Idaho Real Estate >> ID Real Estate Specialist


College Degrees >> A solution for the real estate industry?

There has been a lot of talk over the years here in Idaho about the requirements for one to obtain a real estate license.  For a salesman's license in Idaho one simply completes a 45-hour Salesperson Module 1 and then a 45 hour Salesperson Module.  Pass the exam that follows and Walla!  Find a real estate company to hang your hat with and you're in business!  There are many that are pushing for a basic college degree required for those seeking an Idaho real estate license.

Proponents for the requirement of a college degree point to these issues: 

The real estate newsletter for the Idaho Real Estate Commission prints the names of individuals which have been fined for improper conduct.  This list has gone from 2 pages just a few years ago to 5-6 pages or more of individuals that have been fined.

Pickup any real estate magazine in the country and one can see some pretty sad real estate ads in terms of writing skills and photography.  I had a client in my office yesterday looking at homes listed in the MLS.  She was looking at one computer monitor and I was looking at another.  We both commented on how poor the photographs were and nearly all the remarks had misspelled words and very poor grammar. We also found this on several Realtor websites.

I have also had the experience of working with many young Realtors that entered the real estate business when it was on fire in 2005.  I met many of these Realtors in the negotiation room and had numerous conversations with them.  Their ability to "negotiate" and their ability to "communicate" on a professional level with their peers were very sad for the most part.  I have witnessed a lot of immaturity and a lot of "me" attitude.

I hear the discussion of college degree requirements for a real estate license is being discussed in other states other than Idaho.  I really think it comes down to this:  "If we don't clean-up our own industry we will all see mandates in the form of new laws we do not embrace".

So would a college degree make a difference in our industry or are real estate professionals simply "born"?


 Posted By: George Tallabas - Boise Idaho Real Estate Agent - Associate Broker 
with RE/MAX Advantage, Canyon Counties #1 Brokerage in sales and listings
specializing in Boise Idaho Real Estate and Southwest Idaho Real Estate.


Native Idahoan and Boise Idaho Real Estate specialist serving Boise, Meridian Eagle, Nampa, Caldwell and the surrounding Treasure valley area of southwest Idaho. Specializing in residential, investment, land and commercial real estate. Search thousands of MLS listings at Boise Homes for sale and learn all about Idaho by visiting Search Idaho Homes

Comment balloon 39 commentsGeorge Tallabas • April 12 2008 03:04PM


George - Unfortunately, I don't think that a degree in real estate will help. A degree can't help laziness and all of those misspelleed words, horrible photos and lack of proofreading are examples of laziness in my book.  They show someone who just doesn't care.  Sure, a degree may weed out some, but not enough.
Posted by Lisa Friedman, Central New Jersey Real Estate (Alliance Realtors) about 11 years ago

I think that many have thought that 'getting into Real Estate' was a quick & easy way into a career because of the rather limited amount of education and effort it takes to get a license and it often shows.  I agree there are a great number of agents who have very poor communication and English skills. 

As a matter of fact this morning my soon to be college bound daughter made the comment that she thinks that 'people with higher education seem just to be a bit more logical and can seem to process things better than the less educated'.  Perhaps that's something to consider. 

Your post certainly makes a valid point. 

Posted by Kathy Fisher Sells Lexington TN homes! 731.845.3413 (Five Star Real Estate Services) about 11 years ago
Lisa - Thanks for your input.  I hope you are having a great day!
Posted by George Tallabas, Idaho Real Estate (RE/MAX Advantage) about 11 years ago

What type of college degree do proponents suggest?  Finance?  Marketing?  Truthfully psychology or elementary education would be more practical.  I know agents with masters and doctoral degrees that are less conscientious than those without any type degree.  I know 20-year veterans that provide less service than the newly licensed.  Like any profession, a piece of paper doesn't necessarily make you any better than others.  I think earning a degree is something one should do for him/herself.

Posted by Anthony Clark, Real Estate. It's About Lifestyle! (Clark Partners) about 11 years ago
Kathy - Interesting thoughts and thank you for sharing.
Posted by George Tallabas, Idaho Real Estate (RE/MAX Advantage) about 11 years ago
Anthony - Good point made, thanks.
Posted by George Tallabas, Idaho Real Estate (RE/MAX Advantage) about 11 years ago

George: I only know of one person who has a real estate degree and that would be Gary Keller.

Posted by Roland Woodworth, Q Realty - Power In Real Estate (Q Realty) about 11 years ago
Roland - Thanks...does he rock?  LOL
Posted by George Tallabas, Idaho Real Estate (RE/MAX Advantage) about 11 years ago

While I have a master's, I don't think a college degree would be helpful. I would like to see a program more like a paralegal program though, where to become an agent is a 1-2 year program with an internship.  Now that would make a difference.

Posted by Melina Tomson, Principal Broker/Owner, M.S. (Tomson Burnham, llc Licensed in the State of Oregon) about 11 years ago
I think it goes deeper than education, it goes to the core of a personal philosophy of how you live your life. You can have all the education in the world and yet if all you get into this business for is to make lots of money, then despite education, you will not be an agent who will last long. You have to care about helping your clients and you have to be sincere, you have to have integrity, honesty and treat others as you would want to be treated. A little bit of common sense thrown into the mix wouldn't hurt either! All you have to do is watch Jay Leno some night when he's interviewing college students on camera and asking them some very basic questions about this country to see that education, even higher education is not necessarily turning out cream of the crop individuals.  While I agree that education is a goal we should all strive to have, blocking out many good potential agents because they dont have a degree would really be like cutting off your nose to spite your face. 
Posted by Jody Jones, Elkhart County Real Estate Agent (REALTY GROUP RESOURCES) about 11 years ago
George - The requirements in Florida are somewhat similar, I would like to see a stricter requirements to get in the field.
Posted by Pam Joffe (Solaris Realty) about 11 years ago

Melina - Great thought!  thanks.

Jody - Very interesting...thank you!

Pam - You are in the majority of those that feel that way here in Idaho.  Thanks.

Posted by George Tallabas, Idaho Real Estate (RE/MAX Advantage) about 11 years ago

In my experience, I seem to see 2 types of agents.  One type that considers Real Estate as a Career and a business.  The second is someone who thinks of it as a "sideline" and a way to make a "few extra bucks".  I would say that since 2000 or so (here), I've seen an increased  number of "number-2's".  Misspelled words, ads and web pages aside, some lack the very basic skills they need to represent their clients.

I've seen so many websites and ads with the "fake it until you make it" theme.  I just took a commercial listing from a very knowledgeable client who just finished up a 1 year listing contract with an agent who has marketed himself as an "expert" in almost every aspect of Real Estate.  His listing info on this particular property is a "mish-mosh" of improper commercial terms, lease terms and vague description of someone who knows nothing about commercial real estate.  Turns out, he's been licensed for 1 year.

Now I'm not saying that a new person can't be successful in Real Estate but KNOW HOW TO REPRESENT YOUR CLIENT.  Real Estate is one of the only professions that you can spend a few dollars, take a few classes and then go represent someone in the sale of their $2 Million Dollar home all while having no experience.

It's for this reason that we are working very hard (in PA) to try to mandate more initial education, more continuing education and a "mentor" type program for agents in the business for less than a year.  For those of us who treat this as a CAREER and a BUSINESS, it's a must that it stay professional. And, it's a must for Consumers.  They expect, and have the right to professional representation.  

I believe at the state level we have talked about other states that have more education requirements.  (Is is Colorado that has 2 types of Broker's Licenses??  BROKER / MANAGER and BROKER SALESPERSON) ??

Can anyone confirm.  From what I've heard it sounded to be a good educational system. 

I thought last year at the PA Association of Realtors Board of Directors meetings that someone mentioned that one state has just 2 classifications.  Until you got your brokers license, you worked along side a broker as an "Associate".  When you had enough time and education you received your Brokers License.

(PS.  I'm not saying that YOU NEED a Broker's License to be an effective agent. I feel, like many that it's the education and training that is needed not just a title). 

Just my little rant... 




Posted by Brian Luce, Associate Broker (HomeStarr Realty Inc.) about 11 years ago

Hey Brian in Tennessee you have to be a affiliate broker for 3 years before you can get a brokers license UNLESS you have a college degree then it's only 2 years! 

Posted by Kathy Fisher Sells Lexington TN homes! 731.845.3413 (Five Star Real Estate Services) about 11 years ago
I doubt that a college degree would be a help.  Lots of agents are good at selling but terrible at writing and spelling.  There are probably college graduates who can't spell or write well.  But if you propose it and get it passed, I'll be for it!
Posted by Barbara S. Duncan, GRI, e-PRO, Executive Broker, Searcy AR (RE/MAX Advantage) about 11 years ago

Brian - Very well said and thanks for the thought you put into it.

Barbara - Thanks for sharing...this is a very interesting subject indeed.

Posted by George Tallabas, Idaho Real Estate (RE/MAX Advantage) about 11 years ago

George, One thing real estate isn't is rocket science. I certainly think we need to learn the basics before getting licensed but from there I would be more inclined to say an apprentice program would be more effective than a college degree. Real estate is really a hands on business and can't be learned effectively from a text book.  I also believe any sales job requires a certain type of personality. Some are born with it, some can learn it but unfortunately many more will just never get it.

By the way, I hope all is well with you my friend.

Posted by Bryant Tutas, Selling Florida one home at a time (Tutas Towne Realty, Inc and Garden Views Realty, LLC) about 11 years ago


No degree here, and I think I spell adequately.

I deny that I need to read another book and explain it to a tenured prof to be motivated to act in an ethical manner.

And I see so many college graduates who are inarticulate and unenlightened, I think that requiring 4 more years of school is a straw requirement.

Results, and ethics (and stern consequences for lack thereof) should be the measurement of an agent.

Posted by Mike Jaquish, 919-880-2769 Cary, NC, Real Estate (Realty Arts) about 11 years ago


I would hate to see a college degree required because real estate has been an area that a person can come into from very little and make a good living.  Even go on to own their own business.

Ethics is taught in a class, but you either have ethics or you don't. 

As REALTORS®, shouldn't we reach out when we see other agents stumble?  If I noticed bad spelling on one of my fellow agents web-site, I would talk with them about it....AND offer to help.  If we are in the same office, it reflects on me and every agent.   

I do believe there should be more of a mentor type program in place for the first year which would benefit all new agents.

Posted by Karen Gentry>>Charlottesville, Virginia Real Estate Professional (RE/MAX Excellence-Charlottesville VA) about 11 years ago

Bryan - Thanks...something really needs to be done and may an apprentice program is the answer.  Thank you.

Mike - Well said and "no college degree" here as well my friend.

Karen - You just described a lot of problems as we have all seen.  It goes beyond grammar and extends to ethical conduct, etc.  A solution is really needed.

Posted by George Tallabas, Idaho Real Estate (RE/MAX Advantage) about 11 years ago

It's all about the barrier to entry in the workplace and one would think that a college degree would make better Realtors.  It would raise the bar in terms of entry but I don't know that it would make better Realtors.  It would reduce the pool of applicants significantly and would make the profession better at leaast in theory.

Having spent years in another life with 99% college graduates I think I will take my chances with those Realtors that are ethical, driven, and understand that being a Realtor is operating a business.

In reality I think that the profession has a way with dealing with those less than professional, ethical, and lazy Realtors.  The types of Realtors described as bringing down our profession eventually wash out or get on the education bandwagon and improve themselves.


From a selfish standpoint I would be fine with a college degree but I don't know if the degree would provide that much of a lift to the profession.

Posted by Tim Rogers (Coaches Corner Radio...The Real Estate Guy) about 11 years ago
Tim - Very well said.  Thank you
Posted by George Tallabas, Idaho Real Estate (RE/MAX Advantage) about 11 years ago
I think college OR an equivalent -- Then more continuing education hours.  I am surprised how many agents are so ill prepared to do their job.  There are many companies that just want a lot of bodies to sell to some friends, relatives and family members and the bar is very low.  I think it will be better for all to have a higher entry requirement and more continuing education hours.
Posted by Joan Whitebook, Consumer Focused Real Estate Services (BHG The Masiello Group) about 11 years ago
George,  I have seen a lot of people with college degrees that are not very professional, so I am not sure that a degree will help our industry.  I think that every new agent should have to do an apprenticeship for a certain amount of time, before going on their own.  I think a new, inexperience agent going on his/her own, fresh out of real estate school, is not the best thing to do.  The inexperience shows!!  Just my opinion!
Posted by Roberta LaRocca, REALTOR®, Broker, Salesperson, Property Management (Simply Vegas Real Estate) about 11 years ago

Joan - Amen my friend...many professionals would agree with you. Thanks and have a great weekend.

Roberta - Interesting thought and others have mentioned the apprentice idea. Thanks for your input and have a great weekend.

Posted by George Tallabas, Idaho Real Estate (RE/MAX Advantage) about 11 years ago
I think in real estate you either have it or you don't. A degree doesn't make you better at ANY job. I'm sure we all know very educated people that are stupid in common sense things and can't hold a conversation to save his life. I've met people with a high school diploma that are so quick witted and charming and good at their job and are naturally gifted. I don't think a degree means much in a lot of professions.
Posted by LaNita Cates (REMAX of Joliet) about 11 years ago
I take that comment back..."A degree doesn't make you better at ANY job". Obviously medicine, teaching, law... I didn't mean that comment.
Posted by LaNita Cates (REMAX of Joliet) about 11 years ago


I don't believe that a degree will serve to filter the quality of folks that get into this profession.  Anyone that can sit in a class without falling asleep and pass a test with a minimal grade can obtain a degree in something.  And I'm not saying that there are not some very intelligent (even genius!) folks carrying around a degree, but I am a realist when it comes to what it takes to get one.  The result is a direct testament to the person themselves.

More than a degree, perhaps if the mandatory real estate sales courses were to include modules on marketing, negotiating, LOTS of Fair Housing, diversity and tolerance, and basic computer skills then the graduating new Realtors(R) would be more prepared to do what they are supposed to.

I've known many very highly educated folks with degrees that lined the walls of their homes and offices that can't talk in public, can't communicate face to face, can't complete a written sentence without having to re-write it a dozen times, and that cannot make that first move to meet strangers.  They CAN write a computer program in record time, manage billions of dollars, take responsibility for the safety of thousands - but can't, and don't, function in any venue that requires social interaction. 


Posted by Carol Smith (Casmi Photography) about 11 years ago
LaNita - Thanks...what would be your solution for cleaning up our profession?
Posted by George Tallabas, Idaho Real Estate (RE/MAX Advantage) about 11 years ago
Carol - Thank you my friend. There just has to be a way to clean up our own industry or laws well be passed to change it for us.
Posted by George Tallabas, Idaho Real Estate (RE/MAX Advantage) about 11 years ago
George I hace always been a big proponent of much more education. The barriers to entry in Real Estate as a career are far too easy. I would love to see some form of higher education prior to being able to obtain your license. This is a problem that does need to be addressed.
Posted by Bill Gassett, Metrowest Massachusetts Real Estate (RE/MAX Executive Realty) about 11 years ago
Bill - I am right with you my friend.  As you can see, this is a highly debated subject.  I just hope and pray that our industry will become the type of industry it can be and that the public deserves.
Posted by George Tallabas, Idaho Real Estate (RE/MAX Advantage) about 11 years ago

To be completely honest, I have an issue with the idea of requiring College, because it has become another way to separate the Haves and the Have-Nots in this country. If you don't Have it, you can't Get it. It being the money to Do it. And real estate is one of the few remaining professions in which someone can create their lives simply through hard work and professional behavior.

I think it should be more like an Apprenticeship/Internship program. Maybe the first 10 transactions and the first 2 years, whichever is longer, all deals and business has to be scrutinized by the Broker.

I happen to know a lot of people with a Bachelors degree who wouldn't be able to do our jobs. It takes on the job training, not in the classroom. And it encomapsses so many different ways of looking at the world, that all experiences seem to be of value, from that of managing customers and timing as a waitress, to the listening of a counselor. Pretty tough to teach all that in a classroom.

Posted by Sarah Nopp about 11 years ago
Sarah - Thank you for sharing your opinion and there are several that support an apprentice system.  Thanks and have a great evening.
Posted by George Tallabas, Idaho Real Estate (RE/MAX Advantage) about 11 years ago

George- If College degrees were required, I would not be here. I became a real estate agent as a mom of 2 children under the age of 4 over 26 years ago without a high school or college education. I did take the GED and scored one of the highest in that session. I homeschooled 6 children for over 28 years now. Some went to college and some did not. 

I know plenty of ignorant college grads. I know people with Masters and PHD's who can not relate to others and have no people skills. Degrees rarely help except with doctors and scientists.

You can not teach caring and serving in a college filled with self serving behaviors. You can not teach common sense. I know many people who can not function in society but are geniuses.

You can not make someone believe in ethics or in treating people right. No college can teach that, in fact they are doing a darn good job of teaching the opposite.  

The low entry level of real estate gives the person with out the money to go to college to still become a very successful business person.  

Posted by Katerina Gasset, Get It Done For Me Virtual Services (Get It Done For Me Virtual Services ) about 11 years ago
George, I do think more training is necessary, more than a 40 hour pre-license class. Maybe a mentoring class until they get 5 transactions under their belt, with their Broker or TEAM leader. Not sure a college degree will help, I know realtors with college degrees who are snarky and not good. 
Posted by Missy Caulk, Savvy Realtor - Ann Arbor Real Estate (Missy Caulk TEAM) about 11 years ago


      Although I do agree with you that more education can be good for new Realtors, I don't believe it is going to resolve the problem.  Like others have mentioned, I believe it comes down to the individual.  I have been in the Real Estate business around 4 years, but I have seen my share of Realtors that have been in much longer that are just as lazy as some of the "new" Realtors you mentioned.  I don't think this laziness is a new thing.  Maybe it should be on the brokers shoulders to better educate their Associates.  Maybe some required weekly training for the first year, or bi-monthly training for the first 18-24 months.

     I know there are independent Realtors out there that fall into the category you speak of, but what can you do about them.  All you can do is represent "YOUR" client the best you can and hope that the other Realtors reputation either ends up convincing them to better educate themselves, or drives them from the business altogether.  I agree there needs to be something done, but I am one of the Realtors without a degree.  I don't necessarily believe a degree will help me, but it couldn't hurt right?  However, by the way things are going, I apparently know a little bit about what I am doing.  Just my .02 cents.

Posted by Joshua & Kathy Schmidt (ERA Henley Real Estate) about 11 years ago
George, I have seen or experienced some of the same things you refer to in your post and I'm not sure if a college degree should be required.  I have a college degree but I'm sure there are many realtors out there without a degree that are better in real estate than I am.  Maybe including an additional course through the association as far as grammar or other details that are often overlooked in the real estate profession.  With spell check available these days, there is no excuse for mispells.  I think the problem is many people are lazy.
Posted by Patricia Beck, Colorado Springs Realty (RE/MAX Properties, Inc., GRI, CDPE) about 11 years ago

Katerina - I understand totally.  It's just a complicated topic but how do we clean up our industry?

Joshua & Kathy - Well said but it's that bad ones that give our industry the black eye.

Patricia - Thanks my friend.  I don't know if even more education will help.

Posted by George Tallabas, Idaho Real Estate (RE/MAX Advantage) about 11 years ago