Although My Agent Advice is primarily focused on equipping active agents, the most frequent questions I get involve becoming an agent. “How do I become a real estate agent?” Clearly there is a need to connect the dots between the person dreaming of a career in real estate and the day-to-day of a successful realtor. Here are the 6 quick steps to becoming a licensed real estate agent in California:
- Complete the necessary classes
- Apply for the state exam
- Pass the state exam
- Wait for the BRE (Bureau of Real Estate) to register your license
- Choose a brokerage to work for
BEFORE I CONTINUE… SOME DISCLOSURES
I want to stress that this is not an exhaustive list and there may be points that I do not cover that are necessary to becoming licensed. There is a lot of paperwork, a background check, and other little details I do not cover. This article is to help people understand the basic timeline of becoming a licensed agent. In addition, while this list may partially apply on a national scale, it is based on my experience obtaining a license in California and real estate is transacted differently state by state.
WHAT CLASSES TO TAKE, HOW TO STUDY, AND HOW TO APPLY FOR THE EXAM
Before you can apply for the state exam, you must complete 3 real estate courses:
- Real Estate Practice
- Real Estate Principles
- One Elective Course (a previous college course may count, otherwise there is a list of classes that apply, Real Estate Law is often a good choice!)
These classes can be taken online and there are various companies that offer them. Depending on the school, each class is +/- $80. You will receive a certificate of completion when you pass each exam; you will need these to apply for the state exam. After you apply for the state exam, you are provided a test date which is usually 1-2 months away. Take this time to study. The most effective way I studied was by taking practice tests online; I highly recommend you do the same. In addition to the online practice tests, you will want to sign up for a “1-day crash course” within a week of your exam date to further prepare. People that attend a crash course prior to the state exam have a pass rate around 85% -- the state-wide pass rate hovers around 50%. There are many options, but I purchased the online classes, practice tests, and crash course from www.DuaneGomer.com. Total fees were +/- $400.
HOW TO DEAL WITH THE BUREAU OF REAL ESTATE
Your first lesson in real estate is patience; after you pass your test it can take upwards of 3 months for the state to register your license. Take this time to start building your database and setting up meetings, but remember to not talk about real estate; you are not technically licensed yet. Because of how difficult and timely it can be dealing with the BRE, you will want to make sure your application is perfect and you provide everything they need the first time. One mistake can put you back months.
CHOOSING A BROKERAGE IS VERY IMPORTANT
If you only get your salesperson license, and not your broker license, you will need to join a company to “hang” your license with. This is a very important decision because once you join a company and begin your career, it is difficult to move because if you have done a good job of branding yourself with the company it will be a lot of work to re-brand yourself. It is not impossible to move, I personally left Coldwell Banker and joined Keller Williams 3 years ago, but it is not fun amidst an already busy work schedule. There is a lot to talk about in regards to choosing a brokerage, so if you are in this stage of your career please email me directly. That being said, my advice in a nutshell is to interview multiple national companies (no local boutiques) and find the best culture to foster your business. An even simpler piece of advice is to join a local Keller Williams; it has been one of the best business decisions I have ever made. Don't fall into the most commonly made mistake which is to go where it "feels good" -- go to a national company that has great training and will push you out of your comfort zone. Because "feeling comfortable" is not the same as being successful!
MY RECOMMENDATION FOR BRAND NEW AGENTS
Do not try and start your business alone. Intern for a top agent, get a mentor, or join a team – do something so that your first few deals involve a professional that has experience. The learning curve in real estate is very steep and the stakes are too high to allow for rookie mistakes. Put your clients’ best interests in mind and partner with an experienced agent for your first 5-10 deals. The small amount of commission lost in these deals is nothing compared to the foundation that will be built for your long and successful career in real estate.