Effective: Late Fall 8-Week, 2018/2019

FINC 397: Principles Of Real Estate

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  Course Description

An introduction to the principles and practices of real estate. Topics include the real estate profession and industry, home ownership, real estate financing, real estate appraisal, real estate contracts and real estate investment as it relates to personal financial planning objectives.

Prerequisite: None

Proctored Exams: None


As part of TruitionSM, students will receive their course materials automatically as described below.


  •  Cortesi, G. (2016). Mastering Real Estate Principles (7th ed). La Crosse, WI: Dearborn Real Estate Education.  eText

Bookstore Information

Visit https://www.ccis.edu/bookstore.aspx for details.

eText Information

If a course uses an eText, (see Textbook information above) the book will be available directly in Desire2Learn (D2L) and through the VitalSource eText reader the Friday before the session begins, if registered for courses prior to that date.  Students will have a VitalSource account created for them using their CougarMail email address. Upon first login to VitalSource, students may need to verify their account and update their VitalSource password.  More information about how to use the VitalSource platform, including offline access to eTexts, can be found in D2L.  Students that would like to order an optional print-on-demand copy of eligible eTexts can do so through the VitalSource bookshelf at an additional cost.  Once orders are placed, it can take approximately five to seven business days for students to receive their print-on-demand books.

Physical Course Materials Information

Students enrolled in courses that require physical materials will receive these materials automatically at the address on file with Columbia College.  Delivery date of physical materials is dependent on registration date and shipping location.  Please refer to confirmation emails sent from Ed Map for more details on shipping status.

Note: Students who opt-out of having their books provided as part of TruitionSM are responsible for purchasing their own course materials.

  Course Overview

The material in this course is presented from both legal and practical applications in the real estate industry.  We will develop an understanding and apply national laws (laws of agency and contract law) and state-specific laws (statutory laws and administrative laws).  We will identify real estate issues and apply the concepts to current real estate practice. Each week, we will also explore and discuss the various situations encountered in real estate practices through our online discussions.

  Technology Requirements

Participation in this course will require the basic technology for all online classes at Columbia College:
  • A computer with reliable Internet access
  • A web browser
  • Acrobat Reader
  • Microsoft Office or another word processor such as Open Office

You can find more details about standard technical requirements for our courses on our site.

  Course Learning Outcomes

  1. Demonstrate an understanding of the terminology, principles, and practices of the real estate industry.
  2. Identify the economic, societal, government and legal influences that affect real property and explain their effect.
  3. Explain the various types of agency and describe the duties between a real estate agent and client.
  4. Explain the various methods of acquiring and transferring real property including real estate law.
  5. Describe the methods of holding title, identify the requirements of a valid deed, and evaluate how legal encumbrances (liens, easements, and encroachments) affect the use and value of real property.
  6. Explain the methods for financing and valuing real estate.


Grading Scale

Grade Points Percent
A 648-720 90-100%
B 576-647 80-89%
C 504-575 70-79%
D 432-503 60-69%
F 0-431 0-59%

Grade Weights

Assignment Category Points Percent
Discussions (8) 160 22%
Assignments (2) 200 28%
Quizzes (6) 120 17%
Exams (2) 240 33%
Total 720 100%

  Schedule of Due Dates

Week 1

Assignment Points Due
Introduction Discussion N/A Thursday
Discussion 1 20 Thursday / Sunday
Quiz 1 20 Sunday

Week 2

Assignment Points Due
Discussion 2 20 Thursday / Sunday
Quiz 2 20 Sunday

Week 3

Assignment Points Due
Discussion 3 20 Thursday / Sunday
Assignment 1 100 Sunday
Quiz 3 20

Week 4

Assignment Points Due
Discussion 4 20 Thursday / Sunday
Midterm Exam 120 Sunday

Week 5

Assignment Points Due
Discussion 5 20 Thursday / Sunday
Quiz 4 20 Sunday

Week 6

Assignment Points Due
Discussion 6 20 Thursday / Sunday
Quiz 5 20 Sunday

Week 7

Assignment Points Due
Discussion 7 20 Thursday / Sunday
Assignment 2 100 Sunday
Quiz 6 20

Week 8

Assignment Points Due
Discussion 8 20 Thursday / Saturday
Final Exam 120 Saturday
Total Points: 720

  Assignment Overview


Each week, you will participate in one online discussion to assimilate and apply knowledge of the subject matter. Each discussion is worth 20 points. A grading rubric will be provided. Week 1 also contains an ungraded "Introduction Discussion" to help you get to know your classmates.

Research for all graded discussion posts is required. You must utilize and reference at least one scholarly source outside of the textbook per discussion. Wikipedia is not a scholarly source. All quotes and references must include appropriate attribution in APA-format.  

Discussion topics will become available on Monday and all work must be completed by 11:59 pm CT Sunday (11:59 pm CT Saturday of Week 8). You must post one initial post per topic by 11:59 pm CT Thursday and respond to two other posts by 11:59 pm CT Sunday (11:59 pm CT Saturday of Week 8). Note that you will be required to post your initial response before you can read and respond to others' posts.


In Week 3 and Week 7, you will complete a real-world assignment to assess knowledge and application of commercial investment properties (Assignment 1) and private properties (Assignment 2).  Each assignment is worth 100 points. A grading rubric will be provided. 

All assignments will be checked for plagiarism and must contain original thought, interpretation, and analysis. You must include a cover page, properly formatted APA-style citations and a reference page, a minimum of 2 pages in 12-point, Time New Roman, double-spaced font (not including the cover and reference pages). Statements in quotations, graphs, footnotes, charts, and citations also do not count toward the 2-page minimum. 

Assignments must be completed and submitted to the appropriate Dropbox folder by 11:59 pm CT Sunday of Week 3 and Week 7. 


There are six (6) quizzes in the course in Weeks 1, 2, 3, 5, 6, and 7 to assess understanding of the weekly subject matter. You will have one 30-minute timed-attempt to complete each quiz. Quizzes, worth 20 points each, will consist of 20 multiple-choice questions. Each quiz will open at 12:01 am CT Wednesday and close at 11:59 pm CT Sunday.


There are two (2) exams in the course in Week 4 and Week 8 to assess knowledge retention of the subject matter. The exams are not proctored, but you will have only one 60-minute timed-attempt to complete each exam. Exams, worth 120 points each, will consist of 25 multiple-choice questions and four (4) short answer questions. Each exam will open at 12:01 am CT Wednesday and close at 11:59 pm CT Sunday, except in Week 8, where it will close at 11:59 pm CT Saturday.

  Course Outline

Click on each week to view details about the activities scheduled for that week.


Units 1, 2 & 3

Introduction Discussion

Welcome to Finance 397: Principles of Real Estate. Please introduce yourself to the class. You might choose to include your name, area of focus, location, etc. Also, what do you hope to get out of this class? Describe your interest in real estate.

Discussion 1

Jamala has accepted a job promotion and must relocate to a different state. She is undecided if she should sell her current residence or rent it out. What factors should she consider in making this decision?

To contextualize your response, select a location to use as Jamala’s current residence (i.e. your current city, your hometown, etc.). Your response, at a minimum, must specifically address the following factors with regard to the selected location:

  • Economic factors (supply/demand)
  • Real estate classification
  • Zoning
  • Real estate services
Quiz 1

The quiz has 20 multiple-choice questions covering this week’s readings. It is worth 20 points. There is a 30-minute time limit with only one-attempt allowed. Keep in mind, once the quiz is started, it cannot be stopped. It is a good idea to click "save" after responding to each question.


Units 4, 5 & 6

Discussion 2

Congratulations, the seller has accepted your purchase offer! You are anxious to close the deal and take possession of the property within 60 days from the seller's acceptance date. You have been made aware of potential title issues that may delay the closing. You have asked title company to provide you with a preliminary title search to identify any title defects. Your review of the preliminary title search has revealed the following:

  • Appurtenant easement (your property is the dominant tenement)
  • Easement in gross (the easement owner is dead)
  • Specific lien for the first mortgage placed against the property by the seller
  • Mechanics lien recorded by new window replacement contractor for unpaid materials and installation services
  • Lien recorded by property association for last year's unpaid annual dues
  • Lien for unpaid real estate taxes

Address the following in your initial post:

  1. Describe the difference between the appurtenant easement and easement in gross. Will either of them cause a delay in closing? Why or why not?
  2. Describe the differences between the specific lien and mechanics lien? Will either of them cause a delay in closing? Why or why not?
  3. Identify the lien classification type for the unpaid association dues and the delinquent real estate taxes. Will either of them cause a delay in closing? Why or why not?
  4. How are lien priorities established and which one of the above liens has the highest priority?
Quiz 2

The quiz has 20 multiple-choice questions covering this week’s readings. It is worth 20 points. There is a 30-minute time limit with only one-attempt allowed. Keep in mind, once the quiz is started, it cannot be stopped. It is a good idea to click "save" after responding to each question.


Units 7, 8 & 9

Discussion 3

Hurray, it is now closing day! All title issues identified in discussion 2 (Week 2) have been successfully resolved. You are now at the closing table and your real estate closing attorney is reviewing each of the closing documents with you and your spouse. Prior to signing them, certain items are brought to you and your spouse's attention that must be addressed as follows:

  1. Decide how to hold title (assume in your State residential property may be titled in joint tenancy, tenant by the entirety, tenants in common). Describe the pros and cons of each form of ownership. In making your decision, consider that your spouse has significant credit card balances and student loans outstanding which were incurred prior to the marriage.
  2. Your attorney asks you to consider placing your property in a living trust. Describe the advantages of a living trust and discuss the pros and cons of placing the property in a living trust. What did you decide?
  3. Your waterfront property has river frontage, and you want to know what type of water rights come with the property ownership. You are not sure if the river is classified as navigable or non-navigable. Describe the difference between littoral and riparian water rights and the impact on these rights if the river found to be navigable.
Assignment 1

You and two business partners are considering the purchase of the following commercial investment property:

Commercial Property:

  • Estimated purchase price: $600,000 (building only)
  • Type of property: Mixed-use
  • Units: 3 residential second floor Apts. – (A) 1,500 sq. ft., (B) 1,250 sq. ft and (C) 850   sq. ft.
  • 3 retail ground floor Units, with separate entrances, 1,200 sq. ft. each.        

Lease Information:

  • Residential Apartments: All residential units are rented.
  • Retail Units-annual rental revenues: Each Retail Unit is under a month-to-month gross (MTM) lease.

Other Information:

  • The property is subject to a 50 years ground lease (all property interests reverts to the seller at the end of the ground lease). The property purchaser with pay the seller an annual ground lease payment of $20,000.
  • Each investor will purchase a 1/3 interest in the investment.

Provide your business partners with the following information:

  1. What type of leasehold estate is a ground lease?
  2. How does the ground lease impact their property ownership?
  3. Besides obligation to pay the ground lease rent, are there any other expenses they would have to pay?
  4. What happens to property / investment at the end of the ground lease term?
  5. Is there an option to renew the ground lease? If not, how may it be included?
  6. Identify the characteristics of other commercial lease types that may provide greater rental income by charging common area maintenance costs (CAM) to the tenants.
  7. Provide a recommendation of a lease type that will maximize their return on investment.
  8. The seller has made you aware that one of the retail tenants will eventually need more space and may need to move to a different property within the next 12-24 months. The tenant is expected to ask for a provision in the lease that will allow the sublet or assignment of the premises.
  9. Describe the differences between a sublet and an assignment lease provision. Provide a recommendation as to which provision is most beneficial to the investors.
  10. Your business partners are concerned that some tenants may not like the change in ownership and attempt to get out of their lease obligations. Describe how leases may be terminated.
  11. List the remedies available to them in case of a breach in the lease terms.
  12. List the different ways to hold title in the investment.
  13. Provide a recommendation that will be acceptable to all business partners / investors. 
Quiz 3

The quiz has 20 multiple-choice questions covering this week’s readings. It is worth 20 points. There is a 30-minute time limit with only one-attempt allowed. Keep in mind, once the quiz is started, it cannot be stopped. It is a good idea to click "save" after responding to each question.


Units 10, 11 & 12

Discussion 4

Well, closing is taking a lot longer than you thought due to the volume of documents required by the lender, real estate law and government regulations. Your spouse is concerned about the entire process and asks you the following questions:

  1. What are the steps in the closing process and how do TRID, TILA and RESPA impact the process?
  2. What are the different types of deeds? What deed do you recommend as the most appropriate for this transaction?
  3. Why do both the seller and buyer need to pay for separate title policies?
  4. Describe the different calculation methods available to be used in the proration of real estate taxes and which one would you recommend.
  5. Your spouse wants to make sure that upon the death of either spouse the property will go to the surviving spouse and asks you if a will is required or some other method to accomplish this objective.
Midterm Exam

The midterm exam covers all reading material covered in Weeks 1 – 4, including the Units 1 through 12 of your textbook. It contains 25 multiple-choice questions worth 4 points each and 4 short answer questions worth 5 points each. Keep in mind, the midterm is a closed-book exam, and you will have only one 60-minute attempt, so please study in advance. 


Units 13, 14 & 15

Discussion 5

You are being interviewed as a realtor for a couple selling their home. They ask you the following questions. How would you respond?

  1. What types of listing agreements are available, and which one do you recommend that will not require a commission to be paid if we find our own buyer?
  2. Explain the agent's principle duties to us regarding care, loyalty, obedience, and accountability and the agent's duty relating to the collection and holding of the earnest money.
  3. Once we accept an offer, is there any way a buyer may terminate it? If done so unlawfully, what remedies are available to us?
  4. What kind of agency agreement would allow you, the listing agent, to represent both the seller and the buyer; and why would we agree to this?
Quiz 4

The quiz has 20 multiple-choice questions covering this week’s readings. It is worth 20 points. There is a 30-minute time limit with only one-attempt allowed. Keep in mind, once the quiz is started, it cannot be stopped. It is a good idea to click "save" after responding to each question.


Units 16, 17 & 18

Discussion 6

During the interview of another prospective client, they ask you the following questions. How would you respond?

  1. What are the advantages and/or disadvantages of using a licensed Realtor (NAR member) versus using a licensed real estate agent (not NAR member)?
  2. If I feel that I was not represented fairly by my real estate agent, where would I file a complaint and what impact could it have on the agent if found guilty?
  3. What information (besides the estimate of value) is included in an appraisal report and why is the comparable sales approach more reliable than using the reproduction cost approach?
  4. List and describe any Fair Housing or other Real Estate laws that may be violated if I decide to rent my home and want to exclude renters with children and/or pets (of any kind or purpose) and only those renters with FICA scores of 700, and over.
Quiz 5

The quiz has 20 multiple-choice questions covering this week’s readings. It is worth 20 points. There is a 30-minute time limit with only one-attempt allowed. Keep in mind, once the quiz is started, it cannot be stopped. It is a good idea to click "save" after responding to each question.

Course Evaluation
Please evaluate the course. You will have an opportunity to evaluate the course near the end of the session. A link sent to your CougarMail will allow you to access the evaluation. Please note that these evaluations are provided so that I can improve the course, find out what students perceive to be its strengths and weaknesses, and in general assess the success of the course. Please do take the time to fill this out.

Units 19, 20, 21 & 22

Discussion 7

You are representing a buyer-client who has asked you the following questions. How would you respond?

  1. Describe the steps in the loan process and explain the difference between prequalifying and preapproval.
  2. Describe the purpose of TRID and the various sections of the form.
  3. Describe the three appraisal approaches to value and how the bank uses this information in the loan qualification process?
  4. Identify the three primary loan documents and the purpose of each.
  5. Describe the difference between a mortgage broker and a mortgage banker and which one would you recommend the buyer to use?
Assignment 2

Jean and Jude own a townhome that was purchased for $165,000 on 6/30/2007. Current property values in the area have not substantially recovered to their pre-2008 values. They believe that their current mortgage balance exceeds the townhome's current market value by $30,000.

Their family has grown from 2 to 4 (twins, boy and girl) and as a result they need more living space. The children will be starting school within the next 6 months. They are not pleased with the quality of the current school system. They need more living space and want their children to attend school in a better school district. Jean and Jude have decided to look for a different home. They would like a detached single-family home with at least 3 bedrooms, 2 full baths, a 2-car garage and a ¼ acre back yard.

After interviewing several Realtors, Jean and Jude have selected you to find them a new home and discuss the options of either selling or renting their current home.

Jean and Jude have asked for you to provide the following. How would you respond?

  1. Explain the three methods used to appraise the value of our townhouse and recommend the most appropriate method to use.
  2. Explain and describe the information included on the TRID form and how it benefits the home buyer?
  3. If we decide to rent out our home, we would like to exclude tenants that have a pet of any kind or for any purpose. What, if any, government regulations will impact this decision?
  4. List the steps in the loan process used to qualify us for a mortgage and explain how our current mortgage balance may impact the qualification decision?
  5. Explain the advantages and disadvantages of selling or renting our townhouse. Assume that we would have to take an early distribution from our individual 401Ks to make the down payment on a new home.
  6. If we stopped making the monthly mortgage and escrow payments, what action(s) would the bank take?
  7. Regarding our townhouse, which course of action would you recommend: selling the townhouse, renting the townhouse, or stopping the mortgage and escrow payments?
Quiz 6

The quiz has 20 multiple-choice questions covering this week’s readings. It is worth 20 points. There is a 30-minute time limit with only one-attempt allowed. Keep in mind, once the quiz is started, it cannot be stopped. It is a good idea to click "save" after responding to each question.


Units 23, 24, 25 & 26

Discussion 8

You are the listing agent for the home of your college friend. You will also be finding this friend a new home (as buyer's agent). Your friend has owned his present home for over 20 years and anticipates selling his home for three times the original price paid for it. He expresses concern that after paying the tax on this gain he will not have enough money to make the down payment on a new home. 

Provide your friend the best advice you can, including the following:

  1. Describe and explain 1031 exchange rules and if they will help him defer his gain on the sale of his personal residence.
  2. What is the capital gain exclusion and the maximum amount of gain that may be excluded from the gain on the sale of his personal residence?
  3. If the new home is purchased for a larger amount than the amount for which the old home was sold, will all the gain be deferred?
  4. If he has a mortgage on the new home, will the interest be tax deductible? Identify other property expenses that are deductible.
  5. Explain the various types of loans and how the interest is calculated.
Final Exam

The final exam covers all reading material covered in Weeks 5 – 8, including Units 13 through 26 of your textbook. It contains 25 multiple-choice questions worth 4 points each and 4 short answer questions worth 5 points each. Keep in mind, the final is a closed-book exam, and you will have only one 60-minute attempt, so please study in advance.

  Course Policies

Student Conduct

All Columbia College students, whether enrolled in a land-based or online course, are responsible for behaving in a manner consistent with Columbia College's Student Conduct Code and Acceptable Use Policy. Students violating these policies will be referred to the office of Student Affairs and/or the office of Academic Affairs for possible disciplinary action. The Student Code of Conduct and the Computer Use Policy for students can be found in the Columbia College Student Handbook. The Handbook is available online; you can also obtain a copy by calling the Student Affairs office (Campus Life) at 573-875-7400. The teacher maintains the right to manage a positive learning environment, and all students must adhere to the conventions of online etiquette.

Plagiarism and Academic Integrity

Academic integrity is a cumulative process that begins with the first college learning opportunity. Students are responsible for knowing the Academic Integrity policy and procedures and may not use ignorance of either as an excuse for academic misconduct. Columbia College recognizes that the vast majority of students at Columbia College maintain high ethical academic standards; however, failure to abide by the prohibitions listed herein is considered academic misconduct and may result in disciplinary action, a failing grade on the assignment, and/or a grade of "F" for the course.

Additionally, all required papers may be submitted for textual similarity review to Turnitin.com for the detection of plagiarism. All submitted papers may be included in the Turnitin.com reference database for the purpose of detecting plagiarism. This service is subject to the Terms and Conditions of Use posted on the Turnitin.com site.


There will be no discrimination on the basis of sex, race, color, national origin, sexual orientation, religion, ideology, political affiliation, veteran status, age, physical handicap, or marital status.

Student Accessibility Resources

Columbia College is committed to creating a learning environment that meets the needs of its diverse student body. If you anticipate or experience any barriers to learning, communicate your concerns with the instructor. In addition to speaking with the instructor, the following resources are available to ensure an opportunity to learn in an inclusive environment that values mutual respect.

  • For students with disabilities/conditions who are experiencing barriers to learning or assessment, contact the Student Accessibility Resources office at (573) 875-7626 or sar@ccis.edu to discuss a range of options to removing barriers in the course, including accommodations.
  • For students who are experiencing conflict which is impacting their educational environment, contact the Office of Student Conduct at studentconduct@ccis.edu or (573) 875-7877.
  • For students who have concerns related to discrimination or harassment based on sex, gender identity, sexual orientation, pregnancy or parental status, please contact the Title IX Office at titleixcoordinator@ccis.edu. More information can be found at http://www.ccis.edu/policies/notice-of-non-discrimination-and-equal-opportunity.aspx

Online Participation

You are expected to read the assigned texts and participate in the discussions and other course activities each week. Assignments should be posted by the due dates stated on the grading schedule in your syllabus. If an emergency arises that prevents you from participating in class, please let your instructor know as soon as possible.

Attendance Policy

Attendance for a week will be counted as having submitted any assigned activity for which points are earned. Attendance for the week is based upon the date work is submitted. A class week is defined as the period of time between Monday and Sunday (except for week 8, when the work and the course will end on Saturday at midnight.) The course and system deadlines are based on the Central Time Zone.

Cougar Email

All students are provided a CougarMail account when they enroll in classes at Columbia College. You are responsible for monitoring email from that account for important messages from the College and from your instructor. You may forward your Cougar email account to another account; however, the College cannot be held responsible for breaches in security or service interruptions with other email providers.

Students should use email for private messages to the instructor and other students. The class discussions are for public messages so the class members can each see what others have to say about any given topic and respond.

Late Assignment Policy

An online class requires regular participation and a commitment to your instructor and your classmates to regularly engage in the reading, discussion and writing assignments. Although most of the online communication for this course is asynchronous, you must be able to commit to the schedule of work for the class for the next eight weeks. You must keep up with the schedule of reading and writing to successfully complete the class.

No late discussion posts or quizzes will be accepted. Late assignments will only be accepted under significant extenuating circumstances, such as hospitalization or extreme personal/family emergency. No late assignments will be accepted after the last day of the session.

Course Evaluation

You will have an opportunity to evaluate the course near the end of the session. A link will be sent to your CougarMail that will allow you to access the evaluation. Be assured that the evaluations are anonymous and that your instructor will not be able to see them until after final grades are submitted.

  Additional Resources

Orientation for New Students

This course is offered online, using course management software provided by Desire2Learn and Columbia College. The course user guide provides details about taking an online course at Columbia College. You may also want to visit the course demonstration to view a sample course before this one opens.

Technical Support

If you have problems accessing the course or posting your assignments, contact your instructor, the Columbia College Technology Solutions Center, or the D2L Helpdesk for assistance. If you have technical problems with the VitalSource eText reader, please contact VitalSource. Contact information is also available within the online course environment.

Online Tutoring

Smarthinking is a free online tutoring service available to all Columbia College students. Smarthinking provides real-time online tutoring and homework help for Math, English, and Writing. Smarthinking also provides access to live tutorials in writing and math, as well as a full range of study resources, including writing manuals, sample problems, and study skills manuals. You can access the service from wherever you have a connection to the Internet. I encourage you to take advantage of this free service provided by the college.

Access Smarthinking through CougarTrack under Students -> Academics -> Academic Resources.