7 Steps to Becoming a Licensed California Real Estate Agent

If you’re ready to start your journey of becoming a real estate agent in California, here are the steps you need to take.

Is real estate calling your name? There are a number of reasons why real estate is one of the most fulfilling careers, especially for those with an entrepreneurial spirit. From the flexibility, to the fact that you can be your own boss, combined with the seemingly unlimited earning potential, it’s no wonder people become real estate agents.

If you’re ready to start your journey of becoming a real estate agent in California, here are the steps you need to take.

Step 1: Are you eligible?

First thing's first. In order to begin the process of becoming an agent, you need to check your eligibility. In the state of California, there are only three eligibility requirements for becoming a real estate agent. First, you must be at least 18 years of age. Second, you need to be honest and truthful -- meaning you must disclose any criminal history or disciplinary action. Failure to disclose this may lead to the denial of your license. Third, are you a resident of the state?

If you’re not a resident of California, no problem! Residency is not required to obtain your license in the state of California. However, if you want to get your license in California and are not a resident, you need to take the required courses at an institution that’s accredited by the Western Association of Schools and Colleges or a comparable regional accrediting entity.

And there you go! Once these three boxes are checked off, you’re deemed eligible and are ready to pursue your journey to becoming a real estate agent.

Step 2: Take the pre-license coursework

Now for the fun part: the coursework. This is where it all begins. Throughout your courses, you’ll gain a solid understanding of the real estate industry that will prepare you for the exam and ultimately kick off your adventure as an agent. But what exactly will you be learning?

The DRE requires 135 hours of pre-license coursework. The required education includes three college-level courses:

  1. Real Estate Principles (45 hours)
  2. Real Estate Practice (45 hours)
  3. One elective course (45 hours) from the following options:
  • Business Law
  • Common Interest Developments
  • Computer Applications in Real Estate Escrows
  • General Accounting
  • Legal Aspects of Real Estate
  • Mortgage Loan Brokering and Lending
  • Property Management
  • Real Estate Appraisal
  • Real Estate Economics
  • Real Estate Finance
  • Real Estate Office Administration

California State Bar Members, take note: if you’re a member of the State Bar, you are exempt from the required college-level courses. If this is the case for you, then all you need to do is provide proof that you are able to practice law in the state of California and you’re good to go.

While these courses lay the foundation and cover the essentials of the industry, it’s always a good idea to pursue continuing education courses to further strengthen your skills as an agent. Additional courses that cover specific topics like selling strategies, finance tips, and marketing tactics can vastly improve your knowledge and skills as an agent, making them a worthy investment.

Step 3: Apply for your exam

Now that you’ve completed the required coursework, you should feel ready to take the exam. But before you can ace that test, you need to apply for the exam to prove that you’re eligible and have taken the required courses.

When you’re ready to apply for the exam, you have two options. You can submit an application for just the exam and its fee of $60, or you can apply for both the exam and the license at the same time for a combined fee of $350 ($60 for the exam and $245 for the license). Additionally, you will need to pay $49 to get your fingerprints scanned. This fee will go directly to the fingerprinting service provider unless you are an out of state resident, in which case you will submit your $49 fingerprint fee along with your application. Submit your application and necessary fees to:

Department of Real Estate Examination Section P.O. Box 137001 Sacramento, CA 95813-7001 Fax (916) 263-8943

Keep in mind that you won’t be able to take the exam until your application is approved by the DRE, so be sure to get it in as soon as possible!

Step 4: Study, study, and study some more

Before you head into the exam, make sure you take plenty of time to study the course materials. Your real estate exam will include 150 multiple-choice questions that cover the following topics:

  1. Property Ownership and Land Use Controls and Regulations
  2. Laws of Agency and Fiduciary Duties
  3. Property Valuation and Financial Analysis
  4. Financing
  5. Transfer of Property
  6. Practice of Real Estate and Disclosures (Includes Specialty Areas)
  7. Contracts

Step 5: Ace the test!

Once your application has been accepted you have the green light to schedule your exam.

For California residents, the exam typically takes place in either Fresno, Los Angeles area, Oakland, Sacramento, or San Diego. You will have 3 hours and 15 minutes to complete the exam. You got this!

If you take the test electronically, you will receive your results right away. If you completed the test on paper, you will receive your results in up to seven business days. At least 70 percent of the questions must be answered correctly in order to pass the exam.

Step 6: Apply for your license

Once you’ve passed your exam, you can apply for your real estate agent license if you haven’t already. If you chose to apply for the exam and the license at the same time for a combined fee, then you’re good to go and can skip this step.

If you only applied and paid for the exam by itself, then you have one year from the date that you passed the exam to apply. This includes your application, the license fee, and your fingerprints. For out-of-state applicants, you will also need to submit a complete and notarized Consent to Service of Process. All of this should be mailed to the address below:

Department of Real Estate Licensing Section P.O. Box 137002 Sacramento, CA 95813-7002

Step 7: Find a sponsoring broker

You did it -- hooray! You’ve passed the test and received your license, but before you can officially start making sales, you need to work under a sponsoring broker. A sponsoring broker is someone who has their broker’s license as well as years of experience under their belt. Your broker will be responsible for your actions as a new agent and will help guide you through the first few years -- think of them as the training wheels to your bike.

An important thing to keep in mind when choosing your broker is that because they will be helping you with key aspects of the sales process, like pricing and listing homes, you will be splitting your commission with them. Before choosing a sponsoring broker, figure out how the commission split will be structured as well as if they can offer any educational resources that add value on their own. This will help you determine what’s best for the early stage of your real estate career.

The search for a sponsoring broker may seem daunting at first, but luckily, AceableAgent is here to lend a hand with our guaranteed broker placement. We can connect you with a community of knowledgeable brokers who will be your helping hand throughout your time as a real estate agent.

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