Becoming a real estate agent in California is a popular career choice for people who enjoy working with people and are interested in real estate. It is a profession that can provide flexible hours, the opportunity to earn a good income, and the satisfaction of helping clients achieve their dream of buying or selling a home.
While the journey to become a licensed real estate professional may seem daunting at first, especially for those without experience in the field, the truth is that becoming a real estate agent in California is easier than you think. You don’t need a college degree or even a high school education.
In this article, we’ll take a deep dive into the five steps you need to take to become a real estate agent in California, offer up detailed information about the process, and answer some frequently asked questions so that you can determine whether or not a real estate career is the right path for you.
Becoming a real estate agent in the state of California
There are several basic steps that everyone must take if they want to become a real estate agent in California.
Step 1: Enroll in a credible real estate school
The first step in becoming a real estate agent in California is to enroll in an accredited real estate school. While no previous experience or education is required to begin your journey toward a real estate career, obtaining a solid foundation of knowledge in real estate principles, practices, and laws is essential. That’s where real estate school comes in.
Best of all, you can attend real estate school from home without attending in-person classes. Online schools are preferable because they allow you to study at your own pace. Accredited online real estate schools are especially beneficial for anyone working full-time or dealing with other pressing obligations.
Attending real estate school isn’t just helpful in launching your career as a real estate agent; it is a requirement. To become a licensed real estate agent in California, you must take 135 hours of pre-license courses from a real estate school accredited by the California Department of Real Estate (DRE).
Step 2: Pass your three required real estate classes
Once you’ve enrolled in real estate school, you must pass three DRE-approved real estate courses to be eligible to sit for the state licensing exam. These courses are simple to understand and easy to complete.
The three required courses you need to pass to qualify to take the California licensing exam are as follows:
- Real Estate Principales (45 hours): This course covers fundamental concepts related to real estate transactions and property ownership, including property rights, contracts, financing, appraisal, and agency relationships. Students learn about legal and ethical considerations, property management, and California-specific laws and regulations.
- Real Estate Practice (45 hours): This course covers practical aspects of real estate transactions, including marketing, listing, and selling properties. Students learn about disclosures, inspections, escrow procedures, real estate math, and accounting. The course also covers real-world scenarios and professional conduct.
- A DRE-approved real estate elective (45 hours): Some popular elective courses include property management, appraisal, real estate finance, and real estate law. Other options include courses on commercial real estate, residential property management, green home features, and real estate investing.
Step #3: Submit an exam and license application
Once you have completed the pre-licensing courses, the next step is to apply for the state exam and your California real estate license. Both are available under the same application process.
Submit your online application through the California DRE’s eLicensing portal. In addition to your application, you’ll need to provide your course certificates, a Live Scan Form 237 application for fingerprinting and a background check, a $60 exam fee, and a $245 license fee.
It can take up to three or four weeks for the California DRE to approve your application, so be patient. Once the application is approved, you can log on to the DRE website to schedule your exam time, date, and location.
Step #4: Take and pass the California real estate licensing exam
To obtain your California real estate license, you must pass the California real estate salesperson exam, which you can think of as your final exam after completing your 135 hours of licensing coursework.
The exam will test your knowledge of real estate principles, practices, and laws. It consists of 150 multiple-choice questions that you must complete within three hours. The passing score for the exam is 70%.
The California real estate licensing exam consists of questions in the following categories:
- Property Ownership and Land Use Controls and Regulations (approximately 15% of the exam)
- Laws of Agency and Fiduciary Duties (about 17% of the exam)
- Property Valuation and Financial Analysis (about 14% of the exam)
- Financing (around 9% of the exam)
- Transfer of Property (around 8% of the exam)
- The practice of Real Estate and Disclosures (including specialty areas) (about 25% of the exam)
- Contracts (about 12% of the exam)
Step 5: Find a real estate brokerage to hang your license
Finding a real estate brokerage to hang your license is the final step in becoming a licensed real estate agent in California. It is a requirement by law that all real estate agents work under the supervision of a broker. The broker provides the agent support, resources, and guidance, helping them build their business and succeed in the field.
A California real estate broker can work as they please, whether beneath another broker or independently. A real estate broker, known as a brokerage, is free to open their firm with a team of agents working for them.
There are several ways to find a brokerage to work with.
One method is to search online for brokerages in your area and read reviews or check ratings from previous clients. You can also network with other agents or attend real estate events and conferences to meet potential brokers in person.
Another approach is requesting recommendations from friends or family members who have recently bought or sold a property. You can also check with your local association of REALTORS® or the California DRE to find a list of licensed brokers.
Once you have identified potential brokerages, research each one thoroughly to determine which best aligns with their career goals and values. Some factors to consider may include the company’s reputation, training or support programs, commission structure, and culture.
It would be best if you interviewed with multiple brokerages to ensure they find the right fit. The interview process typically involves meeting with a managing broker or team leader, discussing career goals, and learning more about the company’s culture and values.
How long does it take to complete the real estate courses and get my license?
Completing the required real estate courses and obtaining a license in California can take several months. The California DRE requires aspiring agents to complete three courses: Real Estate Principles, Real Estate Practice, and one elective course. Each course consists of 45 hours of classroom instruction or online coursework.
The time it takes to complete the courses depends on the individual’s schedule, learning style, and the type of schooling they choose. For example, online courses offer more flexibility. They can be completed at the student’s own pace, while classroom courses have set schedules and may take several weeks to complete.
The minimum time to complete the courses is 54 days (18 days per course). Some students can complete the courses within this minimum time frame by studying 1-2 hours daily, while others may take longer. However, you can also take your time since online schools typically allow you 6-12 months to complete their courses.
After completing the required coursework, you must apply for your license and the exam. The application process takes about 3-4 weeks. After which, you can take the state exam to get your license.
The California Real Estate Salesperson Exam includes 150 multiple-choice questions. The exam covers property ownership, contracts, financing, and agency relationships. The time it takes to prepare for and pass the exam varies from person to person. Still, it typically takes several weeks of focused study.
Overall, it takes about four months to get a license, including the time it takes to complete the courses, apply for the state exam, and pass the exam. It’s also important to note that ongoing education is required to maintain a real estate license in California, so agents must commit to continuing education throughout their careers.
Is the California real estate exam difficult to pass?
The California real estate exam is known to be challenging, and many aspiring agents may need help to pass on the first attempt. The exam consists of 150 multiple-choice questions that cover various aspects of real estate, including property ownership, contracts, financing, and agency relationships. However, passing the exam is achievable with the proper preparation and mindset.
Enrolling in the right school or program is one of the most critical factors in passing the exam. The school should be DRE-approved and offer up-to-date study materials. Outdated or inaccurate materials can hinder an applicant’s chances of success.
Regular study is also crucial to success. Aspiring agents should create a set schedule to study and commit to it consistently. That helps them stay on track and retain information more effectively.
However, it’s essential not to over-study. Burnout can occur if you spend too much time studying without breaks. Regular breaks and proper rest are necessary to retain information and maintain focus.
Another crucial aspect of passing the exam is taking advantage of study resources. The best online California real estate licensing programs offer practice exams, study guides, and review sessions to help students prepare for the test. These resources can help you feel more confident and prepared on exam day. At License Solution, we even offer students a series of crash course videos that can be used in the days leading up to taking the state licensing exam.
Finally, having a positive mindset and confidently approaching the exam is essential. While the exam may be challenging, anyone can pass it with the proper preparation and attitude.
How long is the California real estate exam?
The California real estate exam is a comprehensive test comprising 150 multiple-choice questions. The California DRE administers the exam and is computer-based. Applicants have three hours to complete the exam and must score 70% or higher to pass.
The exam covers a wide range of topics related to real estate, including property ownership, financing, contracts, agency relationships, and real estate practice. The questions will thoroughly test an applicant’s knowledge of these areas and ability to apply it to real-world scenarios.
Applicants cannot bring notes, books, or electronic devices during the exam. Instead, they must rely solely on their knowledge and understanding of the material. However, they can use a basic calculator provided by the testing center.
The exam is graded immediately upon completion, and applicants are notified of their pass/fail status. Those who pass the exam must still complete additional requirements, such as a background check and submission of their real estate license application, before they can legally work as a real estate agent in California.
Becoming a real estate agent in California: Just how difficult is it?
Becoming a real estate agent in California may seem challenging and intimidating for some. Still, it is a manageable and achievable career goal.
As this article outlines, the five basic steps necessary to obtain a California real estate license may appear lengthy and rigorous, but they are simple enough. With dedication and hard work, you can quickly achieve your goal of becoming a licensed real estate agent in California.
Becoming a real estate agent in California provides the opportunity for flexible hours, the potential for a high income, and the satisfaction of helping others make their dreams come true.
At License Solution, our California-DRE-approved courses, supporting tools, and in-depth materials do more than help you pass the California real estate licensing exam; they get you started on a fulfilling and successful real estate career by helping you master the craft of selling real estate.
License Solution offers the fastest and most straightforward way to become a real estate agent in California.
Contact us today to start your journey.