How to Get Your California Real Estate License

Here’s what you have to do to get your California real estate license.
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There’s a reason there are so many reality shows about selling real estate in California. There’s a lot of money to be made in California real estate! And so many good-looking people and so much drama! Just kidding about those last two reasons, but the part about making money as a real estate agent in California? Totally true if you work hard and keep at it.

If you are interested in learning more about how to get a real estate license in California, you’re in the right place!

This article will walk you through what you have to do to get your California real estate license.

6 Steps to Getting a Real Estate License in California

How to get your California real estate license

  1. Check the eligibility requirements.
  2. Take three college-level real estate courses.
  3. Apply to take the salesperson exam.
  4. Pass the salesperson exam.
  5. Find a broker.
  6. Submit a real estate license application.

Let’s look at each of those steps in a little more detail.

Step 1 - Check the Eligibility Requirements

There are three eligibility requirements for getting a real estate license in California:

  • Be at least 18 years old.
  • Be a resident of California. (There’s a separate process for out-of-state applicants.)
  • Have a clean criminal record. (You can still apply for a California real estate license with a criminal record but the application may be denied or sent to a District Office for further investigation.)

Step 2 - Take Three Pre-license Real Estate Courses

Do you meet all of the eligibility requirements? Great! Now it’s time to learn how to become a real estate agent in California and what it takes to be a successful professional.

The state requires that you take three California real estate courses. These courses must be approved by the California Department of Real Estate (DRE)) (formerly known as the California Bureau of Real Estate).

Courses can be taken at:

  • An institution of higher learning accredited by the Western Association of Schools and Colleges.
  • An institution of higher learning accredited by a comparable regional accrediting agency recognized by the Department of Education.
  • A private real estate school with courses that have been approved by the California Real Estate Commission.

The three pre-license courses you have to take include:

  • Real Estate Principles
  • Real Estate Practices
  • One of 12 Elective Courses

If you take the courses at an institution of higher learning the courses will either be three-semester units or four quarter units. Each course taken through a private real estate school will be at least 45 hours.

Step 3 - Apply to Take the Salesperson Exam

Once you’ve completed the three required courses you can then apply to take the California real estate salesperson exam. You can do this by using one of two applications:

If you already have a broker, it’s best to go ahead and use the combined application. You’ll have to pay the nonrefundable $60 exam fee and the $245 license fee, but it will save you a few steps down the road.

On the applications, you’ll be given the choice to either have DRE schedule the exam for you at your chosen test site, or you can choose to self-schedule at a later date. Choosing to self-schedule will expedite the application process.

Include a copy of your course transcripts, and you’re ready to mail your application to the Department of Real Estate. It will take around two to four weeks for the application to be processed. Once it’s approved, you’ll receive either an email letting you know you can schedule the exam, or the Examination Schedule Notice if DRE handled the scheduling.

Step 4 - Pass the Salesperson Exam

Now that you’ve been approved to take the computer-based, multiple-choice exam, you’ve got two years to pass it. If you didn’t decide to let DRE schedule the exam, you’ll have to log on to the eLicensing system to choose a location, time, and date.

Study up before test day and take a few California real estate practice exams. The exam includes 150 questions with four choices per question. You’ll have 3 hours to complete the exam.

You won’t have to wait long for the results. Right after the electronic examination, you’ll receive your test score. If you made a 70% or higher, you passed!

Step 5 - Find a Broker

Technically, you can get a California salesperson license without a broker, also known as a “responsible broker.” BUT - without a broker, you can’t legally perform any activity that requires a real estate license. The whole reason you got a license is so you could work as a real estate agent, right?

If you haven’t already found a California real estate broker and included their information on the salesperson exam/license application now’s the time to start lining up interviews.

Step 6 - Submit a Real Estate License Application

Did you use the Salesperson Examination Application to schedule your exam? Then you’ll need to submit another application for a salesperson license along with the $245 license fee. If you submitted the combined application, you are good.

In addition to submitting the application, first-time applicants also have to be fingerprinted by a live scan service provider. To do so you’ll have to fill out the Live Scan Service Form and pay a $49 fee.

Once everything has been reviewed and approved you’ll officially be a licensed California real estate agent!

So, there you have it: the steps to getting a California Real Estate License. If you start now, you could be launching your real estate career in just four months!

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