If you’re interested in learning how to become a real estate agent in Michigan, you’re in the right place! Before you can begin selling homes, you have to get a salesperson license. Unlike other professions, you don’t need a college degree or years of on-the-job training. All you have to do is meet the requirements and complete a few steps.
Agent or a Realtor?
Real quick, let’s clear up a common misconception! You’ll often hear “real estate agent,” and “Realtor” used interchangeably, but they don’t mean the same thing.
A real estate agent is someone with a state license to practice real estate sales. A Realtor is a licensed real estate agent who is also a member of the National Association of REALTORS® (NAR).
The steps to becoming a Realtor start with becoming a licensed real estate agent, so let’s get into it. Here are the five steps to becoming a real estate agent in Michigan.
Step 1 - Make Sure You Meet the Requirements
The first requirement you have to meet is the age limit. Only folks aged 18 years old or older can get a Michigan real estate license.
Also, Michigan requires that applicants be of good moral character. The Michigan Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs (aka LARA) determines whether a person has good moral character by checking their background for felony convictions. LARA will do that criminal background check on you when you apply for your salesperson license, but we’ll talk more about the application process in a moment!
A felony is not necessarily a deal breaker, as LARA reviews felony convictions on a case-by-case basis. However, law MCL 339.2505 states that "LARA will not issue a real estate broker’s license to a new applicant who has been convicted of embezzlement or misappropriation of funds." Agents have to be trusted to handle their clients’ funds, so those two specific felonies are deal breakers.
Step 2 - Complete the Required 40 Hours of Pre-licensing Coursework
Anyone applying for a real estate license in Michigan must first complete pre-licensing courses. This includes people who already have a real estate license in another state.
LARA requires that all applicants take a 40-hour Michigan real estate pre-licensing course from an approved educator. Four coursework hours must cover civil rights law and equal opportunity in housing. The remaining 36 hours include topics that are on the licensing exam, such as financing, state regulations, and property ownership. Courses can be taken in person or online.
Step 3 - Find a Sponsoring Broker
Michigan real estate agents are independent contractors, but they aren’t entirely on their own. Agents (those with a salesperson license) must work under the supervision of a broker sponsor. Any licensed broker in Michigan can act as a sponsor, but it’s crucial to find a brokerage that’s a good fit for your career goals.
You can also wait to find a sponsoring broker after you pass the licensing exam, but you won’t be issued an active license immediately after taking the test. Instead, you’ll pass, find a sponsoring broker, and once LARA verifies their information, they will issue you an active license.
However, you don’t have time to dilly-dally! Your exam results are only valid for one year, so you’ll need to find a broker sponsor within that period.
Step 4 - Submit an Application
Now that you’ve met the education requirements and found a sponsoring broker, it’s time to send in your real estate licensing application. You can submit an application online using the MiPLUS system. You’ll also have to pay the $88 application fee when you submit. Remember, LARA will do a background check at this point, so be honest on the application about any prior legal issues.
You’ll be able to include your sponsoring broker’s information if you have one, but they still need to verify the working relationship after the application is submitted. After LARA processes the application, your information will be sent to PSI, the licensing exam administrator.
Step 5 - Pass the Michigan Real Estate Licensing Exam
Before you can get a real estate license, you must pass the state licensing exam. Once PSI receives your information, you can register to take the exam at PSIexams.com.
On exam day, you’ll have your picture taken before starting the test. It’s a pass/fail exam that covers national and Michigan-specific real estate questions. You can retake the test if you don’t pass the exam on your first attempt. (But I bet you’ll ACE it!)
Remember, if you pass but don’t have a sponsoring broker, you won’t receive an active license. On the other hand, if you pass and already have a sponsoring broker, you’ll get a pocket license right then and there! Within two weeks, the formal wall license will be sent to your sponsoring broker’s office.
That’s it! Now you know how to get a real estate license in Michigan! But before you go, let’s talk about what it takes to become a Realtor.
Bonus Step - Become a Realtor
To become an official Michigan Realtor, you’ll join your local chapter of the Association of Realtors after getting your salesperson license. Simply complete the application to join and pay your new membership dues. By joining your local association, you’ll automatically be a member of the Michigan REALTORS® and the National Association of REALTORS®.
There are several benefits to becoming a Realtor, including:
Increased networking opportunities
Ongoing professional training
Legislative advocacy at the local, state, and federal levels
The downside to being a Realtor is the annual expense – those benefits aren’t free, friend. That’s just how the cookie crumbles.
Whether you’d like to choose the path of an agent or a realtor, we know you’ll love learning with Aceable, so get signed up for your pre-licensing course today!