Casanova Brooks
Casanova Brooks

Licensed Agent

How to Get a Real Estate License: The Definitive Guide


Table of Contents

If you have ever thought of becoming a real estate agent, then you have thought about how to get a real estate license. Getting a license to operate can be a difficult task, as it requires you to meet certain requirements before you get the license.

And while it can be a difficult task, knowing what to do at the right time can help you get the license without much hustle. This definitive guide takes you through what you need to do in order to qualify for a real estate license.

What is a real estate license?

A real estate license is a certification that confirms an individual’s competence in the field of selling, buying, and renting property. A person must first pass a state exam to be able to apply for this credential.

These exams can vary from one state to another but typically cover topics such as real estate law, finance, and math skills.

Once they have completed these exams, they will need to get fingerprinted by their local sheriff’s office before submitting their application to the department of licensing or another designated agency.

How long does it take to get a real estate license?

As a real estate agent, you will need to meet certain requirements before you can get a license. The first of which is passing the state exam and the other being fingerprinting from your local sheriff’s office.

Once that has been completed, it should take about two weeks for your application to be processed by the agency in charge of licensures such as one’s county or city directory services.

The time it takes to get a real estate license depends on a variety of factors. The best way to find out how long it will take is to check with the licensing department in one’s county or city directory services office for more information on specific requirements and procedures.

6 Things You Will Need to Get a Real Estate License

Before you start thinking about that licensing exam, or what your license number will be, here are 6 basic things that should get you started.

real estate agent license

1. Establish a strong database for yourself

You need a strong database to start with. This means your resume, references and the like will need to be in order. Start with these as well as a business plan that includes how you’re going to make money when you get started; that way, it’ll seem more real for potential clients or employers.

Start from your sphere of influence

Sphere of influence creates a perfect place to establish a database for your clients. Think about who you know and what places they go to regularly. It’ll help set up the perfect place for new buyers and sellers in your area, as well as get referrals from those within this group.

Use a database management system

Once you have someone’s phone number and gathered enough contacts, where do you store them? This is where a database management system comes in. From one central location, you can manage all your contacts and keep them organized. Contact management systems will also help to put a name or reference to the contact so that when they call for an appointment or show up in person, it’s easy to recognize.

Enroll in a  real estate course

You’ll need some classroom time before taking on any clients of your own as well as basic skills training like how to operate a fax machine properly.

Once these two things have been accomplished, you’re ready for college-level classes which are offered by many colleges in various states; just do your research ahead of time about which school is right for you and get started with their pre-license coursework immediately.

Here, you will not only learn how to be a successful real estate broker, but you also get good contacts. By the time you will be taking your real estate license examination, you should have several leads to go with.

2. Understand how real estate works

Research the real estate industry to learn about how it works. This includes the different types of properties that you will be selling and buying and what is entailed at each stage of a transaction. Understanding this information will help to prepare for your license examination which tests on such topics extensively.

You will learn everything you need to know about the market, which gets you well prepared for what comes next. Of course, real estate education plays a key role here.

Understand real estate commission

One reason you want to be a realtor is to make money, right? Real estate commission is the way you make money in this industry. As a broker, it’s your job to get as much of a client’s sale or the purchase price as possible so that you can take a certain percentage off the top and then pay the other agent their pre-arranged share from what remains.

This means for every transaction completed, you will be entitled to about one-third of what was earned after all closing costs are deducted-just like any other business where percentages play an important role in how much money comes back into your pocket at tax time.

You need to know these things before starting up on your career because if not, they’re going to come out of nowhere and bite you in the end.

3. Brand development

Developing your brand should be one of your main goals before you even start your real estate career. Your brand is what people recognize about you from all the materials that represent you: your logo, company name, and colors, website design, product packaging, business cards.

The reason why it’s so important for a new entrepreneur to think of his or her branding before developing any other aspect of their company should be obvious based on these three aspects alone:

Reasons to develop your real estate brand:

Reason #1

Branding establishes an identity to which customers can identify and relate. Remember when Coca-Cola changed its original recipe? There was an uproar because consumers knew exactly who they were buying from as soon as they saw “Coca-Cola” stamped on the bottle. Customers started hoarding Coke memorabilia (which is now worth a fortune), and Coca-Cola’s stock prices plummeted.

Reason #2

Branding allows your company to stand out from the competition by giving it a recognizable name or logo that people can relate to on an emotional level. Consumers are more likely to buy products when they know what brand of product they’re purchasing; we’ve all watched those commercials where companies make us feel like one person over many because of their branding.

Reason #3

It enables you to build trust with consumers who have never heard about your business before, which will lead them in droves into your stores, onto your website, and give them incentives enough for them not only to take out loans (or whatever else you sell!) but also tell others about the great experience they had with you.

4. Create a budget

Setting your finances in order is required if you want to go anywhere. Without a budget, you’ll be living paycheck to paycheck and never know where your money is going.

It will be 3 to 6 months before your first paycheck comes in. That means you need something to keep you afloat until then.

You’ll need to set up a budget that has your bare necessities on the right side and all other expenses in order of importance on the left. You should be able to live off your daily essentials for months without going into debt, but don’t forget about those little things like gas so you can get around town.

5. Find the right brokerage

You will need to choose a brokerage. There are many things you need to consider when choosing a brokerage.

The first thing is the type of real estate agent that they specialize in. If all you want to do is sell your properties, then an agency with rental agents would be more suitable for you than one with purchase agents. Another aspect is their location if it’s too far away from your home base, work may suffer and so will your brand development efforts.

You’ll also have to decide whether or not the broker has experience working in your region (or even country) because some brokers only cater to specific locations while others operate worldwide. And don’t forget about costs- how much commission does this company take? What are the extra fees associated with using them? How long should you commit?

Working Solo vs. Working in a Team

Working solo has a few benefits: you won’t have to share your commission with anyone, and you can work on any type of property that interests you. But if other agents in the area specialize in properties similar to yours, they may be more qualified for those jobs than you would be.

On top of that, working solo means managing everything yourself- from marketing materials like flyers and brochures all the way down to negotiating deals which is time-consuming when it’s not something that comes naturally or easily (like public speaking).

And then there’s always the chance of getting caught up by one deal while missing out on others because no one else was available at the time.

The pros and cons for working as part of a team are pretty much the same as for working solo, with a few exceptions. One of the most important benefits is that you’ll have way more marketing materials to distribute than if you were by yourself. You’ll also get access to different skill sets and resources- which will help in handling all your leads better.

6. Know your competition

Competitor research allows you to understand who you’re up against- which includes not just real estate brokers but also agents in other locations and companies that operate globally. This is the best way to absolutely keep tabs on your opponents so that they don’t steal all of your business while staying blissfully unaware.

The good news is, once you know what competitors’ weaknesses are, it’s easy to capitalize on those weaknesses because you’ll be aware of them from day one.

For example, if there’s a broker out there with an impeccable marketing strategy yet no organized administrative logistics for their office space (AKA filing), then this would be something worth exploiting by doing both instead of taking over either area alone.

What do you require to apply for a real estate license application?

The first requirement is that you should be at least 18 years old. Other requirements include having a high school diploma, having graduated from an approved real estate sales course, or completed the license examination with at least two years of full-time work experience in real estate.

What is pre-licensing education?

Pre-Licensing Education: After registration, you must complete 12 hours of pre-licensing courses or 60 hours of classroom instruction that includes material such as real estate law and ethics. You can find information about completing this requirement by visiting our page titled Pre Licensure Courses Requirements in CA.

“How do I know if my school offers required coursework?” If you are unsure whether or not your program meets the requirements please contact us so we may answer any questions you may have.


Qualifying for a real estate license education and license includes an examination which is completed upon completing the pre-licensing education coursework.

A background check is required for the examination. This helps brokerages and the Bureau of Real Estate to determine if you are qualified and suitable for a real estate license.

Real estate education

Real estate education offers real estate students the basic knowledge, skills, and abilities needed to perform as a real estate agent.

Students learn about:

Real Estate Law, Ethics & Regulations; Residential Real Estate Principles; Commercial Real Estate Principles; Marketing Strategies for Realtors. They will also meet the required 12 hours of pre-licensure courses or 60 classroom hours.

Students are also going to be taught the skills for them to complete a sales transaction from start to finish, and they will learn how to follow up with customers after selling their property.

Upon completion of this course, students should have completed more than 24 credit hours (12 credits through pre-license education) and an examination which is given by the California Bureau of Real Estate (Bureau) for those in California state.

Steps for Getting a Real Estate License

Getting a real estate license should not be hard. This is because there are a few steps, and you can find everything you need to know.

Step 1: Gather your paperwork (i.e., a completed application form)

Put all your paperwork together and fill it out before going to the Bureau of Real Estate. This includes submitting a completed application form, paying your fees, providing proof that you have met all requirements for education and other qualifications such as good moral character.

Step 2: Complete your pre-licensing exam

You can simply search online for an approved course provider. Schedule a date and time to take the exam.

You will receive a message that your application has been approved. You’ll then need to complete 12 hours of pre-licensure courses or 60 hours of classroom instruction which includes real estate law and ethics, math, insurance, contracts, and finance.

A pre-license exam allows you to demonstrate your knowledge of the law to licensed brokers and agents.

Step 3: Pass your pre-licensing exam with at least a 70% passing score

A written examination is given which allows you to demonstrate that you are qualified, knowledgeable, skilled, and able to apply for licensure as an agent or broker. You’ll need to pass this test before submitting paperwork for licensing education completion requirement purposes only.

The Bureau administers these tests on behalf of the California Department of Real Estate (DRE). All testing locations offer both English language versions and Spanish translations; if needed please contact us so we may assist in locating a location near you where exams are being offered.

Step 4. Submit your application

If you passed your pre-licensing exam, there are several forms you will be required to fill. You can visit the official right site to register and start the process right away.

You might be required to create an account with the sites, and fill in information like your last name and contact information. For security reasons, be careful when giving more sensitive information.

Now You Can Be A Real Estate Agent

Once you have submitted your application through the given links, you will be prompted to pay the required fees.

You are now licensed! Congratulations on your new career in real estate. You can now start learning more about the business and preparing to be a real estate agent.

Here are a few tips that should get started:

  • Be aggressive
  • Set your goals right
  • Use social media for lead generation and open houses
  • Review every case carefully before advising your clients
  • Work with other agents
  • Keep learning

Benefits of Getting Licensed As a Real Estate Agent

Getting your real estate license can help make more money by selling properties to others. This means that if you are looking to buy or sell property, knowing someone who is licensed in California makes all the difference because they know what needs to happen throughout every step of the process. They understand how homes work: where they come from, how quickly they move on the market, and information about neighborhoods – which are all vital pieces of the puzzle in buying or selling your home.

Besides making more money, other benefits come with being licensed as a real estate agent:

  • Gain an edge over the unlicensed competition by having access to current market trends such as sales prices and inventory levels
  • Offer expertise for buyers/sellers who may not have much experience when it comes to property transactions
  • Access specialized services like working with hard to please clients or handling complex properties that might need some negotiation skills on top of just knowing about homes to make educated decisions.

Frequently Asked Questions

A real estate license is valid for two years and costs $120. If you have completed the pre-license course, then this fee has already been covered when registering for the exam so it will not be an additional expense.

A broker deals specifically with commercial properties (mostly offices) rather than residential ones. They manage these accounts under their license number without a specific license.

The Real Estate Broker License Examination for Salesperson and Sales Manager consists of 150 questions on topics including rental properties, leasing law, property management laws, residential transactions, commercial transactions, and other information about the industry. The test will take you 120 minutes to complete with a passing score being 73% or higher.

If you do not pass then there are options available such as taking it over again after waiting at least 30 days from your original attempt or by requesting an extension which must be applied for within 15 days before your scheduled examination date.

You can still work in California’s real estate industry without having a license through a real estate broker or as a property manager.


The US real estate industry is booming, and it’s high time that you got your license. With a little bit of know-how from our article, we hope to have made the process easier for you. Now all there is left to do is gather up those documents and get them off in the mail ASAP – or apply online if you’re feeling extra daring.

Whether this was just an informational read or something more serious, don’t forget to contact us with any questions about getting licensed as a real estate agent. We’ll be happy to help out however possible so call today.

casanovabrooksCasanova Brooks is a real estate entrepreneur. With a background as a licensed realtor at Berkshire Hathaway and currently serving as a Change Agent at eXp Realty, Casanova brings a wealth of expertise and experience to the table. Beyond real estate transactions, Casanova is a seasoned motivational speaker, author, and podcast host. His book, “Real Estate: Play the Game Like the Winners,” reflects his commitment to sharing insights and strategies for success in the ever-evolving world of real estate. Join him on his journey as he continues to make waves in the world of real estate and beyond.

More to explore