How to Get Your Iowa Real Estate License

Written by: Kevelyn Rodriguez

Last updated:

Getting your Iowa Real Estate License is the first step to becoming a real estate agent in Iowa. Nowadays, this process can be done almost entirely online. You will still need to take your Iowa real estate license exam in person, but the rest of the process can be completed entirely online!

This article outlines how to become a real estate agent in Iowa in an easy to understand, step-by-step manner. You’ll learn how much it will cost, how long it will take, what is on the exam, and much more.

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How to Become a Real Estate Agent in Iowa

Becoming a real estate agent in Iowa is as simple as getting your license, finding a broker sponsor, and getting to work selling real estate! As long as you fulfill the below requirements, you are already on your way to your goal.

Iowa Real Estate License Requirements

The requirements to become a real estate affiliate in Iowa are:

  • Be a citizen of the United States or a lawfully admitted alien
  • Be 18 years of age or older
  • Be a person whose application has not been rejected for licensure in this or any other state within twelve months prior to the date of application
  • Be a person whose real estate license has not been revoked in this or any other state within two years before the date of application

How to Get Your Real Estate License in Iowa

Step 1. Real Estate Pre-Licensing Course

Iowa requires that real estate sales agents complete 60 hours of pre-license coursework before sitting for their exam. This coursework will consist of three classes.

These three required classes are:

  • Buying Practices
  • Listing Practices
  • Developing Professionalism and Ethical Practices

In addition to the required pre-licensing course, you must also complete the following three courses. All courses must be completed less than 12 months before the Iowa Real Estate Commission receives your completed application. You may take the courses in any order.

  • 12 hours of a Buying Practices course
  • 12 hours of a Listing Practices course
  • 12 hours of a Developing Professionalism and Ethical Practices course

Most people choose to take their pre-license education course online. The majority of online courses are self-paced and include study materials like real estate practice exams and flashcards. Some also come with a “guarantee” that you will pass the exam on your first attempt if you complete their course. These benefits are all dependent on the education provider and package you choose, so be sure to get the course that best suits your needs.

Remember that the point of these courses isn’t just to check a box and complete a requirement, but rather to prepare you to pass your exam and become a better agent.

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Iowa does not require the final pre-license exam to be supervised by a proctor. This is not the same as the state exam. This test is provided by your pre-license education company and is an indication that you have completed and retained the information from your pre-license education course.

Similar to the state exam, this test is closed-book and closed-note. You are allowed a basic-function calculator and scratch paper, but no cell phones or outside internet access.

Step 2. Iowa Real Estate License Exam

After you’ve completed your pre-license education, it’s now time to take the Iowa Real Estate Exam.

The fee to take the exam is $95 per attempt.

The Iowa Real Estate Exam consists of 120 questions. This includes 80 for the National section and 40 for the State section. 

You will have 180 minutes (3 hours) to complete the entire exam. The National section time is 120 minutes (2 hours), and the State section time is 60 minutes (1 hour).

A passing score for the Iowa Real Estate Salesperson Exam is 56/80 on the National section and 28/40 on the State section.

After completing your exam, you will receive a scoring document that states whether you passed or failed. If it is marked “Fail,” then you will see a breakdown of your score in the different areas of the exam. If you decide to retake the exam, use this as a guide for your studies.

How Hard is the Iowa Real Estate Exam

The passing rate for the Iowa Real Estate Salesperson Exam is 70%. This test is purposefully difficult, but not impossible. Be sure to pay attention during your pre-license course and take studying seriously. If you put the proper effort forth, we know that you can pass on your first attempt!

You can register to take your exam on the PSI Iowa Real Estate page. On this page, you will find some other helpful resources as well, including the Candidate Handbook and Content Outline.

Before taking the exam, check out StateRequirement’s guide on How to Pass the Real Estate Exam. This in-depth guide works as a great partner to your pre-license course to prepare you to pass on your first attempt!

Step 3. Fingerprinting and Background Check

After submitting your application, the next step is to complete your fingerprinting and background check. The Iowa Real Estate Commission requires that all applicants have a background check performed before becoming a licensed real estate agent in Iowa.

To begin this process, licensees will need to go to Iowa Professional Licensing Bureau and create a login for DataPro (aka “My Iowa PLB”) and then submit their request for a fingerprint packet electronically through the application named “General – Background Packet Request.”  There is no fee for the packet.  However, the fee to be submitted to the Iowa Real Estate Commission with the completed fingerprint card and waiver form is $51.

You should then mail it to the address below:

Iowa Real Estate Commission
200 E. Grand, Ste. 350
Des Moines, IA 50309

If you do not want to pay by check or money order, you can pay online through your “My Iowa PLB” account after the completed waiver and fingerprint card are received by the Iowa Real Estate Commission. At that time, you will receive an e-mail notification or see an application status of “Ready For Payment” on My Iowa PLB – Home, asking that you submit the required $51 fee. Once payment is received, a receipt will be generated, and that is an indicator that the fingerprint card will be submitted to the Iowa Department of Public Safety.

Completing and turning in your fingerprints will begin the background check process. The Iowa Real Estate Commission will review any findings in your background report to ensure your eligibility. During this process, they may reach out to you to provide additional information or documentation to clear up any findings.

For those who have criminal offenses or judgments against them, there’s a possibility that you may not be eligible for a real estate license in Iowa. If this is the case, make sure to attach documents to questions you answer yes to.


If you aren’t sure whether you are eligible for a real estate license based on your history, check out our article on Real Estate License Eligibility.

Step 4. Obtain Errors and Omissions Insurance

All active licensees must carry uninterrupted E&O insurance coverage in Iowa.

The Iowa Real Estate Commission selected RISC to continue to provide the state group E&O insurance policy. The program is designed specifically for Iowa licensees and exceeds state minimum requirements.

Proof of coverage must be provided with all new applications. An Enrollment form to obtain Errors and Omissions Insurance is also available.

Step 5. Real Estate License Application

The last step to getting your real estate license in Iowa is to complete your license application.

You can fill out your application online using Iowa’s Professional Licensing system.

You will need to attach to your license application the following items: 

  • A license fee of $125 
  • A passing notice from the examination service 
  • Proof of completion of the 60-hour pre-license course prior to taking the exam and obtaining a license. This must be in the form of a completion certificate(s)
  • Proof of E&O Insurance
  • Proof of the successful completion of the following courses: 12 hours of Developing Professionalism and Ethical Practices, 12 hours of Buying Practices, and 12 hours of Listing Practices

You must apply for your real estate salesperson’s license no later than six months after the qualifying examination test date.

Step 6. Application Review

Once you’ve passed your exam, you will only need to wait for your background report to come back as a pass. Once you have applied for a review, the status of your application will be “Pending Internal Review.”  At a minimum, please allow 3-5 business days for staff to complete their review of your application. If you have any questions at this point, you should contact IREC at (515) 281-7393 or


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

Step 7. Real Estate License Sponsorship

You may not file an original application as “inactive.” You will need a sponsoring broker to sign the Broker Certification section of your application for the license, verifying that you are associated with, or engaged by, that broker. You must have a broker sign to get your original license.

If you don’t yet have a broker to work with check out StateRequirement Jobs for a real estate salesperson opening in your area.

IREC – Iowa Real Estate Commission

Mailing Address: 

Iowa Real Estate Commission
200 E. Grand, Ste. 350
Des Moines, IA 50309

Phone: (515) 725-9022



Iowa Real Estate License FAQ

How Much Does it Cost to Get a Real Estate License in Iowa?

In Iowa, the total estimated cost to obtain a real estate license ranges from $775 to $990. This includes all Iowa fees amounting to $415, and the cost for real estate pre-licensing courses, which is estimated between $359 and $574. These expenses cover the real estate licensing exam and exam prep materials.

How Long Does it Take to Get an Iowa Real Estate License?

Obtaining an Iowa real estate license may take three to six months, considering the time needed for pre-license education and test preparation under Iowa law. It’s possible to complete the process in about two months with consistent study. However, it’s advisable not to rush and take ample time to prepare for the exam.

How to Get an Iowa Commercial Real Estate License?

To sell commercial real estate in Iowa, you only need a Salesperson or Broker license, as there is no specific “commercial real estate license.” For a career focused on commercial real estate, select a broker specializing in commercial deals. This approach allows you to engage in commercial transactions with a standard salesperson license.

Are There any Real Estate Jobs Open Around Me?

To discover real estate job openings near you, visit StateRequirement Jobs, a valuable resource for your real estate career search. We can help you find opportunities that align with your license history and qualifications, including those under real estate license reciprocity agreements. It’s an excellent starting point for anyone looking to work or advance in the real estate industry.

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