It is hard to believe that the Academy for Continuing Education (ACE) turns 25 this year! I launched the Academy with Professor Benjamin Wieder, who at the time was dean of continuing education at CUNY. I was already an established broker for Douglas Elliman, as well as a real estate education instructor teaching the New York Department of State’s (DOS) accredited pre-licensing curricula for salesperson and broker.
In the past, there were many licensing schools from which to choose, some better than others and at varying price points. A truly engaging curriculum for continuing education was missing. Practicing agents and many brokers were still required to sacrifice 22½ hours of their valuable work schedule to attend classes every two years to renew their licenses. That’s how it was perceived, because the classes were, for the most part, arcane, boring and unchallenging.
Wieder and I developed a curriculum that met the DOS requirements, while providing interesting and relevant information. We were disruptors from day one, with a mission to educate, inform and empower busy real estate professionals who, frankly, would rather be selling real estate than studying. However, with a rich curriculum supplemented by industry leaders and journalists, we knew we could engage agents and brokers with practical real estate information while qualifying for re-certification of their licenses.
We arranged for classes to be taught in beautiful venues with industry luminaries and top journalists, including Barbara Corcoran; Brad Inman, founder of Inman News; Howard Lorber, chairman of Douglas Elliman; Wall Street Journal commercial real estate editor Peter Grant; developer Michael Shvo; New York Post commercial real estate writer Lois Weiss and William Rudin, CEO and co-chairman of Rudin Management and chairman of the Real Estate Board of New York (REBNY), among other real estate leaders. Our course registration grew exponentially and continues to grow.
Last year saw the passing of New York State Law 3839, which eliminated grandfathering and exemptions from the continuing education requirement for licensed salespersons in both residential and commercial practices. It is estimated nearly 55,000 New York State licensed real estate brokers will now be required to enroll in fully accredited continuing education classes every two years as of July 2021. Even corporate leaders will be obliged to take continuing education classes every two years if they want to recertify their license.
The new curriculum now includes two-and-a-half hours of mandatory ethical business practices and at least one hour dedicated to recent legal matters, such as new and current statutes, laws, regulations, rules, codes, court decisions and DOS opinions. Fair Housing and Human Rights laws have always been included as a part of the studies, but there will be some recent additions by Governor Cuomo. Information protecting both consumers and agents will also continue to be required.
Many brokers plan to dispute the new law or try to have the hours reduced. However, I have always been a proponent of quality education and will continue to be a strong and vocal advocate for what I see as constructive legislation. Recognizing changing laws is critical in any profession.
The new law is an opportunity for brokers to stay on top of our profession. The consumer will benefit and so will we. As with doctors, lawyers and accountants, more education can only enhance our professional standing. It is a positive disruption for our profession and endorses what we have always strived to provide, which is a first-class program for first-class professionals.
The Academy for Continuing Education resumes its symposium schedule on three consecutive Wednesdays, comprising February 26, March 4, and March 11. The sessions will be held from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. in the Grand Ballroom of the 3 West Club, 3 West 51st Street. More information is available at realestateacademy.com/special-events.php.