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How to Become a Real Estate Agent in California

California real estate agents showing a house to clients after getting their license

You don’t have to have a college degree to get your real estate license in California. In fact, you can complete the licensing process within a few months. Keep reading as we walk you how to become a real estate agent in CA. You could be helping clients buy and sell property in Pasadena or San Francisco less than one year from today!

Prerequisites to get your real estate license in California:

  1. You must be at least 18 years old.
  2. You must have Social Security or individual taxpayer identification number (ITIN)
  3. You must pass a background check

Here’s the step-by-step process.

5 Steps To Get Your Real Estate License in California

You must complete coursework, pass a test and a background check, and fill out an application to become licensed as a California real estate agent. Don’t stress about the process – we are here to help!

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

It can take you between four to six months to become a real estate agent in California. This includes the time required to finish your California pre-licensing course, undergo the background check, take the licensing exam, and receive a license. However, this may vary from person to person.

Step 1: Enroll in a California real estate school

The California Department of Real Estate requires want-to-be agents to take 135 hours of coursework before sitting for the real estate licensing exam.

The real estate pre-licensing course covers serious topics like escrows, mortgage loan brokering and lending, and the legal aspects of real estate.

You need to understand these topics to pass the licensing exam – and to help your future clients as they buy and sell properties.

There are both online and in-person real estate schools in California. Most people take the courses online because it offers more flexibility than in-person classes and allows you to review material quickly as needed.

As you research online real estate schools in California, look at demos of the school’s materials to understand how the subject matter is presented. Read reviews of online schools and look for pre-licensing packages that offer test-prep materials.

Step 2: Pass the course final exam

When you have completed the 135-Hour California Pre-licensing Course, you must pass a course final exam that will help prepare you to pass the licensing exam.

Step 3: Complete the background check

If you didn’t pay your license application fee in step two, you must complete the California License Application Form and pay the $245 now. You’ll also need to visit a Live Scan fingerprint service provider for your background check, which costs an additional $49.

Then, you wait for the California Department of Real Estate to process your license application. Before you know it, you will be receiving your first commission check!

Step 4: Apply for your California real estate license

Once you have completed your coursework, begin the application process by visiting the California Department of Real Estate eLicensing System.

You’ll be asked for your address, Social Security number (or ITIN), and driver’s license number.

You will be asked to provide copies of official transcripts that show successful completion of your pre-licensing courses. You must also complete a Live Scan Service Request (RE 237) form for your background check.

There’s a $60 fee to submit your exam application. (Please note that some people pay $305 at this time, which covers the exam and license fee.)

After the application is processed, you’ll receive a notification of your exam’s date, time, and location. California real estate exam sites are in the following metropolitan areas: LaPalma, Fresno, Oakland, Sacramento, and San Diego.

Step 5: Pass the state license exam

Complete practice exams and review your course materials to study for the California real estate sales agent exam. Some real estate pre-licensing packages come with test-prep materials. 

Related: California real estate license exam prep

On your test day, arrive at your testing site 30 minutes before the exam starts with an acceptable form of ID.

Review the guidelines for taking the exam. (Cell phones, purses, and wallets aren’t allowed in the testing room!)

You’ll have three hours to take the multiple-choice exam, and you’ll immediately learn whether you passed.

Additional Steps

For New License Holders: Find a Sponsoring Broker

The State of California requires real estate salespeople to work under a broker. A broker is a real estate agent who has worked successfully in the industry and has passed the California broker’s license exam.

It’s worth noting that some jump into their real estate careers with both feet and begin working full-time, growing their client list. Others work part-time in real estate, so they have another source of income while learning the ropes.

What Should You Do After You Get Your California Real Estate License?

We’ve outlined the steps to become a real estate salesperson in California. We know it seems like a daunting process, but last year alone, almost 2,000 people in California earned their first real estate license. You can do it too!

Let’s circle back to the first thing you must do – enroll in a California real estate school.

Colibri Real Estate (formerly Real Estate Express) has helped hundreds of thousands of people earn their real estate licenses. Our courses are expertly designed to explain complicated material in an easy-to-learn format. We are experts in providing quality online real estate education.

We are so confident that we can help you earn your California real estate license that we offer a pass-or-don’t-pay guarantee with most of our pre-licensing packages.

When you buy your pre-licensing courses from Colibri Real Estate, you’ll receive helpful exam prep materials and support from state-approved instructors.

Once our students get their California real estate license, they return to us for:

Enroll in Colibri’s California pre-licensing courses today, and in just a few months, you’ll be showing houses in L.A. or estates in wine country.

Have a question?

Connect with an enrollment advisor today.

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