To sell, say, residential real estate or even commercial property, “basically all you have to do is pass high school, pass exams to become a real estate agent, and then work hard and have the right personality,” Anglin, of the University of Guelph’s Real Estate and Housing program, says.
But the industry is much larger than that.
“We like to say that real estate is wherever you live, work, play or shop,” he says.
So all those office towers in downtown Toronto or even in London and Windsor, all require financing, management, finding tenants.
“There are outlet malls, regional malls - they need to be financed, managed,” he says.
Increasingly students are taking real estate majors as part of their Bachelor of Commerce degrees and that’s what’s happening at the University of Guelph.
Guelph is one of three university level programs providing real estate training and has the largest faculty with five lecturers.
“Our program has the classic core business classes – economics, accounting, finance – but on top of that they get a full dose of the real estate industry,” Anglin says.
“So they do real estate finance, development, appraisal - some of our courses count towards the appraisal designation in Canada,” Amlin, who formerly taught economics at University of Windsor, added.
Some students graduate into residential brokerages, some into commercial.
Fuelling the growth in academic programs is the fact real estate is becoming increasingly sophisticated, particularly with larger commercial landlords and REITS.
But if you’re entering the business to have a small portfolio of residential properties and work part time this training isn’t for you.
“We don’t really go into the sales techniques, we don’t go into all the courses needed to become a qualified realtor,” Amlin says.
How are people finding out about the program, which takes in 50 students per year?
Amlin says the industry’s profile is getting higher because it’s increasingly “in the news.”
As well the industry is demanding more expertise and specialization.
People entering the business reflect something different from the past, even for larger property development companies.
“I think it is true that a lot of people may drift into the industry,” Amlin says.
“They were looking around for a job, they had a certain set of skills, and a real estate company hired them.”