College of Business offers only undergraduate real estate program in Michigan


With about 20 majors and 20 minors in the real estate program, Novi senior Bret Shrader enjoys how personal his classes are.

The only real estate program offering an undergraduate degree in Michigan, Central Michigan University's program offers classes that foster relationships between students and professors.

While low, the number of students involved in the program has been increasing as awareness of the program spreads. The program was also featured in an article in the Detroit Jewish News last year.

Students have the opportunity to meet professionals at the annual CMU Real Estate Conference. This year’s conference took place in February and hosted two panels, one residential panel and a commercial panel. Panels feature different parts of the industry, ranging from construction to brokerage, and how they vary in different parts of the state.

“We have been very blessed with the quality of speakers that have been coming, primarily presidents and CEOs. The panels include people who own some of the largest businesses in the state,” said Director of Real Estate Spenser Robinson. “Half of them are real estate focused, but real estate is an industry that has large significant businesses that require all types of interests.”

The program has brought professionals like JPMorgan Chase Vice President Aaron Seybert, Rick McGuirk of United Apartments and Creighton Weber of Wells Fargo Bank to speak to students in classes.

“I like the fact there are so many different opportunities the program provides us," said South Lyon senior Heather Dangel. "It’s not every major that you’re going to have your teacher pushing you into these events to go and meet people, which is what this industry is all about, networking. I’ve already made those connections early when most people wouldn’t get that opportunity.”

Students are trained in how the industry works, how to value property and how the real estate operates in terms of language and technology. The program has more job and internship offerings than students to fill them.

“Students are all uniquely qualified to step into a number of jobs like banking or brokerage or appraisal,” Robinson said. “When they’re hired into those roles versus those from more traditional things like finance marketing, they can really hit the ground running and have a sense in how the business operates.”

The most successful realtors are often those with good people skills and the ability to communicate and develop relationships. Those most suited for a real estate degree are those who like change and hope to get out of the office, Robinson said.

"The job market, while competitive, may be growing. With the trend of reshaping cities like Detroit, Grand Rapids and smaller cities, urbanization is growing," Robinson said. "More people want to live and work in a downtown core after graduation, so for opportunities in real estate, the changing demands of the generation is creating “huge opportunity, especially in the state."

The opportunities presented by the program have helped Novi senior Bret Shrander feel more prepared to “jump into the real world” after graduation.

“As a student who will soon be entering the field, it’s beneficial to see how things fall into place and how we can hope to avoid mistakes when we get out of CMU," he said. “The education doesn’t stop once we leave CMU, there’s always more to learn. Entering the workforce, I feel very confident coming out of this program.”

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