Best Schools For Renewing Your Texas Real Estate License

If you are like most people, you view continuing education (CE) like going to the dentist for a checkup. You don’t really want to do it, but you know it is for your own good.

As a licensed real estate agent in Texas, the Texas Real Estate Commission (TREC) requires you to renew your license every 2 years by completing continuing education and paying the appropriate renewal fee. 

There are different CE requirements depending on your situation, so let’s take a quick moment to review what you will need to do.

Texas Real Estate Renewal Requirements

 First-Time RenewalSecond and All Subsequent Renewals
Sales Agent90 hours of Sales Apprentice Education (SAE)
4 hours of Legal Update I
4 hours of Legal Update II
10 hours of Elective CE*
4 hours of Legal Update I
4 hours of Legal Update II
Broker10 hours of Elective CE*
4 hours of Legal Update I
4 hours of Legal Update II
10 hours of Elective CE*
4 hours of Legal Update I
4 hours of Legal Update II
*Your elective course must include a 6-hour Broker Responsibility course if you have sponsored any sales agents, served as a designated broker for a business entity broker that sponsors sales agents, or have been made a supervisor for six or more months.  

Now that you know how many hours you need, the next step is to choose the right school. With nearly 1,000 education providers approved to provide CE courses in Texas, this can seem like a daunting task. 

Which one is the best school?

We don’t believe there is a single school that will be perfect for everyone. Everyone has a different learning style, budget, and studying habits. Furthermore, every school has their own strengths and weaknesses in their course offerings.

As a result, we have gone through the list and selected who we think are the top 5 best real estate schools that will accommodate the unique learning preferences of most individuals to renew your Texas real estate license. 

Champions School of Real Estate

Packages start at $99

Champions School of Real Estate is the 800-pound gorilla of real estate education in Texas. They are the biggest and most well-known education provider in Texas. More people have taken their award-winning courses to get licensed than any other real estate school.

Champions School of Real Estate offers a variety of formats to take the courses. You can drive to one of their seven campuses (Austin, Dallas, Houston Galleria, Houston North, West Houston, Fort Worth, and San Antonio) and sit in a classroom. You have the option to attend one of their ChampionsLive! Broadcasts and live-stream it so that you can watch it from home but still get that classroom feel. You can also choose to take the regular online courses, which are available in both PDFs and hardcopy books.

After you complete the courses, they will typically notify TREC within 24 hours.

Champions School of Real Estate is perfect for someone who wants to satisfy their CE requirements in a classroom. However, they are on the high side of the price range. They give you a decent selection of course topics to choose from and do a great job of providing their students with an immersive, learning experience.

Recommended for: the Interactive Learner

Real Estate Express/ McKissock Learning

Real Estate Express Review | Real Estate License

Packages start at $119.95

This list would not be complete without mentioning the biggest names in real estate education.

Real Estate Express and McKissock Learning are actually subsidiary brands under the same company called Colibri Group. They use Real Estate Express for all pre-license and post-license education, while McKissock is the platform used for continuing education.

If you need SAE courses, then you would get them from Real Estate Express. They only have one online package that includes courses in Marketing, Property Management, and Brokerage. The courses look fresh and modern looking. Plus, they just started including free proctoring on their final exams.

If you are looking for CE courses, including Legal Update I and II, then you would get them through McKissock Learning. They have a long list of elective courses to choose from, and they allow you to customize your package.

What separates them from every other school is their annual membership program. This not only covers all of your CE requirements, but it also provides you with a plethora of options for professional development. There are hundreds of how-to videos, webinars, and job aids to help you bring your game to the next level.

Recommended for: the Value Shopper

Aceable Agent

Packages start at $129

Aceable Agent is relatively new to the world of online real estate education. They are based in Austin, Texas, and currently have real estate licensing programs in four states (Texas, Michigan, Virginia, and New York).

Being the new kid on the block means that they are still growing their program. At this time, they only have CE courses and do not have SAE courses.

However, the reason they are on this list is that they are bringing a fresh approach to online education. They are actively trying to make their courses engaging and fun. Not just boring PDFs like every other school. Aceable Agent is one of the first education providers to get their courses approved on mobile devices.

Aceable Agent is a young company that seeks to disrupt the way that people take online courses. Since they are a new entrant into the space, there is some risk that they could get overzealous with their ambitious goals and bite off more than they can chew, at the expense of their students. Nevertheless, Aceable Agent is a rising star, and it will be exciting to see what they will do in the future.

Recommended for: the Millenial

Allied Schools

Allied Schools Review | Real Estate License

Packages start at $98

Allied Schools has been providing Texas real estate courses for almost 30 years. They have a solid track record of providing high-quality content at an affordable price. They were acquired by Real Estate Express. However, their programs are entirely separate.

Allied Schools offer a basic program with a limited course selection. They only provide online courses and have a single package for SAE and CE. The user interface looks a bit antiquated, but it is functional.

Where Allied Schools really shines is with their SAE courses. While most other schools give you 6 months to finish the courses, Allied Schools gives you one full year. There are no hidden fees, and you get to take their final exams as many times as you need without having to pay a re-test fee. Probably the best part is that they include free online proctoring. This gives you the convenience of taking the final exams at home.

Allied Schools provide a great program if you want a simple, no-hassle course to get your continuing education done.

Recommended for: the Straight Shooter

The CE Shop

The CE Shop review | Real Estate License

Packages start at $139

The CE Shop has one of the most comprehensive and rigorous programs in the real estate industry. They are a 100% online-only shop and offer programs in all 50 states. This is really geared for people who are genuinely interested in learning first, satisfying CE requirements second.

The CE Shop only has one SAE package that includes the Appraisal, Brokerage, and Real Estate Investment courses. They have their own online proctoring service and charge $17.50 per test. There’s some funny fine print that you should be aware of. If you don’t pass the final exam, you can only re-take it once within 90 days. If you fail the second time, you must re-take the entire course again.

Besides their frequent promotions, what really stood out with The CE Shop was their course selection for continuing education. They currently have 26 elective CE courses to choose from, not counting the Legal Updates. They also offer the Code of Ethics training if you are a realtor looking to satisfy the bi-annual ethics CE requirement.  

The CE Shop is a great choice for people who actually want to learn something and grow their knowledge of real estate. They offer a huge and growing selection of topics that will satisfy anyone’s appetite for knowledge.

Recommended for: the Knowledge Seeker

Is there a school that you think deserves to be on the list? We are always on the lookout for the best providers. Let us know in the comments section below.

What is the Best Appraisal School in Pennsylvania?

To succeed as a real estate appraiser, it is important to find a good school. This is not just to meet the mandatory education requirements set by the Pennsylvania State Board of Real Estate Appraisers, but because where you take your qualifying education courses will lay the foundation for the rest of your appraisal career.

I have looked through the entire list of appraisal schools that are accredited in Pennsylvania. After evaluating what each school has to offer as well as their shortcomings, these are the top 3 schools on my short-list of appraisal schools that will set you up for success.  

1. Hondros College

Hondros College | Appraiser License

Packages start at $799

Hondros College is arguably the fastest growing online appraisal school in Pennsylvania. They have been in the appraisal education industry for a long time but did not really offer their courses directly to the consumer until recently. You had to go through an intermediary school.

Now, you can go straight to their website and take their courses. Since there is no more middleman, this translates into massive savings for the student. This is especially nice since appraisal courses are very expensive.

Hondros College is a no-frills program. They offer the online courses to meet Pennsylvania’s education requirement in a single 75-hour National Trainee Package, and that’s pretty much it. The courses are text-based, so it is just like reading a book. You will have 6 months to complete the program, and you will have to be logged online to accumulate seat time as that is a state requirement. There are no payment plans or alternative programs available for getting licensed.

The support options are also quite limited. There are no live instructors available by phone if you want to call somebody. You will have to email Hondros College your questions first and wait to hear back by the next business day. If you have any customer support or technical issues, they do have phone support Monday through Saturday during regular business hours.

Hondros College distinguishes itself from its competitors through its online exam prep, CompuCram, for the state exam. This tool integrates vocabulary words, practice test, and comprehensive simulated exams into an all-in-solution to help you pass the test on your first attempt. CompuCram has a pass rate of 86.5% for first-time examinees, which is significantly higher than the national average pass rate of 67%. CompuCram is also mobile-friendly, so you can take a couple of practice test questions the next time you are waiting in line at the grocery store.

Best suited for: the Budget Shopper

Hondros College has been an education provider in appraisal for the past 40 years. They have made significant progress in revitalizing their courses recently. This has translated into huge savings on the appraisal courses for students while still delivering a solid program. Their online prep, CompuCram, boasts an industry-leading pass rate of 86.5%. However, you do have to be self-motivated and disciplined to succeed with the program at Hondros College.

Learn more at www.hondros.com

2. McKissock Learning

Packages start at $899.95

McKissock Learning, based in Warren, Pennsylvania, is the leader when it comes to appraisal education. They have programs in all 50 states, and offer classes in a classroom as well as online. McKissock Learning has every appraisal course you could ever possibly need.

McKissock Learning’s Pennsylvania appraisal qualifying education courses have earned an average rating of 4.33 out of 5 stars, based off 642 customer surveys. They give you full confidence to take their program by backing it up with a 100% satisfaction guarantee. If you are not happy with the courses within the first 7 days of enrollment for whatever reason, you can request to get a full refund.

McKissock Learning offers a variety of different options for getting licensed:

Qualifying Education (QE) Unlimited Learning Subscription – This is a new program that they began offering. This program is actually a fantastic deal because it includes all of the online qualifying education (up to Certified General). Plus, it provides access to video tutorials, monthly webinars, appraisal community, and partner discounts. This is an annual subscription, so you will automatically get charged every year. However, you should be able to finish the courses within a year, so you can just cancel the subscription before it renews again.

79-hour Trainee (TR) Get Started Package – This package consists of the required 4 online appraisal courses to get licensed in Pennsylvania. The classes are text-based, and you are given one year to complete the program. There is an interest-free payment plan available for up to 4 months with this package.

79-hour Trainee (TR) Advanced Pro Package – This package includes everything in the Get Started package plus instructor support and hardcopy books. You will be able to talk to certified appraisal instructors directly during weekly Q&A sessions if you need any help on the courses. If you want to study with the books, you should be aware that they do not get shipped out until after you have already completed the courses. 

Best suited for: the Value Shopper

McKissock Learning has been at the forefront of appraisal education for a long time. The interface looks good and modern. They are always incorporating new features and extra content into the program. McKissock Learning has built its platform to not only meet the mandatory education requirements in Pennsylvania but to also thrive as a professional with supplemental training materials. The pricing is on the higher range of the spectrum. However, you will definitely get your money’s worth.

Learn more at www.mckissock.com

3. Appraisal Institute

Review of Appraisal Institute | Appraiser License

75-Hour Package Price $1,040

The Appraisal Institute (AI) is an organization that helps real estate appraisers take their career to the next level. They are made up over 20,000 members from approximately 95 chapters located all over the planet. They offer appraisal courses, which are the most rigorous in the industry and certification programs that will set you apart from other appraisal professionals.

You do not have to join the Appraisal Institute to attend any of their courses. However, you will have to pay more than someone who is an AI member.

If you are interested in becoming a member, there are different levels. All levels of AI memberships require an annual membership fee. The different levels really have to do with their MAI, SRPA, and SRA designations. They are like a prestigious badge of excellence within the appraisal community. Some lenders, government offices, and courts prefer to send work only to an appraiser who holds one of these designations.  

Earning one of these prestigious designations take a lot of work. You are required to take additional coursework, testing, and submit continuing education. It also requires that you have a bachelor’s degree from an accredited college or university.

The courses are rigorous. Most schools give you 6 months to a year to complete the courses. Appraisal Institute only gives you 30 days to complete any online course that is 15 hours or less, and 45 days to complete any course that is over 15 hours long.  Additionally, final exams have to be administered at a Pearson Vue testing center. If you change your mind and want to cancel, there is a minimum cancellation fee of $60. If you have completed over 25% of the course, then you are not eligible for any refund.

Best suited for: Aspiring Commercial Appraisers

The Appraisal Institute sets the bar for excellence in the appraisal industry. Having any of their courses listed on your resume will look very good. However, it will cost more than other schools, not to mention that you will have to most likely study harder since you have a shorter period to complete them. The Appraisal Institute has designed its program around people who are serious about making appraisal their lifelong profession and want to build a foundation so they can have the most opportunities in the future.

Learn more at www.appraisalinstitute.org

The 3 Best Appraisal Schools in Florida

If you are like most people interested in becoming a real estate appraiser, you have little to no background in appraisal. That’s okay.

The Florida Real Estate Appraisal Board (FREAB), which regulates the appraisal industry for Florida, requires you to take a minimum amount of education to give you a basic understanding of the appraisal profession. You will learn all the terms and methodologies needed to perform this job.

One of the keys to your success will be to find an approved school with a good program. Fortunately, we have done the research for you. Here are the top 3 appraisal schools that are accredited by the FREAB for getting your appraiser’s license in Florida.

1. OnCourse Learning

OnCourse Learning Real Estate School

75-Hour Package Price: $899

OnCourse Learning is a growing online education provider that offers programs in both real estate appraisal. They have designed their courses to prepare you with a working knowledge of the relevant laws and regulations. They used to offer their appraisal program under the brand of Career WebSchool, but have since reinvigorated the courses with fresh content and material.

They offer a single, convenient 75-hour pre-licensing package to meet Florida’s education requirements. It is a 100% online program that is text-based, so it is like reading a book on the computer. Because it is web-based, you will be able to access it from any internet-connected device such as a tablet or laptop. You have up to 6 months to pass the final exams and complete the courses. You will also have to be online to take this course as Florida requires seat time.

OnCourse Learning provides instructor support via email only. If you have an IT-related problem or issue with your customer account, you can contact their support department by phone during their regular business hours Monday through Friday, from 8:30 AM to 6 PM Central Time.

OnCourse Learning has the best (and lowest) price for getting your appraiser’s license in Florida. They also have frequent promotions, which make their programs even cheaper. This is especially nice since appraisal courses are very expensive. If you are not entirely confident you want to pursue this as a long-term career, this is a good way to hedge your bet.

If you decide to sign up with OnCourse Learning, you will need to know that they do not offer any state-specific courses. For example, FREAB requires you to take a 6-hour Florida Laws and Rules course. Although it is a short course, you will eventually need to get that course from another provider.

Best suited for: the Budget Shopper

OnCourse Learning is the perfect program for someone that prefers to learn independently and is looking for the best deal. OnCourse Learning has dramatically upgraded its online programs recently and is now one of the top appraisal schools for obtaining a license in Florida. Although they have limited support options and do not come with any extra features, OnCourse Learning delivers a compelling appraisal program at a great price.

Learn more at www.oncourselearning.com

2. McKissock Learning

Packages start at $1,195.95

McKissock Learning is the de facto standard when it comes to obtaining your appraiser’s license. Over 2 million people have taken their courses for both qualifying and continuing education in the past 30 years. They have the widest offering of courses, both in terms of format and topics, compared to any other education provider.

McKissock Learning’s Florida appraisal pre-licensing education courses have earned an average rating of 4.4 out of 5 stars, based on 137 self-reported customer surveys. They are the only appraisal school that I have seen that backs up their program with a 100% satisfaction guarantee. If you change your mind within the first 7 days of enrollment, you can get a full refund. No questions asked.

McKissock Learning offers 3 packages to get started:

Qualifying Education (QE) Unlimited Learning Subscription – This is an annual subscription that gives you access to satisfy not just the initial 75-hour education requirement, but ALL pre-license courses you will ever need in appraisal. This is actually a really good deal because you should be able to easily complete all the appraisal courses within a year, so you can just cancel the subscription after the first year.

104-hour Trainee (TR) Get Started Package – This package consists of the required 4 online appraisal courses to get licensed in Florida as well as the mandatory state-specific courses. The courses are 100% text-based, and you get one year to complete the program. There is a convenient interest-free payment plan available for up to 4 months with this package.

104-hour Trainee (TR) Advanced Pro Package – This package includes everything in the Get Started package plus instructor support and printed textbooks. Due to state requirements, McKissock Learning cannot send the books to you until you finish the courses first. In other words, you will have to read the material online when you take the course. The main benefit for this package is the instructor support, where you can get to interact with certified instructors during the weekly Q&A sessions.

Best suited for: the Value Shopper

McKissock Learning offers the complete package. They have all the appraisal courses you will ever need and have flexible payment options. The courses look attractive and modern. They are a little on the high end of the price range. However, they make up for that with their high-quality material and extra content. It is no surprise that McKissock Learning continues to be the leader in appraisal education.

Learn more at www.mckissock.com

3. Appraisal Institute

Review of Appraisal Institute | Appraiser License

75-Hour Package Price: $1,040

The Appraisal Institute (AI) is a globally recognized organization within the real estate appraisal industry. There have approximately 20,000 members in 95 chapters located around the world. They set the bar for excellence, and it will help you stand out down the road if you have their courses listed on your resume.

Anyone can take their courses, and anyone can be a member. You simply pay an annual membership fee along with any applicable chapter fees. One of the benefits of being a member is that you get a discount on all appraisal courses. However, since you have to pay to become a member, I do not think it is worthwhile just to become a member to get the discount.

Why do people become a member? There are different membership levels, and the real motivation to join the Appraisal Institute is to earn one of its prestigious designations, such as MAI, SRPA, or SRA. It is not easy to earn these designations, and that is by design. They require a college degree, additional coursework, and rigorous testing. Only about 15 percent of all appraisers hold one of these designations.

If you can become a designated AI member, there will be a lot more opportunities available to you, especially in the commercial sector. Some companies, lenders, and government agencies only want to work with you if you hold an MAI or SRA designation. It gives them a higher level of confidence that the appraisal report will be accurate and of the highest quality.

If you decide to enroll in their program, you will want to make sure your calendar is clear. Although the courses are online and you can study whenever you want, they only give you 30 days to complete courses that are 15 hours or less, and 45 days to complete any course that is over 15 hours. You will have to schedule an appointment at a Pearson Vue testing center to take the final exams.

Best suited for: Aspiring Commercial Appraisers

Whether you decide to become a designated member or not, completing courses from the Appraisal Institute automatically earns you the distinction of excellence. They have the most rigorous and expensive program on the market. I would only recommend this for people who are serious about pursuing a long-term career in appraisal. If you are able to put in the extra hard work and considerable financial investment that the Appraisal Institute requires, you will get access to more opportunities.

Learn more at www.appraisalinstitute.org

The 3 Best Appraisal Schools in Michigan

If are trying to find a good school to obtain a real estate appraiser’s license for the state of Michigan, then you have come to the right place.

Before we start looking at any education provider, we need to first make sure that the school is approved by the Michigan Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs (LARA). They are the state agency that sets the education requirements for appraisers. They also handle all licensing affairs and enforce the regulations through disciplinary action if necessary.

Once we have a list of approved schools, we can narrow the list down further to see which ones are the best. Truthfully, there is no “one size fits all” school. Every program comes with its own advantages and disadvantages. After extensively researching different programs, here are my top 3 recommendations for obtaining an appraiser’s license in Michigan that should be able to cover anyone’s learning needs.

Hondros College

Hondros College | Appraiser License

75-Hour Package Price $799

Hondros College is a growing online school that has programs in real estate, appraisal, home inspection, and insurance. They have had a presence in the education industry for over 40 years and offer programs in all 50 US states. They have enrolled over 500,000 students in both the classroom and online courses.

Hondros College used to develop the courses and offer them through a secondary provider. However, they have been taking the initiative to work more directly with students. What this means is they can offer these same courses at a lower cost to the student. In fact, they have one of the cheapest programs in the market.

To satisfy the Michigan state education requirements, you will need to enroll in their 75-hour National Trainee Package. You are given up to 6 months from the time of enrollment to complete the program. This format of the content is text-based, so it is just like reading a book on the website. You can move at your own pace and access your account 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. The LARA requires seat-time on these courses, so you will have to be online for all 75 hours.

If you need any help while you are taking the course, they do have support to help you with any IT issues or account management. However, if you have questions about the course content, their instructor support is limited to email only. They will respond back to you within the next business day.

What really impressed me with Hondros College was their exam prep called CompuCram. It boasts an 86.5% pass rate for first-time test-takers. That is significantly higher than the national average pass rate of 67%. It gives students access to online flashcards, fill-in-the-blanks, and matching tools to test their knowledge and learn. There is an “overall readiness” indicator that tracks your progress and lets you know when you are ready to take the actual exam. CompuCram is also mobile-friendly, so you can take a couple of practice test questions the next time you are waiting in line at the grocery store.

Best suited for: the Budget Shopper

Hondros College has been investing a lot in improving their programs recently and it shows. It would be nicer if they provided more robust options in terms of instructor support. However, with an industry-best 86.5% pass rate on the state exams and the lowest prices on the market, Hondros College has made their online appraisal program hard to pass up.

Learn more at www.hondros.com

McKissock Learning

Packages start at $899.99

McKissock Learning is the largest appraisal school in the country. Since 1990, they have helped over2 million people in the real estate industry satisfy their pre-license and continuing education courses. They have classrooms, live webinars, and online courses. However, all qualifying education is only available in the online format.  

McKissock Learning’s Michigan appraisal qualifying education courses have earned an average rating of 4.33 out of 5 stars, based off 338 customer surveys. If you are not 100% convinced in their courses, there is a 100% satisfaction guarantee. If you do not like what you are seeing, you can get all of your money back within 7 days of signing up.

McKissock Learning offers 3 flexible ways of getting started:

Qualifying Education (QE) Unlimited Learning Subscription – This is a new program that they began offering. This program is actually a fantastic deal because it includes all of the online qualifying education (up to Certified General). Plus, it provides access to video tutorials, monthly webinars, appraisal community, and partner discounts. This is an annual subscription, so you will automatically get charged every year. However, you should be able to finish the courses within a year, so you can just cancel the subscription before it renews again.

79-hour Trainee (TR) Get Started Package – This package consists of the required 4 online appraisal courses to get licensed in Michigan. The classes are text-based, and you are given one year to complete the program. There is an interest-free payment plan available for up to 4 months with this package.

79-hour Trainee (TR) Advanced Pro Package – This package includes everything in the Get Started package plus instructor support and hardcopy books. You will be able to talk to certified appraisal instructors directly during weekly Q&A sessions if you need any help on the courses. If you want to study with the books, you should be aware that they do not get shipped out until after you have already completed the courses. The LARA requires that you log time in the sessions so the books can only be used outside of the program.

Best suited for: the Value Shopper

McKissock Learning is the leader in appraisal education. They are continually innovating to make their courses more engaging. They offer the most variety in terms of payment and package options for obtaining a Michigan appraiser license. You will have to spend more money on their programs. However, all of the bonus content and features that come with their new QE Unlimited Subscription program will quickly pay dividends.

Learn more at www.mckissock.com

Appraisal Institute

Review of Appraisal Institute | Appraiser License

75-Hour Package Price $1,040

The Appraisal Institute (AI) is a global association of real estate appraisers with about 20,000 members from over 95 chapters around the world. As a member, you get access to advocacy programs and a very close network of like-minded appraiser professionals. With additional coursework and examinations, you can set yourself apart as an appraiser by becoming certified as an MAI, SRPA, or SRA.

Some lenders, courts, and government agencies seek, and may even require, an appraiser to hold one of those designations. The reason is they want to be assured that they will be getting high-quality work. MAI, SRPA, and SRA’s have to go through a rigorous process to achieve that designation, including being required to have a bachelor’s degree in college. Less than 20 percent of all appraisers are designated AI members.

You do not have to be a member to attend any of their courses. However, members do receive a discount on all courses. If you are considering becoming a member, you have to pay an annual fee plus satisfy their own continuing education requirements.

The Appraisal Institute offers live classes for appraisal pre-licensing, but they do not have all of the required courses, and there are limited availability and locations. So, regardless, you will need to take some online courses to satisfy all 154 total hours of appraisal education. 

The format of the courses is strict. You are given 30 days to complete any online course that is 15 hours or less, and 45 days to complete any course that is over 15 hours long.  All final exams have to be administered at a Pearson Vue testing center. If you change your mind and want to cancel, you are hit with a minimum cancellation fee of $60. If you have completed over 25% of the course, then you are not eligible for any refund.

Best suited for: Aspiring Commercial Appraisers

The commitment to professionalism is why the Appraisal Institute is still widely-respected within the appraisal community throughout its 70-year history. However, they are the most expensive option with the strictest standards. Most appraisers will not really gain any benefit by becoming a member. Nonetheless, if you are planning to build a long-term career in appraisal, especially in the commercial sector, taking courses from the Appraisal Institute will definitely open up more opportunities.

Learn more at www.appraisalinstitute.org

The 3 Best Appraisal Schools in Washington State

If you are considering becoming a licensed real estate appraiser in the state of Washington, the first thing you will need to do is find a school approved by the Department of Licensing (DOL). The DOL is Washington state’s appraisal board. They establish all of the licensing requirements and regulations for appraisers within the state boundaries.

There will be a lot of hard work involved to becoming a licensed appraiser. It is crucial to start off on the right foot by finding a reputable program that will educate you on the appraisal industry, especially if you have no prior experience in appraisal. After researching through the list of DOL-approved schools, here are my top 3 schools for obtaining your Washington appraiser’s license.

1. Hondros College

Hondros College | Appraiser License

75-hour package $799

Hondros College is a growing online school that has programs in real estate, appraisal, home inspection, and insurance. They have had a presence in the education industry for over 40 years and offer programs in all 50 US states. They have enrolled over 500,000 students in both the classroom and online courses.

Hondros College used to develop the courses and offer them through a secondary provider. However, they have been taking the initiative to work more directly with students. What this means is they can offer these same courses at a lower cost to the student. In fact, they have one of the cheapest programs in the market.

To satisfy the Washington state education requirements, you will need to enroll in their 75-hour National Trainee Package. You are given up to 6 months from the time of enrollment to complete the program. This format of the content is text-based, so it is just like reading a book on the website. You can move at your own pace and access your account 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. The DOL requires seat-time on these courses, so you will have to be online for all 75 hours.

If you need any help while you are taking the course, Hondros College does have support to help you with any IT issues or account management. However, if you have questions about the course content, their instructor support is limited to email only. They will respond back to you within the next business day.

What really impressed me with Hondros College was their exam prep called CompuCram. It boasts an 86.5% pass rate for first-time test-takers. That is significantly higher than the national average pass rate of 67%. It gives students access to online flashcards, fill-in-the-blanks, and matching tools to test their knowledge and learn. There is an “overall readiness” indicator that tracks your progress and lets you know when you are ready to take the actual exam. CompuCram is also mobile-friendly, so you can take a couple of practice test questions the next time you are waiting in line at the grocery store.

Best suited for: the Budget Shopper

Hondros College has been investing a lot in improving their programs recently and it shows. It would be nicer if they provided more robust options in terms of instructor support. However, with an industry-best 86.5% pass rate on the state exams and the lowest prices on the market, Hondros College has made their online appraisal program hard to pass up.

Learn more at www.hondros.com

2. McKissock Learning

Packages start at $899.99

McKissock Learning is the largest appraisal school in the country. Since 1990, they have helped over2 million people in the real estate industry satisfy their pre-license and continuing education courses. They have classrooms, live webinars, and online courses. However, all qualifying education is only available in the online format.  

McKissock Learning’s Washington appraisal qualifying education courses have earned an average rating of 4.22 out of 5 stars, based off 607 customer surveys. If you are not 100% convinced on their courses, there is a 100% satisfaction guarantee. If you do not like what you are seeing, you can get all of your money back within 7 days of signing up.

McKissock Learning offers 3 flexible ways of getting started:

Qualifying Education (QE) Unlimited Learning Subscription – This is a new program that they began offering. This program is actually an amazing deal because it includes all of the online qualifying education (up to Certified General). Plus, it includes access to video tutorials, monthly webinars, appraisal community, and partner discounts. This is an annual subscription, so you will automatically get charged every year. However, you should be able to finish the courses within a year, so you can just cancel the subscription before it renews again.

79-hour Trainee (TR) Get Started Package – This package consists of the required 4 online appraisal courses to get licensed in Washington. The courses are text-based, and you are given one year to complete the program. There is an interest-free payment plan available for up to 4 months with this package.

79-hour Trainee (TR) Advanced Pro Package – This package includes everything in the Get Started package plus instructor support and hardcopy books. You will be able to talk to certified appraisal instructors directly during weekly Q&A sessions if you need any help on the courses. If you want to study with the books, you should be aware that they do not get shipped out until after you have already completed the courses. The DOL requires that you log time in the courses so the books can only be used outside of the program.

Best suited for: the Value Shopper

McKissock Learning is the leader in appraisal education. They are constantly innovating to make their courses more engaging. They offer the most variety in terms of payment and package options for obtaining a Washington appraiser license. You will have to spend more money on the McKissock Learning programs. However, all of the bonus content and features that come with their new QE Unlimited Subscription program will easily pay dividends.

Learn more at www.mckissock.com

3. Appraisal Institute

Review of Appraisal Institute | Appraiser License

75-hour package $1,040

The Appraisal Institute (AI) has been around for over 70 years. It is a trade association made up of over 18,000 real estate appraisers and close to 100 chapters from around the world. If you want to join the Appraisal Institute, there are different membership levels, such as the MAI, SRPA, and SRA designations. All members have to pay an annual membership fee as well as meet certain continuing education requirements.

There are a lot of benefits to becoming an AI member. You get access to a prestigious network of appraisers, discounts on appraisal courses, and more opportunity in the commercial sector. In fact, some financial institutions, courts, and corporations will only send work to MAIs or SRAs.

Appraisers have to undergo a rigorous process to become a designated AI member. They will have to take an additional set of courses and exams, not to mention that a bachelor’s degree is required. It is not surprising that only about 15% of real estate appraisers achieve this designation.   

If you are not a member, you can still take any of their courses. You just have to pay extra.

The Appraisal Institute does offer a few pre-license courses in a classroom. However, there is limited availability and only offered in a few select locations. You will still need to take some courses online to satisfy all of Washington state’s education requirements.

The online courses follow a pretty strict regimen. You are given 30 days to complete any online course that is 15 hours or less, and 45 days to complete any course that is over 15 hours long. All final exams have to be administered at a Pearson Vue testing center, which costs an additional fee per exam. If you want to cancel the courses, there is a minimum cancellation fee of $60. If you have already completed more than 25% of any course, then you will not be eligible for a refund.

Best suited for: Aspiring Commercial Appraisers

The Appraisal Institute sets a high bar in every category. Their courses demand more from you, cost more expensive, and give you less time to complete the courses than at other schools. However, if you want to be a commercial appraiser and are thinking long-term, having courses from the Appraisal Institute on your resume will look very good. This will make you stand out from every other candidate and open more doors for you in your appraisal career.

Learn more at www.appraisalinstitute.org

The 4 Best Online Real Estate Schools in Florida

If you are thinking about pursuing a career in real estate, the first step is to find a school that is accredited by the Florida Real Estate Commission (FREC) to get licensed. Your biggest challenge on that step will be to choose one out of the 100 education providers that currently offer the mandatory Florida real estate course.

If you are like me, you just want a simple answer and go with the best. The challenge is that everybody learns differently, so what works for you, may not work for someone else. The good news is that since there are so many different options available, you will easily be able to find a school that fits your own learning style. 

We have broken the list down and hand-picked the 4 best real estate schools that will cater to any learning style to get your sales associate real estate license in Florida. 

1. Gold Coast Schools

Review of Gold Coast Schools | Florida Real Estate License

Price Range: $325 to $499

Gold Coast Schools is the leading education provider for getting your real estate license in Florida. They started with a single office in 1970 and now have 7 locations all over the state. They also provide programs in the mortgage, insurance and construction industries. Gold Coast Schools are very well-known in Florida and have a great reputation for their online courses and live classes, which are both offered in Spanish and English. 

You can complete the live courses in as little as 7 days, where you attend a class every day from 9 am to 6 pm. If that doe not fit your schedule, then they have morning and evening classes available with their 4-week and 5-week long programs. They have office locations in Boca Raton, Orlando, Tamarac (Broward), North Miami, Jupiter, South Dade (Doral), and West Palm Beach (Lontana). 

If you can’t make it to class, there is an online program where you can study at your own pace from home. The graphics in the courses are a little outdated, but they do a good job with engagement. Gold Coast Schools incorporate videos, animations, memory tips, and throw in a lot of charts and diagrams to make the course interesting and not simply reading the text.

Once you sign up with Gold Coast Schools, there is no turning back, so make sure you are totally committed to getting your real estate license first. There are no refunds or credit once you purchase an online course from them. All cram course and book item sales are final. For the live classes, no refunds are given after the first session of any course. 

Best suited for: the Traditional Learner

Gold Coast Schools excels with their live classes, which are led by engaging and experienced instructors. Although they have a tight refund policy, they allow you to use virtually any of their materials for up to 2 years for live classes and 1 year for online courses until you successfully get licensed. They are committed to showing you that “The Proof is in the Passing.”

Learn more at www.goldcoastschools.com

2. Real Estate Express

Real Estate Express Review | Real Estate License

Price Range: $109 to $399

Real Estate Express is the “Amazon” of real estate education. They are the biggest real estate school and only offer online courses. They do not have any brick-and-mortar locations that offer classes. As a result, they are able to offer a really good online program at a great price. 

According to their own surveys, their Florida real estate program earned an average rating of 4.4 out of 5 stars from 7,368 reviews, which is really good. However, any time a company publishes self-reported reviews, you have to look at the numbers with a healthy dose of skepticism and take it with a grain of salt. 

Real Estate Express offers 4 packages to help you obtain a real estate license. All of the packages contain the required 63-hour pre-license online course. The more expensive packages give you additional study materials and support. The top package, Ultimate Learning, includes the hardcopy books and a year of Professional Development tools to help you after you get licensed. 

What really caught my eye was the “Free CE for Life” that comes with the top two packages. You read that right. Free continuing education for the rest of your life. That’s almost like someone giving you $100 every 2 years for the rest of your career. 

The only real gripe I have with the Real Estate Express platform is that it is all text. There is nothing really exciting or engaging about it. You are basically just reading a book the whole time. 

Best suited for: the Value Shopper

If you are a self-starter and looking for a great deal, Real Estate Express is perfect for you. The course itself is pretty standard, but you can get a lot of other helpful study materials and support with their top packages. The “Free CE for Life” alone makes this an unbeatable deal. 

Learn more at www.realestateexpress.com

3. The CE Shop

The CE Shop review | Real Estate License

Price Range: $129 to $279

The CE Shop makes unique courses in the way they deliver the material. The courses are primarily text-based. However, they make it interactive by using scenario-based learning. This has been proven to help retain information better, especially with adult learners. They develop their content by using actual events that real estate agents have experienced. 

The CE Shop teaches you not only about the required information on real estate law, but they try to take it to the next level by helping you apply that in the real world. They do not just want to prepare you to pass the state exam, they want to help you succeed in your real estate career after that. 

The courses look refreshingly modern and have a clean interface. The CE Shop has a liberal 30-day refund policy and industry-leading phone, email, and chat support 7 days a week. The courses are mobile-friendly, which makes it much easier to read if you want to study with your smartphone or tablet. 

The CE Shop claims they have an 83% pass rate on the state exam. This number is based on their own self-reported surveys from 101 reported test-takers between May 2016 to December 2018. This is significantly higher than the average pass rate of 49%. However, I think it is too early to tell if their program warrants such a high pass rate. The sample size is simply too small. In 2018 alone, there were over 15,000 people who took the Florida sales associate exam for the first time.  

Best suited for: the Knowledge Seeker

If you want to not only fulfill the education requirements to get your license but also want to learn as much as possible, The CE Shop is the right program for you. You cannot pass the course by merely guessing or tricking the system. You will have to genuinely know the material inside and out to move forward. As a result, it will prepare you the best, but you may end up taking more time to complete it.

Learn more at www.theceshop.com

4. 360training.com

360training.com review | Real Estate License

Price Range: $99 to $110

360training.com is a no-nonsense company that gives you the mandatory courses needed to meet the state requirements, at the lowest cost. They have over 6,000 courses in all types of industries with students from over 67 different countries. They do not specifically specialize in the real estate industry. They specialize in providing online courses. 

The only reason to go with 360training.com is the price. It’s cheap. 

The course material is online and text-based. There are no printed books, money-back guarantee, or additional study materials apart from the practice tests included with the Premium package. You really have to be experienced with online courses or knowledgeable about the real estate industry to successfully pass the state exam with this program. 

You also want to be aware of the cancellation policy if you change your mind. 360training.com only gives you 72 hours from the date that you enrolled to request a refund. You must not have completed any portion of a test or exam, complete 50% or more of the purchased course, and you have to email your receipt as proof of purchase along with an explanation on why you want your money back. 

Best suited for: the Budget Shopper

If you are new to the real estate industry, 360training.com is not the right program for you. This program is really meant for veterans of the real estate industry who don’t need or want any extra study materials. They just need to cover the bare minimum requirements and want the cheapest price.

Learn more at www.360training.com

The 5 Best Online Real Estate Schools in Texas

Texas has the most requirements of any state for obtaining a real estate license. So, it is especially important to choose the right school.

Currently, there are 68 different colleges and education providers where you can go to get your Texas real estate license. And the list grows longer every year. 

Which one should you pick?

There is no right answer that applies to everyone. Every school comes with its own advantages and disadvantages. Furthermore, everyone has their own personal style and needs when it comes to their study habits. Some people prefer to learn in a live classroom environment while others thrive in an online program where they can study independently.  

After researching and analyzing the long list of schools, we’ve narrowed it down to 5 schools that we think offer the best programs to accommodate the different styles of learning. 

1. Champions School of Real Estate

Packages start at $988

Champions School of Real Estate is the undisputed champion (pun intended) for getting a real estate license in Texas. More people have taken their award-winning courses to get licensed than any other real estate school.

Champions School of Real Estate offers the “total education experience.” They focus on providing students with the most up-to-date information coupled with passionate instructors who teach with enthusiasm and support. 

Although they offer an online program, they are more well-known for their live classes. Champions School of Real Estate currently has nine campus locations in Austin, Dallas, Houston, Fort Worth, and San Antonio.

As glowing as many of the reviews are about Champions School of Real Estate, it is worth noting that their pass rate on the state exam is only 60% according to the Texas Real Estate Commission, which is just average among all real estate schools. They also don’t offer any money-back guarantee like some of the other schools do. 

Best suited for: the Interactive Learner

Champions School of Real Estate provides you with an immersive, learning environment. This program is perfect for someone looking for both an education and an experience. Although on the higher end of the price range, you will not be disappointed.

Learn more at www.championsschool.com

2. Real Estate Express

Real Estate Express Review | Real Estate License

Packages start at $499

Real Estate Express is currently the largest provider of online real estate education in the country and has been at it since 1996. They boast the highest pass rate of 70% on the state exam in Texas compared to the other large online real estate schools. Real Estate Express has a solid program with above-average marks in pretty much every category.

There are four packages available for you to choose from so it should be able to cater to anyone’s preference, whether you are on a tight budget or want the full-blown treatment with all the bells and whistles. There are hardcopy textbooks available, practice tests for the state exam, real estate dictionary, hundreds of short video courses, and live instructors available that you can interact with. There is also a Career Hub that is filled with useful articles and blog posts about how to hit the ground running once you get licensed. Real Estate Express has something for everyone.

The main drawback I saw was that it was a pretty standard curriculum. You basically just read an online book, take chapter quizzes, and then have to pass the final exam at the end. There was nothing really new or innovative about the learning experience. Also, there are some hidden fees as well. For instance, if you do not pass the final exam after your second attempt, you will have to pay a fee and re-take the course. 

Best suited for: the Value Shopper

Real Estate Express is a great pick for an independent learner who wants a reliable program at a great price. They provide you with all the tools you need to succeed. However, it will be up to you to make the most use of them.

Learn more at www.realestateexpress.com

3. Aceable Agent

Packages start at $697

Aceable Agent is the new kid on the block. That can be a good thing and a bad thing.

They incorporate a lot of new technology into their learning systems and are the first online real estate education provider that designed their courses specifically for mobile and web application. Aceable Agent is innovating the e-Learning space by making their courses interactive and actually enjoyable to take. 

Aceable Agent also packs a lot of punch in their program. The price is competitive, they provide comprehensive test prep for the state exam, and provide support 7 days a week. The thing that caught my eye the most is their industry-leading state exam pass rate of 87.13% for large schools (as reported by the Texas Real Estate Commission). 

However, since they are relatively new to real estate, there is some risk if you sign up with them. Aceable Agent could go out of business next year, or they may be growing so fast, they don’t have enough people to respond to their students in a timely manner. 

Best suited for: the Millenial Learner

Aceable Agent comes off as a young and vibrant online school. They incorporate advanced video technology and cutting-edge teaching practices to appeal to the evolving study habits of today’s professional.

Learn more at www.aceableagent.com

4. Allied Schools

Allied Schools Review | Real Estate License

Packages start at $388

Allied Schools is one of the largest online real estate schools for Texas. They were recently acquired by Real Estate Express. However, they are still operating under their own platform. 

This Allied Schools program is great for the self-starter that wants to learn independently. You are given one full year of unlimited online access to complete the courses at your own pace. There are hardcopy textbooks available, and the quizzes are even optional. You only have to pass the final exam with a score of 70% or higher to complete the course. 

What I like about this program is that there are no hidden fees. You can take the quizzes and final exams as many times as you need within your one-year term without having to pay a re-testing fee. 

What I don’t like about Allied Schools is that their user interface needs a serious cosmetic facelift. It looks like they are using the same software design from the 1990s. 

Overall, it is a little higher on the price range and if you can look past the aesthetics, it is a solid program that is student-friendly. 

Best suited for: the Go-Getter

Because there is so much “freedom” in the courses, you really have to be disciplined or motivated about your studying habits to finish the Allied Schools program. 

Learn more at www.alliedschools.com

5. The CE Shop

The CE Shop review | Real Estate License

Packages start at $519

The CE Shop offers one of the most comprehensive online programs in the industry. The interface is sleek and clean. The course content is text-based, so it is primarily reading. However, they incorporate various formats on their quizzes and final exams, such as matching, multiple-choice, fill in the blanks, etc… The CE Shop also base the course material on real-life scenarios and actual situations that real estate agents have encountered, which makes it more interesting to read. 

This type of learning requires your active participation and helps you absorb the material better. You will not be able to just skim through the content. You will have to read each question and answer carefully. This also means that you will probably take longer to complete the program than compared with other programs. Nonetheless, this rigorous preparation is most likely why they have one of the highest state exam pass rates of 82% in Texas. 

The CE Shop packages come with nice perks. They just launched an advanced learning platform that is mobile friendly, so you can study from your smartphone. They include a generous 30-day refund policy if you change your mind, a money-back guarantee if you fail the state exam, and support by phone, chat and email 7 days a week. 

Everything is strictly online, so they do not offer printed textbooks or any other additional study materials.

Best suited for: the Knowledge Seeker

This is the ideal program for you if you want to learn as much as possible about real estate and are not in any rush to do so. The CE Shop provides you with informative content to set you up for success and usually has a promotion to get you the best deal. 

Learn more at www.theceshop.com

Review of the Top 3 Appraisal Schools in Texas

If you are thinking about becoming a real estate appraiser in Texas, the first step is to find a school that has been accredited by the Texas Appraiser Licensing & Certification Board (TALCB). TALCB is the state’s appraisal board that regulates all things appraisal in Texas. They set the education requirements and establish all the rules that a licensed appraiser must follow.

Becoming an appraiser is a serious, life-changing decision. It is important to find the right school that fits your learning style. After researching the different appraisal programs in Texas, I have come up with the top three schools for obtaining your Texas appraiser’s license.

Hondros College

Hondros College | Appraiser License

75-Hour package starts at $799

Hondros College is a national online real estate school. They have been at it for over 40 years and have courses in every US state. They have made considerable upgrades to their online programs recently. They used to offer their appraisal program through other schools only, even though they were the ones developing the courses. However, Hondros College has made a substantial investment in cutting out the middleman and become a direct education provider. I feel they are one of the rising stars in the appraisal industry now.

Hondros College offers a single 75-hour National Trainee package to satisfy the state education requirements. You have up to 6 months to finish the courses. This is a self-paced, online program, so this should be plenty of time. The text-based courses are just like reading an online book. Since TALCB requires seat-time on all appraisal pre-licensing courses, you will have to spend those 75 hours in the course online.

If you have questions on your enrollment, they do provide IT and customer support. They are available by phone or email during their regular business hours from 9:00 AM to 7 PM Eastern Time, Monday through Friday. They are also available on Saturdays from 10 AM to 3 PM Eastern Time. If you have a question for the instructor, you can email them your question, and they will typically try to respond to you within 24 hours.

What I really liked about Hondros College, besides the low price, is that you can get all of the courses as well as study materials for the state exam. Their exam prep is called CompuCram, which boasts an 86.5% pass rate for first-time test-takers. That is significantly higher than the national average pass rate of 67%.

Best suited for: the Budget Shopper

Hondros College packs a powerful punch with their online appraisal courses. They have the lowest prices in the industry without compromising on quality.  They do not add any bells or whistles to the program and keep it simple. The instructor support is quite limited, so you will have to be self-motivated and be able to learn independently to succeed with this program.

Learn more at www.hondros.com

McKissock Learning

Packages start at $899.95

McKissock Learning is the leading appraisal school in the country, offering the widest selection of topics and formats available. They started off as a small appraisal school and have grown into a large education provider with courses across multiple industries. Their programs span all 50 states, including Washington, DC and the US Virgin Islands.

McKissock Learning’s Texas appraisal qualifying education courses have earned an average rating of 4.8 out of 5 stars. This is based on 1,317 customer reviews that they surveyed themselves, so you have to take this with a grain of salt. However, they are the only school in the appraisal industry that backs up their courses with a 100% satisfaction guarantee. If you are not happy with the program for any reason within the first 7 days of enrolling, you can get a full refund back without any hassle.

McKissock Learning offers 3 flexible ways of getting started:

Qualifying Education (QE) Unlimited Learning Subscription – This is a new program that they began offering. This program is actually an amazing deal because it includes all of the online qualifying education (up to Certified General). Plus, McKissock Learning gives you access to video tutorials, monthly webinars, appraisal community, and partner discounts. This is an annual subscription, so you will automatically get charged every year. However, you should be able to finish the courses within a year, so you can just cancel the subscription before it renews again.

79-hour Trainee (TR) Get Started Package – This package consists of the required 4 online appraisal courses to get licensed in Texas. This includes the Basic Appraisal Principles, Basic Appraisal Procedures, Supervisor-Trainee course, and the 15-hour National USPAP Update course. You are given one year to complete the program. There is an interest-free payment plan available for up to 4 months with the package.

79-hour Trainee (TR) Advanced Pro Package – This package includes everything in the Get Started package plus instructor support and hardcopy books. You will be able to talk to certified appraisal instructors directly during weekly Q&A sessions if you need any help on the courses. If you want to study with the books, you should be aware that McKissock Learning does not ship them out until after you have already completed the courses. TALCB requires that you log time in the courses so the books can only be used for future reference.

Best suited for: the Value Shopper

McKissock Learning is the consummate school founded by appraisers, for appraisers. They have a robust offering of packages and payment options. They are a little on the high end for pricing. However, if you are serious about a long-term career as an appraiser, you will not be able to find a better deal than with the new QE Unlimited Subscription.

Learn more at www.mckissock.com

Appraisal Institute

Review of Appraisal Institute | Appraiser License

75-Hour package starts at $1,040

The Appraisal Institute (AI) is a global association of real estate appraisers with about 20,000 members from over 95 chapters around the world. As a member, you get access to advocacy programs and a very close network of like-minded appraiser professionals. With additional coursework and examinations, you can set yourself apart as an appraiser by becoming certified as an MAI, SRPA, or SRA.

Some lenders, courts, and government agencies seek, and may even require, an appraiser to hold one of those designations. The reason is they want to be assured that they will be getting high-quality work. MAI, SRPA, and SRA’s have to go through a rigorous process to achieve that designation, including being required to have a bachelor’s degree in college. Less than 20 percent of all appraisers are designated Appraisal Institute members.

You do not have to be a member to attend any of their courses. However, members do receive a discount on all courses. If you are considering becoming a member, you have to pay an annual fee plus satisfy their own continuing education requirements.

The Appraisal Institute offers live classes for appraisal pre-licensing, but they do not have all of the required courses, and there are limited availability and locations. So, regardless, you will need to take some online courses to satisfy all 154 total hours of appraisal education.  

The format of the courses is strict. You are given 30 days to complete any online course that is 15 hours or less, and 45 days to complete any course that is over 15 hours long.  All final exams have to be administered at a Pearson Vue testing center. If you change your mind and want to cancel, you are hit with a minimum cancellation fee of $60. If you have completed over 25% of the course, then you are not eligible for any refund.

Best suited for: Aspiring Commercial Appraisers

The commitment to professionalism is why the Appraisal Institute is still widely-respected within the appraisal community throughout its 70-year history. However, they are the most expensive option with the strictest standards. Most appraisers will not really gain any benefit by becoming a member. Nonetheless, if you are planning to build a long-term career in appraisal, especially in the commercial sector, taking courses from the Appraisal Institute will definitely open up more opportunities.

Learn more at www.appraisalinstitute.org

Top 5 Washington State Online Real Estate Schools

There are currently 43 proprietary education providers that offer real estate courses that have been approved by the Washington Department of Licensing (DOL).

When you start going down the list, you begin to notice a pattern: they all sound the same.

They all say, “we have the best program,” “our courses get the highest pass rates in the industry,” or “look at our long list of glowing recommendations from our students.” Some schools will even post reviews on themselves. And wouldn’t you know it? They always come back with the highest ratings. 

To make matters more complicated, everyone has different study habits. So, what may be a great school for one person is not going to necessarily be a good fit for another person. 

Having researched through the entire list, we have narrowed down our picks on who we feel are the 5 best real estate schools for obtaining your broker license for the state of Washington. 

1. Rockwell Institute

Review of Rockwell Institute | Real Estate License

Packages start at $489

Rockwell Institute is based in Washington and has been around since 1974. They are one of the smaller schools, offering real estate programs for Washington and California. They offer both live classroom training and online courses. 

The live classes are led by instructors who present complex materials in a way that is easy to understand. Throughout the lecture series, students are quizzed with questions that will prepare them for the state exam. Instructors encourage active participation and classroom discussion during the course. 

Rockwell Institute offers only one location in Bellevue for the live lectures. They are held during regular business hours from 8:00 am to 4:00 pm. There are new classes that start every 2 to 3 weeks, and you can complete all 90 hours of pre-license coursework plus the state exam prep in 3 weeks. 

If you can’t make it to the class, they offer an online program as well. The interface is a bit antiquated, but if you can look past the appearance, it delivers reliable content. There are hundreds of challenging exercises and quizzes, along with thousands of sample state exam questions. 

Rockwell Institute backs their programs with a guarantee, provided that you have completed the courses with them and passed their Cram course with a score of 80% or better. They will refund you the test fee if you fail on your first attempt.

Best suited for: the Local Resident

Rockwell Institute is the “school next door.” It’s not the flashiest or most innovative program on the market, but it is run by your local neighbors in Washington, which gives you a sense of community and familiarity. There is limited availability which could make it challenging to attend. 

Learn more at www.rockwellinstitute.com

2. Real Estate Express

Real Estate Express Review | Real Estate License

Packages start at $499

Real Estate Express is currently the nation’s top real estate educator and was established almost 30 years ago. They have a refreshingly modern website loaded with tons of content. Being a big school, you get a sense that they have a system in place for everything, with a track record of success to back it up. 

They list 4 different packages on their website that you can pick from. The Basics package covers the bare minimum requirements of the 90 hours of pre-license education. The next package called Exam Preparation includes practice tests and a money-back guarantee that you will pass the state exam. If you want to be able to ask a live instructor questions, you’ll need to get the Exam Preparation Plus package. The top package, Ultimate Learning, gives you all of the above plus hardcopy textbooks. 

The Real Estate Express online courses look nice and clean. However, it is just reading the text. There are no videos or interactive exercises. You really have to have the discipline to study on your own to succeed with this format. They do offer a 100% Satisfaction Guarantee for the first 7 days. If you are not happy with it, they will give you your money back. No questions asked. 

A key differentiator with Real Estate Express is the massive amount of content they have available for when after you get licensed. They have a Career Hub which contains hundreds of useful blog posts that will help you hit the ground running. Also, if you subscribe to their Professional Development program, you get access to webinars, video tutorials, job aids, and more. 

Best suited for: the Value Shopper

Real Estate Express gives you the best overall value at a great price. They score top marks in pretty much every category. The online courses can be a bit dry at times, so you do have to be diligent in your study habits. 

Learn more at www.realestateexpress.com

3. Kaplan

Kaplan Real Estate Review

Packages start at $249

Kaplan Real Estate Education is one of the more well-known names in the education industry. They have an online program that is second to none. However, the courses are only available online, so it is like reading a book on the computer. 

There are 3 packages available to obtain the Washington broker license:

The 90-hour Licensing Package fulfills the basic requirements of the 60-hour Real Estate Fundamentals course and the 30-hour Real Estate Practices course.

The next package at Kaplan Real Estate Education adds on the Master Exam Prep, which gives you access to two of the industry’s most powerful test engines: the National PSI Real Estate Drill and Practice QBank and the Washington Real Estate Drill and Practice QBank. These advanced testing platforms are interactive and allow you to simulate nearly any testing scenario. You also get access to the Interactive Study Group which covers the national portion of the state exam through live webinars with other students and faculty.

The Career Launcher Package is the top package. This includes everything mentioned above plus additional state exam prep for both the national and state components through video courses that you can watch at any time. Kaplan Real Estate Education also gives you the Real Estate Accelerator course, which is also in video format. This 16-hour program teaches you everything you need to know after you get licensed so you can launch your real estate career quickly. 

Best suited for: the Independent Learner

Kaplan Real Estate Education offers one of the most comprehensive state exam prep materials in the industry. They will be able to diagnose and analyze the areas that you need to work on the most and provide you with all of the tools. However, you will be the one to have to put it together. 

Learn more at www.kapre.com

4. 360training.com

360training.com review | Real Estate License

Packages start at $159

360training.com has a large presence in the online education industry. Their approach is to deliver the required information straight to the student at the cheapest price. They do not mess around with interactive learning methods, hardcopy books, or marketing gimmicks, such as money-back guarantees.

360training.com gives you exactly what you need to get licensed. Nothing more, nothing less. 

They have 2 packages listed for Washington at 360training.com. The Basic Package includes the 90 hours of required pre-license education as well as some real estate math prep. The Premium Package throws in the Online Prep Course to help you prepare for both the national and state portions of the exam. This will help you remember critical real estate vocabulary, concepts, and products. There’s no “fluff, no nice-to-know, no war stories,” just the essential information you need to know that is presented in an easy-to-read format.

If you decide to try out this low-cost program and change your mind, you will only have 72 hours to request a refund in writing, assuming that you have not attempted any tests and completed over 50% of the course yet. 

Best suited for: the Budget Learner

360training.com has a barebones online real estate program that meets the education requirements at a super low cost. You really have to be confident in your studying skills or knowledgeable about the real estate industry to succeed with this program. Otherwise, if you fail the exam, you may need to buy additional exam prep and pay re-testing fees. So, it may end up costing you more in the long run than if you had just gone with a more expensive, but comprehensive program in the first place. 

Learn more at www.360training.com

5. The CE Shop

The CE Shop review | Real Estate License

Price Range: $299

The CE Shop offers an online-only program that is focused on helping you retain the course material as much as possible. It is primarily text-based but they implement various scenarios throughout the course to make it more interactive. The scenarios are based on real-life situations that actual real estate agents have dealt with in the past. 

All 3 of their package options come with the 60-hour Real Estate Fundamentals course, 30-hour Real Estate Practices course, state exam prep, support 7 days a week, 30-day refund policy, and money-back guarantee. So, even with their lowest Standard package, The CE Shop will give you everything you need to get licensed. 

The Value package gives you an additional 3 professional development courses. These short, 3-hour online courses are not required for licensing, but simply to help you develop your business plan and get your real estate business off the ground. 

The Premium package also includes the 90-hour post-license course that you will have to complete within the first 2 years of obtaining your broker license. If you do this early, then you will not have to worry about continuing education until your 4th year. 

Best suited for: the Knowledge Seeker

The CE Shop not only arms you with the knowledge needed to get licensed, they require that you master it. Their learning system follows a rigid format that will most likely have you spending more than 90 hours to complete the program. However, you will come out of it knowing the material like the back of your hand, and ultimately, you will be able to pass the test with ease. 

Learn more at www.theceshop.com

McKissock Review – Appraisal Renewal Membership

In this review, we will take a look at McKissock’s Unlimited Learning Membership Premium (ULMP) program, and evaluate its pros and cons to see if you should use it to meet your continuing education requirements.

What is it?

The ULMP program is a 2 year program that gives you unlimited access to all of their continuing education courses during your membership term.

There are other “goodies” such as Pro-Series webinars, short video tutorials on specialized topics, additional state certificates, content library, appraisal community forum, and partner discounts.

How much does it cost?

There is an annual payment option of $399 per year, but keep in mind, that you will have to pay another $399 the following year, since there is a 2 year commitment.

There is also an option that allows you to pre-pay for both years upfront for $774.99. This will save you about $25 compared to the annual payment option.

Something worth noting is that both options will auto-renew your membership. If you plan on continuing the membership, then this is not an issue. However, if you only plan on using it for a single term, you may want to mark down your calendar.

What's the cancellation policy?

They do allow you to cancel at any time. However, you will have to pay the regular retail price for any course that you have completed, so they will deduct this from any refund that you get. Also, it probably goes without saying that your account will be closed and you will lose your progress on any unfinished courses.  

What I like about it

Price: If you time it right, this program will save you hundreds of dollars on continuing education by spreading the 2-year ULMP term over multiple license cycles.

If you’re in California, you can get up to 98 hours of CE with this program to fulfill your CE requirements if you sign up in the 4th year of your license cycle. For other states that require 28 hours of CE on a 2-year cycle, you can fit up to 56 hours of CE if you sign up during the 2nd year of your license cycle.

The Courses: I don’t know of any other education provider that has a bigger selection of appraisal courses. You are bound to find one that actually covers an interesting topic. You also get access to all 3 formats: online, live webinar, and live classroom.

I personally prefer to take the live webinars because you don’t have to take any quizzes. You just sit there and watch them from your home or office. They email you your certificate when the webinar ends. Also, they have new webinars and topics every week, making it convenient to find a time that works with your schedule.

The live classroom courses are nice if you want to mingle with other appraisers. There are no quizzes in those courses either. However, there is limited availability and course offerings, so it really depends on your location and if you can make the commute. 

The CE Tracker: This feature will count up and track the hours of continuing education that you’ve completed for you, so you don’t have to do the math. It also tracks any mandatory courses like the National USPAP Update course and state-specific requirements. They also give you some additional license renewal information if you need a refresher on your state’s requirements. 

If you’re licensed in multiple states, you will LOVE this feature, because you can easily check your CE progress for each state by simply clicking on the state under the  “License Type” drop-down list.

What I don't like about it

The interface: Navigating around in there is not terribly bad, but there’s definitely room for improvement. If you want to take another course, you have to get re-directed back out to the main website, and then you have to add that course to the shopping cart to complete the “check out” process. It would be much easier if you could just add courses from right inside of your account. Also, I’d want the CE Tracker to be clearly visible at all times on the portal (since that’s the #1 reason why appraisers are using this). That way, I know how many hours I have left remaining, instead of having to click through another tab to see it.

Other features don’t add much value. The Community is a section that was intended to be a discussion forum for appraisers to ask questions and interact with each other. The activity in there is pretty much non-existent. You have better luck joining a Facebook group. The selection of partner discounts is also very limited. I don’t think most appraisers would benefit from using any of the services listed in there.

Can’t turn off auto-renew: There is no way to disable or turn-off the auto- payment renewal for your account online. This means that if you want to cancel after your second year is up, you have to call their customer service to make the request. Also, if you are on the annual payment option, you have to wait until the second payment is made in the 2nd year before they will do it.  

The Verdict

Is it worth it to sign up for the ULMP program? Absolutely. In fact, in my honest opinion, this is a no-brainer for any real estate appraiser to become a member.

Since it’s on a 2-year term, it covers multiple renewal cycles, which saves you the most money compared to any other appraisal school in the long run. You get access to any format that suits your personal taste: live webinars, live classroom, and online courses. You get access to the largest selection of appraisal topics offered by any single education provider. You get certificates for any states that you are licensed in. The main drawbacks of the membership are pretty minor and aren’t really important for most appraisers anyway. However, this program won’t be for you if you only want to take live courses and they aren’t offering any in your area. Or, you need to take certain courses that will give you credit for your Appraisal Institute designations. At the end of the day, this provides a lot of value for real estate appraisers on multiple levels.

I haven’t seen anything out there that comes close to what this program has to offer. If you disagree or found an even better program, I’d love to hear from you in the comments section below.

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