How Do I Become a Real Estate Broker in Pennsylvania?

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So you have decided to take your career in real estate to the next level and become a real estate broker in Pennsylvania. It’s a great opportunity to further your knowledge and expand your horizons in the real estate industry.

But becoming a licensed real estate broker in Pennsylvania takes some time and effort.

Luckily, we here at Aceable are here to walk you through it.

First, let’s go over some of the logistics.

Need to get your real estate license?

To be a broker in Pennsylvania, you must first get experience as a real estate agent. Start your pre-license course today with Aceable!

What is the difference between a Real estate agent and a Real Estate Broker?

While both real estate professions are similar, there are a few key differences between real estate agents and real estate brokers. A real estate agent is someone who has a professional license to help people buy, sell, or rent all sorts of housing and real estate.

Once someone passes their real estate exam, they officially become a real estate agent. They can then work at a brokerage where they will work with home buyers, sellers, and renters.

If you are just a real estate agent, you can work under a licensed broker to represent clients. On the other hand, a real estate broker (in PA) can work independently or open their own firm and employ real estate agents. Sponsoring and employing agents plus 100% of commission is how real estate brokers get paid, which means they have much higher potential income than a real estate agent.

A real estate broker takes their real estate career to the next level by furthering their education to pass a broker’s license exam. Real estate brokers usually need a few years of experience as a real estate agent before they can move up to real estate broker status.

In Pennsylvania, one of the requirements for becoming a real estate broker is that you worked as a real estate agent for a minimum of 3 years.

Similar to real estate agent exams, each state sets its own broker education and exam requirements. The extra coursework covers topics such as ethics, contracts, taxes, and insurance—at a more in-depth level than what’s taught in a real estate agent pre-licensing course.

Real estate brokers also learn about real estate legal issues and how the law applies to operate a brokerage, real estate investments, construction, and property management.

real estate brokerage hierarchy

8 Steps to Become A Licensed Pennsylvania Real Estate Broker

If you’re ready to take on the challenge and work towards becoming a real estate broker in Pennsylvania, then here are the steps you should start working on:

  1. Check qualifications
  2. Complete pre-license classes and education
  3. Sign up for a PALS Account and Apply Online
  4. Study for the Broker Exam
  5. Complete a background check
  6. Take the Pennsylvania Real Estate Broker Exam
  7. Apply for your Pennsylvania Broker’s License
  8. Become a Licensed PA Real Estate Broker

Step #1 -- Check qualifications

The very first step is to make sure you know what the qualifications are for getting your PA real estate broker license to know if you already qualify or if you need to start working towards some of these goals to be eligible for a PA real estate broker license.

In order to be a real estate broker in Pennsylvania, you must:

  • Be at least 21 years old
  • Be a high school graduate or equivalent
  • Have a minimum of three years real estate experience, with a total of 200 points under a system established by the Commonwealth which assigns points for certain real estate transactions (for example, each closed transaction is worth 5 points, while active listings and residential leases are worth 1 point each)
  • Complete 240 hours of instruction in courses approved by the Commonwealth. Courses must be completed within 10 years prior to taking the exam unless part of a bachelor's degree or J.D. degree
  • Complete a background check and present any disciplinary actions taken against any of your professional licenses
  • Pass the broker exam
  • Pay the $40 application fee

Once you meet these qualifications, you are eligible to apply for your Pennsylvania real estate brokers license.

Step #2 -- Complete pre-license classes and education

Before taking the Pennsylvania broker exam, you need to complete 240 hours, or 16 credits, of broker education courses.

Along with the courses on real estate law and management, Pennsylvania requires that all broker applicants take a minimum of three core courses from the following list:

  • Real Estate Finance
  • Real Estate Investment
  • Real Estate Sales
  • Valuation of Residential Property
  • Residential Constructions
  • Residential Property Management
  • Basic Appraisal Procedures
  • Basic Appraisal Principles

Finally, applicants must take 3 elective courses from the list above, or another approved source (these courses may be completed in a classroom or online). Make sure whatever institution you choose for your elective courses is approved by the Pennsylvania Real Estate Commission.

How do I become a real estate agent in Pennsylvania?

Need more details on the licensing process? Here are 8 steps to get your real estate license!

Step #3 -- Sign up for a PALS Account and Apply Online

After you have completed all of your pre-licensure coursework, you can begin the process online to apply to take the Pennsylvania real estate brokers exam.

You can do this online through PSI, which is a private testing company. To apply and register for the exam, you need to provide PSI with a certificate of completion from your pre-licensure courses.

To get your PA real estate brokers license, you must submit your course transcripts and experience documentation to the Pennsylvania Real Estate Commission through PALS.

Then you have to wait for your application to be approved in the system. Once it is approved, you will get a certificate of eligibility that will tell you how to schedule and take the Pennsylvania broker exam through PSI at one of their 10 testing locations across the state.

Step #4 -- Study for the Broker Exam

While waiting for your test day to come, you should take the opportunity to study for the exam.

Although your pre-licensing coursework will have covered most of the material you will need to know for the exam, it is highly recommended that you refresh your memory and study your coursework so you can pass the exam.

One of the best things you can do to productively study is to take practice tests. Practice tests are scientifically proven to be the most effective way to help you pass an exam.

Step #5 -- Complete a Background Check

Just like with your real estate license exam, before you can take the brokers exam Pennsylvania state requires that you complete a criminal background check.

You can go to the PATCH website to get a Pennsylvania background check online or from the Pennsylvania State Police Central Repository.

There will be a fee for the background check, and the results only stay up-to-date for three months.

Step #6 -- Take the Pennsylvania Real Estate Broker Exam

Once your appointment day arrives, you need to go to your assigned PSI Testing Center to take your exam in person. The exam may not be completed online.

The Pennsylvania broker exam is taken on a computer and includes sections on both national and state laws and practices.

You are given 2 hours to complete the national portion, and 1 hour for the state portion. In order to pass the broker’s license exam, you must receive a score of 75 or higher.

Step #7 -- Apply for your Pennsylvania Broker’s License

If you have a passing score of 75 or higher plus your background check results, you can officially apply for your Pennsylvania broker’s license online.

There are a few different avenues you can take when applying for your broker’s license. You can apply as a(n):

  • Associate Broker: Also known as a broker associate, broker-salesperson, or affiliate broker, this type of real estate broker holds a license but works under a managing broker and does not supervise other agents.
  • Broker Entity: This type of broker conducts business through an LLC, limited partnership, or corporation.
  • Broker Sole Proprietor: This type of broker uses their personal name or a trading name for their brokerage business.

Step #8 -- Become a Licensed PA Real Estate Broker

Once your application goes through, you are officially a licensed real estate broker in Pennsylvania and you can begin practicing right away!