we have real estate license resources providing state-specific advice on becoming an agent:
- How to Get a Virginia Real Estate License
- How to Pass the Georgia Real Estate Exam from the First Time?
- How to Get a Real Estate License in Mississippi 2021: All Requirements for Taking the Exam
- How Hard Is It to Pass the New York Real Estate Exam from the First Time?
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About the authors
Jennifer Murtland is a partner at Team Synergi brokered by eXp Realty in Cincinnati, Ohio and Northern Kentucky. Jennifer has been involved in real estate as an investor and a licensee since 2008 and is among the top agents in the US. She has coached and trained many agents. Jennifer is currently the co-host of Real Estate Fight Club Podcast. Jenn spends a lot of time exploring the world: working and traveling.
TJ Gausman is the team lead of The TJ Gausman Group with eXp Realty in Cincinnati, OH. He has been licensed since 2017 and has sold nearly $30M in his career. While not spending time listing and showing homes, he spends time with his wife Katie and their 20 month old daughter West.
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