This post was last modified on December 12, 2023.

Are you interested in pursuing a career in real estate in California? If so, you’ll need to obtain a California real estate license. This license allows you to legally sell and broker real estate transactions in the state of California. Here are the quick steps:

  1. Meet the eligibility requirements
  2. Complete the required pre-licensing education
  3. Apply for and pass the California Salesperson examination
  4. Complete the California real estate license application

We’ll walk you through the detailed instructions to obtain a California real estate license, including what you need to do to complete each step, activities requiring a license, potential obstacles, and resources to help you along the way.

Step 1: Meet the Eligibility Requirements

Before you can apply for a California real estate license, you need to meet several eligibility requirements. These requirements include:

  • Be at least 18 years old
  • Be a resident of California or follow the Out-of-State application process.
  • Complete three college-level courses in real estate, consisting of:
    • Real Estate Principles
    • Real Estate Practice
    • One elective course

Alternatively, you may have a degree in real estate from an accredited institution. Members of the California State Bar are statutorily exempt from the pre-license requirement.

Step 2: Complete the Required Pre-Licensing Education

To qualify for the California real estate license exam, you must complete 135 hours of pre-licensing education. This education is divided into three courses: Real Estate Principles (45 hours), Real Estate Practice (45 hours), and one additional course from a list of approved courses (45 hours). You can complete these courses entirely online through an approved provider, like Chamberlin Real Estate School. The DRE website has a portal to verify approved educators

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Step 3: Pass the California Real Estate Exam

Once you have completed your pre-licensing education, you must pass the California Real Estate Salesperson Exam. The exam will test your real estate knowledge and will require some focused study time. Remembering vocabulary terms and understanding the different concepts will allow you to have a good chance of answering most of the questions correctly.  The examination covers general real estate principles and practices, with California-specific questions about state laws and regulations. You must pass the test with a score of at least 70%. Utilizing real estate exam prep quizzes and attending a real estate crash course will help your confidence before your test date.

Step 4: Apply for Your California Real Estate Salesperson License

After passing the exam, you can apply for your California Real Estate Salesperson License. You must submit an application to the California Department of Real Estate (DRE) and pay the application fee. The application requires you to provide information about your pre-license education, exam results, and criminal history. The easiest way is to apply online through the DRE eLicensing portal.

Step 5: Find a Brokerage to Work For

To legally practice real estate in California, you must work under a licensed real estate broker. You can work for a brokerage as an independent contractor or as an employee. It’s important to research different brokerages and find one that fits your career goals and values. Some brokerages will provide a lot of guidance, leads, and other help. They may take a higher percentage of any commissions compared to a brokerage which is more hands-off in their approach.

What Activities Require a Real Estate License in California?

A real estate license is required to perform various activities related to real estate transactions. Some of the activities that require a real estate license in California include:

  1. Selling or leasing real estate properties: Any individual who engages in the sale or lease of real estate properties in California must hold a valid real estate license.
  1. Listing properties for sale or lease: Listing a property for sale or lease on behalf of the owner or the owner’s agent requires a real estate license. This would be an example of an account manager at a property management company.
  1. Negotiating real estate transactions: Negotiating or offering to negotiate the purchase, sale, or lease of real estate properties requires a real estate license.
  1. Providing advice or opinions on real estate transactions: Providing advice, opinions, or recommendations on real estate transactions for compensation requires a real estate license.
  1. Property management services: Providing property management services, such as collecting rent, arranging for repairs and maintenance, and supervising tenants, requires a real estate license.

Potential Roadblocks to Getting Your License

While obtaining a real estate license in CA can be a straightforward process, several obstacles may arise. These include:

  • Failing the California Real Estate Salesperson Exam: The state exam can be hard, and if you don’t pass with a score of at least 70%, you’ll need to retake the exam.
  • Criminal History: If you have a criminal record, your license application may be denied. It’s essential to disclose any criminal history on your application and be honest about your past.
  • Lack of Pre-Licensing Education: If you haven’t completed the required pre-licensing education, you won’t be eligible to take the California Real Estate Salesperson Exam.
  • Finding a Brokerage: Not all brokerages are created equal, and finding one that fits your career goals and values may take time. The good news is they will all want to hire you since you have a license!

Resources to Help You Get & Keep Your License

You are not in this alone! Switching careers or taking classes on the side while working may seem like a lot. The key is to take your time and complete each step as it comes. There are several resources available to help you along the way which include:

  • California Department of Real Estate (DRE): The DRE is the regulatory agency that oversees the real estate industry in California. Their website provides information about the licensing process, educational requirements, and exam details.
  • Approved Education Providers, like Chamberlin Real Estate School: Our experienced instructors are available to answer any questions you may have about getting a license, and our online courses are designed to prepare you to take and pass the state exam on the first try. Once you’ve obtained your license, we also offer required real estate license continuing education to help you stay up-to-date with the latest industry trends and regulations.
  • Exam Prep Courses: Our 1-Day California Real Estate Exam Crash Course is designed to help you ace your state exam. Led by an expert licensed instructor, this webinar includes key terminology, exam-taking hints, memorization aids, and a hot questions handout to ensure you’re fully prepared for the big day.
  • Professional Associations: Joining a professional association, such as the California Association of Realtors or the National Association of Realtors, can provide you with valuable networking opportunities and resources.

Where To Find Out More About Real Estate Licenses

The California Department of Real Estate (DRE) is the state agency responsible for regulating and enforcing real estate laws and regulations in California. The DRE oversees the licensing of real estate professionals, including salespersons, brokers, and appraisers. They also investigate complaints and take disciplinary action against licensees who violate real estate laws or engage in unethical conduct. In addition to their regulatory role, the DRE provides consumer resources, such as a database of licensees, publications on buying and selling real estate, and information on filing a complaint. The DRE is committed to promoting a fair and competitive real estate market in California and protecting consumers from fraudulent and deceptive practices.

Now You Are Ready!

Obtaining a California real estate license requires meeting the requirements, completing your education, passing the exam, and submitting a real estate license application. While the process initially seems confusing, just know Chamberlin is always available by phone to talk through the steps and help with any questions. Take action, be persistent, and you can achieve your California real estate license and pursue a successful career in real estate!

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