Overview of Online Certificate Programs for Real Estate Paralegals
Paralegal certificate programs focused on real estate prepare paralegals for work in the real estate industry or in law firms dealing with property-related cases. These programs provide a thorough introduction to property law through fully online courses covering common real estate transactions and the rights and responsibilities of the parties involved in those transactions. Upon completing their certificates, students have a solid understanding of procedural aspects of real estate cases, how to interpret relevant laws, and ethical issues related to real estate transactions.
Students may earn a paralegal certificate specifically focused on real estate or pursue a concentration in real estate law within a broader paralegal studies program. For admission to these programs, students need to have at least a high school diploma, and some schools require prior paralegal training, a bachelor's or associate's degree, relevant work experience, or a combination of these accomplishments. Programs also expect students to be familiar with word processing programs and to have reliable internet access in order to complete the online courses. Some real estate paralegal certificate programs can be completed in about six months, and some schools allow students to apply credits they earn toward a related degree if they continue their education.
Online Real Estate Paralegal Certificate Requirements
The structure of the courses in these programs varies; schools may offer classes that are self-paced, with live sessions available online, or a combination of these approaches. Some programs incorporate features to give online students hands-on experience like a practicum, and students often have access to support services like academic success coaches and virtual workshops on relevant topics like legal research and writing.
Information and Requirements
These programs may consist of a series of courses or a single course that covers a range of relevant topics. Regardless of their structure, online certificate programs for real estate paralegals provide instruction in current laws and legal issues relevant to the real estate industry. Some curricula are state-specific while others cover principles that apply in any state.
In addition to real estate law, students can expect coursework in administrative and tax law and procedures in real estate transactions. Programs may allow students to select an elective in an area of interest like ethics or evidence. By the end of their studies, students should have a solid understanding of topics including:
- the rights and responsibilities of property owners and renters
- real estate contracts and closing procedures
- legal categories of property
- deed preparation
- liens and encumbrances
- foreclosure procedures
- government regulation in the real estate industry
- methods of legal research
- duties of lawyers and paralegals in real estate transactions
Career Options for Real Estate Paralegal Certificate Holders
Students who complete these online certificate programs may be prepared to work as paralegals handling legal aspects of real estate transactions and disputes, depending on their education level. Paralegals without a degree may need to transfer into an associate's program, but those who hold an associate's or bachelor's in addition to their paralegal certificate can look for work immediately. According to the U. S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, paralegals support the work of attorneys by performing duties including conducting legal research and organizing and maintaining legal documents. For real estate transactions, these can include contracts, mortgages, leases, paperwork for eviction proceedings, land descriptions, and related documents. Real estate paralegals also manage communication between buyers and sellers and handle contract negotiations when necessary.
According to Payscale.com, the average annual salary for a real estate paralegal was $51,404 in May 2020. Entry-level paralegals tended to earn close to $38,000 annually while those with 20 or more years of experience earned salaries of $60,000 or higher. The BLS predicts that employment for paralegals overall will increase by 12 percent between 2018 and 2028. This fast growth rate reflects the trend to assign paralegals more tasks once handled by lawyers.
Online certificate programs for real estate paralegals cover laws and procedures involved in real estate transactions through fully online courses. Upon completing these programs, students should have a thorough understanding of buyers' and sellers' legal rights and responsibilities and typical legal processes related to real estate like managing mortgages, leases, liens, and closing procedures.