So, you’re interested to start a real estate career.
As you might expect, California has a few requirements that you’ll have to get past before you can get your hands on that coveted real estate license.
And yes, these requirements will take time, dedication, and even investment.
If that doesn’t scare you away, then you have the right mindset to get started.
But where do you start?
You can start by reading through this article.
Here, we’ll give you a complete 2023 guide on how to get a real estate license online in California. We’ll give you all the details so that you’re not left wondering “what’s next”.
Plus, we’ll have a FAQs section here to answer some of your burning questions.
There’s a lot to cover, so let’s get started!
Who Can Get a Real Estate License in California?
Are you even eligible to get a real estate license?
Well, if you can check all the boxes below, then, yes, you are.
At least 18 years old
A US citizen or legal alien
Have a Social Security number or individual taxpayer identification number (ITIN)
Doesn’t have a criminal record (note: if you have a criminal record, you can still get a real estate license but the final decision will depend on the California Department of Real Estate (DRE).
Yes, that’s all the qualifications you’ll need to get started.
What are the Requirements to Get a Real Estate License Online in California?
The great news is that, in this modern age, you can finish your real estate license requirements almost completely online!
With that in mind, let’s take a look at the requirements:
Complete a real estate pre-licensing course
Apply for the California real estate exam
Pass the California real estate exam
Find a sponsoring broker
Apply for your real estate license from the DRE
Now, let’s take a deep dive into the details of each requirement.
1. Complete a real estate pre-licensing course
For obvious reasons, the first step is education.
Now, for a salesperson license, you need to complete 135 hours of real estate pre-licensing courses. That equates to:
45 hours of Real Estate Principles
45 hours of Real Estate Practice
45 hours of real estate elective courses approved by the DRE
Each course has an exam at the end, and when you pass those, you can get hold of your 3 certificates of completion.
An important thing to consider is the course provider or real estate school. You want to choose one that’s DRE approved, high quality, and available online.
Speaking of which, we highly recommend AceableAgent.
This online real estate school makes learning a fun and easy experience. Fun because it offers interactive course content mixed in with some humor. Easy because you can study it anytime, anywhere.
For reference, you can watch this course introduction to AceableAgent:
If not AceableAgent, then check out the highly renowned Colibri Real Estate.
This online real estate school offers 4 packages, each with even more resources than the previous one. Besides the mandatory pre-licensing courses, you also get 3 real estate ebooks, Exam prep, a real estate dictionary, and even an instructor Q&A (depending on the package you choose).
And yes, you can study it all from the comfort of your home!
These are 2 of the best online real estate schools in California. So if you’re interested, definitely go check them out.
2. Apply for the California real estate exam
All the knowledge you gained will now be put to the test.
But first, you need to apply for the California real estate exam. To do that, fill up the Salesperson Examination Application (RE 400A) form. Make sure to carefully read through the form before filling it up.
Once the form is completed, send it, along with the exam fee of $60 (credit card, cashiers check, and money order made payable to DRE) and transcripts of your certificates of completion, to:
Department of Real Estate
P.O. Box 137001
Sacramento, CA 95813-7001
If you need disability accommodation, you must also fill up the Reasonable Accommodations Request for Examination (RE 413) form and send it along with the others.
Now, it will take around 6 weeks for the DRE to process your application. Once accepted, you will be given an exam schedule or authorization to self-schedule (depending on what you chose in the form).
For self-scheduling, you can do so online through DRE’s eLicensing online system. Note: you need to register with your examination ID (self-schedule authorization)
Once there, you will be asked to select an exam location, date, and time from the provided options. You will then be given a printable barcode schedule notice.
Exam locations are usually held in the following areas:
Note: you can also apply for a Combined Salesperson Examination and License Application. You will, however, have to first complete the rest of the requirements mentioned above. Click here for more information.
3. Pass the California real estate exam
Before you leave for the exam center, don’t forget to bring a valid form of identification with photo (driver’s license, passport, etc…) and your barcode schedule notice.
Also, you should arrive 30 minutes before your schedule.
As for the exam itself, you’re given 3 hours to complete 150 MCQ questions.
You must get a score of at least 70% to pass. Just note that it might take a few days before you receive a notification of your results.
For reference, click here for an Examination Description of the exam contents.
We know. You’re probably asking, “What if I fail?”
Don’t worry. You can always retake it by re-applying through the eLicensing online system. However, you will have to pay the exam fee of $60 again.
4. Get fingerprinted
The next step is your background check.
Note: if you want, you can do this step before you take the California real estate exam. Just be aware that fees are non-refundable even if you fail the exam.
Once your fingerprints are scanned, the service center will electronically send them to the State Department of Justice (DOJ) and the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI). In turn, the DOJ and FBI will send the final report to the DRE to see if you have any criminal records.
For your part, once your fingerprints are scanned, you need to fill up another Live Scan Service Request form and submit it to the DRE when applying for your license. This time around, you need to fill up Section 3 in the form.
As for fees, there is a $49 fee for the fingerprinting process as well as an additional live scan service fee (paid directly to the live scan center, not the DRE).
Now, as we said before, even if you do have a criminal record, you can still get hold of a real estate license. However, the final decision will rely on the DRE, if they will accept you or not.
5. Find a sponsoring broker
In California, all salespersons must work under a sponsoring broker.
And because of this, it’s important that you find a broker that suits YOU.
Here are some questions you should ask yourself when looking for the right sponsoring broker.
Are they reputable?
What type of real estate are they selling? And are you interested in that?
How many other salespersons do they sponsor?
What is their structure when it comes to commission?
Do they offer any benefits?
Do they take the time to train their salespeople?
You can go for independent brokers or traditional brokerages. Just make sure to schedule an interview to see what they can offer you.
6. Apply for your real estate license from the DRE
After all that, you can finally apply for your real estate license.
Once you passed the California real estate exam, you’ll be able to download a Salesperson License Application (RE 202) through your eLicensing account. You can find it with your exam results.
Complete the Salesperson License Application (RE 202) and submit it, along with the official transcripts of your certificates of completion, the Live Scan Service Request (RE 237) with section 3 filled up, and a license fee of $245 (credit card, cashiers check, check, or money order made payable to DRE), to:
Department of Real Estate
P.O. Box 137002
Sacramento, CA 95813-7002
When the DRE accepts your application, they will send you a license certificate through their website. A few weeks after, you’ll receive your official real estate license.
You made it!
Real Estate License in California FAQs
As promised, we’re going to answer some frequently asked questions.
Can you get your California real estate license online?
In California, the real estate license process can be done almost completely online.
The only steps that require in-person are taking the exam and getting a fingerprint scan.
The longest process, which will be your education, can be done 100% online and at your own pace.
So yes, in a way, you can get your California real estate license online.
How long does it take to get a real estate license in California?
It’s hard to give a specific timeframe. This is because it will depend on several things.
Namely, how long you finish the real estate pre-licensing course, if you pass the exam the first try or not, how long the fingerprinting process will take, etc…
But for a rough estimate, we’d say from starting your education to getting hold of your real estate license will take around 5 to 6 months.
Is the California real estate exam hard?
We won’t say it’s hard.
But we won’t say it’s easy either.
The thing is, if you diligently study the real estate pre-licensing courses, then you should be able to understand and answer the questions.
If you still aren’t confident, you can take an exam prep course.
Are there math questions in the California real estate exam?
Yes, there are a few math questions.
When you get to the exam center, you’ll be provided with a blank sheet to answer your math questions, as well as a calculator.
Note: it’s best to bring your own simple functioning calculator in case there is none available at the center.
So there you have it.
The complete 2023 guide on how to get a real estate license online in California.
If you follow these steps, then you’re well on your way to starting a new and fulfilling career.
And remember, it will take time, dedication, and investment. But if you’re determined to complete all the requirements, then it will be worth it in the end.
If you have any more questions, just comment below!