How to become a real estate agent in California

The position of a real estate agent in California is a true gold mine as salaries in this business niche in CA are overwhelming. It’s a real gateway for your prosperity and at once, you get significant relation networking, you operate in the niche of top-level people, and you sell the property of the highest class. California is a state of opportunity as even in 2005, it has the 7th highest economy rates around the world. Thus, a realtor license in California is a golden mine you can develop.

Yet, great opportunities follow great responsibilities. Thus, to enjoy your real estate agent’s career in CA, you have to work hard to suit this state’s highest requests. Saying shortly, you have to meet the highest requirements as a real estate salesperson because clients who sell and buy homes or offices in California are sophisticated and even a bit whimsy. However, you have to meet their needs and provide the highest skills and expertise levels to withstand the competition around the West Coast.

Keep calm and enjoy the Californian lifestyle. We are here to offer you a comprehensive yet simple guide in our blog which may help you to identify how to make true your real estate license in CA. We are going to explain the main steps and tips of how to become a real estate agent in California, which salary to expect from your new professional status, and which information is crucially important for salespersons who close deals engaged in property sales. Let’s start with all that now.

– Let’s prove our info about the brightest careers’ perspectives of being a real estate salesperson in California. Do you know that Californian realtors are among the top-paid professionals engaged in the home sale business around the US? This state possesses the #3 position in the rate of the highest real estate earnings. An average salesperson in CA makes $104,120 per year. Only New Mexico and Massachusetts offer higher salaries to their real estate agents.

What is the salary of real estate agents in California?

Here is a comprehensive table based on recent stats you can look at to understand that rates are different in various areas.

Area Home Pricing (average) Commission of an agent
Santa Barbara $1.62 million $48,664
San Francisco $1.27 million $38,224
Monterey $1.1 million $33,276
Orange County $1 million $30,173
San Diego $903,104 $27,093
Los Angeles $901,961 $27,059
Napa $879,374 $26,381

6 Steps to becoming a realtor in California

Before you start to earn top dollar as a real estate agent in California, let’s consider what path you have to follow. The entire process consists of 6 basic steps to take for a candidate for a real estate license.

  1. Consider the info about local requirements for a real estate agent to begin with.
  2. Choose a school for your real estate education and pass a coursework of 135 hours as a student.
  3. Apply to pass a state examination and pass the final exam with a passing rate of 70% or more.
  4. Contact a service provider to get a criminal history record and submit your fingerprints (in California, biometrics is a must-do for becoming a real estate agent).
  5. Find a potential sponsor among local independent brokers or brokerage companies engaged in the real estate business.
  6. Collect all documents and submit the license application.

If you do everything right, this means that you’ll be a lucky guy with a real estate license in one of the richest areas in the US.

Now let’s detail all the information about each step on the way how to obtain a real estate license in California we mentioned in a general list.

1. State of California real estate license requirements

The first question we’re going to enclose is which requirement list the California government offers to real estate license applicants. They are essential to consider in advance as if you don’t meet any of them, you’ll not be allowed to get a real estate license at all.

So, which requirements are the main ones on your way to your real estate career? Let’s name them.

  • You should be 18 years old or of an older age. You are considered to be too little to apply earlier.
  • Being a resident of California is a must for obtaining a local license. If you are not a CA resident, please apply for another type of license, an out-of-state license.
  • In addition, make sure that you haven’t had any crime convictions in the last seven years. DRE cannot fully provide denial for licensing you if your criminal history is not clear. Yet, if any of your convictions can impact your real estate career or is related to money laundering/fraud/scam/robbery or similar lawless actions, local licensees can ban you from getting a real estate agent’s status. Being truthful about it is essential.

So, the first step is quite understandable and meeting its requirements is not a difficult thing. Let’s move further.

2. Complete 135 hours of Pre-licensing course

In California, you also have to take your time to complete special pre-licensing courses and study additional disciplines you may need in your real estate career. Although you probably have already passed high school, college, specialty courses, or university education, your continuing education pre-license classes are a must.

Studying in an Accredited School
Order an approved course for pre-licence real estate training in your state.

Start Education Course

Fortunately, Californian real estate schools are diverse and offer various types of educational course processes to meet the needs of their students.

You can enroll for your courses online, in-person, or combined depending on your possibilities. Yet, you have to be sure that your real estate courses program includes the following parts:

  • 45 hours of state real estate principles material;
  • 45 hours of real estate practice;
  • 45 hours of advanced elective courses.

If these training requirements are fulfilled, you are eligible to apply for a real estate exam and pass it. As for the choice of a school, just keep in mind the following principles of selection:

Consider your budget as prices vary for your VE. The cheapest online courses start from $99 yet, you’ll have to make a great effort to gain success. An in-person course may cost several times more yet, it provides you with opportunities to contact a mentor and ask all the questions you might have.
Inspect the current license of a school. You cannot go further if you study in a real estate school which is not eligible to provide special education and you are not confident in its license status.
Decide on the education courses. We’ve mentioned these course types earlier and they include offline, video materials, and real-time videos as tutorials.
Check other students’ and subscribers’ reviews to select the most comfortable option.

3. Pass the California real estate salesperson final exam

Exams are indispensable parts of your real estate career. You will face them regularly when renewing your license, when you decide to continue your real estate career as a broker instead of staying a real estate agent, if you move to another state, etc. Yet, the first real estate exam you pass when you apply for a real estate license.

This exam is provided under the approval of DRE (Department of Real Estate). To get access to it and make the necessary date and time reserved for it, you have to submit the following documents:

  • Fill in the application form on the DRE website;
  • Pay your exam fee of $60;
  • Select the date and time for your exam after you register on the eLicensing web platform you can enter from your browser.

After DRE approves your exam application, you can select where to complete it. In California, testing services are located in the following locations:

  • Fresno;
  • La Palma;
  • Oakland;
  • Sacramento;
  • San Diego.

The exam is held in a computer-based unmute method. So, you won’t write anything.

How hard is the real estate exam in California?

We don’t want to scare you but the real estate exam in California is among the most difficult ones. In the last two years, no more than 50% of applicants successfully passed it. Yet, you can get some tips to make it easy for you. Just prepare thoroughly, add some prep materials like YouTube sources and books, and schedule your exam to complete only when you are ready for it.

How many questions are in the California permit test?

There are 150 questions to complete divided into several sections including:

  1. The practices of real estate and disclosures;
  2. Laws of agency and fiduciary duties;
  3. Property ownership;
  4. Property valuation and management;
  5. Contracts;
  6. Finance and marketing;
  7. Transfer of property.

What score do you need to pass the real estate exam?

The required score is at least 70% of the questions. This result allows making the application action to ensure the licensee you are ready for your job.

What happens if you fail the real estate exam in California?

Feel free to retake the exam within two years after the initial application then you’ll have to be restarting the whole process. You have a limitless number of retakes with only fees required to be paid again for each try. It’s better to take helpful supplemental disciplinary real estate programs or packages to learn and get prepared for retaking and guarantee that it’ll be completed successfully.

4. Submitting fingerprints and providing a criminal background check

The next step is fingerprint scanning and retrieving your criminal history. Authorities require you to identify your person and ensure your eligibility to be a real estate agent. The Department of Real Estate makes legal reputation and conviction checks a mandatory yet honest option under your personal consent. Just follow the system requirements to pass this step with no hassle.

5. Choose a sponsoring real estate broker

As like in many other communities around the US, you have to contact a real estate company which will be your sponsor. Besides guarantees that you’ll be hired as a real estate agent, sponsorship of brokerages offers you support, further education, and overall help of your brokers and partners when you are starting your way to a successful real estate career.

6. Complete your licensing application

The last step is to submit your real estate license application. You can do this online on the DRE website. Use its sitemap to select the proper application form or simply click here. Please, review your applications thoroughly so as not to miss anything important and avoid errors occurred. If you make an error or forget to attach your docs, you’ll have to redo the application.

How long should I wait for my real estate application approval

Typically, it doesn’t take much time. In any case, you can check your real estate license’s status on the website of DRE or you’ll be emailed on the day of approval if you indicated your email address so you’ll receive a confirmation letter.

How much does it cost to get a real estate license in California?

We are sure that you want to know how much will it cost you to obtain a real estate agent’s license in California. That’s reasonable because no one wants to get out of their budget and plan thoroughly their expenses even if these are investments in their new professional skills. We’ve collected the main payments for becoming a real estate agent and embodied them in our blog in a convenient table for your consideration.

Cost item Price range
Pre-licensing coursework $99,00-$400
California real estate exam fee $60
Criminal check+biometrics fingerprinting $49
Real estate license application fee $245
Total No less than $453-$515
– The price for getting a RE license in California depends in general on the choice of a school for getting real estate course hours. Besides, consider regular renewal payments knowing your license remains active.

California real estate license reciprocal states

Unfortunately, there are no reciprocal agreements with any other state in California. Usually, real estate agents from any state have to pass the whole licensing process to become licensed.

California Department of Real Estate (CDRE)

California Department of Real Estate is the major regulating office which provides licensing, renewals, and dispute regulations in the real estate business. It has been operating since 1917 and created a strong professional real estate community you’ll be included in.

To contact the department, you can use several methods like:

  • Visiting its offices in various parts of California;
  • Calling by phone the DRE’s Virtual Call Canter by the number +1-877-373-4542;
  • Getting the information you need on the  official website’s link  via any device as the navigation is easy.

Some excerpts to consider for future real estate salespersons in California

As you can see, California offers great opportunities to real estate agents and brokers. It’s a state with the highest rates so you can earn good money here as a real estate agent. Yet, you have to pass a rocky way to your dream. California real estate profession requires you to get courses of specialized education of 135 hours. Then you have to prove your clear background, pass quite a difficult exam, and find a reliable broker or brokerage agency to start your career. Yet, it is truly worth your efforts as you’ll become a part of a prosperous real estate community.

Now let’s get answers in details to the most frequently asked real estate questions a common person who wants to become a real estate agent in California may have.

Becoming a Californian real estate agent: FAQs

How much time does it take to become a real estate agent in California?

Often, the process takes a higher amount of weeks than a month or two, especially if you take the course once or twice a week. Yet, if you manage to schedule your licensing process setting properly, you can succeed in three or four months. Consider this time as the average timeline.

How do I choose a brokerage to work for?

When choosing where to find a broker to work with, you have to rely on a couple of features:

– Decide on the type of property you want to work with.

– Compare commissions and split conditions offered by various brokers as how much you are earning depend on them.

– Review other agents’ opinions on each agency or broker they connect with.

At last, send your applications to multiple brokers to get their approval and then choose from those who are interested in you and have approved your application. If the interest in an applicant is available, these are your potential best options to grow your real estate experience in a friendly environment and get a high income.

Which real estate school should I choose?

The choice depends on your lifestyle and budget. Please, compare a couple of schools in advance to apply for courses of the most convenient and affordable for you. You have the rights to select any licensed school.

Pre-Licensing Courses
About the author
Michael Baker is a journalist with over 5 years of experience in the real estate industry. His knowledge of licensing processes, procedures and requirements makes her an expert in the field.