So you’ve decided real estate is for you and you can’t wait to get started. How exciting! While there are certain government-mandated steps there’s no way to skip, if you’ve got the drive and the time to devote to studying, you can get that license in just weeks.
How to Get a Real Estate License
First, let’s talk about the requirements for licensure. It varies slightly from state to state, but the general process is the same:
Make sure you qualify for a license. There may be restrictions in your state based on immigration status, age, education level attained, and criminal history, so before you even get started, make sure you’re eligible.
Take a prelicensing course. Each state has different requirements for their prelicensing course’s length and final exam, so be sure you’re buying a course designed specifically for your state.
Pass the course exam.
Apply for a license or take to the state exam. Some states have you apply for the license before taking the exam, some do it the other way around. In most cases, you’ll have to pay a licensing fee, exam fee, and pass a background check. Some states require fingerprints to be submitted.
Pass the state exam.
Register with a supervising broker. Again, the official name of the supervising broker can vary by state, but their role is the same: supervising new license holders. You can’t practice real estate without a broker.
What State Has the Shortest Prelicensing Course?
Prelicensing education requirements vary pretty widely by state. The shortest course requirements are in Alaska, Michigan, and Massachusetts, clocking in at 40 hours.
The states with the longest prelicensing requirements are Texas (180 hours), Colorado (168 hours), and Oregon (150 hours).
While it’s unlikely that you would relocate just for a shorter real estate course, knowing how many hours you’ll need to complete can help you make a plan.
Create a Course Completion Plan
The next step to fast-tracking your real estate license is to create your study plan. To do that, you need to decide how many hours per week you can devote to your course. Are you studying full-time? Or can you do a few hours during the week and more on the weekend?
Be sure to be realistic about other commitments in your life, like your job or family obligations. Once you have the number of hours you can devote to your course per week in mind, divide the number of hours in the course by your weekly hours and boom: you can see how many weeks it will take you to get through the course.
For example, a person working full time on studying could have a 40-hour Michigan course done in just a week. That same full-time learner would need two months to complete the Texas coursework.
Check out a few sample study plans for the Texas course to get an idea of how to break down your course time. Don’t forget to include time to study for the course final! Those tests can be challenging, and some states don’t let you re-take them more than once or twice before having to re-do all of your prelicensing education (which would slow you wayyy down).
Study for the State Exam
Once you pass your course, it’s time to focus on passing the state exam. This one is a bit tricky, because while you are trying to move quickly, you don’t want to leave too little time to study and fail the test. It’s wise to leave at least a few weeks to study.
Your goal here will be to maximize your studying efficiency. Make those study hours count!
Like you did with your coursework, block out a certain number of hours per day or week to study. Here are some ways to make sure you’re studying effectively:
Take a lot of practice tests. Practice tests are the best tool to gauge how ready you are for the real thing. If you’re consistently scoring in the 90s on practice tests, you should feel confident about the exam.
Consider a test prep package or tutoring. There are test prep companies that offer extra practice tests, study material, and even one-on-one tutoring. Depending on your budget, this can accelerate your studying.
Make study materials that work for you. You know what your brain needs to retain information. Do you need to make and review notes? Review with flashcards? Just keep churning through practice tests? Use the study methods that work for you.
Focus on what you don’t know. Spend the bulk of your time reviewing the material that is most challenging for you. See what kinds of questions you miss on your practice exams, or look back at your prelicensing course to see where you struggled.
Spend time with the state-specific material. Every state’s exam is different, of course, but in general, test takers are more likely to fail the state-specific portions of the exam. Make sure you’re reviewing things like brokerage law in your state, state laws that pertain to real estate, property taxes, and other concepts that will appear on the state portion of the exam.
Start Your Application Early
When you’re starting your prelicensing course, research what goes into the license application. As soon as you’re able to (typically, after you’ve passed the prelicensing course exam), get that application filed. If you need to submit references, fingerprints, or other background check info, get that done ASAP.
It can take weeks for applications to be processed, and you don’t want that to be a delay once you’ve passed your state exam.
Find a Broker as Soon as You Can
Another thing to get started on early is finding a sponsoring broker. Start talking to brokerages in your area you might be interested in working with as soon as you start your course. You don’t want to wait to have these conversations until after you pass the state exam, because that will push your licensing date out.
In almost every state, you need a broker lined up to start practicing, so the sooner you can figure out who you want to work with, the less chance there is that getting a sponsored broker will delay your license.
Do Some Marketing Strategy Work
If you have time in between all the other work you’re doing, it’s a great idea to start thinking about your business plan and marketing strategy. That doesn’t necessarily help you get a license faster, but it will ensure that you hit the ground running the minute the ink dries on your license.
Most agents have a long ramp-up period before they’re making money, because it takes time to find clients, then you have to wait for properties to close (which can take a month or two, depending on your area) to get paid.
The more you can have figured out and ready to launch when you get your license, the better!
Ready to get started with a real estate course? On your mark, get set, go!