How to Get Your California Real Estate License?

This post may contain affiliate links, meaning we get a commission if you make a purchase through our links, at no cost to you.

Spread the love


California is one of the most lucrative places in the United States to become a real estate agent, with the expensively high market price for houses. The industry relies heavily on the salespeople coming to brokers to ensure that they make good sales. It is a crowded and competitive field for that reason as well. To stand out in the populated crowd, you have to have a little something extra, like certification and a license.

Now, the question is, how do you go and get yourself a California real estate license? Thankfully, we are here to inform you.

How Long Does It Take to Become a Real Estate Agent in California?How Long Does It Take to Become a Real Estate Agent in California?

To give you a good idea of how long it will take to become a qualified real estate agent, know that the California Department of Real Estate, on top of its other qualifications, requires that you complete 135 hours of approved pre-license education. Balancing that education with the myriad of things you might do simultaneously may take five to six months to get a real estate license and become a real estate agent. That is only one step of the process, albeit the most important one to tackle, which we shall soon explain.

Generally, it will take you years to become a real estate agent. The process is lengthened by your efforts and the steps you need to take, and the bureaucratic processes running in-between downtime, including all the mail and information that needs to travel. If you intend to become a real estate agent in a hurry, you may want to slow your roll!

The fastest way to get a California real estate license is to follow the steps we will list to a tee—but be forewarned that you are still looking at years of time and effort to achieve this outcome!

What are the Steps to Get a Real Estate License in California?

What are the Steps to Get a Real Estate License in California?

The California Department of Real Estate, quite obviously, is in charge of instating and enforcing all the rules and regulations regarding obtaining a real estate license. The CDRE has defined a series of steps that a resident Californian must take to become a certified real estate agent. As we have stated before, there are six crucial steps an individual needs to take to earn their California real estate license.

Complete Your Pre-License Education

The first step you should take, above all others, is to finish a pre-license real estate education in a CDRE-approved school. Your education will consist of learning Real Estate Principles, undergoing Real Estate Practice, and completing one of several electives, including Real Estate Appraisal, General Accounting, or Computing Applications in Real Estate. Each of these courses will take forty-five hours for 135 hours.

Additionally, you must pass the final exams of each course with a score of seventy percent or above. You only have two attempts to pass before you must spend another 135 hours.

Pre-license education will be the most time-consuming step to complete in terms of activity over time.

The California Salesperson License Exam

Passing the California Salesperson License Exam is another step you have to take. While it is likely not the most challenging exam you will take, it is certainly a step that will demand your full study time and attention. We will further discuss the California Salesperson License Exam in a later section, but you need to know now that the exam is a necessary step to take to gain a license.

The previous steps, and completing the license application, must be done before taking the Salesperson Exam, which will take the bulk of your path to becoming a licensed real estate agent.

Pass a Background Check

The next step is that you must pass a criminal background check. Various departments in California want to be sure that you do not belong on any sex offender registry or have committed any serious felonies and misdemeanors. Even departments who are not as scrutable (which are rare since this is a law in the state) in judging your history know it is bad business to allow felons to sell houses in the name of other companies and groups. Some background checks include a history of using and / or abusing drugs (note that California is one of the United States of America’s few states that have legalized medicinal marijuana).

Find Yourself a Sponsoring Broker

The final step you must undertake is finding a sponsoring broker to work under. In case you are not aware (and it does not bode well for you if you are not already!), a sponsoring broker (or a sponsorship broker) is a person or company that grants you the sponsorship funding for properties. The broker employs you, financing and sponsoring you under their name. While the license is in your name, your sponsoring broker is the one who holds the license. Your career and success rely on the broker quite a bit, so make sure you choose a good and reliable broker and become an excellent dedicated salesperson for them.

How Much Does It Cost to Become a Real Estate Agent in California?

How Much Does It Cost to Become a Real Estate Agent in California?

There is quite a lot that goes into becoming a real estate agent. Speaking about just the straightforward process of earning a license, including all the steps we’ve listed above, it would cost you at least $99 and as much as $375 or even more to register for the courses required by the California Department of Real Estate. These are college-level courses, and there are equivalent courses offered in colleges, but that necessitates more costs!

Applying for the California Salesperson License Exam would cost you between $60 and $95. That fee does not even account for the various individual fees and extra expenses–both the California Association of Realtors and the National Association of Realtors’ annual fees, which collectively could cost you upwards of hundreds or even thousands of dollars. It is a one-time fee and retaking the exam would cost you the same amount! Failure does take a lot out of your pocket.

And these are only the monetary costs. We already mentioned it, but the cost of time and physical effort you will have to put out is significant. You need to travel from place to place to meet with potential sponsorship brokers and dedicate time to educate yourself on California’s various and unique laws and regulations you are expected to follow. Even if everything comes naturally to you, earning your salesperson license may still take years.

However, with all of these hurdles being made clear, we must emphasize the benefits of going through it all. You become a part of a large, booming, and lucrative industry, one that will eventually recuperate all of these costs (and then some).

Let us finally talk about the most significant obstacle on your path to becoming a real estate agent in California, something that having a lot of time and money will not guarantee—how hard is the California Salesperson License Exam?

Is the California Real Estate Exam Hard?

Is the California Real Estate Exam Hard?

As indicated, we finally get into the meat of your requirements: the California Salesperson License Exam is the greatest hurdle to becoming a salesperson. It examines everything we have talked about in this article, condensed into a test sheet overlooked by proctors.

Is the California Salesperson License Exam difficult? For those who are not into the world of real estate. However, if you pursue a future of selling houses to people, the answer varies greatly.

The California Real Estate Salesperson License Exam consists of 150 questions testing your knowledge of the California real estate industry over three long hours. The exam expects you to understand California’s rules and guidelines and the most optimal strategies to sell homes to the right prospective customer. To pass the California Salesperson License Exam, you have to have an overall score of seventy percent to pass. Finally, registering to take the exam requires that you complete the Combined Salesperson Examination and License Application (however, this requires a sponsoring broker) and pay a hefty fee of $305 ($60 for the exam fee and a staggering $245 for the license application fee).

While you do not need a sponsoring broker to take the exam, it is highly recommended you do it. Otherwise, you have to take a regular exam application, which will take considerably more time. However, you would not have to pay the license application fee, so there is one silver lining.

We can break down the California Salesperson License Exam into seven distinct topics, each with its part of the exam (go into detail on these sections):

  • The Laws of Agency and Fiduciary Duty make up 17% of the exam with 26 questions about how agencies are created, disclosed, and terminated,
  • The Property Ownership and Land Use Controls and Regulations (whew!) section comprises 23 questions that test your knowledge of encumbrances, types of ownership, private controls, and water rights, among many other regulations,
  • The Property Valuation and Financial Analysis, which is an impressive 14% of the exam
  • Financing, which takes 9% of the exam, deals with the types of loans, loan brokerage, and sources of financing,
  • Transfer of Property, which takes 8% of the exam, involves deeds, taxes, and types of vesting,
  • The Practice of Real Estate and Disclosures includes certain specialty areas like general ethics, property management, and reports. This section comprises 25% of the exam or 38 questions,
  • and finally, Contracts, which is 12% of the exam, is about general contracting concepts, like listing agreements and offering contracts.

The questions are all weighed the same, so don’t think you can get away with neglecting a segment of the exam. These are all important for you to pass the California Real Estate Exam.

How Many Times Can You take the California Real Estate?

How Many Times Can You take the California Real Estate?

An individual can take the California Salesperson License Exam any number of times. Unfortunately, this would require paying out for much of the overhead costs, particularly the costs to retake the California Salesperson Exam, each and every time. Failing the exam would, thus, be a pretty significant setback for anyone.

However, if you can afford the costs again, you are given a brand new chance to pass the exam and use your experiences to provide yourself with that passing score!

Wrapping Things Up: How to Get Your California Real Estate License?

To get your California Real Estate license, you will have to put yourself through a long period and costs to collect the knowledge you need, find the right people who can support you, and pass a thorough exam that tests your ambition for each of these. But do not be frightened, as there is a light at the end of this tunnel. If you can brave all of these trials, you will become a real estate agent in California and live a lucrative career selling houses. So go forth, and become the real estate agent you are destined to be!

Picture of Professor Conquer
Professor Conquer

Professor Conquer started Conquer Your Exam in 2018 to help students feel more confident and better prepared for their tough tests. Prof excelled in high school, graduating top of his class and receiving admissions into several Ivy League and top 15 schools. He has helped many students through the years tutoring and mentoring K-12, consulting seniors through the college admissions process, and writing extensive how-to guides for school.

If you found this helpful, help us out by sharing this post!


Readers of this post also read...

A Guide to Effective Study Group Strategies

A Guide to Effective Study Group Strategies

Perhaps you have exams coming up and you’re considering studying with your friends but aren’t sure how to kick things off. Crafting the ultimate study group involves making sure that the time you spend together...

Read More