Real estate is a highly desirable career path, especially in Virginia where real estate agents earn more money than the average American agent!
As a real estate agent, you get the benefit of a flexible work schedule and the fulfillment that comes from helping your neighbors find their dream homes.
There are very few career paths that offer unlimited income potential without requiring a college degree. But that’s exactly what you get with real estate sales!
So we want to show you what it takes to launch your new career. Here’s how you can become a Realtor in Virginia.
What Is a Realtor®?
While the terms “real estate agent” and “Realtor” are used interchangeably, they’re not actually the same thing. A real estate agent is someone with a state license to practice real estate sales. A Realtor is a real estate agent who is a member of the National Association of Realtors (NAR). All Realtors are real estate agents, but not all real estate agents are Realtors.
Why Become a Realtor?
A Realtor is like a next-level real estate agent. Not only are they licensed by the state to practice real estate, but they are committed to the Realtor Code of Ethics, which requires higher ethical standards and practices.
The greatest benefit of becoming a Realtor is that educated buyers and sellers choose Realtors over real estate agents. Agents who want to show prospective clients that they’re serious about real estate take that extra step to join NAR and become an official Realtor.
Besides the instant credibility boost, there are several other benefits to becoming a Realtor: Increased networking opportunities Ongoing professional training * Legislative advocacy at the local, state, and federal levels
Is There a Downside to Becoming a Realtor?
The downside to being a Realtor is the annual dues. The benefits listed above don’t come free! The total amounts vary by region since local Associations set their own dues amounts. For 2020, every Realtor in Virginia is paying $180 in NAR dues, plus $170 in Virginia Association dues, plus whatever dues the local Association levies.
Is Being a Realtor Mandatory?
Whether you decide to become a Realtor or not is entirely up to you. But if you want to practice real estate in Virginia, you’ll need to become a licensed real estate agent.
So before we discuss the details of how to become a Realtor in Virginia, let’s talk about how to become a licensed Virginia real estate agent.
Before You Become a Realtor, You Must Become a Virginia Real Estate Agent
Becoming a licensed Virginia real estate agent gets you about 95% of the way toward becoming a Realtor in Virginia. Here are the 7 steps you’ll need to take to get your Virginia real estate license. 1. Meet the basic qualification requirements 2. Complete your pre-licensing education 3. Apply for your exam 4. Pass the exam 5. Find a broker 6. Get fingerprinted 7. Apply for your Virginia Salesperson License Let’s take a closer look at each step.
Step 1: Meet the basic qualification requirements
The Virginia DPOR (Department of Professional and Occupational Regulation) has a few basic requirements for anyone looking to become a Virginia real estate agent. To qualify, you must:
- Be at least 18 years old
- Have a high school diploma or GED
- Be a U.S. citizen or have the lawful right to live and work in the U.S.
- Be of strong moral character
As long as you can tick those boxes, you can move on to learning more about your new industry.
Step 2: Complete your pre-licensing education
While a college degree isn’t necessary to become a Virginia real estate agent, you are required to complete 60 hours of real estate education through a Virginia DPOR Board-approved provider. Your coursework covers the basic real estate principles and practices you’ll need to understand to be successful in real estate. When choosing an educational provider, here are a few things to consider:
- Are online courses available? Online courses allow you to learn around your schedule.
- Will the material prepare you to pass the exam? For example, AceableAgent is so sure their material prepares you for the test that they offer an Ace or Don’t Pay Guarantee. If you don’t pass the exam within three attempts, AceableAgent will refund your education costs.
- Does the provider give you good value for your money? Some providers just give you an electronic textbook while others provide engaging video content and free practice tests. Compare costs and curriculum.
- How accessible is the coursework? Do you have to be at home on your computer to study or can you learn on-the-go from your phone? Spend a little time comparing providers before making your choice.
Step 3: Apply for your exam
With your education complete, you’re ready to start thinking about your real estate exam. Virginia real estate license exams are conducted by PSI Exams Online. Before you can take your exam, you must apply to take the exam.
You can apply for your exam, pay the $60 exam fee, and schedule your exam online by creating an account on the PSI website. Applications for the exam can take up to two weeks to process.
PSI also provides a comprehensive Candidate Information Bulletin with everything you need to know about applying for your exam and sitting your exam. This bulletin even tells you how many exam questions come from each topic, which may help you focus on your study time!
Step 4: Pass the exam
The Virginia real estate salesperson license exam is 120 questions (40 state-specific questions and 80 national questions) completed over 150 minutes (you can take up to 45 minutes for the state portion and up to 105 minutes for the national portion.
Exams are offered in Charlottesville, Richmond, Roanoke, Vienna, and Virginia Beach. The Virginia real estate license exam is not easy! In fact, nearly 55% of test-takers fail the exam. This is why it’s so important to choose a real estate school that includes practice tests. You’ll want lots of practice before you sit your exam.
Don’t stress if you don’t pass on your first try. You can re-apply to take the test over. And once you pass, your score remains valid for a year, giving you time to complete the rest of the application process for your Virginia real estate license.
Step 5: Get fingerprinted
Another quick errand: Applicants for a Virginia real estate license must be fingerprinted at a PSI site for a background check.
A criminal conviction on your record doesn’t automatically disqualify you from getting your license. The DPOR will likely request more information about the conviction before deciding whether to accept or deny your application.
For convenience, get fingerprinted at your exam site while you’re there for your exam. It takes only a few minutes and a $52 processing fee. No appointment necessary; you can just walk in.
Just know that you’re on a timer once you submit your fingerprints. These fingerprints are valid for just 45 days, so you’ll want to complete your license application process before they expire.
Step 6: Find a broker
Once you pass your exam, the hardest part is over! Now you can turn your attention to your upcoming real estate career.
One of the most important decisions you’ll make as an aspiring Virginia Realtor is choosing your broker. Real estate salespeople in Virginia are required to have a licensed Virginia real estate broker to supervise their work. But it’s more than that. Your broker will also be a mentor as you learn to navigate your new business.
Take your time and interview multiple brokers. Find out about the office culture, the broker expectations, whether or not training is provided, and what the commission split structure is. As a new agent, it might be worth a lower commission split to have a broker willing to invest in your training and development. Don’t automatically choose the broker that offers the best commission split.
Your broker’s information will need to be listed on your salesperson license application, so you need to decide on a broker before you can complete your application.
Step 7: Apply for your Virginia Salesperson License
With your broker selected, you’re finally ready to apply for your Virginia real estate salesperson license! Simply complete the Virginia DPOR Real Estate Salesperson License Application and submit it with your required documentation and your $170 application fee. Allow up to three weeks for your application to be processed and your license to be granted.
You might want to start networking while you wait so you can hit the ground running as soon as you receive your real estate license.
And with that, you’re officially a licensed Virginia real estate agent. You’re free to represent buyers and sellers in their real estate transactions and earn a fee for your services!
Taking the Extra Step to Become a Realtor
All the real work is done! Now all you need to do to become an official Virginia Realtor is join your local chapter of the Association of Realtors. Simply complete the application to join and pay your new membership dues.
Congratulations, you’re now a Realtor in Virginia!