“We have night classes here in Tucker, as well as Morrow and Duluth, that are popular with students who are working now but may be underemployed,” said Pat Timm, the institute’s training administrator. “They’re thinking about another way to add to their income, and this is an option. And with a big investors’ marketing going on now, we get many investors who come in to learn about the industry.”
After completing the course work and obtaining a license, agents affiliate with a real estate brokerage firm where they may receive on-the-job training and coaching on the finer points of selling.
“Usually, agents work for a company like Prudential or Keller Williams under the supervision of a broker,” Hart said. “Finding that broker is up to them. We give them a list of our members, but it’s up to them to find a good fit. Then they can go out and start getting listings.”
Even if they affiliate with a brokerage, many agents are considered independent contractors — an arrangement that appeals to Thomas Blair Jr. The 60-year-old from Stone Mountain has spent 25 years as an optician but is launching a second career as an agent. He recently completed his course work at the institute.
“The one thing I am most attracted to is that you can be independent,” Blair said. “I was looking for a career field that will give me some flexibility, and this is a good fit. I also liked that the training to get into it wasn’t extensive; I didn’t want to spend four years going back to college.”
Blair had not thought about selling real estate until he and friends began chatting about the positive changes in the market.
“I thought the upturn in the real estate market was a good sign,” he said. “I’ve been dealing with the public for years, so I know how to interact with people. I don’t consider the sales part too daunting, but I do want to learn more about the formal sales process.”
The fact that students can get the training they need in about a month is a plus, Hart said.
"And they can do it without taking out a student loan," he said. "They can get into it quickly and start working on a part-time basis, if they want. Most of them like the idea of being an independent contractor in a viable field."
More people are following Blair's lead, said Timm, who pointed out that the institute's enrollment has more than doubled in the last year, both for day, evening and online classes.
"There are good feelings out there about the direction the industry is going," she said. "And when it really starts taking off — and we know it will — people who are licensed will be able to take advantage of that spike."