AREA launching real estate licensing program with SAIT

The Alberta Real Estate Association will soon launch a new real estate licensing program in the province through Calgary-based polytechnic institute SAIT (Southern Alberta Institute of Technology).

The program, which could be one of many others, is possible with new changes the province has enacted in the Real Estate Act. 

The AREA partnership with SAIT is expected to be launched in early 2021.

The Real Estate Act amendments come into force on December 1.

Before, the Real Estate Council of Alberta was the primary provider of real estate education in Alberta. But AREA had advocated for many years that there should be options in education.

AREA is just finalizing its program with SAIT. The program would be a combination of online instructor-led classes with some in-class components as well. Several instructors are already lined up who are properly certified and trained through SAIT and are practising in the field. The intention is to continue to expand that instructor roster so people could take the training localized to them.

AREA felt it was important to partner with SAIT because of its educational expertise, and as a polytechnic, what that meant for applied learning. Also the name recognition was important. Having AREA members be able to say they completed their certification at SAIT as a known commodity within Alberta was important as well.

Brad Mitchell, CEO of AREA, said licensing education was taken away from AREA by the Real Estate Council of Alberta a few years ago. Since then, AREA had been advocating with government that this needed to be an industry delivered program not a regulatory delivered program.

Previously until 2015, AREA delivered the licensing education program for realtors in Alberta.

“We set about trying to work with the regulator and figure out a good way for industry to participate. We were rebuffed at every turn so we elected to build our own program with SAIT,” explained Mitchell. “SAIT is a perfect partner because they typically issue certificates and it’s a technical college. So we think that’s the best place to be a licensing program versus a university or some other type of post-secondary institution.

“Under the new Real Estate Act, RECA is specifically excluded from delivering education and the Act comes into force on December 1.”

During a transition period, RECA will continue to be able to deliver education but other providers will also be able to do so. 

“What we’re going to see in the province is many education providers delivering licensing education. It won’t just be AREA and SAIT,” said Mitchell.

“We’ve been working on this for three years now in partnership with SAIT. We’ve known that the licensing education would be coming out of RECA’s mandate for at least the last couple of years.

“What it means is that there will be a competitive delivery model in Alberta where brokers will be able to choose graduates from different programs . . . We think these programs will eventually differentiate themselves and the more successful ones will be more prestigious and brokers will have a preference for certain programs over others.”

Mitchell said that by offering the licensing program AREA could in the future be able to lower its association fees for members as it will be generating additional revenue through the education program.

“And our intention is to put it back into education and then if there’s any left over to give it back to the members,” he said.

AREA also works with SAIT in delivering the Leadership in Real Estate certificate program. That’s a voluntary program for people licensed already and its aim is to improve their ability to do their business. This program has been in existence for about a year now, developed by realtors but delivered by SAIT instructors.

“So it’s really teaching them about financial management, teaching them about negotiation, teaching them about a whole bunch of different things that they can use in their practices,” said Mitchell.

“This is really an opportunity for (realtors) to improve their level of professionalism and give them some skills like how to run a small business, how do you manage your finances when you’re a realtor, what are the appropriate structures for you to be able to do that.”