If you’re interested in the real estate market and believe that you have the talents and characteristics necessary to sell homes or assist buyers in finding the ideal properties, becoming a realtor may be the right career path for you. Obtaining a real estate license can be done in just five simple steps, after which you’ll be able to complete all types of real estate transactions in California. Earning a real estate license usually takes around four months and can cost upwards of $1,300.
Before you decide to seek a real estate license, there are a few requirements that every applicant must meet. First, you need to be at least 18 years old to qualify for this license type. Even though you don’t need to live in California to obtain a California real estate license, you must still provide evidence alongside the application that you completed the necessary coursework at an out-of-state college or university.
Keep in mind that being convicted of any crime may result in the application being denied. If you don’t disclose a previous criminal violation, it’s very likely that your application will be denied. Becoming a realtor is relatively simple and straightforward. This article takes a closer look at the five steps that you must follow if you want to become a California realtor.
Step 1: Decide Whether This Career is Right For You
The first thing you should focus on is deciding whether this career is right for you. This career path is substantially different from most others, which you should be prepared for. Your work as a real estate agent won’t come with a standard monthly paycheck at a base annual salary. Instead, you’ll need to sell homes and connect buyers to properties if you want to obtain commissions. Some of the questions that you should ask yourself to better determine if this career path is right for you to include:
- Do I enjoy being a salesperson?
- Do I have the drive needed to finalize real estate transactions?
- Can I afford the initial expenses?
- Do I have the time to get licensed?
- Am I goal-oriented?
- Do I enjoy leading a fast-paced life?
- Can I work irregular hours?
If you find yourself being unable to answer many of these questions, it’s possible that becoming a realtor isn’t the right career path for you. If you can answer yes to these questions, becoming a real estate agent may be the perfect move for your career. To be a successful real estate agent, it’s important that you try to maintain a positive attitude. When you first get started, selling homes and helping buyers find the right properties can be difficult and time-consuming.
Success for a real estate agent is typically a long-term process, which is why it’s important that you don’t become too frustrated if you don’t find immediate success. If you let doubt in, it can be difficult to overcome that doubt and believe that you have the expertise necessary to be a successful real estate agent. There will invariably be slow months and poor market conditions that you’ll need to contend with as a professional real estate agent.
In these situations, remember that market conditions invariably fluctuate. Even though you may not be getting much business during the cold winter months, the real estate market should pick up once spring rolls around. Understanding real estate market trends for the area you operate out of can be very helpful when you’re trying to have the right mindset during a slow period.
Step 2: Take the Pre-Licensing Courses
Before you apply for a real estate license in California, you’ll need to take pre-licensing courses to make sure that you understand every task a realtor must perform once they start assisting buyers and sellers. If you have any kind of sales experience, you may have some understanding of the type of coursework you’ll need to learn when preparing to become a realtor. However, being a successful real estate agent is more difficult than it might seem at first glance.
California education requirements for earning a real estate license are more stringent than many other states. You’ll need to obtain around 135 hours of education pertaining to real estate. These hours are separated into three courses, which include real estate principles for 45 hours and real estate practice for 45 hours. The remaining 45 hours of coursework can occur in one of the following courses:
- Property management
- Real estate appraisal
- Real estate economics
- Real estate finance
- Business law
- General accounting
- Real estate office administration
You can take this coursework at an accredited college or university. During your coursework, you’ll be tasked with learning many of the topics mentioned above. Subjects like escrow, appraisal, and loan brokering will be key topics throughout your studies. You’ll also need to develop a comprehensive understanding of legal, technical, and financial concepts if you want to be a successful real estate agent.
Step 3: Complete the Salesperson Exam in CA
The most crucial step towards becoming a realtor involves passing the salesperson exam, which can be done after you’ve completed all of the requisite coursework. The only way to gain a California real estate license is by passing the salesperson exam. If you want to study for this exam, you have several options at your disposal. Prep materials are available for purchase at online real estate schools. You could also choose to attend in-person classes for the exam, which can cost upwards of $150-$200.
In order to sit for the salesperson exam, you’ll need to pay $60. The exam consists of 150 questions that are displayed in a multi-choice format. It’s important that you answer at least 105 questions correctly if you want to pass, which amounts to a score of 70 percent or higher. You’ll have three hours to complete the exam. Testing locations mainly include Oakland, San Diego, Los Angeles, Fresno, and Sacramento. If the test is taken on a computer, results should be provided immediately. On the other hand, tests that are taken with a pen and paper can take one week to grade. In the event that you don’t pass the test on your first attempt, you can retake it numerous times within a two-year period.
Step 4: Find a CA Real Estate Brokerage to Join
Now that you’ve taken the appropriate exam, it’s time to find a California real estate brokerage that you can join. Even after you have earned a license to practice as a real estate agent, California requires licensed agents to work under a professional broker. These individuals have obtained extra training and have worked in the industry for many years. The license that brokers earn allows them to manage other real estate agents.
Finding a broker to work under is similar to applying for a job. The difficulty in finding a brokerage to join depends on the specific brokerage you apply to. While some brokerages want many agents to work for them, other brokerages are highly selective. There are dozens of reputable brokerages you can join in California.
When you have obtained an interview with a potential brokerage, it’s important that you ask some questions before agreeing to work there. For instance, make sure that you inquire about how commissions are split. If a brokerage offers a 50/50 commission split, you likely won’t be expected to pay desk fees. If the split is more favorable for you, the monthly desk fees you pay will invariably be higher. Keep in mind that some brokerages place a cap on the total amount of commissions they will accept during a given year.
Step 5: Complete the Licensure Process
The fifth and final step of becoming a realtor involves completing the licensure process. Once you’ve passed the salesperson exam and have found a brokerage to work for, you can apply for a license, which costs $245. If you want your application to be approved, fingerprinting must also be done, which will cost $49. After you have submitted your application, it should be approved or denied within 2-3 weeks.
In order to receive your license when you first apply for it, it’s important that you fill out and submit an application within one year after passing the exam. Along with being fingerprinted, you’ll need to provide your individual taxpayer ID number or social security number. Documentation that proves you have taken the necessary courses must also be submitted.
Even though license approval should occur within 2-3 weeks after the application has been submitted, it’s possible for the approval process to take longer if applications are backed up. In the meantime, you can spend time learning about marketing tools and real estate software that will assist you as a real estate agent. Consider using a customer relationship management platform to maintain all of your contacts. When your license has finally been approved, you can start taking on clients and completing transactions.