Since its development in the Spring of 2016, the College of Charleston Real Estate Academy has served as a reliable source of instruction for aspiring realtors, while reaching a number of milestones.
The CofC Real Estate Academy was established in response to the Charleston real estate boom - Trulia had ranked Charleston #2 among the “Hot Real Estate Markets to Watch” - and offered students the unique reassurance and prestige of the CofC name, along with the convenience of being housed in the state-of-the-art North Campus facility.
The Academy’s first-year plan focused on aspiring realtors; those seeking a career change, and those looking to earn additional income during a boom period. The pilot courses included the 60-hour Salesperson Pre-Licensing course, and the 30-hour Advanced Principles course: both requirements for obtaining a full South Carolina Salesperson’s license.
Leading up to the launch of the licensing courses, CCPE worked with industry experts to develop a helpful how-to guide, to help prospective agents determine whether a career in real estate would be a viable option. This guide, which remains available for download from the School of Professional Studies website, includes descriptions of a realtor’s duties, advice for choosing an agency, strategies for marketing and networking, and tips for creating a strong business plan. “Charleston area realtors... generously contributed their insight and advice to this guide,” says Alice Hamilton, Director of the Center for Continuing and Professional Education. “It is an invaluable resource for anyone who is thinking about entering this field.”
To bolster the Real Estate Academy’s credentials, and likelihood of student success, Hamilton also recruited Ray James - an experienced realtor and licensed broker - as the lead instructor, along with fellow instructor Bill Byrd. James, a 25 year industry veteran, was eager to bring his knowledge of buying, selling and brokerage - as well as his extensive college-level teaching experience - to the CofC. “I try to make sure students are getting the best and most current information… to provide a basis of their success in the real estate [industry],” explains James. In addition to being certified to teach the 60-hour, 30-hour, Broker A, Broker B, and mandatory state continuing education classes, James attends all seminars held by the state commission, and stays abreast of changes related to state PSI testing, “Our goal is fairly focused,” he explains, “to make sure you have all the information and best opportunity to be successful in passing test and getting license.”
James’ dedication, and the Real Estate Academy’s goal to deliver the highest-quality test preparation course in the Lowcountry has since borne fruit. In February 2018, the CofC Real Estate Academy outshone all other offerers of PSI test-preparation in South Carolina, with a 78.95% passing rate for the “national” portion of the PSI exam (statewide average was 56.24%), and a 83.33% passing rate for the “state” portion of the exam (tied for first; statewide average was 68.29%). This trend continued in March 2018, as the Real Estate Academy again tied for first place on the “state” portion of the exam.
Hamilton and Bronwyn Barron, Program Director for the Real Estate Academy, are looking to build on these rankings, and have been working on expansions to the program offerings. In 2017, the Real Estate Academy added a number of continuing education classes to their course roster, in the hopes of attracting established realtor’s in the area. This past Spring, the Academy was certified to offer additional continuing education classes, and hope to add these classes to the roster in the coming year. James is also hopeful that he will have the opportunity to teach Broker-A - a real estate management class - and Broker-B exam preparation in the near future.
Aspirations for growth aside, ultimately, the Real Estate Academy exists to help students achieve success in the real estate industry. The Real Estate Academy staff are very proud of the milestones that have been reached in the two years since the Academy was established, and are especially excited about the outstanding student achievement this past Spring, and the number of students who have gone on to qualify for South Carolina salesperson's licenses. "I like helping somebody who is making a decision to make a life change," explains James. "The highlight of my day is a student saying, 'yay, I passed, thank you!'"
The Real Estate Academy currently offers both the Pre-Licensing and the Advanced Principles courses on a monthly basis - occasionally offering multiple sessions each month - with daytime and evening options. Continuing Education courses are typically offered in the Spring, to help realtors meet their licensing requirements. A full schedule is available on the Real Estate Academy website.
Aspiring realtors are encouraged to download the Real Estate Guide to learn more about becoming a realtor, and to contact the CofC Real Estate Academy for additional information about the courses currently on offer.