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Real Estate Broker Licensing Articles
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If you have experience as a licensed real estate agent, you can take the next step to build a successful career by becoming a real estate broker.
The process towards getting your real estate broker license takes active work experience, additional classes and exams, which is entirely different from getting a real estate agent license. Each state has its own specific set of requirements, but understanding the steps on how to get a real estate broker license will help you move smoothly throughout the process.
In this guide, we outline the prerequisites and steps to ensure that you succeed in obtaining your real estate broker license.
Differences Between Real Estate Agent and Broker
People often confuse these two different types of real estate professionals: Sales Agent and Broker.
A real estate salesperson or agent is a licensed real estate professional who works for and on behalf of a licensed real estate broker. They have taken the initial licensing requirements for sales agents and obtained sponsorship from a broker.
A real estate broker is a licensed real estate professional who can work independently, manage a team of sales agents, or own a real estate office or brokerage firm. They have additional levels of learning and work experience in real estate.
If you’re aiming to become a sales agent in your state, check out our Real Estate Licensing guide. If you’re working towards becoming a broker, then read on to find out how to get your license in your state.
Real Estate Broker License Requirements
To qualify for a broker license, you must first hold a real estate sales agent license and be actively working with that license for a number of years.
To become a real estate broker, you must:
- Be 18 years old or above
- Be a citizen of the United States or a lawfully admitted alien
- Be a licensed real estate agent
- Have two to five years of active work experience as a sales agent
- Hold a certain number of real estate transactions
Keep in mind that the prerequisites for applying for a broker license are different for each state.
How to Get a Real Estate Broker License
Once you meet the requirements to become a real estate broker, you will need to complete specific steps to get your broker license.
Below are the five common steps to getting your real estate broker license in most states, though they may vary from state-to-state.
The five steps include:
- Complete a broker pre-licensing course
- Submit a license application
- Get a fingerprint-based background check
- Pass the real estate broker exam
- Wait for your application to be reviewed
Make sure that you follow your state’s requirements when applying for your broker license.
Step 1: Complete a Broker Pre-Licensing Course
The first step to becoming a real estate broker is to complete a pre-licensing education course that has been approved by your state.
Most of the states require completing a broker course or getting a degree that includes relevant subjects to pass the broker exam. Before taking a course, remember to check whether it’s officially approved by your state.
Most of the courses cover topics such as:
- Real estate brokerage
- Law of agency
- Law of contracts
- Real estate finance
- Real estate practice
- Real estate accounting
- Property management
You may be able to complete your required coursework on-site or online. Make sure courses are approved by your state’s real estate commission or other state authority.
Most states require that you pass a broker course exam, which is entirely different from the state-administered broker exam.
It’s recommended to take a broker prep course that contains updated information needed to pass the state broker’s exam, such as real estate market concepts, contracts, laws, and regulations. A prep course provides valuable study materials, such as flashcards, webinars, videos, and live lectures to help you prepare and pass the broker exam.
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Step 2: Submit a Broker License Application
After completing your pre-license education courses and passing the course exam, you can start applying for your license.
Most states have an online services portal with a secure login for applications or you can use the paper applications. You may also be required to provide copies of your pre-licensing education course completion certificates and work experience requirements along with your application.
Each state requires you to pay a licensing fee. Find out the licensing fees and requirements in your state below.
Find out the reciprocity and portability options available in your state and learn the requirements in the state where you want to get a license.
Step 3: Get a Fingerprint-Based Background Check
After submitting your license application, you may need to have a fingerprint-based background check with your state’s authorized fingerprint vendor.
Even if you already have your fingerprints on file due to getting your real estate agent’s license, you will need to get fingerprinted again for your real estate broker license.
Check with your state on where to initiate your fingerprint and background check. The fees for fingerprinting and a background check range from $35 to $100-plus.
Most states will also require you to submit a Fitness Determination or Review before applying for a license. This review can help you know if a criminal conviction will keep you from getting your license before you pay for and complete classes and exams.
If you think you have a criminal record, check out our Real Estate License Eligibility guide to help you determine if you are eligible to apply for a license.
Step 4: Pass the Real Estate Broker Exam
After meeting the above requirements, you can take your state’s real estate broker exam. Each state has a different exam vendor, such as Pearson VUE or PSI. The broker exam can be administered online or on-site. The exam fees typically range between $50 and $200 often paid by credit card or voucher.
Every state’s real estate broker exam is different. They are split into two separate sections: national-focused and state-specific. You need to pass both of the sections.
The exams usually consists of questions covering:
- 80 to 100 national-focused questions
- 40 to 80 state-specific questions
The exam covers key topics like real estate contracts, real estate brokerage, real estate practice, property ownership, codes of ethics, and more.
The minimum passing score on the real estate license exam is around 65-80%. If you fail the exam, you will need to retake that exam within a designated time.
Step 5: Application Review
Once you have completed your application and submitted the requirements, the state will review and issue your broker license.
Application processing times vary by state. Processing of applications can take longer to review during busier months, like December.
If your state uses an online application portal, you can track your application status using your login credentials that you created when you first signed up.
After Getting Your Real Estate Broker License
There are a few extra things you need to do to maintain your real estate broker license in the state you’re conducting business.
Maintaining Your Real Estate Broker License
To update and keep your license active, you must renew your license. The specific renewal requirements, due dates, and fees vary across states. The renewal fees usually range between $100 and $300.
As part of the renewal process, you must also take approved continuing education (CE) courses. Check with your state or CE course provider to see if they have a brokers-approved CE course list.
Your state real estate commission may also allow you to complete your CE in a given timeframe before your license expiration date. They will also send you a notification online (via your state’s online services portal or email) informing you to complete your CE requirements and file your renewal on time.
For more information on maintaining your real estate broker license, we recommend reading our state-specific How to Renew My Real Estate License article.
Real Estate Broker Licensing FAQ
How much does it cost to get a real estate broker license?
The total cost for getting a real estate broker license can amount to $300-$800. The cost includes the pre-license education fees, application fees, fingerprints and background check, and state broker exam fees.
How long does it take to become a real estate broker?
Depending on your state’s requirements, you must spend two to four years working as a real estate sales agent before you can apply for a license. It may take additional weeks or months to complete the required training course and pass the broker licensing exam.
What is the difference between a real estate agent, broker, and a Realtor?
A real estate agent is licensed as a real estate salesperson that works for a licensed real estate broker. A real estate broker is licensed to work independently, manage a team of real estate agents, or run their own brokerage company. A Realtor is a designation given to a real estate agent or broker who is a member of the National Association of Realtors (NAR). Check out our Real Estate Agent vs Broker vs Realtor to learn more about each of their roles and responsibilities.
How do real estate brokers make good money?
Brokers are paid on commission and their earnings depend on the number and types of transactions they are able to close for their clients. These earnings can vary from month to month and from year to year depending on the housing market and the broker’s success in attracting clients.
How can I become eligible to get a real estate broker license with a criminal history?
Even a felon can get a real estate license by providing additional documentation and undergoing an exhaustive review process before getting a license. Some states have a preliminary review process, Alabama’s Application for Determination of License Eligibility or Texas’ Fitness Determination Form.
Where can I get a job as a real estate broker?
Check out the available real estate broker jobs in your area using our StateRequirement Job Board.