Breaking down the real estate renewal process.
Regardless of whether you are a real estate agent or broker, you are legally required to renew your license in order to continue operating legitimately in your state.
The frequency of your real estate license renewal — as well as its cost — will depend on several factors, including the type of real estate license that you hold and the state where you operate.
This How to Renew My Real Estate License article breaks down everything you need to know about renewing your real estate license, including how much it will cost and how often you will need to do it.
Your state can significantly affect your real estate license renewal. This includes:
While the greatest determinant of the cost of renewing your license is your state, there are a number of additional factors that can affect your total real estate license renewal fee, including the:
Your real estate license must be renewed periodically in order to remain active and enable you to continue practicing. The length of the renewal cycle in your state is what dictates how often you need to renew your real estate license.
Cycle length varies widely depending on your state, with some states requiring license renewals as frequently as once a year, and others only requiring it once every five years. Despite the large disparity that exists, it is standard among the majority of states to renew biennially.
Once you have submitted your application, it must be processed by your state in order to be verified.
You can expect this period to take anywhere upwards of several weeks. For instance, in New York, the Department of State can complete this verification and deliver your renewed license in two to four weeks, whereas in California, the Department of Real Estate (DRE) takes at least six weeks to complete this process.
It is important to remember that in the majority of states, an application is not considered late if this verification extends past the deadline as long as your renewal was submitted before your license expiration date.
With the exception of a few states, many will permit you to renew your license even if it has expired.
The exact duration of time after expiration a license can be renewed varies on a state-by-state basis, though it is common for licensees to be able to renew up to a year after expiry.
Naturally, there are often late/reinstatement fees that accompany the renewal of an expired license, in some states these fees accrue on a monthly basis.
Note: In some states, it is not possible to renew expired licenses and you will have to commence a new application in order to get a real estate license.
How you go about renewing your real estate license will depend on several factors, including your state and whether this is your first time renewing.
If you have just received your initial license, many states require you to complete a set number of hours of “post-license education” between getting your license and having to renew it for the first time. The purpose of this is to reinforce the foundational knowledge you need in order to work on a day-to-day basis.
Naturally, this changes the total education that you must complete in order to renew for the first time. Please note that each state handles post-license education differently; in some you must complete it instead of CE, whereas in others it must be completed in addition to CE.
After you complete your first-time renewal CE requirements — if applicable — you will be required to periodically complete a certain amount of CE per renewal cycle.
The exact number of CE hours that you will have to complete can depend on your state and license type (e.g., salesperson, broker, etc.).
After you complete your state’s real estate continuing education requirements, you will need to complete and file your state’s renewal form. Failure to submit this renewal form before the deadline set by your state will cause your license to expire.
In some states you will be able to renew this expired license by paying a late fee and satisfying any supplementary requirements, though this is not always a possibility. In this case, you will have to start a fresh application for a new real estate license.
Some states allow candidates to submit a renewal form both online and via mail, whereas some (e.g., New York, Illinois, Iowa, etc.) only do this online. It is recommended in almost all cases to renew online, as the process is simpler and quicker.
If you fail to submit your renewal form alongside evidence of CE completion by your state’s deadline, your license will be regarded (in most cases) as inactive. While your license is inactive, you will not be able to legally perform the duties of a real estate agent (whether you are an agent or broker).
If you wish to reactivate your license again, you must satisfy your state’s specific requirements and pay any late fees. However, this is not always an option; in some states you cannot reactivate your license after it expires and will instead have to reapply for a new license.
The answer to this question depends on the length of your state’s specific renewal cycle and how far through this period you are currently. A large number of states require real estate agents to renew their license once every two years, though in some it is as frequent as every year and in others as infrequent as once every five years.
You must check how often you are required to renew your license in your specific state, as well as its deadline for real estate license renewal.
In most states, real estate agents have two options for the renewal of an inactive license. You can decide to either renew your license as inactive for the next renewal period, or reactivate it. Each option has different renewal requirements.
If you wish to renew a license as inactive, you are exempt from the requirement to complete CE in most states, though if you wish to reactivate your inactive license, you will most likely have to pay a penalty fee and satisfy some additional requirements (depending on how long your license has been inactive).
While the greatest factor dictating how much it will cost to renew your license is the state in which you are renewing, there are a number of other factors that play an important role on this figure as well.
Factors such as whether you are submitting your renewal application late, the administrative fees that you may be required to pay, and whether you are submitting online or by mail can all impact the cost of renewal.
That being said, there is no universal cost for renewing a real estate license, and thus you must check the cost in your specific state.
In some states, newly-licensed real estate agents are required to complete a stipulated amount of learning called “post-licensing education” over a period set by the state. Some of these states may waive the requirement to complete CE in the same renewal cycle as post-licensing education, though this is not always the case.
Be prepared to have to complete both post-licensing education and CE in your first renewal cycle if it is required in your particular state.
Information on this page has been gathered by a multitude of sources and was most recently updated on December 2022.
Any Information on this site is not guaranteed or warranted to be correct, accurate, or up to date. StateRequirement and its members and affiliates are not responsible for any losses, monetary or otherwise. StateRequirement is not affiliated with any state, government, or licensing body. For more information, please contact your state’s authority on insurance.
When readers purchase services discussed on our site, we often earn affiliate commissions that support our work. Learn More