How to Get a Real Estate License in Illinois

Written by: Kevelyn Rodriguez

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In order to kickstart your real estate career in Illinois,it’s essential to obtain an Illinois Real Estate License. However, despite the fact that the application process is mainly completed online nowadays, many applicants can still find it quite confusing and complicated.

For this reason, this How to Get a Real Estate License in Illinois article will break down the main steps involved in the licensing process, covering everything from educational requirements to exam preparation and having your fingerprints taken.

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Illinois Real Estate License

In order to get your Illinois real estate license and start working in the real estate industry, you’ll need to complete the following steps:

  1. Ensuring You Meet the Licensing Eligibility Requirements
  2. Completing the Mandatory Pre-Licensing Education
  3. Passing the Illinois Real Estate Exam
  4. Obtaining a Managing Broker Sponsorship
  5. Submitting a License Application

In the sections below, we’ve explored each of these steps in more detail.

Step 1: Meet the Illinois Real Estate License Requirements

Before continuing ahead with your application for an Illinois real estate license, you’ll first need to confirm that you’re actually eligible for it by ensuring you meet the following prerequisites:

  • You will need to be at least 18 years of age
  • You will need to possess a valid Social Security Number or Individual Taxpayer Identification Number
  • You will need to hold a high school diploma or a G.E.D. certificate

The Illinois Department of Financial & Professional Regulation’s Division of Real Estate does not offer “salesperson” or “sales agent” licenses; in iIllinois, these are known as real estate broker licenses.

Step 2: Complete the Mandatory Pre-Licensing Education

In addition to the general requirements outlined above, there are certain educational prerequisites you’ll be expected to meet in order to be able to apply for an Illinois real estate license.

In particular, you will need to complete two pre-licensing courses totaling 75 hours of study:

  • Broker Pre-License Topics Course: This 60-hour course delves into fundamental real estate concepts such as brokerage operations, the nature of real property, the intricacies of real estate contracts, and real estate math
  • Broker Pre-License Interactive Course: This 15-hour course is designed to apply theoretical real estate concepts to practical, real-world scenarios

You can complete these courses through various formats that cater to your schedule and learning preferences; options include traditional classroom settings, webinars, and accelerated online courses.

Important

Even though completing the courses is mandatory, it would be a mistake to think of this step as just “checking a box”. This is because your pre-licensing education is what will prepare you to both pass your exam and become a better real estate agent.

For this reason, we always encourage our readers to invest in high-quality and reliable courses, as their study materials (like real estate practice tests and flashcards) can be invaluable during the exam prep stage.

On top of this, some of the top courses also offer money-back guarantees in the event that you do not pass your exam on your first attempt after taking their course.

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Step 3: Pass the Illinois Real Estate Exam

The next step you’ll need to complete is to pass the Illinois real estate licensing exam, which is administered by PSI/AMP and consists of 140 multiple-choice questions (100 national questions and 40 state-specific questions).

It’s important to note that some terms used in the national questions, although different, have the same meanings as those used in Illinois. Examples of differing terms include:

  • “Managing broker” vs “sponsoring broker” vs “responsible broker”
  • “Broker escrow account” vs “fiduciary account” vs “trust account”
  • “Service contract” vs “listing contract”

In order to schedule your real estate exam, you’ll need to contact PSI/AMP at (913) 895-4600 or visit their website to make an online reservation. If this is your first time using the platform, you’ll be required to create an account, after which you’ll be shown step-by-step instructions on how to complete the reservation.

When you schedule your examination, you will be required to pay a fee of $55, which is payable by credit card, debit card, or money order.

Remember that you will need to sit for and pass both the state and the national portions of the licensing exam within two years of completing your pre-licensing education; if this is not done, you’ll need to repeat the entire process.

You will need to achieve at least 75% on both sections of the examination in order to pass. If you fail one portion, you will be able to retake that portion only, but you’ll still need to pay the full exam fee for each attempt.

Note: You will be allowed a maximum of four attempts in order to pass your real estate exam.

Step 4: Obtain a Managing Broker Sponsorship

In Illinois, new real estate brokers are required to secure a sponsorship from a managing broker before they can submit their license application.

Along with your exam results, you will receive an inactive license number, which your managing broker will need to add under their supervision in order to activate your license after it has been approved.

Once you have found a managing broker that you agree to partner with, they will need to complete the following steps in order to verify your sponsorship:

  1. Access the Portal: The managing broker will need to log into the Online Services Portal using their User ID and Password.
  2. Navigate the Portal: After logging in, they will have to select “Online Services,” and then choose “Licensure Options.”
  3. Manage Licensees: From the “Manage Licensees” drop-down menu, the broker will have to select “Add Licensee to Brokerage Firm.”
  4. License Lookup: Using the “Add” button, the managing broker will have to open a License Lookup window, enter the licensee’s number, and click “Search.”
  5. Confirm the Licensee: Upon locating the correct licensee, the managing broker will select and confirm the licensee’s details, then follow the on-screen instructions to finalize the sponsorship and complete the transaction.

Note: The system will only show licensees who are “Inoperative.” Active licensees with who have already obtained another sponsor will need to initiate a Transfer Request through their account instead.

Step 5: Submit a License Application

After passing the state real estate exam and satisfying all other licensing requirements, you’ll be ready to move onto submitting your license application.

To do this, you will need to visit the IDFPR Online Services Portal, initiate a new license application, and upload all necessary documentation along with a $150 application fee.

This must be completed within one year of passing your licensing exams, as mandated by the Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation (IDFPR).

Once the IDFPR has verified your information and processed your application, your license will be issued. For any questions relating to the application process, you can reach out to the IDFPR directly via phone or email.

Step 6: Application Review

If you’ve managed to get this far, congratulations! With your application submitted and all the other licensing requirements satisfied, in most cases you should receive a letter from the Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation containing a license document within 15 business days, although this timeframe can vary.

Be sure to take some time to celebrate your accomplishment. You’ve put in a lot of work and effort and deserve a celebration!

Note: Practicing real estate without an approved license can lead to significant legal consequences. Remember that even if your license is being processed, you will be barred from conducting any real estate transactions until the licensing process is holistically complete.

Illinois Real Estate License Renewal

In order to keep your license valid and continue working as a real estate sales agent, you’ll need to renew your license every two years.

For your initial renewal, you will be required to complete 45 hours of post-licensing education; this covers a comprehensive range of topics that are designed to enhance your real estate knowledge and skills.

For all subsequent renewals, you will need to complete 12 hours of continuing education, including a four hour Core course and 8 hours of Elective courses, with at least one hour covering Sexual Harassment Prevention Training.

To actually renew your license, you will need to fill out the Real Estate Broker Renewal Application form provided by the Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation (IDFPR) and mail it along with the renewal fee to the following address:

Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation 
Division of Real Estate
PO Box 7570 Springfield
IL 62791-7570

The fees are structured as follows: $200 if submitted by April 30th, and $275 if submitted after April 30th.

It is important to note that while the renewal application form cannot be submitted electronically, the fee can be paid online as well as via a check.

Note: If you are changing sponsors or there is an issue with your sponsor information, you will need to include a Real Estate Sponsor Card and an additional $35 fee with your renewal.

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Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation

Mailing Address: 

Division of Real Estate
320 West Washington Street, 3rd Floor
Springfield, IL 62786

Phone: (800) 560-6420

Email: FPR.RealEstate@illinois.gov

Website: https://idfpr.illinois.gov/dre

Illinois Real Estate License FAQ

How long does it take to become a real estate agent in Illinois?

How long it takes to become a real estate agent in Illinois will depend on the pace at which you complete all of the required steps.

Having said that — generally speaking — most candidates will need between three and four months to finish the required pre-licensing education, pass the state exam, and secure a managing broker sponsorship.

How much does it cost to get a real estate license in Illinois?

To become a real estate agent in Illinois, you will need to pay between $200 and $600 for the mandatory pre-licensing education, $55 for the state licensing examination, and $150 for the license application fee (paid to the Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation).

For more information on this topic, you can have a look at our How to Get a Real Estate License in Illinois guide.

How hard is the real estate exam in Illinois?

The Illinois real estate exam, which consists of 140 multiple-choice questions, is considered quite challenging even after candidates have completed a thorough pre-licensing education course.

All in all, we recommend utilizing quality study materials and taking advantage of practice tests in order to enhance your chances of passing on your first attempt.

What do you need to get your real estate license in Illinois?

To get your real estate broker license in Illinois, you will need to complete 75 hours of pre-licensing education, pass the state exam, find a sponsoring broker, and submit your license application to the Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation.

Interested in finding out more? You can have a look at our state specific How to Get a Real Estate License guide.

What CE do real estate agents need to complete in Illinois?

After passing your final exam and obtaining your Illinois real estate license, you will be required to complete a 45-hour post-licensing course, which is specifically designed for new real estate agents.

Beyond this initial requirement, you will need to complete 12 hours of continuing education every two years — focusing on topics such as commercial real estate — in order to ensure compliance with industry standards.

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