Top 5 Online Real Estate Schools In California

At the time of this writing, there are currently 146 accredited schools providing California real estate courses. On the surface, they all appear to be offering the same thing. However, that could not be further from the truth. 

Some schools develop their own courses, while others are merely reselling the courses from other schools. Some programs require proctored final exams and mandatory quizzes while others do not. There are ones that come with hardcopy textbooks and a money-back guarantee. Not to mention the wide variety of available options when it comes to instructor support and getting technical assistance. 

After researching through the entire list of schools, here is our pick of the top 5 schools for obtaining your California real estate license. 

Price: $149

Aceable Agent is the school that I am most excited about. They are the newest education provider in real estate and are already disrupting the industry by incorporating video content into their courses along with a mobile app you can download on your phone. The courses were written by top real estate agents who won’t waste your time talking about unnecessary fluff. Instead, they focus on the material you need to know to succeed in the real world.

Every other real estate school offers multiple packages that you can choose from. Aceable Agent has taken a different approach. Since everybody taking real estate courses has the same goal of obtaining the real estate license, they decided to set up an “All-in-One” solution in a single package. It includes the three online real estate courses required by California, and they have been developed so that you will be totally prepared to pass the state exam. No need to purchase additional exam prep. If you are a skeptic like me, rest assured that this is fully covered by their Pass the Test Guarantee, where they will give you 100% of your money back if you don’t pass. The only real drawback is there are no physical study materials available, such as textbooks.

Best suited for: Busy People

Aceable Agent is a breath of fresh air. They have given real estate education a complete makeover by incorporating state-of-the-art technology into their courses, making them more engaging and accessible. They only offer one package, but it can accommodate anyone’s budget. Plus, they still guarantee you will pass the state exam or your money back. Although they are a new real estate school, they are rapidly rising up the ranks on becoming the #1 school in California.

Kaplan Real Estate Review

Price Range: $149 to $1,099

Kaplan Real Estate education provides industry-leading content in many different industries. They offer the most variety in terms of study formats, ranging from online video courses to live classes. However, they are one of the most expensive education providers out there. 

If you prefer the traditional way of sitting in a classroom and listening to the instructor, then you can select their Live Class Package. A single live course takes about 5 weeks and consists of 3-hour sessions that typically meets 1 to 2 times per week. They have locations in San Francisco, Los Angeles, Costa Mesa, and San Diego. 

If you are unable to make it to a class, Kaplan Real Estate has online options where you can attend class virtually from home or study On Demand at your own pace. You can watch pre-recorded instructor-led video courses or take their text-based courses which is like reading an online book.

Best suited for: the Interactive Learner

If you want to be in an active learning environment and have an unlimited budget, then this program from Kaplan Real Estate will be perfect for you. The teacher-student interaction you get in the video and live courses will keep you engaged the whole time.

Real Estate Express Review | Real Estate License

Price Range: $119 to $449

Real Estate Express is the rising star in online real estate education in California. They have high marks in pretty much every category. The courses look very clean and modern. There are 4 packages available to meet anyone’s studying needs. You can opt for just the online courses if you are confident in your test-taking skills, or if you want more support, you can go with the full program that includes the textbooks, dictionary and exam cram videos. 

The top two packages at Real Estate Express include weekly Q & A sessions where you can ask questions directly to a certified instructor. These packages also include the Pass or Don’t Pay Guarantee, so if you fail the state exam on your first attempt, they will give you a full refund on your courses. 

I wasn’t thrilled about some of the fine print. You do have to take all the quizzes and pass them with a score of 80% or better to advance to the next chapter. Also, you are given 6 months to complete the entire course and 2 attempts to pass the final exams with a score of 70% or better. If you are not able to complete the program within those guidelines, then there is a re-enrollment fee to continue the program. 

Best suited for: the Value Shopper

Real Estate Express provides the best overall experience and most value for the aspiring real estate agent. They offer high-quality content that will adequately prepare you for the state exam. They also have frequent promotions, so you can usually get a great deal.

The CE Shop review | Real Estate License

Price Range: $129 to $239

These courses from The CE Shop are unique from other schools in that they require active learning. They are text-based, so you are reading an online book. However, the quizzes and final exams have a variety of question formats (i.e. matching, multiple-choice, fill in the blanks, etc…) This has been shown to help you retain the information better, but you may find yourself spending more time in the course. This is simply because you can’t cut any corners and have to read every question and answer carefully. 

The content in the course is based on real-life scenarios and actual situations that real estate agents have encountered. This will not only prepare you for the state exam but also after you get licensed. The CE Shop boasts a pass rate of over 90% on their website. This is based on their own self-reported surveys, so you should take this information with a grain of salt. Nonetheless, after personally seeing how rigorous and thorough the program was, I am entirely confident in the integrity of their high pass rate. 

The CE Shop also provides industry-leading support hours, covering all 7 days of the week via phone, email, and live chat. 

Best suited for: the Knowledge Seeker

This is great for people who genuinely want to take their time to learn as much as possible so they can set themselves up for a successful career in real estate. The CE Shop is the perfect program for the book worm. 

360training.com review | Real Estate License

Price Range: $99 to $145

360training.com is one of the leading providers in online education across industries. They offer over 6,000 regulated and non-regulated courses that have served over 4 million students in 67 different countries. They only provide 2 packages for the California real estate program, but they are both pretty cheap. 

Their program is an online correspondence course that includes a downloadable PDF. The lesson quizzes are mandatory, and you do have to score at least a 70% or better in order to move on to the next lesson. You are given one year to complete the program and 2 attempts to pass the final exam. This should not be hard since you only need to score 60% or higher on the final exam to pass. 

The prices at 360training.com are among the lowest in the industry. However, they do not provide very much additional study materials. Also, they have one of the most stringent refund policies that I have seen: you have 72 hours to request a refund provided that you have not completed 50% or more of the course and have not attempted any portion of a test. 

Best suited for: the Budget Shopper

If you are on a tight budget or still testing out the waters on being a real estate agent, 360training.com courses are super cheap so you will minimize your downside. This is also a great option if you already have a lot of real estate experience and just want to knock out the courses really quickly.

Honorable Mention | Allied Schools

Allied Schools Review | Real Estate License

Price Range: $188 to $348

UPDATE: Allied Schools has had a long-standing presence in California and is one of the top real estate programs in California. They were acquired by Real Estate Express. They are all on the same platform now, so the courses look identical. You can see what it looks like by checking out the post “Real Estate Express Has A New Look.”

The 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 Allied Schools 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 it is that their user interface needs a serious cosmetic facelift. Although it is easy to navigate, it looks like they are using the same design from the 1990s. 

Best suited for: the Go-Getter

Because there is so much “freedom” to study however you want, you really have to be disciplined and motivated about your studying habits to finish the program with Allied SchoolsOverall, 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.

Learn more at www.alliedschools.com

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

FULL REVIEW | Aceable Agent Online Real Estate Courses

4.7

PROS

All-in-One convenient package. Engaging course format. Money-back guarantee. Frequent promotions. Mobile app.

CONS

No extra options to add-on. Courses for post-license and CE not available for most states. No hardcopy books. 

Aceable Agent, based in Austin, Texas, is one of the newest real estate schools in the industry, and they are not wasting any time making a name for themselves. Their goal is to disrupt online education by making the courses more engaging and leveraging technology to make learning a truly mobile experience. 

We take a deep dive into their online real estate programs to see if Aceable Agent is the best choice to help you launch a new career as a real estate agent.

Pricing

Most real estate schools will offer two or three packages to choose from. Aceable Agent has taken a different approach and created an All-in-One package solution. They have taken out all of the guesswork and included everything you need to successfully get licensed. 

If you are new to the real estate industry, this simplifies the process and makes it easy. However, if you are looking to build your own custom package, this may not work for you.

Every state has their own course and exam requirements. At the time of this review, Aceable Agent has real estate programs in eight states, and their packages are competitively priced in the middle of the price range relative to the rest of the industry.

You should be aware that after you get your real state license, the real estate commission for your state requires you to take additional courses to renew your license. The biggest thing missing with Aceable Agent is their limited course offering for continuing education and post-licensing. Currently, they only offer continuing education for Texas. However, they are rapidly rolling out their programs in other states, so by the time you need to renew your real estate license in a couple of years, they may have them ready for your state.

Money-Back Guarantee

After you complete the online real estate courses, your state requires you to take a real estate exam at a designated testing center. Aceable Agent guarantees that you will pass this exam, or they will give you 100% of your money back with their Ace the Exam Guarantee

It is reassuring to see how confident they are with their courses, especially when other schools don’t have this guarantee. However, there is some fine print that you should be aware of.

To qualify for the Ace the Exam Guarantee, you need to:

  • Purchase a pre-license course package through Aceable Agent
  • Complete all of the included courses
  • Complete the Ultimate Exam Prep course – it’s included as well
  • Score 85% or higher on at least one practice test (take as many practice tests as you need to reach 85% or higher)
  • Take the licensing exam within 90 days of completing the Ultimate Exam Prep course (attempt to pass at least 3 times)
  • Email support@aceableagent.com and include a copy of your three score reports

Taking the Courses

When you log into your account for the first time, you are greeted by your virtual instructor that goes through a brief introduction. This personal touch made me feel welcomed and excited to get started. 

Dashboard

The Dashboard is the main page where you can access all of your courses, study materials, and course certificates for when you finish your course. I found it to be easy to navigate and simple to use. 

What is unique to Aceable Agent is how they organize their courses. Each course is broken up into levels, and each level is further broken down into chapters. You go through each chapter one at a time and need to complete all the chapters to reach the next level. The idea is that you are studying the material in small bites, as opposed to studying in large chunks. You get 6 months of unlimited online access to complete the courses, which is the industry standard that you will get from most real estate schools. 

Course Layout

When you open up a real estate course, you see one page of course text at a time. It has a clean look and feels like you are reading a book. Just online. You can study at any time and take as many breaks as you need. 

The courses were designed to help you retain as much information as possible, especially for people who haven’t attended school in a while. There are lots of pictures and diagrams scattered throughout the course. The material is easy to follow, and they try to ameliorate mundane topics by dropping in some cheesy humor periodically.

Note: If you are in California, the course is set up a little differently. You get access to the full course text in a PDF format. I actually prefer this way because you can read through the material much faster and requires fewer mouse clicks.

Mobile App

You would think that schools nowadays would all have a mobile app. However, you would be wrong.

The biggest feature that really sets Aceable Agent apart from other real estate schools is the fact that they actually have a mobile app that you can download on your phone from the Apple App Store or Google Play. The courses look very clean and easy to read. It is set up so that you go through it one screen at a time, so you don’t have to keep scrolling down the page. 

This makes studying-on-the-go so much easier and convenient. You don’t have to lug a heavy laptop or thick textbook around. Whenever you find yourself waiting in line somewhere, you can quickly pull it out and study for a little bit. Personally, I found the mobile interface easier to navigate through because you can just swipe through the pages with your thumb. 

Mastery Tools

As you go through the course, Aceable Agent helps you stay engaged by incorporating a variety of mastery tools. These are short “quizzes” to test your knowledge on the reading materials and have been developed to help you retain as much information as possible. 

The Facts of a Feather is a combination of matching and multiple-choice. 

There are question and answer sections, where you write your answers down in full sentences. Your response is evaluated by one of the real estate instructors. 

And of course, there are the standard multiple-choice quizzes. These make up the vast majority of the tools to help you master the material. 

One thing that I really liked about Aceable Agent was that if you answered a question incorrectly, they give you an explanation of the correct answer. 

Passing Requirements

In order to get credit for passing the course, you will have to complete all of the mastery tools. There will be a cumulative multiple-choice final exam at the end of each course.

How many questions and how long the final exams are will be dictated by the state you are in. Every state has their own regulations on final exam requirements. Some states require proctors to be present during the final exam. These are people who will be physically (or virtually) watching you while you take the exam. This is to prevent any cheating.

Aceable Agent has partnered with an online proctoring service called Examity. You will be able to take your final exams from the comfort of your own home at a time that is convenient for you. The Examity proctors will typically monitor you during the exam through a webcam.

State Exam Prep

After you complete the pre-licensing courses, your state requires you to pass a real estate exam, which is typically done at a testing center. Aceable Agent has multiple-choice practice tests to help you prepare by simulating the actual exam. They were developed by a staff of Harvard-educated instructors using proven methodology. You get unlimited access to these practice tests and can take them as many times as you need in order to hone in your test-taking skills. 

Mobile App

You can access the practice tests through their mobile app. One question is displayed on the screen at a time. After you finish going through all of the questions, it will give you your final score. You have the option to go back and review the questions that you missed if you want.

Exam Pass Rates

Does their test prep actually work and help people successfully pass the exam? As the saying goes, the proof is in the pudding. 

To get an idea of how well their practice tests worked in the real world, I checked out the pass rates published by the Texas Real Estate Commission. This is pulled directly from the state agency, so this data is the real deal. 

This is how Aceable Agent stacks up against the other large online real estate schools in Texas.

School NamePass RateExams PassedExam Count
Aceable Agent79.62%1,6992,134
The CE Shop79.37%554698
American School of Real Estate Express66.36%1,0181,534
Champions School of Real Estate60.99%12,19219,989
360training.com50.00%6411,282
Overall Average61.01%19.54632,039

Support

If you have any questions on the course or need technical assistance, Aceable Agent provides comprehensive support options through phone, chat, and email. They are available an impressive 7 days a week with the following office hours:

Sunday through Thursday: 8 am to 9 pm CST
Friday: 8 am to 7 pm CST
Saturday: 10 am to 7 pm CST

If you need help outside of these hours or want to quickly get the answer yourself, they have a self-help resource called the Help Center. This is an ever-growing database that gets updated dynamically as new questions come up. I found this to be a great resource that answered almost all of my questions.  

Reviews

Nowadays, there are review sites galore. But which ones can you trust? I went through all of the major review sites to see what they thought of Aceable Agent

Self Reviews

Aceable Agent surveys its own students and reports that it has received a score of 4.7 out of 5 possible points based on over a thousand reviews. Personally, I don’t put much weight on these self-reported reviews because schools will obviously try to make themselves look good. 

Facebook

On Facebook, they received a favorable score of 4.6 out of 5 points. However, this is taken from a very small sample size of only 40 people, so this isn’t statistically meaningful.

Trustpilot

Aceable Agent received a rating of Excellent on Trustpilot. This is based on 1,324 reviews, which sounds really good. However, I would take any review from Trustpilot with a grain of salt. They are notorious for providing unreliable figures that skew in favor of the company that is being reviewed. 

Google

I’ve found the reviews on Google to be fairly reliable, so it was concerning to see Aceable Agent with a mediocre score of only 3.8 out of 5 stars. However, this was based on feedback from only 26 people, so like Facebook, this really isn’t meaningful for a rapidly-growing school with thousands of students. 

Apple

In my experience, the reviews that you find in the Apple App Store are the best and most reliable reviews. You don’t have to worry about companies trying to manipulate the data by paying people to offer biased opinions because Apple makes sure each review comes from a unique user. There is no way to cheat the system. 

Aceable Agent has a nearly perfect score of 4.9 out of a 5-star rating based on 2,348 reviews. Nobody gave them a low 1-star or 2-star rating. This is great to see because it shows a clear consensus that pretty much everybody feels that Aceable Agent has an excellent program. 

Bottom Line

Aceable Agent has a solid program and is quietly disrupting the online education industry. They are still a relatively young school, so you can only use them to obtain a real estate license. They have few, if any, courses to renew an existing license. I would expect that to be changing in the near future.

Their real estate program brings a lot of swag to online learning. They incorporate videos and interactive quizzes to keep you engaged. What really sets them apart is their mobile app. I haven’t seen another real estate school that has done a better job of seamlessly integrating technology to make studying easier and more convenient. 

However, you don’t get a lot of options to choose from with their courses. It’s an “our way or the highway” approach. Fortunately, they seem to have figured out the right formula as evidenced by having the best exam pass rates in the industry, which are further backed by their Ace the Exam Guarantee. I would definitely feel confident in recommending Aceable Agent to my friends and family members. 

Visit them at www.aceableagent.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.

Top 3 Appraisal Schools 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

Top 3 Appraisal Schools in California

Becoming an appraiser in California is a serious commitment. It requires a lot of time and money to meet all of the state requirements, so when you take the first step to satisfy the pre-licensing education requirements, it is important to find a reputable school.

After conducting extensive research, it became clear that there wasn’t one perfect school for everyone because everyone has different needs. So, here are the top 3 schools that I have compiled for obtaining an appraiser’s license in California.  

1. McKissock Learning

Packages start at $1,299

McKissock Learning started off as a small school back in 1991. Since then, it has grown into the leading appraisal school in the country, having served hundreds of thousands of appraisers over the years. They have pre-licensing and continuing education programs in all 50 states as well as Washington, DC, and the US Virgin Islands.

Their courses have a 4.4 out of 5 star rating based on over a million self-reported reviews. They are committed to providing the ultimate learning experience by backing every purchase with a 100% satisfaction guarantee. If you are not satisfied for any reason, you can request a full refund within 7 days for any course that has not been completed yet.

McKissock Learning gives you three convenient ways to satisfy the California requirement for appraisal education:

Qualifying Education (QE) Unlimited Learning Subscription – This is a fairly 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.

158-hour Trainee (TR) & Licensed (L) Get Started Package – This package consists of the 8 online courses required to become licensed. The courses are only available in a text-based format, so it will be just like reading a book on the website. There is no mobile app currently available. There is an interest-free payment plan option available with this package for up to 4 months.

158-hour Trainee (TR) & Licensed (L) Advanced Pro Package – This package gives you everything in the Get Started package plus you get the hardcopy books and instructor support. However, due to state restrictions, they will only send the books out to you after you have completed all of the hours online. In other words, you cannot use the books to help you study as you are taking the course. 

Once you enroll in the online program, you have 6 months to complete the courses.

Best suited for: the Value Shopper

McKissock Learning offers people the best overall program at a decent price. Their courses are modern-looking and flexible enough to work with anyone’s schedule. There are various package and payment options available. The new QE Unlimited Subscription program gives you an unbeatable deal that will be the best choice for most people.

Learn more at www.mckissock.com

2. OnCourse Learning

OnCourse Learning Real Estate School

150 Hour Package Price: $1,199

OnCourse Learning is a fast-growing online appraisal school. With over 40 years of experience, they offer real estate and appraisal programs in all 50 states. They were previously known as Career WebSchool, and their courses used to be pretty dull and boring. However, their online programs recently had a major makeover and re-branding. The courses are fresh and engaging now. Some parts of the courses even incorporate video clips.

Once you enroll in an OnCourse Learning package, you are given 6 months to complete the program. The format of the courses is text-based, which is the industry standard. The California Bureau of Real Estate Appraisers (BREA) requires seat-time, so you will have to spend time logged into the website.

The support options are limited at OnCourse Learning. If you have an IT or customer support issue, you can call or email them during regular business hours from 8:30 AM to 6 PM Monday through Friday. However, if you have a question pertaining to the content of the course, there is no direct phone support. You have to email the instructor your question and wait until you hear back.

Something worth keeping in mind is that their California 150-hour Trainee & Licensing Package includes all of the courses you will need to obtain a Trainee License in California. However, there are two additional courses you need to take before acquiring your Trainee hours. You will eventually need the 4-hour California Laws and Regulations course and the 4-hour Trainee/Supervisor course. OnCourse Learning does not provide these two mandatory courses at the moment, so you will have to get them from somewhere else.

The main appeal of OnCourse Learning is its price. Appraisal courses are expensive, and they offer the lowest prices in the industry, saving you hundreds of dollars while still delivering a quality product. Even with the two additional courses you will need to get later, this will still be a cheaper route.

Best suited for: the Budget Shopper

OnCourse Learning delivers a solid appraisal program for someone who is on a budget and prefers to learn independently. They keep the program simple and easy to use. The courses do not come with a lot of extra features or content, and the instructor support is limited to email. However, if you are looking to become a California appraiser without breaking the bank, this will be a great option for you.

Learn more at www.oncourselearning.com

3. Appraisal Institute

Review of Appraisal Institute | Appraiser License

150 Hr Package Price: $2,260

The Appraisal Institute (AI) is a global association of real estate appraisers with about 20,000 members from over 95 chapters around the world. AI members benefit from an array of professional education and advocacy programs and allow you to obtain the prestigious MAI, SRPA, and SRA designations.

Anyone can attend their courses, although members do receive a discounted rate. However, to become a member, you have to pay an annual fee plus meet their continuing education requirements, which, in effect, negates any real discounts on the courses. Not to mention that they already have the most expensive courses on the market.

The Appraisal Institute offers both live classroom and online courses for appraisal pre-licensing. However, the live classes are only in limited locations, and they do not have all of the required courses in a classroom, so you will have to take some online courses to fulfill the 158-hour requirement.

The curriculum is rigorous. 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.

There are a few quirky things about the program at the Appraisal Institute. When you sign up online, you may have to wait up to an hour for the course to load into your account. Shouldn’t this be instantaneous? Also, if you need an extension, you have to pay a $30 fee, and you only get 16 more days to finish the course.

Best suited for: Aspiring Commercial Appraisers

Appraisal Institute courses are generally viewed as more prestigious. However, they are the most expensive and have the most stringent requirements. Most appraisers, especially those who only appraise residential property, will not gain additional benefit from this program. I would only recommend this for people who want to become a commercial appraiser and plan on earning an MAI or SRA designation in the future.

Learn more at www.appraisalinstitute.org

Top 3 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

Top 3 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

Top 4 Online Real Estate Schools in Pennsylvania

There are few careers that are as rewarding as being a real estate agent. You get to make your own schedule, meet new people and can make as much money as you want. In order to work in the real estate industry, the Pennsylvania Real Estate Commission requires that you obtain a real estate license by completing 75 hours of pre-licensing education and passing the salesperson exam.

It’s actually a fairly simple process to get licensed. However, that will mainly depend on which school you choose to get licensed. Going with an education provider with a solid program will eliminate future stress and could be the difference between launching a successful career or deciding to quit altogether. To save you the hassle, we have compiled a list of the best real estate schools in Pennsylvania that will help you get to the next level.

Perfect for Busy People

Most real estate schools have been around for decades. They have been doing the same thing with the same courses with little change, if any. Aceable Agent is a newcomer to real estate education and saw a need for a fresh approach. They strive to leverage modern technology to make learning more engaging and convenient. In fact, they were the first school to offer a mobile app that you can download to your phone to access the courses on the go.

Aceable Agent understands that you have a goal to become a licensed real estate agent in Pennsylvania. That’s why they built an all-in-one solution to get you there. While other schools offer multiple packages and give you a bunch of options that you don’t need, they stick to the essentials. Their courses were actually developed by some of the most successful real estate agents in the business, so they know exactly what you will need to be successful. If you are still on the fence, they cover their program with their Ace-the-Test Guarantee, meaning that they will give you a complete refund if you don’t pass the salesperson exam.

They don’t have continuing education or any other additional training once you get license, so this program is strictly for new people trying to obtain the real estate license. Additionally, if you already have a full-time job or tied up with a lot of other time-consuming commitments, this program will save you the most time.

Perfect for Building a Long-Term Career

Real Estate Express is been serving the real estate community for over 30 years. They are the largest player in the game with more courses and more options than any other school. If you made the commitment to pursue a real estate career and are planning for the long-term, they will be able to help you every step of the way.

The biggest issue you will probably have with Real Estate Express is trying to figure out which package to go with since they give you so many options to choose from. The Basics package gives you the two required pre-license courses online with instructor support via email only. You can also download the course text in a PDF file. However, this will not be enough to prepare for the salesperson exam.

The Exam Preparation package helps you with that. You get 1,000 online practice test questions added to the program that is covered with a Pass or Don’t Pay Guarantee. If you don’t pass the test, they give you all your money back. If you feel that you will need to call an instructor and get your questions answered, that live support is covered under Instructor Q&A in the next package up called the Exam Preparation Plus.

The top package, Ultimate Learning, will give you hardcopy books that you can read from. The contents are identical to what you get online, but reading from a physical book makes studying easier. It also includes Professional Development training where you get access to hundreds of short video lessons, job aids, and continual access to instructors for a year to help you launch your career.

Perfect for People Who Love Learning

OnCourse Learning is one of the premier providers of real estate education. They do more than just do real estate. They also have programs in appraisal, home inspection, and mortgage loan origination. While their online courses are pretty standard, they give you the option of adding on their robust exam prep tools that will guarantee your chances of passing the salesperson exam.

OnCourse Learning gives you three packages to choose from. The Silver solution comes with the required 75 hours of pre-licesning education. If you want to take advantage of their proprietary test prep, Prep xL, you will need to upgrade to the next two packages: Gold or Platinum.

What makes Prep xL so powerful is that it adapts to your learning skill as you go. It will adjust practice test questions to match your progress so that you continually build your knowledge. You save time by focusing on the areas that you are weak in, since the areas you already strong in, you don’t need to practice on.

Hardcopy books are available with the top Platinum solution package, where they will send the books to you by mail. This makes studying a whole lot easier since you can hold the books in your hands.

Perfect for Interactive Learning

Kaplan is a massive company within the education industry. They have thousands of programs located all over the world, so it’s not a surprise to see that they also have a program for real estate licensing. What’s made Kaplan so successful is that they make their courses as interactive as possible. You aren’t just reading a book the whole time. There are video clips and live discussion sessions incorporated into all of their programs.

Kaplan has an all-inclusive package to help you get licensed in Pennsylvania. In addition to the required Pennsylvania Real Estate Fundamentals and Practice courses, you get their propriety QBank test engine as well as access to the Interactive Study Groups. The QBank is a powerful test simulator that mimics what you will see on the actual salesperson exam. You can set it so that it tests you on just the national portion, state portion, or both. The Interactive Study Groups are live webinar sessions that are held on specific days and at scheduled times. You can interact with the faculty or other students in a lively discussion and ask any questions that you have. This makes you feel like you are in a classroom.

If you are interested in taking your career to the next level, you can add on their Real Estate Accelerator program in their Career Launcher package. This is an intense 8-hour course that will prepare you to hit the ground running after you get licensed. You will get real-world training and skills need to thrive in today’s real estate market. You will also get 8 continuous weeks of one-on-one coaching with a certified real estate instructor.

Top 3 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

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