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Real estate education booms

Three modest booms are taking place in real estate these days: home construction, sales, and most surprisingly, in public education.

* Construction of 458,000 new housing units was begun in the first four months of 1983, an increase of 76 percent over the same period in 1982. At least 1.5 million housing units are expected to be built this year, according to the National Association of Home Builders, up 40 percent over a year ago.

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* Sales of previously owned (resale) homes are running about 33 percent ahead of a year ago and are expected to accelerate during the summer months as more and more families move into a position to buy a home.

* Real estate education is making significant headway all across the country.

Never before has there been such a demand, on the part of consumers as well as real estate professionals, for educational opportunities. A great variety of persons are taking advantage of opportunities to become more knowledgeable in the field.

Consider these recent cases, for example:

* A husband and wife in their early 60s attend a seminar on ''home selling, buying, and financial planning in retirement years.''

* A recently divorced woman attends a talk and workshop on the subject of ''how a single woman can most effectively buy and finance a home in the current market.''

* A young couple attends a two-week educational camp in the mountains to learn how to build a log home.

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* A young first-time real estate investor takes a university extension course on the basics of home remodeling and related financing so that he can upgrade his investment property.

* A high school student learns the fundamentals of building and selling homes through a course at his school, in which the class actually builds and sells a house.

All of this would have been unheard of a few years ago.

The increasing need and demand for real estate education is tied to the complexities of property transactions in the current market. In most cases, a home is a family's most desired material possession. But the number of wide-ranging decisions that must be made before a transaction is complete confuses many buyers and sellers.

Consider the fact that 10 years ago there were about a dozen basic types of financing plans available to home buyers. Today, by contrast, there are about 200.

An indication of the boom in real-estate education was seen in responses to the 1983 Consumer Education Award program sponsored by the Real Estate Educators Association. It was a learning experience for this writer to serve as chairman of this competitive event. The nationwide contest was open to any organization or person involved in any form of real estate education for consumers.

After publicizing the competition, entries began pouring in from around the country, most of them of high quality, representing a wide range of consumer-information programs.

Educational, printed materials from colleges and universities were among the entries. State real estate commissions and associations submitted materials. There was a variety of newspaper and magazine articles, as well as several books.

Some entries described educational features at conferences, seminars, and home-buying clinics. Others were audio and video tapes of radio and television spots and programs.

The response indicated that a growing number of capable, creative people are generating much-needed real estate education for consumers.

All of this signifies an important trend. There is now a strong public demand for real estate education designed for consumers. And that demand is is the stimulus for some highly innovative consumer-education programs, which are communicated through a variety of media.

One time I was invited to deliver a talk to business-administration students at a West Coast university on the subject: ''The most potential future careers in real estate.'' After completing my remarks, one of the students ran up to me.

''I appreciate what you had to say about real estate careers,'' she said, ''but it doesn't solve my immediate problem. My fiance and I plan to be married in two months, and the thing we want most is to start off our married life living in a home of our own. But between us, we only have about $2,500.

''Is there some way - some special plan - that might make it possible for us to buy our first home right away?'' We talked about some of the alternatives that might be available to them.

This is what many potential home buyers want to know.

How to enjoy the pleasures and benefits of home ownership in today's difficult and complex market is a major concern of thousands of people; it is the spark that ignited the intensifying demand for real estate education.

Seminars, workshops, adult-education courses, educational camps, printed materials of many kinds, radio and TV programs - all these and more are being used to communicate real estate information to consumers.

This is a year of significant recovery for home building and sales, as well as unprecedented advances in the communciation of real estate information.

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