Does real estate school count as college?

Are you thinking of becoming a real estate agent? The easiest way to do it is to enroll at a real estate school. So does real estate school count as a college?

Real estate school doesn’t count as college. So, you can’t use it to claim education credits for tax purposes. But it’s cheaper and faster. It takes around 5 months to finish real estate school and get your license, depending on the credit hours, learning model, study time, and application process.

Although you don’t need to attend college before becoming a real estate agent, it’s not a bad idea to do so if you have the means. Here, we discuss whether real estate school counts as college and everything you should know about real estate school.

What is a real estate school?

A real estate school is where you’ll get the necessary education you need to apply for a real estate license. In order to become a real estate agent in any state, you’ll have to pass the licensing exam. Although the requirements vary from state to state, attending real estate school and obtaining the license will take 2-5 months. This is much shorter than the 2-4 years of college.

One doesn’t need a college or university degree to attend real estate school. But most schools will require a high school diploma or its equivalent. The person will also need to be at least 18 years and be resident in the US. The cost of attending real estate school is low, ranging between $100 to $500+. It’ll mostly depend on the state. But it’s a lot cheaper than college.

Real estate school aims to help those who plan to apply for a license to gain the industry knowledge to pass the licensing exam. Real estate schools are state-approved and offer several pre-licensing courses to students. Although the topics in these courses may vary, some are consistent. They include:

  • Modern real estate practice
  • Homeownership
  • Real property 
  • Ethics of Practice as a Sales Agent or Broker
  • Contracts
  • Fair Housing Laws
  • Listing Agreements

Real estate school isn’t all there is to becoming a real estate agent. There’s a lot of continuing education required after getting the license. Some states will require continuing education a year or two after obtaining a license. In some, it’s after every three years. Completing these continuing education programs is necessary for you to retain your license.

Factors That Determine Duration of Real Estate School

Several factors will determine how long it’ll take to complete real estate school and get a license. These include

1.  Required Credit Hours 

Each state requires a person to train for a certain number of hours before getting the license. There are variations in these requirements. For example, Florida requires 63 credit hours. But Texas requires 180 hours. The number of credit hours will influence how long you have to be in school.

2.  The Learning Model

Real estate schools allow students to learn online or physically. Each has its pros and cons and will influence how quickly you finish the program. Each state also has its rules on online learning. Although most states permit it, some have conditions. In North Carolina, you’ll have to attend real estate school in person.

Some states will allow those living out of state to do online classes but require those living within the state to attend physical classes. They include Arizona, Connecticut, Delaware, South Carolina, New Jersey, Idaho, Washington DC, and Rhode Island. Alaska, New Mexico, Vermont, South Dakota, and Wyoming allow residents to complete a portion of the classes online.

3.  Time Spent Studying

Online classes might be faster due to their flexibility. But it’ll depend greatly on your commitment and the hours you dedicate to studying. Since real estate school isn’t structured like a regular college, students can usually learn at their own pace. This means some motivated students with free time might be able to complete the whole program within a few weeks.

4.  The License Process

The application and exam process also varies from state to state. In some states, it’s automated, while others use a Mail-in system. Make sure you understand the requirements in your state before applying. The education itself will take 2 to 4 months. After that, the exam and application process takes between 2 and 6 weeks.

Some states allow license reciprocity. If you obtain your license in one state, you can apply for real estate licensing in another state without attending real estate school or completing the pre-licensing courses in the state. You’ll have to see if your current state has reciprocity with the state you’re planning to go to.

Can You Claim Educational Credit or Deduction for Attending Real Estate School?

Education credits are tax deductions that help with the cost of higher education. It can be the American Opportunity Tax Credit and Lifetime Learning Credit. Students can get up to $2,500 in tax deductions for the first 4 years of post-secondary education through education credits. It could cover tuition, books, fees, and other expenses for learning materials.

However, real estate school doesn’t count as college. So, anyone who attends the school can’t claim education credit. For a person to be able to claim this, they must have attended an educational institution that can participate in the US Department of Education-run student aid program.

There are also instances where education credit can apply to work-related education. Your expenses attending real estate school won’t qualify for this either. It’ll only be deductible business expenses if the education helps the person to maintain or improve the skills necessary for their existing business or trade. Or the law requires it for them to maintain their professional standing. However, since anyone going to real estate school only does to get a license and isn’t a real estate agent yet, they can’t get a deduction. 

Thus, the cost of education necessary to prepare for real estate license exams or the fee for the exam won’t be deductible. It’ll also apply where a real estate agent pays for education to become a real estate broker. This is based on the reasoning that the work of a real estate broker is different from that of a real estate agent. So, it’s not possible to claim deductions.

Do You Need a College Degree to Work in Real Estate?

You don’t need to go to college before becoming a real estate agent or working in the real estate business. All you need is a few months of attending real estate school, and you can apply for a license and write exams. But going to college isn’t a bad idea if you want to pursue a career in real estate. If you choose to go to college, some courses could prepare you for a career in real estate. They include Business Administration, Accounting, Finance, Human Resources, Marketing, etc.

In Conclusion

All it takes to work in real estate is to obtain a license, whether as an agent or broker. You’ll need to attend real estate school and complete the minimum credit hours before you can apply for the license. This only takes a few months at most. So, it’s nothing like college.