Becoming a Licensed Realtor in California | The Path to Success

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California Realtor

In California, becoming a realtor can be an exciting and rewarding career endeavor. A realtor is a licensed professional representing buyers and sellers in real estate transactions. They often work under the supervision of brokers and are responsible for marketing properties, negotiating deals, and managing the transaction process. As a realtor, you can help people find their dream homes, navigate the complexities of the real estate market, and start an LLC in California.

However, before starting your journey to Becoming a Realtor in California, you must complete several steps to obtain your real estate license. This comprehensive guide will walk you through the entire process, so you can confidently begin your new career.

Webinarcare Editorial Team will help you gain knowledge through thorough research and market study. Before becoming a realtor in California, all the steps in this article must guide you.

What is a Realtor?

A realtor is a licensed real estate professional member of the National Association of Realtors (NAR) and adheres to their code of ethics. They may work as individuals, within a real estate brokerage, or as part of a limited liability company (LLC) or a corporation. Their services include representing buyers and sellers in real estate transactions, assisting with property management, and providing guidance on real estate investments, including rental properties.

The requirements to become a realtor in California may vary, but here are the general steps:

  1. Education: Complete the required pre-licensing real estate education courses. In California, this typically involves completing a certain number of hours of approved coursework.
  2. Examination: Pass the California-approved real estate licensing exam. The exam tests your knowledge of real estate laws, practices, and ethics. Study materials and exam preparation courses are available to help you succeed.
  3. Application: Submit a real estate license application to the California Real Estate Commission. This application includes documentation such as proof of education, exam results, background check, and fees.
  4. Background Check: California requires applicants to undergo a criminal background check. This usually involves providing fingerprints and consent for the background investigation.
  5. Join a Brokerage: Agents must work under a licensed real estate broker in California. Find a reputable brokerage that aligns with your career goals and values and provides new agents with the necessary support and mentorship.
  6. Membership: Consider joining the National Association of Realtors (NAR) and local real estate associations. Membership offers valuable resources, networking opportunities, and access to multiple listing services (MLS), simplifying clients’ buying and selling process.

It’s crucial to note that real estate licensing requirements can change, and it is recommended to check with the California Real Estate Commission for the most up-to-date and specific requirements.

Embarking on the journey to become a realtor in California is not simply about selling houses, it’s about building dreams, yours included. Take the leap and start an LLC. With every property you sell, you’re not just making a living; you’re creating a business that can evolve, grow, and create lasting success.


How to Become a Realtor in California

Suppose you’re considering becoming a realtor and want to form a professional corporation in California. In that case, it’s essential to understand the steps and requirements involved in obtaining your license and starting your professional journey. This step-by-step guide will walk you through the entire process of becoming a realtor, from understanding the requirements to choosing a brokerage.

Step 1: Understand The Requirements

Before becoming a realtor in California, you must understand the requirements to obtain your California real estate license. California has unique requirements, so it’s crucial to familiarize yourself with the specific rules and regulations. In general, to become a realtor in California, you must:

  • Be at least 18 years old.
  • Have a high school diploma or equivalent
  • Complete the required pre-license education
  • Pass the California real estate licensing exam
  • Submit your application and fees to the California real estate commission
  • Complete a background check
  • Obtain Errors & Omissions (E&O) insurance

It’s important to note that California may have additional requirements or prerequisites to become a licensed realtor. Check with the California real estate commission for the most up-to-date information.

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Step 2: Complete Pre-License Education

To become a realtor in California, you must fulfill California pre-license education requirements. Typically, this involves completing a certain number of hours of coursework from an approved real estate school. The curriculum usually covers real estate principles, practices, and laws specific to California.

When choosing a real estate school, ensuring the California real estate commission approves them is important. Many schools offer online and in-person courses, so consider your learning preferences when selecting a program. Additionally, consider the school’s reputation and course pass rates, as this can indicate the quality of their instruction. However, you can still enroll in real estate courses before your licensing exam. Here are the real estate courses and schools in California.

  • Kaplan Real Estate Education, Allied Schools, and Real Estate Express

Step 3: Pass The Real Estate Licensing Exam

After completing the required pre-license education, the next step is to pass the California real estate licensing exam. The exam typically consists of two parts: a national portion that covers general real estate principles and a specific portion that covers California real estate laws and regulations.

To prepare for the exam, consider using study materials and practice exams provided by your pre-license education provider. Additionally, seek out other resources, such as online practice tests and exam prep books, to ensure you’re well-prepared for the test.

On exam day, bring the required identification and any necessary materials. Remember to arrive early to allow for any registration processes, and be prepared to spend several hours at the testing center. Once you’ve completed the exam, you will receive your results. If you pass, you can move on to the next step in the licensing process. If you don’t pass, don’t be discouraged. California allows multiple attempts, so take the time to review the areas where you struggled and retake the exam when ready. The exam fee is $60.

Make sure to pass the first attempt of the licensing exam.

Step 4: Submit Your Application and Fees

After passing the California real estate licensing exam, you must submit your license application and fees to the California real estate commission. The application typically requires you to provide information about your education, exam results, and background check. Be sure to complete the application accurately and thoroughly, as any discrepancies or omissions may delay the processing of your license.

The licensing fee in California costs $60. However, there are additional costs associated with processing your background check. Review the fee schedule for California and ensure you submit the correct amount with your application.

Step 5: Complete a Background Check

You must complete a background check as part of the licensing process in California. This ensures you meet the moral character requirements of the California real estate commission. The background check typically involves submitting your fingerprints and any necessary forms to the appropriate agency for processing.

Review the guidelines for California and follow the instructions to ensure your background check is completed accurately and efficiently.

Step 6: Obtain Errors & Omissions (E&O) Insurance

Obtaining Errors & Omissions (E&O) Insurance is required to obtain your real estate license in California. E&O insurance is a type of professional liability insurance that protects realtors from claims related to mistakes or negligence in their professional services.

If E&O insurance is required in California, research and select a policy that meets the state’s requirements before submitting your license application. Even if it’s not a requirement in California, it’s still a good idea to consider obtaining E&O insurance to protect yourself and your business—the costs of obtaining E&O insurance range from $500 to $2,000 per year.

Step 7: Choose a Brokerage and Start Your Career

Once you’ve obtained your California real estate license, the final step is to choose a brokerage to work under. A brokerage is a real estate firm that employs licensed agents and brokers. As a new realtor, you’ll work under the supervision of a broker who can provide guidance, support, and resources to help you succeed in your new career.

When choosing a brokerage, consider its reputation, commission structure, training and support programs, and company culture. Selecting a brokerage that aligns with your professional goals and provides an environment where you can thrive is essential. You can also find ways to become a realtor by starting a rental property LLC in California.

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Step 8: Pursue NAR membership

Join the National Association of Realtors to become a realtor. Find your local real estate association and confirm the membership criteria, including an application and an annual fee. If you join NAR, you can enroll in continuing education and other professional courses. You can also access market data and services to help you be more efficient as a realtor.


Average Income of a Realtor in California

The average income for a realtor in California varies depending on experience, location, and market conditions. Still, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median annual wage for a realtor in California is around $47,000.


How do I become a real estate agent in California?
You must fulfill the pre-licensing requirements, pass a licensing exam, and find a sponsoring broker.
Can I be a real estate agent in California if I have a criminal record?
It depends on the severity and type of the record. You will need to disclose it during the licensing process, and the California Bureau of Real Estate will take extraordinary circumstances into account.
How long does it take to become a realtor in California?
The pre-licensing education requirement is 135 hours, but the total time can vary depending on the amount of preparation required for the licensing exam.
Do I have to take a course before applying for a California real estate license?
Yes, completing pre-licensing education is required under California state law.
Can I work as a real estate salesperson without working under a broker in California?
No, California law requires all salespersons to work under a licensed broker.
Does California require continuing education for real estate agents?
Yes, the state requires 45 hours of continuing education every four years to maintain your license.
How much does it cost to become a real estate agent in California?
The fees can vary depending on factors such as the pre-licensing course, the licensing exam, and any continuing education courses required. It’s recommend you budget around $1,000 to start your career.
Do I need to pass a background check to become a licensed realtor in California?
Yes, a background check and fingerprinting are required as part of your licensing application.
How often is the California real estate licensing exam administered?
The California Bureau of Real Estate offers the exam five days per week at multiple locations throughout the state.
Can I take the California real estate licensing exam online?
No, the exam must be taken in-person at an approved exam center.
Are there any age requirements for becoming a realtor in California?
Yes, you must be at least 18 years old to obtain a California real estate license.
Can I transfer my real estate license from another state to California?
Yes, you may be able to partially waive the California licensing requirements under reciprocity requirements if you have a license in another state.
How can I prepare to pass the California real estate licensing exam?
There are many test prep resources available, such as review courses, study guides, and practice tests.
Can I take the California real estate licensing exam if English is not my native language?
Yes, you can expect accommodative policies during the testing process to help meet the needs of non-English speaking applicants.
How much can I expect to earn as a real estate agent in California?
Earnings can vary depending on experience level, sales performance, and brokerage compensation structure, but the average salary in California is around $80,000 – $90,000 per year.
What are some of the New real estate trends in California?
These days, California is experiencing a rise in eco-friendly real estate development, prefab and modular homes construction, among others.
What happens if I fail the California real estate licensing exam?
You can retake the exam at a later date. Typically, this requires paying a re-examination fee and meeting all other licensing requirements once again.
Is a college degree required to become a real estate agent in California?
No, holding a degree isn’t mandatory, but it’s useful for enhancing knowledge or competency in relevant fields such as real estate business and finance.
Can a part-time best real estate job in California become a full-time job?
Yes, transitioning from part-time work to full-time work as a real estate agent is common and desirable. However, the number of clients secured and the engagement level significantly impacts earnings.
What kind of sales career can you make being a real estate agent in California?
Some of the sales careers associated with becoming best real estate agents in California include closing deals, making offers, making listing presentations, negotiating sales, generating leads for cold-calling, showing properties, hosting open houses, advertising real estate, among many others.
What’s the policy for inactive or expired California real estate licenses?
If your license is inactive, you may need to complete more continuing education for renewal, while if it’s expired, you must retake and pass the professional licensing exam.
Do real estate beginner agents make total commission per sale in California?
No, all commissions go to the brokerage firm, represented by the listing or selling agent who co-ministers the said transaction.
Can first-time homebuyers apply for incentives in California?
Yes, California offers first-time homebuyer incentive programs for qualifying applicants to finance their homes first down payment.
When can I start selling real estate after obtaining a license in California?
You can begin selling real estate immediately after attaching yourself to a licensed broker and sponsor, under which you perform sales or other duties.
Can an out-of-state licensee conduct real estate activities in California under any exemption conditions?
Real estate examination-based reciprocity and military personnel serving relocation benefit options may apply. Additionally, cross-border agents must register with California’s Bureau of Real Estate and legally work as a sales agent’s team member with aligned licensed brokers.
How much time does it take someone to sell their property in California normally?
Property selling time tends to vary based on factors such as location, demand rate, competition, closing readiness, marketing strategy, and so on. On average, it’s possible to sell a house within thirty-seven days, based on 2021 data by Redfin.
Would an S-sales license holder have an edge at recruiting potential clients and negotiating property prices in California?
No, the S-sales license is a regulatory requirement authorizing one to conduct appraisal review valuations. It does not grant the holder privilege in any other form of real estate-related dealings, including sales.
Can I call myself a “real estate agent,” taking care of business in California, after merely gaining a license?
No, the title can only be used when attached to an official real estate trading company or licensed brokerage company. In other contexts, if an associate deals with private buying and selling, he can legally name himself real estate adviser, consultant of expert/maven.
Can one start working in California, and later then apply for their real estate license?
Answer: No, you need to have obtained and made active your California real estate license beforehand to legally deal with any real estate duties.
What are the general requirements to become a realtor in California?
You must be at least 18 years old, have a high school diploma or equivalent, and complete three college-level courses in real estate.
Can I take the required courses online?
Yes, California allows you to take the courses online as long as they are from approved institutions.
How long does it take to complete the required courses?
You can complete the courses at your own pace, but they typically take 6-12 months to finish.
Do I need a certain GPA to qualify to become a realtor in California?
No, there is no required GPA, but you must pass each course with a grade of at least C.
Is there a deadline for completing the courses?
Yes, you must complete the courses within five years of passing the first course.
Can I apply for a real estate license before completing all the required courses?
No, you must complete all required courses before applying for a license.
How much does it cost to take the required courses?
It depends on the institution, but the courses can cost anywhere from $400-$1500 in total.
How much does it cost to apply for a real estate license in California?
The application fee is currently $245.
Is there a state exam I need to pass to become a licensed realtor in California?
Yes, after completing the required courses you must pass the California Real Estate License exam.
How much does it cost to take the state exam?
The current exam fee is $60.
Can I take the state exam online?
No, the state exam must be taken in person at a testing center.
How often can I take the state exam if I don’t pass it on the first try?
You can take the state exam as many times as needed until you pass, but there is a waiting period between attempts.
How long is the waiting period after failing the state exam?
The waiting period is currently 18 days.
How long is the California Real Estate License good for?
The license is valid for four years.
How do I renew my California Real Estate License?
You must complete continuing education courses and pay a renewal fee to renew your license.
How many continuing education courses do I need to complete to renew my license?
You must complete 45 hours of continuing education courses before renewing your license.
Can I renew my California Real Estate License online?
Yes, you can renew your license online as long as you have completed the required continuing education courses.
What are the requirements to transfer a real estate license to California?
You must have a valid real estate license from another state and complete a 45-hour California Law Continuing Education Course.
Can I transfer my education courses from another state to California?
The California Department of Real Estate will not accept courses taken in another state towards the California requirements.
Can I practice real estate in California without a California Real Estate License?
No, you must have a California Real Estate License to practice real estate in California.
What happens if I practice real estate without a license in California?
There are criminal and administrative penalties for practicing without a license that can include fines and jail time.
How long does it take to get a California Real Estate License?
It can take anywhere from 3-6 months to get a California Real Estate License.
What are the advantages of becoming a licensed realtor in California?
Being a licensed realtor allows you to legally practice real estate in California, earn commissions, and have access to industry resources and networks.
Can I be a part-time realtor in California?
Yes, you can work as a part-time realtor in California.
How much money can I make as a realtor in California?
Your income as a realtor in California depends on factors such as the number and value of your sales and your commission split with your brokerage.
Do I need to work for a real estate brokerage to be a realtor in California?
Yes, you must be affiliated with a real estate brokerage to be a licensed realtor in California.
How do I choose a real estate brokerage to work for in California?
Research California real estate brokerages, read reviews, and consider factors such as commission splits and training programs when choosing a brokerage

Also Read

How to Save Money While Starting a Becoming Realtor in California

One of the first things to consider when saving money as a realtor is to create a budget. It’s essential to track your income and expenses to ensure that you are not overspending. By creating a budget, you can identify areas where you can cut costs and allocate funds more efficiently.

Networking is also key to saving money as a realtor. Building relationships with other professionals in the real estate industry can lead to referrals and valuable insights. Networking events and industry conferences are great opportunities to connect with potential clients and colleagues without spending a lot of money.

Another important aspect of saving money as a realtor is to invest in your education and training wisely. While it’s important to have the necessary qualifications to work as a real estate agent in California, enrolling in expensive courses or training programs may not be the most cost-effective option. Look for affordable or free training opportunities, such as online courses or workshops offered by industry associations.

When it comes to marketing your real estate business, you don’t have to break the bank. There are many cost-effective ways to promote your services, such as creating a professional website, utilizing social media channels, and networking with local businesses. Instead of spending a fortune on traditional advertising, focus on building a strong online presence and leveraging word-of-mouth referrals.

As a new realtor, it’s essential to keep your overhead costs low. Avoid renting expensive office space or investing in unnecessary equipment. Consider working from home or sharing office space with other professionals to save on rent and utilities. You can also reduce your operating costs by utilizing technology to streamline your business processes and communication with clients.

Lastly, don’t forget to take advantage of tax deductions available to real estate agents in California. Keep detailed records of your business expenses, such as mileage, marketing costs, and professional fees, so you can maximize your deductions when filing your taxes. Consult with a tax professional to ensure that you are taking advantage of all available deductions and credits.

In conclusion, starting a career as a realtor in California doesn’t have to be a financial burden. By creating a budget, networking wisely, investing in affordable training, marketing your business effectively, keeping overhead costs low, and taking advantage of tax deductions, you can save money while building a successful real estate business. With careful planning and smart financial decisions, you can achieve your goals as a real estate agent without breaking the bank.


Becoming a realtor in California is a rewarding career choice that offers flexibility, the potential for financial success, and the opportunity to help people navigate the complex world of real estate. Following the steps outlined in this guide and dedicating yourself to learning and growth, you can embark on a successful and fulfilling career as a realtor in California.

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