Maryland real estate professionals, ranging from the most experienced broker to the rawest rookie salesperson, are now required to complete 12 hours of realty-related courses every two years in order to maintain licenses.
When the Maryland Senate enacted the new educational statute, the state joined 21 others that insist on professional training after licensing.
Neither the District of Columbia nor Virginia has a continuing educational requirement, although Virginia does require that an applicant for a realty license have completed at least nine semester hours of college-level, realty-related courses. This requisite will be raised to 12 hours in 1981. However, both jurisdictions have legislation pending that could eventually require mandatory study after licensing.
The Maryland education requirement became effective July 1, 1978. To date, 40,000 brokers and salespersons have successfully completed the first round of their continuing educational.
The program is administered by the Maryland Real Estate Commission, which sought the support of state and community colleges, local real-estate and broker boards and the Maryland Association of Realtors.
Now almost 100 courses, ranging from anti-solicitation ordinances to zoning regulations, qualify for continuing educational credit. Some courses, in the area of sales training and marketing, have been criticized as being too peripheral.
But Pauline Masters, assistant executive director of the Maryland Real Estate Commission, discounts complaints "frivolous courses." She pointed out that the syllabus of each course or seminar must be approved by the commission before becoming eligible for credit.
She also said that the commission granted only "a few" waivers of the education requirement and then only to those who could document pleas of extreme hardship. She said the commission routinely denied waivers to all of the licenses who complained that they simply did not have the time to take the course.
Masters said the commission has received no complaints of studies short-circulating courses -- for example, sitting in on only one hour of a three-hour course of instruction.
Paul Fowler, executive vice president of the Prince George's County Board of Realtors, said the board closely monitored its attendees so a person who sat in on only one hour of instruction received only one hour of credit.
The law stipulates the student "receive" 12 full hours of instruction. No examination is required or is any offered except in the case of National Association of Realtors correspondence courses.
Fowler said that about two-thirds of the 3,600 members met their educational requirements by attending seminars conducted by the board. He said this proportion will grow because of the wider range of courses that can be offered and the fact that the seminars are free to members. Nonmembers may attend but must pay a seminar fee.
Areawide, there is a general feeling that having done a crash job, the boards should get out of the license-qualifying business and back to the "nuts and bolts" of their profession. In addition, school officials believe they are more qualified than board speakers to instruct licensees and can also offer smaller and better supervised classes.
The Montgomery County Board of Realtors qualified about three-fourths of its members by offering approved seminars with occasionally as many as 1,000 persons in attendance at a single meeting. Some of the sessions were free; for others, a $5 per hour fee was charged.
According to board executive vice president Hans Nestler, once the initial confusion about the program was cleared up and the range of courses expanded, things worked smoothly.
He recommends, however, that there be a higher degree of standardization between courses given on the same subject and that the course offered to the Maryland Real Estate Commission for approval be more specific in nature.