By Carolyn schwaar
Attracting students to real estate schools has been a breeze in the past five years. The housing boom kept most prelicensing classes at capacity. But now, in the current market slowdown, association education directors are gearing up for a tougher time attracting professionals to a career in real estate. Here are some ways associations can keep their rosters full and stabilize their education program income.
Offset the losses
The Orange County Association of Realtors® reports a dramatic drop in prelicensing enrollment lately due to the market conditions. The association’s strategy is to ride out the slump and focus on marketing new continuing education opportunities to members, including national courses customized to the local market, according to Communication Director Stacey A. Schick.
Plan to expand
To counter the slowdown of new practitioners, the Dulles Area Association of Realtors® is planning an aggressive marketing campaign along with an increase in class fees and new class offerings, according to Director of Education Liz Minthorne. “My business background says expand not contract when things get tough in the market,” she says.
Offer education conveniences online
Members of the Realtor® Association of Pioneer Valley Inc. in Springfield, Mass., can register and pay online for courses. Director of Member Services Ben Scranton says he also markets the education program primarily through the new-member section of the association’s Web site.
Shift focus to member marketing
Although the Northeast Florida Association of Realtors® has seen no more than a 2 percent average drop in attendance recently, its strategy to keep courses full is to promote the market slowdown as the best time for Realtors® to take classes. Why? According to Communication Director Melanie Green, members now have the time to beef up their education credentials and broaden their knowledge.
Update your online information
Most associations have information about becoming a real estate professional on their Web sites, but now is the time to change the language there from “get in on the boom” to “it’s still a good time to enter real estate.”
Sell sponsorships and class package deals
Jill Randall at the Idaho Association of Realtors® Inc. offsets education costs by selling advertising in course catalogs to local moving and inspection companies. Her association also offers discounted multicourse packages to students, which encourages them to purchase more classes earlier in the year.
Offering spare classroom space for rent to local organizations or brokerage offices is another popular way for associations that face shrinking classroom attendance to keep revenue streams flowing.
Offer what members
Although the popularity of courses can vary by region, risk management and ethics courses have a broad appeal, AEs say. So do commercial investment courses that explain tax laws specific to commercial properties. In rural areas, classes that discuss fair representation of historic and agricultural properties are popular.