VERO BEACH, Fla. – As a third-generation real estate professional, Andrew Gonzalez is well versed in the industry. Yet Gonzalez, a sales associate with Coldwell Banker Ed Schlitt Realtors in Vero Beach, knew that he still needed an edge in today’s market.
Therefore, after earning his undergraduate degree in entrepreneurial management with a minor in real estate from the University of Central Florida in Orlando, he decided to pursue a master of real estate degree from Realtor® University.
“My mom (broker-owner Linda Schlitt-Gonzalez) mentioned the program to me and said that Coldwell Banker had scholarships available. I figured, if I get the scholarship, then I’m going,” says Gonzalez. “Obviously, I got the scholarship and I committed the past two years to this degree.”
Gonzalez recently earned his master’s degree with a concentration in commercial real estate and investment through Realtor University; the only online higher education focused exclusively on real estate. Developed in 2011, the program offers a rigorous graduate degree to develop and refine skills that can be applied immediately in day-to-day business.
“It’s a time-intensive program. You have to dedicate at least 15 to 20 hours a week to the program. If you’re not, then you’re missing out on the full experience,” he says.
Despite that time commitment, Gonzalez was named Rookie of the Year for the Realtors Association of Indian River County. “I think it [getting my degree] drove me to work harder because I knew there was a level of expectation from others who see you getting a degree,” he says.
The best part, according to Gonzalez, is that, unlike other master’s programs, Realtor University “didn’t use teachers with no real-life experience. Every one of the teachers there had real-world experience in what they’re teaching, whether it be the marketing professor who wrote books geared to real estate to the law professor who actively practices real estate law,” he said. “It was better material than I would have gotten had I gone to one of the other programs in the state that were equally expensive but didn’t bring that level of real estate expertise to the program.”
For the millennial generation, Gonzalez sees this type of education as the norm for the industry in the future – adding it’s necessary for advancement in today’s market.
“As millennials, we are competing with people who have a lot of experience, but we bring additional assets to the table such as energy, technology knowledge and more,” he says. “There aren’t a lot of people getting their master’s degree in real estate. Our generation can grow through education.”
As for the future, Gonzalez would like to follow in the footsteps of his grandfather, Ed Schlitt, who founded the brokerage and handled some commercial transactions.
“My grandfather was a CCIM (Certified Commercial Investment Member) and did a lot of commercial transactions in the area. I have a good handle on the residential side, but I think selling commercial real estate requires more education because there are so many elements,” he says. “I’ve done smaller commercial projects but no multi-million dollar or large-scale commercial projects.”
Gonzalez is happy to be a part of an industry that is changing so quickly.
“With the Internet, we can reach more people easily,” he notes. “With that ease of technology comes a lot of bad information, which puts the burden on the Realtor to provide accurate information.”
And, that’s exactly where Gonzalez wants to be: in the center of the transaction.