How to get a real estate license
If you’re thinking about getting into the real estate game, there is one major step you have to take before you start selling: getting a real estate license. In order to start your real estate career, you must obtain a real estate license in your state.
Here are the nuts and bolts of what a real estate license is and how to obtain one.
What is a real estate license?
A real estate license allows you to legally sell, broker, or rent property in the state where you reside. After completing a certain number of pre-license course hours, passing an exam, and applying for your license, you will receive a license certificate which can be used to apply to brokerages.
4 Steps to getting a real estate license
1. Take a real estate license course
Depending on which state you live in, you’re required to have a certain number of hours toward a pre-licensing course. Sixty to ninety hours is generally the amount of time you can expect to spend on a course.
These requirements could vary if you have a real estate license from another state. Check to see if the state in which you currently reside has a reciprocity agreement with the state in which your license was issued. You may be able to get a new license with fewer course hours or even without having to take another licencing exam.
Lastly, make sure that you choose an accredited school and be ready to pay, on average, $325 for the course.
2. Take the real estate license exam
Visit your state’s real estate commission website for detailed information on exam schedules, scoring, and fees. Every exam, no matter where you reside, includes two sections that you must pass: one on national real estate principles, practices, and laws, and one on those that are specific to your state.
If you pass, you must file your exam scores along with an application and a fee. Once you obtain your license certificate in the mail, you are legally allowed to work as a real estate agent.
3. Apply to brokerages
With your real estate license in hand, you can now begin applying to brokerages. A brokerage is licensed by the state to legally oversee the transactions of their agents. In most states, newly licensed agents must work under a brokerage. Check requirements for your state to determine how long you’re required to work under a broker.
When working for a brokerage, you can expect to be paid a commission based off of the sale price of a property.
4. Renew based on state requirements
In order to renew your license, you must follow state-regulated requirements to keep it active. In New York, for example, agents who are seeking to renew their license must have completed 22.5 hours of continuing education courses, among other things, for the renewal to be approved.
Check out the National Association of Realtors® (NAR) website for specific information based on your state.
A note on agent versus Realtor®
Once you become a licensed real estate agent, you have the option of applying to become a Realtor®. Most people use these terms interchangeably, but there is actually a big difference. Realtors® are members of the NAR and adhere to a strict code of conduct.
Being able to call yourself a Realtor® adds an extra layer of credibility that can help you get more clients.
Real estate agent insurance
With your real estate career underway, don’t forget to make sure that your business is protected. Real estate insurance will protect you from a variety of unsavory situations. Here are four examples of why real estate agents get sued.
1. Buyer’s remorse
After closing a sale on a lakefront property, the new homeowner claims they were unaware that the property doesn’t include the lake frontage. The homeowner brings a claim against you, alleging they overpaid for the home as you misrepresented the true boundaries of the property. Even though this is a groundless claim and a symptom of buyer’s remorse, the buyer sues you and puts your business at risk.
A professional liability insurance policy protects agents in this type of situation.
2. Wrongful discrimination
Clients may claim that you did not show them certain homes because of their race, religion, or gender, even if you’ve done nothing of the sort. Whether true or not, these claims could result in lawsuits that put your business at risk and tarnish your reputation.
Claims of discrimination are a common risk that real estate agents face. Having the right professional liability coverage will protect you if a client makes a claim of wrongful discrimination against you.
3. Property damage
You are showing a client a home that contains a lot of expensive antiques. During the showing, you knock over an expensive vase which breaks. A general liability policy could cover the cost to replace the vase.
4. Bodily injury
A potential home buyer that you are meeting with trips and falls over a rug on your office floor and gets injured. Since the injuries were sustained in your office, you could be held liable for the costs of your client’s recovery. General liability insurance could protect you from someone else’s claims of bodily injury and associated medical costs.
Learn more about insurance to protect your real estate business.