Real estate agent is a popular career, especially in California. The state is home to nearly 40 million people, including thousands (if not millions) of potential home buyers looking to enter the property market for the first time or upgrade their current home.
While becoming a real estate agent in California may seem daunting, the process is rather straightforward. To obtain a license, you will need to complete pre-licensing classes, submit to a background check, and pass the relevant exams.
Here’s a more in depth look at the steps you will need to complete to get a real estate license in California.
Who can get a real estate license in California?
Any U.S. citizen who is 18 years or older can apply for a real estate agent in California. Conviction of a crime may result in a license application being denied.
Though you do not need to be a California resident to obtain a real estate license here, there are special requirements that out-of-state applicants must first meet.
Check the California Department of Real Estate (DRE) website for full details on the state’s licensing requirements.
5 Steps to obtain a California real estate license
There are five general steps that you will need to complete to receive a real estate license in California.
1. Complete the required education
There is 135 hours of approved pre-licensing education that must be completed to receive a real estate license in California. This includes coursework in Real Estate Principles, Real Estate Practice, and a third class of your choosing (from an approved list of classes).
These classes must be college-level courses and are offered by most community colleges and within the California State University system. There are also online options available, but you should check that they are DRE-approved before enrolling.
2. Apply for the license exam
After you’ve completed the required coursework, you can apply to take the licensing exam. To apply you will need to submit an application and pay a processing fee.
3. Pass the background check
If you are applying for the first time, you will also need to pass a background check. This process includes submitting your fingerprints to obtain reports from the Department of Justice and FBI.
4. Pass the final exam
Once your background check is processed and approved, you may sit the California salesperson licensing exam. The exam is 150 multiple choice questions, and you have a time limit of 3 hours and 15 minutes to complete the test. You must score 70% or higher to pass the exam.
5. Apply for your license
Most applicants will be sent a Salesperson License Application after passing the salesperson exam. You must complete and return this form along with the appropriate fee within one year of passing the examination.
Your fingerprint check and evidence that you have completed the required coursework must be on file before your real estate license will be issued.
Renewing your real estate license in California
Once you are granted a California real estate license, you will need to renew it periodically.
The first time you renew your real estate license, you must complete 45 hours of approved continuing education courses. This coursework includes instruction in ethics, fair housing, risk management, consumer protection, and other relevant topics.
For every renewal after this, you must complete 45 hours of DRE-approved continuing education. This includes one eight-hour survey of six mandatory subjects, plus consumer protection and customer service courses.
A detailed breakdown of course requirements for renewing your real estate license can be found on the DRE website.
Professional Liability for real estate agents
Another important consideration for real estate agents in California is getting Professional Liability insurance. While not required to become an agent, a Professional Liability policy can help shield you from certain types of liability and may be expected by your clients.
Professional Liability, otherwise known as E&O insurance, protects your business against claims of negligence, misrepresentation or mistake, as well as document or paperwork errors.
This type of policy can help real estate agents go about their business with more confidence and peace of mind. A Professional Liability policy covers the legal expenses associated with relevant claims, including settlements and judgements. Without a policy, you may be forced to pay these costs out-of-pocket, which could be devastating to your business and personal finances.
Professional Liability can help protect your small real estate business. Ultimately, your policy may be just as important and essential to your work as your real estate license.
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