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Amid white hot market, real estate licensing on the rise in Nevada – Northern Nevada Business Weekly

Northern Nevada’s white-hot real estate market has led to an uptick in people getting their contractors and real estate licenses.

It’s a stark turn from a decade ago, when the real estate and construction industries were still suffering under the yoke of the Great Recession, and home sales and new residential and commercial construction were stagnant.


According to the Nevada State Contractors Board, there were 966 general engineering, building and specialty trade licenses issued in fiscal year 2011-2012. By way of comparison, there were 1,484 licenses issued in fiscal year 2020-2021, a 53% increase.


The numbers are similar for licensed real estate agents, the Nevada Real Estate Division reports. In summer of 2011, there were 1,761 licensed salespersons in Washoe County.

A decade later, there was a 58% increase to 2,791 licensed agents. The number of licensed brokers and broker-salespersons saw little fluctuation in that time, though.

“It’s a hot market, and that controls the flow of what we do,” said Herb Bottomley, owner of Avalon School of Real Estate. “People see that and want to get their (real estate) license.”


Avalon charges just under $300 for the requisite 120 hours of training, a modest fee that has prompted many Reno-Sparks residents to take the plunge and enter the real estate industry. The low-cost barrier to licensure also makes it easy for people to make a mid-career switch, Bottomley said.


Avalon had held the same pricing model for the past 15 years or so but recently raised its coursework costs slightly due to a 30-hour increase in pre-licensing study mandated by the Nevada Real Estate Division.


COVID-related office closures, coupled with vaccine mandates and work-from-home trends, have others pursuing licensure to buy and sell residential real estate.


“We are on average for the last four to five years,” he said. “(Agents) are more like independent contractors, so they are able to bypass a lot of (COVID) rules and regulations and they want to be in charge of their own ship rather than work for a corporation.”


There are several long-running real estate schools in Northern Nevada; however, some students prefer a typical classroom setting.


Ben Scheible, real estate professor at Truckee Meadows Community College, told the NNBW there are about 70 students going through the real estate pre-licensure program at TMCC. Scheible has taught the two-class program for more than two decades.


TMCC real estate students typically don’t fit the “fresh-out-of-high-school” demographic that’s common at junior colleges, he said. Many students are older and are seeking licensure to complement earnings from full-time jobs, while others are making a mid-career switch into real estate — although Scheible said the industry isn’t exactly tailored to successful part-time employment.


“You can’t be a weekend warrior and make money at real estate; it needs to be full time,” Scheible said. “Some brokers take on people part time, but they usually want a date when they will quit their job and go full time.”


Regardless, he added, the skills learned in the classroom are highly transferable. Coursework includes study in property and contractual law, listing agreements, deeds, probate, recording, financing, closing statements and leases, among other topics.


“I teach three things: One is stuff they have to know for the license exam; two is real life stuff they won’t see on an exam; and three is a blend that they will experience in real life,” Scheible said.


Bottomley has ridden out many of the cyclical ups-and-downs of the real estate market. Although this current high wave shows little signs of cresting, there’s still a great deal of uncertainty surrounding the ongoing pandemic.


“We are going to hang in the best we can,” he said. “Real estate is a fun job. It’s a great opportunity, and you can always keep a full-time job and sell real estate part time. It is expensive — you have to join the Multiple Listing Service — which does kind of gouge you a bit right from the start. But there’s money to be made out there.”

BY THE NUMBERS

Nevada Contractor’s Licenses (engineering, building, specialty trades):

  • FY 2011-12: 1,372 New Applications, 966 Licenses Issued
  • FY 2012-13: 1,465 New Applications, 976 Licenses Issued
  • FY 2013-14: 1,516 New Applications, 1,005 Licenses Issued
  • FY 2014-15: 1,537 New Applications, 1,103 Licenses Issued
  • FY 2015-16: 1,593 New Applications, 1,135 Licenses Issued
  • FY 2016-17: 1,632 New Applications, 1,168 Licenses Issued
  • FY 2017-18: 1,798 New Applications, 1,158 Licenses Issued
  • FY 2018-19: 2,020 New Applications, 1,398 Licenses Issued
  • FY 2019-20: 1,991 New Applications, 1,190 Licenses Issued
  • FY 2020-21: 2,326 New Applications, 1,484 Licenses Issued
  • 53%: Ten-year increase in licenses issued

Source: Nevada State Contractors Board

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