U Real Estate enrollment drops

By By Keith Chalmers

By Keith Chalmers

The U Bureau of Economic and Business Research recently stated that residential construction in Utah is dropping at a record-breaking pace.

The Bureau reported a 58.2 percent decline in total residential building permits in Utah last year.

James Wood, director of the U’s Bureau of Economic and Business Research, said the decline is not an issue that warrants government intervention.

“The market will correct itself,” he said.

For now, the decline is affecting enrollment numbers in Real Estate Continuing Education, part of the U’s Distance Education program that helps to keep real estate agent licenses’ current.

There has been a 63 percent drop in enrollment in the program.

“With the market being what it is, I don’t know if real estate agents are choosing another career path or if they are so busy trying to pick up their business that continuing education to keep the license current has fallen by the wayside,” said Michelle Lynch, the program coordinator.

The numbers reported show the steepest decline in new home construction ever recorded in Utah. The current cycle of residential construction seems to be more unstable than previous years, Wood said. The non-residential, or commercial construction market, is ahead.

“Non-residential construction always lags residential construction by two to three years,” Wood said.

Despite this decline, enrollment in one real estate course has increased.

“Recently there has been an increase in the amount of real estate professionals signing up for the Introduction to Commercial Real Estate course we offer,” Lynch said.

She estimated that half of all current enrollments in the program are for that class.

Residential contractors are facing the effects of the downturn as well. Jerry McDonald, a residential flooring contractor, said contractors also have been affected by the decline,

“Last year, I couldn’t keep up with the work I had,” McDonald said. “Now I am looking for more retail stuff. Other contractors that are doing flooring, the ones that seem to be keeping busy, are doing commercial work.”

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