What Is the Cost of a Real Estate License in New York?

The cost of getting a real estate license in New York is lower than most people think. This overview will give you an idea of what it costs to become a New York real estate salesperson before and after getting a license.
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New York real estate agents enjoy the highest annual salary in the country, but you’ve got to spend a little money to make big money. You won’t be spending thousands of dollars like you would on a college degree, but starting a real estate career in New York involves an upfront investment.

The good news is the cost of getting a real estate license in New York is much lower than you may expect. Here’s an idea of what you’ll likely spend in the pursuit of a New York real estate license.

Cost #1 - New York Real Estate Classes - $200+

There aren’t many requirements associated with getting your license, but you will have to take a few required New York real estate classes. This is going to be a variable cost since each provider sets their own price. That said, you can plan on paying at least $200 to complete the mandatory education in an online course. An in-class course can cost up to $1,000.

There are no regulations over the fees that educators charge, but New York real estate classes must be provided by an educator that’s approved by the Department of State (DOS). The salesperson education course must also include at least 75 hours of instruction, but how it’s administered varies from one provider to the next.

Once you’re done with the courses you’ll have to take a required school-administered final exam. The cost of the exam should be covered by the course fees.

What to consider when you’re comparing course providers:

  • If the provider is approved by the State of New York.
  • Whether the final course exam and certificate of completion are included in the cost.
  • If any other resources are included, such as prep tests for the licensing exam and study guides.
  • Support for students during the course.
  • The provider’s state exam pass rate.

One factor that can affect the cost of New York real estate classes is whether they’re administered online or in a classroom setting. Generally speaking, online courses tend to be less expensive. You’ll also save on indirect costs like gas, parking fees and hiring a sitter if you have young children.

Cost #2 - New York Real Estate Licensing Exam Fee - $15

Once you’ve completed the required education you’ll be eligible to take the salesperson licensing exam. New York has one of the lowest real estate salesperson exam costs in the country. The written exam fee is just $15. Of course, if you have to retake the exam you’ll have to pay the fee again.

All the more reason to do your test prep! But an exam prep package may cost extra if it’s not included with your required New York real estate classes. Aceable students get unlimited practice tests for free!

Cost #3 - Real Estate License Application Fee - $55

Cost of living may be high in some New York cities, but getting a real estate license is surprisingly affordable. The non-refundable initial application fee for a salesperson is currently $55. If you want to step up to a broker license the fee is going to be $155.

You can pay by check, money order, credit card or debit card. But keep in mind if a check bounces there will be an additional $20 fee.

Total Cost of Getting a New York Real Estate License - $270+

When you add it all up, the initial investment to get a New York real estate license is around $270+, depending on the cost of your New York real estate classes.

Related Costs for Starting a Real Estate Career in New York

The costs above are the essential fees that are directly related to obtaining a real estate license in New York. However, there are related costs that come with launching a real estate career, some of which we already mentioned if you plan to take the course in a classroom setting.

To get an accurate estimate of the initial investment for getting a New York real estate license you have to factor in all of the related costs.

Professional Membership Fees and Dues

Do you plan on joining the National Association of Realtors (NAR) to become a Realtor? The annual NAR dues are currently $150 with an additional special assessment of $35 for the Consumer Advertising Campaign. You may also want to join other professional organizations like the local chamber of commerce, which could have its own membership fees.

Insurance

As an independent contractor you’ll be responsible for your own insurance that must be paid 100% out of pocket. Health insurance is going to be the biggest expense unless you qualify for discounts through the state healthcare marketplace. There’s also life insurance, auto insurance, disability insurance and professional liability insurance.

Marketing Materials

Whether you have a new listing or are simply advertising your services, marketing materials will be an out-of-pocket expense. These expenses can include business cards, property flyers and online advertising.

Upfront Broker Fees

One cost that shouldn’t be related to starting your real estate career is upfront broker fees. Be very leery of any broker that wants you to pay to join their brokerage. A legitimate brokerage will earn their pay through a commission split. If the broker does charge some sort of fee for office use make sure you know exactly what you are getting for your money.

Planning Ahead to Cover the Costs of a Starting Real Estate Career

If you’re considering a career in real estate, one of the best things you can do is plan ahead so that you are prepared to cover the costs noted above and go without regular income for the first three months.

That’s right - a hidden cost is the lack of income when you’re starting out. In most situations you’ll earn money by way of commission when you sell a property. Even if you got a client, looked at homes, found the perfect one, submitted an offer and got it accepted on the first day you start working it would still be a month or two before you get paid.

As an entrepreneur you want to safeguard yourself from financial windfalls by preparing in advance. The #1 reason why new agents fail to get their footing is because they aren’t prepared to handle their regular expenses without generating income. Getting a successful start is a lot easier if you:

  • Start saving well in advance. Anything is better than nothing, but ideally you’ll have enough to cover your living expenses for at least three months.
  • Minimize monthly expenses as much as possible in the months before getting licensed.
  • Resist the urge to work an unrelated job. Many new agents will work a part-time job to make ends meet, but be careful doing this. Launching a successful real estate career requires your full focus. You may be making money, but you aren’t building a career in real estate.
  • Look for ways to make money on the side using your real estate license. For example, Redfin will pay agents a one-time fee for opening up a home when the listing agent isn’t available.

Is a New York Real Estate License Worth the Cost?

Now that we’ve gone over the essential and related costs of getting a New York real estate license, you’re probably wondering if it’s a good investment. For people that put in the effort and have discipline to manage their own workload, the investment more than pays for itself.

To determine if the initial costs are going to be worth it, consider what you stand to gain by having a New York real estate license both in terms of income and opportunity.

Potential Income

Technically, income potential is unlimited when you're a real estate agent. But on average New York real estate agents make just over $102,000 a year. That’s nearly double the annual mean wage of agents across the country, which is $59,210. It’s also well above the median household income of $68,700.

Professional Opportunities

If you don’t get a real estate license what career opportunities do you have? Is there another career path for you to take? Will you need to attend higher education if you don’t get a real estate license? Getting a real estate license opens up a lot more doors that were closed before. Even if you don’t want to sell homes you can use your license to become a property manager. Or after a few years you can become a broker and have other agents do the selling for you. Experience in real estate can also help you land related jobs such as interior design, staging, landscaping and lending.

The Bottom Line

If you want to have more control over your career path and income, that could be enough to justify the cost of getting a New York real estate license. Being a New York real estate agent is essentially the same as owning a microbusiness with one employee - you. Treat the process like an entrepreneur and you’ll be in the mindset to make good investments in your future.