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How to Become A California Real Estate Agent

By Tabitha Naylor

There are two types of real estate licenses in California. You can be licensed as a California real estate salesperson or as a California broker. A broker must supervise a licensed salesperson. A salesperson cannot represent himself or herself in a real estate transaction. A licensed broker can work alone, represent himself or herself in all real estate transactions, own their own real estate office, hire and supervise licensed real estate salespeople.

Requirements to Become A Licensed Real Estate Salesperson (Agent)

Requirements to be either a licensed salesperson or broker are simple:
  • You must be at least 18 years of age
  • Provide proof you have legal residency in the US
  • Be honest and truthful
    You need to disclose any disciplinary actions or criminal history. Conviction of a crime does not automatically result in a denial but not disclosing criminal activity is grounds for denial.
  • Be fingerprinted ($56.00 fee. It is done as part of the real estate exam application process)

Educational Requirements

All applicants are required to complete three college level courses. Two are mandated and one can be chosen from a number of different real estate topics including real estate law, escrow, real estate appraisals, finance and others. The mandated courses are:
  • Real Estate Principles
  • Real Estate Practice

The courses are 45 hours each and you need 135 hours of coursework to qualify for licensing. Continuing education courses do not satisfy the college level course requirements for this exam. Courses must be three semester-units or four quarter-units at the college level. Courses must be taken and completed at an institution of higher learning that is accredited by the Western Association of Schools and Colleges, or by a comparable regional accrediting agency that is recognized by the United States Department of Education, or by a private real estate school whose courses have been approved by the California Real Estate Commissioner.

Once courses are completed and passed you can apply for your salesperson exam and license. There are exam and license fees you must pay when you apply to take the exam and receive your license. You must answer 70% of the questions correctly to pass the salesperson exam. If you fail the exam you can apply to retake it. There is no restriction on the number of times you can retake the exam for a period of two years following the filing date of your original application.

Once you pass the exam you must complete the salesperson license application with the appropriate fee within a year of passing the exam.

After you receive your license you need to find a broker to supervise you in your work. Your license will remain inactive until it is posted in the broker's office. Before you sign with a broker make sure you have a clear agreement regarding commission splits, lead generation, and office expenses. As a sales agent you cannot receive any payments from anyone other than your broker. You want to make sure you have an excellent working relationship with the broker you choose.

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