The Top 5 Tips for Getting Your Real Estate License in California

It wasn’t too long ago that home prices in California were quickly falling and foreclosures were on the rise. However, the tech boom has once again positively affected several areas across the state and people are once again seeing real estate as a prime investment. Migrants from across the United States (and from other countries) are also pushing up the population of California further increasing demand on the real estate market. The fact that relatively little new home construction has been done in the past decade only has increased the booming real estate market in the state.

If you are looking for a quality profession in a continuously growing market that is currently extremely hot in several areas across the state, becoming a real estate salesperson might be the job for you. Below we offer five tips for how to get a real estate license in CA. We also offer a wealth of online resources to help you get started on the path to this exciting new career.

Tip #1: Know the General Requirements

The first step in learning how to get your real estate license in CA is learning the general requirements. According to the California Bureau of Real Estate, the general requirements for getting your California real estate salesperson license include the following:

  • You must be at least 18 years old to be issued a salesperson license.
  • You must be a California resident. Fortunately, there are a separate set of requirements for out of state applicants that we will explain below.
  • All applicants must show proof of having an honest and truthful character. This entails disclosing any criminal history or disciplinary action in your history. Failure to disclose certain aspects of your history can rely in the denial of your license. You can read full explanation of applicant eligibility information based on criminal history here.

Tip #2: Submit your Fingerprints and Background Check

In order to determine your truthful and honest character, first time applicants for a California Real Estate License are required to submit their fingerprints for a background check. A disclosure of a previous conviction or failure to disclose a conviction in your past will most likely result in a denial for a real estate license.

While not all arrests or criminal history will be cause to automatically deny you a real estate license, misdemeanors or felony crimes that are substantially related to the qualifications, functions and duties of a real estate licensee will most likely disqualify you. You can read a full list of what might denote a denial of license here.

Submitting your fingerprints must be done electronically through the Department of Justice Live Scan Program, specifically using the Live Scan Service Request (RE 237). You cannot receive your California real estate salesperson license until a report from the DOJ and the FBI is received showing that you do not have a criminal history. If you do have a criminal history, the information will be reviewed by the CA bureau of real estate.

To be fingerprinted, you will need to take the Live Scan Service Request (RE 237)  to a live scan service provider that you can search for here. A $49 dollar scanning and processing fee is charged.

Tip #3: Register and Complete 135 Hours of Required Real Estate Classes

Before you can apply for a CA real estate license, the state requires you to register and complete 135 hours of real estate classes. The 135 hours of California real estate courses are equivalent to three college-level courses. However, you don’t necessarily have to take CA real estate license courses at a college or university as there are also several California real estate license online courses.

The 135 hour curriculum requires you to take a course on real estate principles and another one on real estate practice. The third course can be chosen by the individual licensee (or alternatively by the curriculum offered by the online real estate school in California), from the following list:

  • Real Estate Appraisal
  • Property Management
  • Real Estate Finance
  • Real Estate Economics
  • Legal Aspects of Real Estate
  • Real Estate Office Administration
  • General Accounting
  • Business Law
  • Escrows
  • Mortgage Loan Brokering and Lending
  • Computer Applications in Real Estate
  • Common Interest Developments

California´s public university system makes it relatively easy for getting a real estate license in CA. Several career development and training programs are designed to follow the 135 hour curriculum set forth by the state of California bureau of real estate. Most community colleges across the state offer a real estate curriculum that allows you to complete the mandatory course requirements for obtaining a real estate broker or salesperson license.

Learn about Texas Real Estate Licensing here

You can find a complete list of community college real estate programs here and at the California Virtual Campus.

California´s universities, specifically the University of California and the California State University systems, also offer real estate courses as part of different degree programs. You can visit the University of California website or the California State University website.

If you don’t have the time to head to a local university or community college to enroll in real estate courses that can take several months to finish, there are also several best online real estate schools in California where you can take the required courses online. Courses (both in person and online) range in price between $199 and $699 for the 135 required hours of classroom coursework.

Tip #4: Prep for the Test First

Once you have taken the 135 hours of required courses (either in person or online and submitted your fingerprints, you can take the California real estate exam. The test consists of 150 multiple choice questions for the real estate salesperson license and you have 3 hours and 15 minutes to complete the test. The broker test has 200 multiple choice questions and you have 5 hours to complete. However, from July 2017 to March 2018, only around 44 percent of people who took the test passed. Since applying to take the real estate costs $60 for the salesperson exam and $95 for the broker exam, it might be worth your while to prep for the test first.

Prep courses for the real estate exam go beyond the required curriculum and are designed to specifically help examinees or licensees pass the exam on their first attempt. There are several prep courses available both online and in person.

When you are ready to take the test, you will have to travel to one of the larger metropolitan areas across the state. The real estate exam is generally administered in the following areas:

  • Fresno
  • San Diego
  • Los Angeles Vicinity
  • Oakland
  • Sacramento

Almost all of the exams are administered electronically today. You can search for how and where exams are scheduled at this CA department of real estate website.

Tip #5: Tips for Out of State Applicants

Even if you are not a current resident of California, it is entirely possible to obtain your CA real estate salesperson license. Each applicant must meet all of the requirements stipulated above. Unfortunately, the state of California does not have any agreements with other states to waive the above requirements.

If you have taken your real estate classes outside the state, you must show evidence for completion of the statutory courses in out-of-state schools. The state will accept coursework completed at institutions that are accredited by the Western Association of Schools and Colleges or a comparable regional

Furthermore, out-of-state residents must also file a Consent to Service of Process (RE 234)  with the California Department of Real Estate.

You can read a complete list of requirements for out-of-state residents wanting to obtain their CA real estate license here.


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