How to get a real estate license

State governments issue real estate licenses that allow you to legally represent sellers and buyers in property transactions. Agents must satisfy their state eligibility requirements and take approved prelicensure courses. They also need to pass the agent exam. Finally, they should submit an application to the state realty board for approval and find a sponsoring brokerage.

1. Check Your State’s Requirements

Although there are similarities between the two, rules for obtaining your real estate license can vary from one state to another. And unlike a driver’s license, a realty license does not automatically allow you to be a realty agent in another state. While states generally require that agents be at least 18 years old and a U.S. citizen, others require fingerprinting and background checks. It is important to familiarize yourself with the requirements of your state before you can become a broker, agent, or real estate salesperson.

To help you get started, we have created state-specific guides.

State-by-State Real Estate Licensing Guides

Agents who are licensed in one state but wish to obtain a license in another should review the reciprocity laws to determine if they have to reapply. Reciprocity is when a state agrees to accept an agent’s license from another state. This means that they do not have to retake the exam again or apply for a new license. Learn more about state agreements in our article on real-estate license reciprocity.

To find out the specific requirements of your state, visit your state realty commission’s website

2. 2.

Each state requires that aspiring residential and commercial realty agents must complete some prelicensing coursework before applying to the licensing exam. This coursework prepares agents for the licensing exam and helps them answer questions from clients. The courses generally cover fair housing laws and types of property ownership. They also discuss fiduciary responsibilities.

All real estate prelicensing programs cover state-specific laws and regulations, as well as federal real property laws. However, each state can have wildly different requirements for the topics and hours of coursework. Florida, for example, requires 63 hours, while Texas requires 180.

Examples of Real Estate Prelicensing Courses Requirements for States


State Requirements for Coursework
New York 75 hours
California 135 hours
Florida 63 hours
Texas 180 hours
Pennsylvania 60 hours
Last update on 04/18/20

It can be hard to fit in prelicensing real estate coursework into a busy schedule. These courses can be taken online by many states. Be aware, however, that some states, such as Arizona, Connecticut, Delaware, Idaho, New Jersey, North Carolina, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Washington, D.C., and Washington, D.C., don’t allow you to take these courses online.


Some examples of top online prelicensing school are:

  • Real Estate Express Real Estate Express offers an accredited online prelicensure program and continuing education classes with a guarantee of “Pass or Don’t Pay”.
  • Kaplan offers both live-in classroom and online courses. This gives students the option of traditional education or more digitally driven, convenient education.
  • – Learn Real Estate – Mbition: Learn Real Estate, formerly CareerWeb School offers subject-specific classes in subjects such as home inspections and appraisals.

There are many quality schools that you can choose from. To find the best school for you, take our quiz.

Which Real Estate School is Right for You?

We’ll match you with the right product for your business by asking you some questions.

Question 1

Which is your main reason for pursuing a real estate course?

Question 1 of 3

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Question 2

Question 3


3. Preparation for the Real Estate License Exam

Many potential agents are shocked at the difficulty of passing the licensing exam. Some states also limit the number of times you can take it again if you fail. It is best to continue studying after course completion until the day of your test.

These are some tips that will help you prepare to take the real estate licensing exam.

  • Ask for assistance: Use LinkedIn to search for agents in your state, not in your farm area. Ask for their advice and connect with them. This will help you pass the exam and can also lead to a professional relationship.
  • Find study groups: There are many online schools that offer portals and forums for group learning. Ask your classmates if they are willing to study with you and help you prepare for the exam.
  • Make your own flashcards Although it might seem like a high school learning strategy, flashcards can be a great way to learn new and important information. Ask your friends to create a set for you that covers difficult real estate topics.
  • Practice exams are available at many online real estate schools. You can take practice tests to get familiar with the exam. You can also take an practice exam prep course if your school doesn’t offer practice tests. This will ensure you’re ready for the final licensing exam.
  • Create a study plan: This will ensure that you devote time each week to learning real estate subjects. Start by setting aside one hour each week to study the subjects that you have difficulty understanding. Next, take 30 minutes to go over all material at the end.

4. 4. Schedule and Take the Exam

Visit your state’s website to schedule your licensing exam. Register online. After submitting the form, you will be automatically scheduled for the exam. You should receive confirmation via email or on-screen.

However, most states require that you take the exam within a specified time period after completing your prelicensing education. The earlier you schedule the exam, the better.

Keep calm and drink lots of water on test day. You will need to be efficient in answering questions because the test is timed. You can skip questions you don’t know the answers to and narrow down possible answers to questions you aren’t sure of. You will be notified if you pass or fail the exam after the test is completed.

5. 5.

You can register to take the exam again if you fail it within 24 hours. This is possible up to three times per year. To register, visit your state’s real-estate commission website. You might also consider additional preparation materials offered by companies like Real Estate Express. The Exam Prep Master provides additional study guides and practice tests that will help you prepare for the exam.

6. Contact & Interview Sponsoring Real Estate Brokers

New agents must find a sponsoring brokerage before they can apply for their license. Sponsorship provides the necessary training and experience to work in real estate. Look through the area brokerages to find the right sponsor. Then, reach out to five potential sponsors to arrange sponsorship interviews. Ask about the company culture, commission splits, desk fees and training during your interview. Consider your interview results and choose the sponsor who best suits your needs.

It is easy to find a broker who will sponsor you, since you are generally paid on commission. However, it is important to research your options before you associate your license with a broker. The first few months of your career in the industry will be crucial. These tips will help you choose between a boutique brokerage, a national franchise, or a virtual brokerage.

How to conduct interviews with sponsors brokers

Many potential problems can be avoided by asking the right questions at a broker interview. Prelicensed agents and new agents may struggle to decide what topics to ask during a broker interview or sponsorship discussion. Based on the guidelines below, you can create a list with questions regarding training, commissions and fees to guide your interviews. Next, arrange an interview with the top five brokerages.

These are some things to consider when speaking with a potential sponsoring broker.

  • Training: As you are just beginning your career, it is vital to have great training. Ask your broker whether they offer a training program.
  • Commission Splits: Most brokers will give a 50% split to new agents. This means that you will receive 50% of any commissions you earn, and the broker will receive 50%. This should be confirmed with every brokerage interview.
  • Desk Fees: Desk charges are fees paid to the broker for lead generation, rent and office supplies. Ask the brokerages that you are interviewing whether these fees are charged to sponsored agents.
  • Lead generation: Some agencies provide leads for you. Some agencies require that you pay for your lead generation. During the interview, make sure to clarify your brokerage policy.
  • Marketing efforts: Sponsoring brokers might have marketing plans that are specific to agents who visit their offices. This could limit your ability to own your brand or make it difficult for you to do so.
  • Company culture. Talk to other agents and observe the office environment. To get a feel for the office environment, ask if you can shadow a broker or agent.

How to Choose Sponsoring Brokerages

Once you’ve completed your interviews, choose your three top sponsoring brokerages. Reach out to each interview contact to find out if they are willing to sponsor you to become a new agent. You should be prepared to receive rejection.

Consider the other options if none of your top three choices are willing to sponsor you. To connect with brokers interested in sponsorship, you can also use LinkedIn to reach out to NAR and real estate groups through LinkedIn.

After you have received a sponsorship agreement through a brokerage, get the paperwork necessary to confirm this sponsorship. This will be submitted with your application.

7. Submit Your Real Estate License Application

Once you have found a sponsor, submit a license application and pay the required fees to your state’s board of real estate. A lot of states require applicants for real estate licenses to submit fingerprints in order to conduct a criminal background check. Go to your state’s real estate commission website to submit your application. Click on the menu item for licensing to be taken to the website. This will guide you through the application process for your real-estate license.

Costs for applying to your real estate license vary from one state to the next. You can expect to pay $25 for the application process and $50 for background checks (if applicable). Depending on where you live, an application review can take between two and six weeks. After the review is completed, you will receive an email notification and a letter by mail.

8. Maintain & Renew Your Real Estate License

The majority of states require that you renew your realty license every two- to four years. You will need to take required CE real estate courses in order to renew your license. To learn more about maintaining your realty license, visit your state’s web site or our guides on state by-state renewal requirements. Then consider continuing education schools that can help you meet these requirements.

To maintain your license, all states require that you enroll in continuing education courses. Online real estate schools such as Real Estate Express and The Center for Realtor Development can offer CE courses.

State Real Estate Commission Websites

The following list contains information about real estate licensing requirements in each state. To ensure that your application approval is not delayed, make sure you carefully review the laws and requirements of your state.

Alabama Hawaii Massachusetts New Mexico South Dakota
Alaska Idaho Michigan New York Tennessee
Arizona Illinois Minnesota North Carolina Texas
Arkansas Indiana Mississippi North Dakota Utah
California Iowa Missouri Ohio Vermont
Colorado Kansas Montana Oklahoma Virginia
Connecticut Kentucky Nebraska Oregon Washington
Delaware Louisiana Nevada Pennsylvania West Virginia
Florida Maine New Hampshire Rhode Island Wisconsin
Georgia Maryland New Jersey South Carolina Wyoming

Once you have familiarized yourself with the website of your state’s realty commission, you might want to find a more detailed guide on how to achieve your goals. This guide will cover everything you need to know about selecting the right brokerage, creating a business plan, using the right technology and much more to make it a success in real estate. Here .


Why you need a real estate license

Although licensees are most often licensed to be residential sales agents there are other reasons to obtain a real estate license. These are just some of the many ways you can use your license.

  • Commercial realty: Real estate agents can help you buy, rent, or lease property such as office spaces, hospitals and apartment buildings.
  • You can be an independent broker or part of a larger brokerage. While you can still buy and sell property, you may prefer to oversee only agents.
  • Administration of brokerage offices: In some states, all employees of brokerage offices must have a real-estate license.
    Real estate investor: A real estate license is not necessary to rent or renovate properties. It is important to be able avoid fees and negotiate your transactions yourself.
  • Property manager Property managers must have a license to work with landlords, whether they are managing large apartment blocks or individual homes.
  • Corporate realty manager: Many companies need someone to handle all aspects of realty transactions. If you don’t want to be a salesperson, there are many corporate real estate jobs available.

Even if you aren’t sure what career you want to pursue, obtaining a real estate license could open doors to new opportunities. You can be successful in real estate .

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs).

What is the cost of a real estate license?

Although costs can vary from one state to the next, agents must pay for their prelicensing education, exam registration and licensing application. Prelicensing costs range from less $200 to more than $700, exam registration fees are $25 to $75, and licensing application fees are $75 to $150.

Additional costs may apply for state-specific or optional materials such as background checks, fingerprinting, exam prep books, and test preparation classes. Real estate schools typically offer exam prep classes and materials at a la carte prices, which can range from $5 to $50. Fees for ancillary materials such as background checks vary from one state to the next. Check with your local real estate board for information about these fees.

What is the average time it takes to get your license once you have passed your exam?

After passing the licensing exam, you need to locate a sponsoring broker then submit a completed application for licensure to your state’s realty commission. The average processing time for the application is between two and six weeks. However, some states may require a longer consideration period.

Official approval of your application or granting your license is usually confirmed by mail. However, many states will send you an email confirmation of approval to speed up the process.

What is the average salary of real estate agents?

Real Estate Express reports that the average agent earns around $40,000 annually, while experienced agents make about $75,000 per year. The amount an agent makes depends on their location, experience and market. Learn more about the differences in real estate agent salaries.

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What is the difference between a license to be a realtor and a real-estate agent?

Agents are those who have met the requirements for licensure in their state and have passed their real estate exam. Agents who have met the requirements for their state licensure and passed the Code of Standards of the National Association of Realtors (NAR) are entitled to a registration as Realtors. Without a state-issued license as a real estate agent, broker, or salesperson, you cannot become a Realtor.

What’s the difference between exam prep and prelicense courses?

Your state will require you to take prelicense classes before you can register to take the real estate licensing exam. Exam prep classes offer additional materials and practice tests to help you prepare for the exam.

Bottom line

Your state’s requirements will determine your chances of getting a real estate license. Learn about your state’s licensing requirements. Next, complete the required prelicensing courses, score well on the exam, and then submit your application. You must continue your education after you have obtained your license.