By Maggie FitzRoy, Contributing Writer
When someone wants to become a real estate agent, he or she first must pass a 63-hour pre-licensing course before taking the state exam.
There are many online real estate schools. But for those who prefer to attend a class taught by a live instructor, there are only a few in the Jacksonville area.
No matter where the course is taken, the final exam is created by the state. The course can be challenging, with about a 50 percent pass rate on average.
Since most classes are offered in an accelerated fashion, making a career change to real estate can be especially challenging for people with day jobs or childcare responsibilities.
That is why the First Coast School of Real Estate was launched last fall.
Classes are spread out over a 10-week period, held 6-9 p.m. on Tuesdays and Thursdays. The first class graduated Jan. 5 and the second one began Jan 24.
“We saw a need,” said instructor Rory Dubin, who also is a full-time Realtor with Exit Real Estate Gallery.
The school is located in a building next to Exit Real Estate Gallery’s Orange Park office, but it is a separate business, as required by state law.
Its instructors are not permitted to solicit students to work for the agency.
Even so, students do benefit from learning from agents who “are practicing real estate on a day-to-day basis,” Dubin said.
The other instructor, Noel David, also is a full-time Realtor with Exit.
The course is challenging because there is a lot of material to cover, including real estate laws, the penalties for breaking those laws and how the industry is structured in the state, Dubin said.
The course manual, which almost every school uses, is 475 pages, divided into 19 chapters.
Studying that “over a 10-week period allows students to absorb the material easier,” he said, “and they can study longer.”
There also are other schools in the region, including the Florida Real Estate Institute and the Watson School of Real Estate.
But traditionally, real estate school classes are held during the day, for hours each day, graduating those who pass the exam in a little over a week, said First Coast School of Real Estate administrator Kallie Goodwin.
Those that are offered in the evenings also tend to be accelerated, finishing in a few weeks.
Since licensed real estate agents must take and pass a post-licensing 45-hour course to stay licensed, the school also offers that at night. Classes are 6-9 p.m. Monday and Wednesday with the same instructors.
The cost for the prelicensing course is $350 and the post-licensing course is $200. Both include the manual, exam and exam preparation materials.
Dubin said the school is considering expanding, perhaps to the Beaches.
He sees a need for expansion because an average of 100 agents join the 7,500-member Northeast Florida Association of Realtors every month.
“The reason is the economy,” Dubin said. “It’s a very good time to get into real estate. It’s a very active market.”
Some of the graduates from the pre-licensing class that graduated in early January wrote testimonials that Goodwin said she plans to post on the school’s website, firstcoastschoolofrealestate.com.