Your Expert Guide on How To Become A Real Estate Agent in California

Looking to become a real estate agent in California, and don’t know where to start? Between all the education and applications required to become a real estate agent, the process can seem overwhelming. Don’t worry, we have got you covered.

In this article, we are guiding you through the process of becoming a California real estate agent. Whether you have a basic understanding of the application journey or are a complete beginner, we plan to prepare you in the best way possible.

There are many steps involved in becoming a real estate agent in California, so follow along to find out what steps to take and what to expect from each one.

How to become a real estate agent in California checklist infographic

The Real Estate Market in California

The California housing market is very competitive as homes sell quickly with minimal price reduction. In fact, the California real estate market recently showed the highest level of home sales it’s had in nearly 15 years, according to the California Association of Realtors. The statewide sales-price-to-list-price ratio continues to become more impressive with each year that passes.

To be truly successful in the competitive California real estate market, you have got to be hard-working, self-motivated, honest, and enjoy helping people. If you check all of those boxes, then it may be time to follow the steps below and start your California real estate journey.

Benefits of getting into California Real Estate

The first benefit is a quite obvious one — the income. According to salary.com, a real estate sales agent in California averages $47,000 to $61,000 per year. These numbers will fluctuate based on commission percentage, number of homes sold, the split with your broker, if you have any caps, and the value of the homes.

For further insight, the average price for a home in California is around $699,000, which means when a real estate agent makes a sale, they have a hefty commission — often 5% or $34,950.

Aside from gaining a good amount of income, becoming a real estate agent has many other benefits, including:

  • Flexibility in your work
  • Constantly varying environments and tasks
  • Helping people
  • YOU are the boss
  • Gaining knowledge and insight about people, your community, and your area

Now that you have an idea of what you are walking into, let’s get into the actionable steps that will have you on your way to thriving in the California real estate market.

Do I Prequalify?

There are a couple of things to check on before you can start the process of becoming a real estate agent in California.

The overall requirements of obtaining a California real estate license include the following:

  • You must be honest and truthful - failure to disclose information about any criminal violations or disciplinary action may result in the denial of a license.

Once you have those boxes checked, you are ready to begin the journey of becoming a California real estate agent!

1. Complete 135 Hours of Pre-License Education

There are a lot of registered real estate schools to choose from across California. Pick whichever one calls to your heart, and complete 135 hours of educational classes that span across three courses. There are both in person and online options available for you.

The required courses are:

  • Real Estate Principles (45 hours)
  • Real Estate Practices (45 hours)
  • Real Estate Finance (45 hours)

2. Pass the Course Final Exam

Congratulations! You have made it through your online or in-person classes and are now ready to show your knowledge. There is a final exam for each individual course. In order to pass each exam and earn your certificate, you must receive a passing score of at least 70 percent for all three courses. You will have two attempts to pass each exam, with one minute allotted for each question.

3. Complete the Fingerprinting Requirement

Before registering for the California Real Estate Salesperson Exam and sending in your license application, you must complete a background check through the State Department of Justice. Fingerprints can be submitted electronically through the DOJ's Live Scan Program by using the Live Scan Service Request form.

There is a $49 fingerprint processing fee required with the live scan.

4. Take and Pass the California Real Estate Salesperson Exam

You heard us, another exam. Don’t worry, we are here to prepare you so you know exactly what to expect.

The California Real Estate Salesperson Examination is administered by PSI, an outside agency. You can apply to take the exam by mail, and once you receive an Examination Schedule Notice, you can register for your exam through PSI. There is a $60 fee required when sending in the application, which can be paid by check, money order, or credit card.

There are testing centers in Fresno, San Diego, Los Angeles, Oakland, and Sacramento, and every testing location offers the exam in an electronic format.

On the day of your California real estate exam, bring the following:

  • Two (2) forms of identification

Once inside the exam site, you’ll be asked to place all electronic devices, bulky clothing, and other personal items in a secure location, and you will be asked to sit in front of a computer to take the test.

You will have 3 hours to complete the 150-question exam. The seven main topics covered in the exam include the following:

  • Property ownership and land use controls and regulations
  • Laws of agency and fiduciary duties
  • Property valuation and financial analysis
  • Financing
  • Transfer of property
  • Practice of real estate and disclosures
  • Contracts

You must receive at least a 70% to become a California real estate salesperson, and the score will immediately be given to you once you complete the exam. If you do not pass, you will have an opportunity to schedule to take the exam again.

5. Choose A Sponsoring Real Estate Broker

In order to be a licensed and active practicing real estate agent in the beautiful state of California, you are required to be associated with a registered brokerage firm or broker. Working with the right broker is an important decision and a key factor in your growing real estate career. Here are some things to consider when selecting a sponsoring broker:

  1. What is their local and national reputation?
  2. What systems do they use?
  3. What types of agents are they looking for?
  4. Do they provide education and training for agents?
  5. Do they provide marketing materials and potential leads?
  6. What benefits do they have?
  7. What is their commission structure?
  8. Is there opportunity for growth?

Want to Become a REALTOR® in California?

Every Realtor is a real estate agent, but not every real estate agent is a Realtor. Want to take your business a step further, have great networking opportunities, and be part of an evolving real estate community? Here are your steps to becoming a REALTOR®:

  • Obtain your state real estate license
  • Join your local REALTORS® Association — The National Association of REALTORS® (NAR) has over 1,400 associations across the U.S. You can find one closest to you with their “find an association” tool.
  • Pay the one-time application fee — The amount varies in each association.
  • Upkeep NAR membership dues — Once you are a REALTOR®, you must pay the annual association fee of $150 per year.

6. Submit Your Completed License Application

Your next step is to complete and submit your California real estate license application.

You can apply for your California Real Estate License through your eLicensing account. Visit your exam results and then download, fill out, and submit the appropriate application. If you have not completed your fingerprint Live Scan Service Request by this step, you will need to submit it with your application, along with the original license fee.

For more information about how to submit your California Real Estate Salesperson Application, go to the California Department of Real Estate website.

How to become a California real estate agent

There you have it! Everything you need to know about joining the exciting world of California real estate.

Now that we have taken you this far, we would love to provide you with more resources and information to help you thrive in this new venture. Get the ball rolling and be the best agent you can be with our Showcase IDX Grow Your Real Estate Business Academy courses.

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