How to get a real estate license
So you have to decide to dive into the exciting life of being a real estate agent! Well, you have arrived at the right place. We will tell you about all the things you need to know in order to get your license and how to become a successful real estate agent.
A seller, buyer, renter, landlord or investor will need your help and expertise to guide them through a real estate transaction. You will be tested on common terms that you may hear in the norm course of business. Although, your real estate classes will not teach you how to attract buyer or seller (that is your broker’s job). But rather focus on real estate terms and real estate laws that protect the public from unscrupulous agents.
For your convenience, we have divided the whole process into seven easy steps. Follow them, and you will be on your way to getting your real estate salesperson license and some tips to jumpstart your career.
P.S. This article has been written mainly for licensing commissions of New York, New Jersey, California, and Florida. But these steps can be taken to acquire a real estate license in other states as well.
So let’s begin!
1. Do Your Homework! Understand Your State’s Education Requirements
This is going to be your first step towards getting your real estate license. Depending on which state you live in, you will have to fulfill different requirements. Usually, states require a minimum of 60 to 90 hours of real estate principles. These courses might include topics such as:
article 12-A, citizenship requirements, dual license, reciprocity, kickback, commingling, conversion, net listing, revocation or suspension of license, unlicensed assistants, property condition disclosure, stigmatized property disclosure, how to form a agency, fiduciary, principal, client, what is fiduciary duties, riparian rights, littoral rights, fixture, trade fixtures, fee simple, freehold, non-freehold, leasehold, life estate, estate in remainder, estate in reversion, severalty, tenancy by the entirety, tenancy in common, joint tenancy, community property rights, trustee, beneficiary, specific lien, general lien, mechanic’s lien, subordination agreement, easement in gross, dominant tenement, encroachment, appurtenances, grantor, grantee, etc.
These courses are available online and in-person, but whichever school you choose to take these courses from, make sure that it is properly accredited from your state’s real estate licensing commission. The process is much easier if you are a licensed agent in another state. If that is the case, then all you need to do is check for the reciprocity between your old and new state.
This is an extremely important step as it will tell you what you will need to do to get your real estate license as quickly as possible.
Reciprocity is an agreement between states that allows licensed real estate agents to relocate without having to take a pre-licensing courses and the new state’s exam. Sometimes you might be exempt from the pre-licensing courses but have to only pass a real estate exam in that state. In case there is no agreement then you will have to take both the real estate classes + pass the state’s real estate exam.
2. Revive your Inner Nerd! It’s Time to Hit the Books!
Becoming a real estate salesperson or broker demands time and money. You need to figure out how much you are willing to pay for your pre-licensing course. Make sure to make the most of your courses. You don’t want to invest the amount of money you are spending to go to waste.
Pre-licensing schools allow a lenient schedule of classes that allow you to take your classes at your own pace. This way you can choose your classes based on your lifestyle and schedule. Similarly, the cost of these classes can range anywhere between 99 Dollars to 500 Dollars.
In-person classes allow you to ask questions and get a better understanding of the material. Post COVID has also introduced LIVE real estate classes on Zoom. I would recommend taking your classes with Ivy Real Estate School
3. Acing the Exam!
You will need to pass both your school and state real estate license exam to be considered eligible to apply for your license. This requirement for passing these exams differs from one state to another. Usually, the state requires you to get at least 70% of the questions correct to pass.
The exam will consist of 75 multiple-choice questions. The questions will be about national and state real estate principles and laws. Make sure that you are prepared. You will be required to pay an examination fee of $20 for the state test and $55 to apply for your license.
So get ready to ace your exams, for that you need to study as much as possible before the exam so you do not have to take the exam all over again.
4. Filing Out the Real Estate Application
So now that we are done with the boring part, let’s move to the more exciting stuff. Once you are done with your exams, you are required to submit your application form, application fees, and your test results. The application fees can range anywhere between 50 Dollars and 250 Dollars depending on which state you are getting your license from. Some states might also require a state ID and a background check from you, in that case, you will like have to pay an additional 40 Dollars to 80 Dollars for fingerprint scanning and non-driver ID.
Once you have submitted your application, it can take anywhere between 1 week and 2 months to process your application.
5. Get Associated with a Brokerage
Well now that you have your license, you still might not be able to sell houses right away. Most states require new real estate agents to work under the guidance of real estate brokers for a couple of years as an agent. This is a great way to generate income and contacts in the real estate industry. It is preferred that you start looking for a good brokerage from your real estate school.
Some key things to consider when choosing a brokerage:
Type of Brokerage
The brokerage you will end up working for will determine the how fast you start to see success ($$$). Your training and mentorship will be dependent on what kind of brokerage you choose. There are three basic kinds of brokerages you can associate yourself with:
A Large National Brokerage
These are well-known real estate companies that have a well-managed and a well-structured training program. These companies are a great start for newcomers who have just gotten their licenses and are looking for a good working environment. Although, many companies will have have a 1-2 week training in a corporate environment during 9am-5pm. And many large company will charge a few between $1,000-$2,000.
If you are a self-starter or someone that don’t mind having some of your commission to go towards a team. Then, this would be the right choice for you.
Another benefit is that your company has brand recognition so you will have a marketing department within your office.
Small Boutique Brokerages
Where national franchises can be thought of as a great way to start your career because of its structured programs and a wide-reaching web of connections, but small and local brokerages are not bad as well. They offer plenty of personal growth opportunities that will help you jump-start your career.
Smaller real estate brokerage offer personal training and coaching to each agent since they don’t have hundreds of agents at one location to attend too.
If you are looking to learn real estate with one-on-one training and feel like you are part of a family. Then would be the place for you to grow.
Virtual or 100% Commission Brokerage
The current pandemic has opened a lot of avenues for virtual brokerages. There are plenty of advantages of working with a virtual broker’s firm. A major one being higher commissions and lower desk fees. Just keep in mind that since you are getting 100% commission, you will not have support or training. 100% commission may sound good but ask yourself why these brokerages only represent less than 5% of the real estate industry. Answer: because 100% x 0 = 0 and if you can learn and have the support to close 2-5 deals a month at 50/50, 60/40 or 70/30 commission splits. Which brokerage would your bank account choose ?
To work effectively, you need to be able to enjoy the environment you are working in. company culture and the environment is very important for your growth and psychological stability. Before joining a firm, you need to ask the following questions from your sponsoring broker:
- Ask if the company provides mentorship too new agents.
- How is the distribution of the leads ?
- How will marketing be handled ?
- Do you provide any additional courses or training ?
Before associating yourself with a brokerage firm, you need to make sure that you understand the company’s commission system. Typically, there are 3 types of commission structures:
Traditional Split: In this structure, the commission (in NYC) is split between the company and you 50-50. This plan usually has a very minimal desk fee.
High-Split Plans: In this commission structure, you will get a higher commission cut, usually a 70-100 percent cut. These commission plans come attached with high desk fees.
Hybrid Plans: This is a combination of both traditional and high-split plans. This plan offers a 70 percent cut at the start of the year which increases to 100 percent as the agent reaches their sales targets.
6. Joining The Community!
Now that you have gotten your real estate license, and have found a sponsoring broker who caters to your requirements; the next thing you need to do is join the Board of Realtors. Although joining the board is not legally necessary, you will still have to join the realtor association to access to the MLS (which is vital) if you plan to work with buyers and sellers.
This will also give you access to real estate documents to submit offers and list properties on the MLS. Finally, these services will help you in finding out the right comps for your client.
7. Reviewing Your License Requirements is Important
Now that you got your license, don’t forget to renew it. Keep an eye on your license’s expiration date which is usually every two to four years, depending on your state. Many states will ask you to complete a set of tests and courses after every couple of years. These courses allow the authorities to know that you are up to date with the latest fair housing and human rights regulations.
Your Real Estate Career
Getting into the real estate game can be a tough task. Especially if you are looking to making money fast. But once you get into the real estate and manage to establish yourself as a respected agent, there is no stopping you. Being a real estate professional is the right job for you if you are passionate about sales and have that fire in your belly to help people. Yes, you can make a lot of money in real estate but try to always put your client’s needs first. The money will come if you are providing a solution to people’s problems.
Getting your real estate license is a daunting task, but if you follow the above-given instructions properly, you will be able to get your license in no time. The most important thing when you are applying for a license is to make sure that you are up-to-date with all the requirements and qualifications of the state you wish to be licensed in. Below are the states I am licensed in. Best of Luck in all your real estate endeavors.