So you’ve completed your 135 hours of real estate education required by the California Department of Real Estate to get your license. Congrats, that’s no small feat! You may be thinking now that you’ve got that license in your hand, you’ll never have to take another course again. This, however, is not the case. As a real estate agent in the state of California, continuing education will be an unavoidable part of your career, but it provides the unique opportunity to grow in your industry, gain skills that can make you a more effective salesperson, and help you better serve your clients and customers.
It may be a little tricky to navigate the rules and requirements of CE, but have no fear! At Your Pace Online is here to clear up any questions you may have with our ultimate guide to California real estate continuing education.
What does CE mean in real estate?
Even if you’re new to the world of real estate, you have probably seen the term “continuing education” more than a few times. But what exactly is CE, and why is it necessary?
Every state in the U.S. requires a license to sell real estate, but the qualifications to obtain that license differs from state to state. However, all places have one thing in common— education. Across the board, pre-licensing coursework is required to be able to call yourself a real estate agent. Real estate education ensures that the agent is knowledgeable in related laws, contracts, ethics, finance, and more. Real estate is an extremely rewarding career, but it also comes with enormous responsibility. When it comes to real estate transactions, the stakes are always high– large sums of money, the places people live, and even the health of individuals and families. Real estate education trains and prepares the agent-to-be on the roles and responsibilities that a real estate professional fulfills in their careers.
Some states, however, take it a step farther by requiring continuing education, which is required classes or coursework that you must complete periodically once you are licensed. California is one of these states. In fact, California has deemed CE so important to the real estate profession that you cannot renew your license without completing the required amount of coursework. These important classes ensure that you are staying up to date with laws and regulations in this ever-evolving industry. And even if the laws don’t change, CE serves as a nice refresher on topics you might have gotten a little rusty on since you first earned your real estate license. CE ensures that you continue to give a high level of informed, ethical service to others throughout your entire career.
20 years ago, continuing education meant having to go sit in a classroom and listen to a lecture for hours on end. Nowadays, you can complete your CE requirements in the comfort of your own home with state-approved online providers.
Just like a driver's license, real estate licenses expire after a certain period of time. California real estate licenses are valid for four years. The California Department of Real Estate mails renewal reminder notices 60 days prior to license expiration to the address they have on file. This is a courtesy, and not receiving the letter does not exempt you from CA real estate license renewal requirements. The Department of Real Estate allows renewals 90 days prior to the expiration date of your license.
To renew your license, you’ll need to fill out an application via the eLicensing online system or mail in the necessary paperwork. As long as the application is submitted online or postmarked before midnight on the expiration date, it is considered to be on-time. If mailing a physical application, be sure to include all of the necessary items, which can be found here. Regardless of the method used to submit the application, you must completely satisfy the continuing education requirements before you send it off. This means you cannot purchase your courses a day or two before your license is due to expire and expect to complete in enough time to make the deadline.
The requirement for continuing education depends on how many renewals you’ve completed and whether you are a broker or salesperson.
Keep in mind that the hour requirements are clock hours, not course credit hours. This means that you must be “seated” or logged into your education provider’s platform for the required amount of time for each course. It can’t be completed in less time. You’ll want to be sure and set aside enough time to complete what is necessary.
For more information on CE requirements, visit the California DRE webpage.
You might be thinking that all of those hours translate to some hefty expenses. While prices can certainly vary across schools and providers, online courses like At Your Pace Online are low-cost and reasonable. With AYPO, three-hour courses are only $9 a piece. Longer classes run between $18 and $36, while complete 45-hour package deals will only cost $65— a small price to pay for a wealth of information and valuable knowledge!
Once you’ve submitted your application including your verification of continuing education, you can track the status of your California real estate license renewal through the DRE public license information database.
Sometimes that expiration date can sneak up on you. If you fail to renew your license prior to the expiration date, your license is considered to be expired and you are no longer able to legally perform activities which require a real estate license. Uh-oh! These now-prohibited activities include, but are not limited to: selling, buying, or obtaining listings of real property for others; collecting rent for real property on behalf of others; assisting in the filing of an application for a lease of federal or state government. Activities that require a real estate license are defined in Section 10131 of the California Business and Professions Code.
If it has been less than two years since the license expiration, California allows late renewals. As long as you complete the required CE and application, you can have your license reinstated. Keep in mind that with a late renewal, you’ll have to pay a larger fee. For salespeople, it’s an extra $122 on top of the original $245 fee. Brokers will need to pay an additional $150 on top of their original $300 renewal fee.
Earlier we talked about what CE courses are required in order to renew your California real estate license, but what exactly do each of those courses entail? Let’s take a look at what you can expect to see in each of the required CE classes.
Many people think of a career in real estate as one where you only have to worry about yourself. This couldn’t be farther from the truth, especially if you are a broker managing agents within your business. With the 3-hour California Management and Supervision CE Course, you’ll cover topics like functions of management, employer-employee and independent contractor relationships, and necessary real estate office policies and procedures.
Real estate agents are in the business of serving other people, and in doing so, it is important to treat everyone fairly. The Fair Housing Act was created to ensure this and serves as a guiding light for real estate agents across the country. In the 3-hour California Fair Housing CE Course, you’ll learn the history of fair housing, the ins and outs of laws pertaining to fair housing, and anti-discrimination in real estate.
With the power of agency comes great responsibility. Agency and fiduciary relationships are at the forefront of real estate, so it’s crucial that you understand them inside and out. In the 3-hour California Agency CE Course, you’ll review the California Civil Code, type of agency, the formation of agency relationships, and the responsibilities of all parties involved.
In any industry dealing with contracts, agency relationships, and large sums of money, there is an inherent risk involved. Luckily, there are preventative measures that you can take to protect yourself from catastrophic losses. This is known as risk management. By taking the 3-hour California Risk Management CE Course, you learn how to minimize your exposure to the dangers lurking out there in the real estate world.
As a real estate agent, you’ll most likely be handling funds entrusted to you by one or more parties to a real estate transaction. It is crucial that you use client trust accounts in the appropriate manner and handle any monies in a professional manner. The 3-hour California Trust Fund CE Course will refresh you on the proper use of a trust account, the records that a broker must maintain, mortgage loan brokerage in California, and financial reporting.
Codes of ethics set standards and guide agents in their interactions with clients, customers, other agents, brokers, and the public. The ethical practice of real estate ensures that no one is subject to corrupt and unscrupulous or treated unfairly in real estate transactions. Failure to act ethically will likely result in the revocation of your real estate license. In the 3-hour California Ethics CE Course, you’ll brush up on the principles of ethics and common pitfalls for agents, and learn how to navigate certain grey-area ethical situations.
With the 18-hour California Consumer Protection CE Course, you’ll learn the ways that you can protect clients and customers from unfair treatment. The course explores a wide variety of topics as they relate to consumer protection such as real estate financing and regulations like TILA-RESPA, running a real estate business, and real estate investment and property valuation.
When it comes to consumer service courses, you have a few more options. The 9-hour California Consumer Service CE Course covers an array of topics ranging from TILA-RESPA to predatory lending to listing agreements, sales contracts, and leases. The 12-hour California Consumer Service CE Course digs a little deeper and looks at areas like mathematics needed in real estate and the foreclosure process.
Some education providers like At Your Pace Online offers package deals that include everything you need. The California 45 Hour Complete Renewal Package will meet the requirements for first-time and subsequent broker renewal and salespersons seeking their second or subsequent renewal. If you’re a salesperson renewing for the first time, you can take advantage of the California 45 Hour 1st Time Salesperson Renewal Package. In a package like this, you’ll take all the hours needed to renew your license. You will have the opportunity to refresh yourself on a variety of subjects like risk management, land use controls, trust funds, sources of financing, lending laws, fair housing, and a whole lot more.
First and foremost, you’ll want to make sure that the courses that you purchase are approved by the California Department of Real Estate to meet the requirements for renewal. Some schools offer professional development classes that aren’t approved. While learning for the sake of learning is great, when you’re trying to renew your license, you want the hours to count. If the provider doesn’t already provide the California State Approval Letters or DRE Sponsor ID, don’t hesitate to ask. You can also check for approved continuing education courses on the California DRE website.
But just because different providers have approved courses doesn’t mean that they are all created equally. Some classes can be dry and boring and you will keep dozing off. Courses like these simply weren’t created with quality in mind, which is not helpful if you initially set out to learn something and better your career. You’ll be spending at least 45 hours behind a screen, so you’ll want to want to choose your provider carefully. Don’t be afraid to do your research and dig into the reviews of other providers. The following are some things to consider when picking your online real estate classes.
One quality that is important to look for when looking at online schools is navigability and ease of use. Do other users find the purchase process and course navigation easy? Or is the website outdated with hard to understand controls and glitches? A malfunctioning website can cause major headaches, especially if you are on a time crunch.
Let’s face it— life doesn’t slow down or stop for you to take CE. Between your personal life and your existing career, it can be hard to squeeze in time to sit down at a computer for several hours a day. Luckily, some providers have courses that are mobile-friendly can be completed on devices like tablets and phones.
Mobile-friendly courses are advantageous to people like Diane, who took the 45 Hour Complete Renewal Package with At Your Pace Online. She was able to complete courses while at open houses, saving her from having to do it during her time off. If you’re a person that’s constantly on the go, you’ll want to pick a course that can be on the go with you.
Quality of Courses
The state’s approval of a course isn’t necessarily a testament to its quality. Some providers only achieve the bare minimum and fail to deliver anything truly of value to the student. It doesn’t take much digging to find providers who miss the mark when it comes to quality. Even popular CE providers like McKissock run into this problem.
Out of date information, mismatched quizzes and course material, and bland technical lessons are just a few of the problems you can run into if you purchase a low-quality course.
Not every online education experience is going to go smoothly, no matter which provider you choose. You may get locked out of your online account, have questions about using the course, or have concerns about pricing or transactions– it happens! Poor customer service experiences, like what these users experienced with First Tuesday, can be upsetting, especially when users are unable to find solutions to their problems.
A good customer service experience, however, can quickly turn a negative situation into a positive one. If you’re struggling to find the contact information on an education provider’s website, it is not a good sign. Look for providers that pride themselves on prompt and friendly service with multiple methods of communication, like phone, email, or chat.
CE may seem like an unnecessary burden that just eats away at your time, but the truth is, it can be a beneficial tool to your real estate career. Let’s take a look at the ways continuing education helps you grow as an agent or broker.
Motivational speaker Brian Tracy once said, “Personal development is a major time-saver. The better you become, the less time it takes you to achieve your goals.” And he’s right! Think of CE as an investment: you’ll put some time and money in upfront, but it’ll return something far greater. The knowledge and skills attained during your continuing education will be used to further your career and make you a more effective agent.
Continuing education requirements give you the incentive to go beyond the knowledge you use in your day-to-day work so that you can expand your horizons.
Success in the real estate industry isn’t about getting your hands in every aspect and area of the business. Rather, the key lies in finding a niche and excelling in that one sphere. Specialization sets you apart from the competition who try to do it all. By focusing on one specific niche, you can quickly become an expert and authority that people trust.
You’ll find that as times change, old laws are updated and new laws introduced that pertain to real estate. Even laws that pertain to other industries, like the financial sector, have an impact on real estate. Continuing education ensures that you’re up to date with all of the changes that govern the way that you conduct business. You won’t get let off the hook for a speeding ticket by saying you didn’t know the speed limit; similarly, you can’t claim ignorance if you find yourself breaking real estate laws and codes of ethics. By being in the know, you can avoid costly mistakes and law violations.
Laws aren’t the only things that change over time. The methods by which we conduct business are always evolving to include the latest technologies. 30 years ago, real estate agents didn’t have to worry about backing up data on a cloud, paperless documents, or digital marketing strategy. Now, all that is becoming a standard part of business. Sometimes the changes happen so fast that it can be overwhelming to learn without some sort of instruction. A course can guide you through the processes and show you how to implement the knowledge in your day-to-day routines.
As the old saying goes, there’s always room for improvement! CE helps you strengthen weaker areas and clarify topics that may be a little hazy. By learning more about these areas, you’ll gain confidence in yourself and your abilities.
The more you know and understand a subject, the better of a leader you become. After all, would you follow someone who didn’t really know what they were doing? In addition to that, some continuing education courses like the Management and Supervision class help you learn how to lead your peers and a real estate office.
When you take a course with At Your Pace Online, here’s what you can expect:
For us, continuing education is more than just a periodic requirement that can mindlessly be fulfilled. It’s a chance to improve the careers of our students. And when our students are qualified, ethical, and skilled with their real estate practice, the whole world benefits.