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University real estate programs growing, drawing students

To better prepare students for the multi-faceted world of real estate, Mississippi’s three comprehensive universities offer bachelor-level degree programs in real estate. These programs are growing at Mississippi State University (MSU), the University of Southern Mississippi (USM) and the University of Mississippi (Ole Miss).

Dr. William Hardin, who holds the Robert Warren chair of real estate at MSU, says the program at his school has grown from a few students five years ago to 120 students currently enrolled. A part of the College of Business and Industry, real estate majors fall into real estate, mortgage and finance emphasis.

“Our major is geared toward people who ultimately go into brokerage, commercial property management, management of construction, land development and all business aspects,” he said. “Some graduates work with large general contractors and home builders. It’s generally been very popular and we’ve had a good placement ratio with leading residential and general contracting firms in the state. About one-third of our students go to graduate school and law school. They learn that real estate is heavily involved with law.”

Many graduates tend to go into residential brokerage and other financial jobs. He says the range of careers is as wide as there are students, and he hears positive feedback all the time.

Finding a niché

He feels a lot of students go into real estate because they have an interest in being entrepreneurial, liking the direct correlation between how hard they work and the amount of money they make. “Those who find the niché they’re interested in have the best earning potential,” he said. “The ones who talk to me are generally the ones who’re doing well and enjoy it.”

The MSU real estate program has three direct faculty members and four who teach in other colleges of the university. The Robert Warren Chair of Real Estate, founded in 1978 by a group of realtors, was named for the Jackson mortgage banker to recognize his contributions to the field. Warren, now retired, helped restructure Mississippi’s savings and loan business in the 1970s.

“The industry wanted a program and we did not have one at that time,” he said. “They saw growth in real estate.”
Hardin worked with the Bank of America in the commercial real estate group for 10 years, then taught at Morehouse College and Georgia State University before coming to MSU.

Focusing on investments

Regarding real estate, the MSU professor says people are most familiar with residential sales, which is the tip of the industry. “That’s just one component. Every piece of property out there has to be managed,” he said. “Our degree is focused on investments. Most of my students go into commercial real estate, which tends to be where most value is added in real estate.”

Hardin highly recommends that anyone interested in real estate earn a degree, although all that’s required for selling real estate in Mississippi is a license and being 18 years of age. He says those professionals with a college education tend to earn more income.

“I don’t know anyone who’s 18 and making a living doing it,” he said. “Most people going into it now are all college educated. The attrition rate is staggeringly high for anyone who only has a license. Typically, they’re not in it after three years.”

He adds that today’s world is complicated and credential oriented, making a formal education in real estate even more valuable and desirable. “I can show study after study to support that belief,” he said. “People want someone in real estate who can add value and help in numerous ways.”

Growing program

Dr. Charles P. Cartee says the University of Southern Mississippi has a very viable real estate program with 80 to 100 students in classes. The program had “sort of plateaued” in the last few years and is currently looking at ways to improve and stay current, a normal procedure for growing universities.

“We have the largest classes this semester that we’ve had,” he said. “There’s a renewed interest with what’s going on in real estate and the low interest rates and activity.”
USM’s real estate major is in the College of Business, and

Cartee teaches three of the four courses offered. The four are basic principles of real estate, real estate finance and investment analysis, income appraisal and real estate law. Students receive 45 contact hours per course.

“A lot of students are taking the courses solely to become licensed as brokers or sales people,” he said, “and with a degree they can skip the required year’s experience and go directly to the broker’s examination.”

The degree is a business degree and part of an academic program that Cartee most definitely recommends for anyone wanting to enter real estate. “It sets you apart and has many side benefits,” he said. “Also, the courses go toward meeting state exams for licenses.”

All of USM’s courses are taught on the Hattiesburg campus with day and night classes.

“I am happy to say I have had a hand in helping students. That’s my edification,” Cartee said. “Seeing them successful is very rewarding. I see my former students everywhere I go.”

Cartee, who has degrees in economics and administration, taught at the University of Memphis and Christian Brothers College in Memphis before joining the Southern Miss faculty 30 years ago. He also has a broker’s license and is a certified general appraiser.

“I stay active in the business and work in it during summers,” he says. “I pride myself on being involved and my examples are right at my fingertips.”

He believes real estate is a lucrative field and good for young people to enter. “It’s unlimited,” he said. “Students can learn one field and then move into other areas and command high consulting fees.”

Ole Miss offers a real estate degree in the School of Business Administration. The curriculum includes principles, finance, and appraisal law, land use controls and investment analysis. The major is intended to assist students interested in real estate careers including appraisal, brokerage, banking, corporate positions and government agencies. Students are prepared for exams for state appraisal licensing as well as real estate broker and salesperson licenses.

Contact MBJ contributing Lynn Lofton at mbj@msbusiness.com.

About Lynn Lofton

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