California Real Estate License Requirements & Costs – 2023

California Real Estate License RequirementsBecoming a real estate agent in California is a process that requires some time and financial investment. The good news, however, is that the California real estate license requirements are not overly burdensome, and the cost of licensure is relatively low.

In this post, we will outline the basic steps necessary to become a licensed real estate agent in California, as well as the associated costs.

We also provide a few tips on how to best prepare for the licensing exam. So, whether you are new to real estate or just considering a career change, read on to learn more about becoming a licensed real estate agent in California.

TABLE OF CONTENTS: California Real Estate License Requirements & Costs – 2023

California Real Estate License Prerequisites

To begin the process of getting your California real estate license, these are the minimum prerequisite that you need to have;

  • You must be 18 years of age or older.
  • California residence or apply for an out-of-state license.
  • A licensed real estate broker to operate under.
  • Fingerprinting and background check, which is attached to the state salesperson exam.

These requirements to acquire a real estate sales license are not the same for every state.

For instance, you have to be 19 years old in Alaska which is different from California. The Florida real estate licensing requirements for a pre-licensing course are 63 hours while here it’s 135 hours in California. It’s good to know the differences as you apply.

California Real Estate License Requirements:

Once you have met these basic prerequisites to get your Real estate license in California, you’ll need to know how to get started with the process described below:

1. Start with a California Real Estate Pre-licensing Course

Before being awarded a real estate license, the California Department of Real Estate (CDRE) requires you to qualify for the 135-hour pre-licensing course.

The online package consists of the following prerequisite parts;

  • California Real Estate Principles
  • California Real Estate Practices
  • Legal Aspects of Real Estate
 in California

The California real estate pre-licensing course costs between $150 to $280 if you take the course online. The actual cost of your pre-licensing course will vary according to the real estate school you choose.  

We recommend the California real estate pre-licensing course through The CE Shop

The following chart shows the cost of the CE Shop’s California pre-licensing course:

California Real Estate Pre-Licensing Cost, The CE Shop

Two additional California real estate pre-licensing school options are the Real Estate Express California course and the Aceable Agent California pre-licensing course.

After completing the pre-licensing course, you will be awarded a certificate and you’ll then be ready to apply for the California real estate exam!

If you would like to do some more research on California real estate schools, we have the CE Shop reviews, Real Estate Express reviews, and AceableAgent reviews on our website.

2. Apply for The California Real Estate State Licensing Exam

The California Department of Real Estate allows you to apply online for the real estate exam. You can apply online after you create your eLicensing account. You can also apply for the exam by mail.

Requirements To Apply for The California Real Estate Exam
The following are some of the documents to attach to your application;

1. Completed Department of Real Estate forms
2. Three-course certificates
3. Associated fees
4. A valid scan or photo of the I.D.
5. Completed live scan form.

After attaching these to your application, you can mail it or send it online to;

Department of Real Estate
Examination Section
P.O. Box 137001
Sacramento, CA 95813-7001

You are only eligible to sit for the California real estate exam if you are;

  • 18 years or older
  • Eligible to work in the U.S.
  • Certified from an accredited California real estate school

How Much Does The California Fingerprint Live Scan Cost?

A background check is necessary to be eligible as a real estate agent in California.

This works to maintain the integrity and safety of the real estate industry in California. To ensure this, applicants need to complete a fingerprint live scan process either with the police or other private agents that can conduct it.

You then submit the California live scan form to the Department of justice, which will liaise with the Department of Real Estate.  You can then drop the completed form off at a Live Scan service provider location near you. This Department of Real Estate (DRE) will get a record of your past convictions and background (if any).

If you do have a criminal record, you should let the DRE know about your history to determine if you will be eligible to do the exam.

A fee of $49 should be paid directly to the live scan provider.

How Much Does the California Real Estate Exam Cost?

The initial California real estate exam costs $60, while a broker’s costs $95.

The following table summarizes the California real estate exam costs for a real estate salesperson or broker:

How Much Does the California Real Estate Exam Cost?

It should be noted that passing the exam may be an uphill task and you only pass the California real estate exam with a 70% or higher mark.

However, there is no limit to how many times you can sit for it (phew!). You can reschedule to take another exam after paying another $60 exam fee.

Scheduling for your California Real Estate Exam

After successfully submitting your applications, all you’ve got to do is wait for the feedback from the California Department of Real Estate.

If you are eligible, the Department will send you an email scheduling your final exam date. You should read and follow the instructions that accompany the date.

Thankfully, the process is simple and the exam locations are in Los Angeles, Oakland, San Diego, Fresno, and Sacramento.

Your location will depend on where the Department places you. Our tip is to arrive early on the exam date because the exam rooms fill up pretty quickly.

How to Pass the California Real Estate Exam?

There is nothing more satisfying than passing an exam after a grueling pre-licensing course.

The real estate exam consists of 150 multiple-choice questions, done in three hours and fifteen minutes.

Here are the California real estate licensing exam test topics;

  • California Property ownership and land use regulations and controls.
  • Laws of agency and fiduciary duties
  • Property valuation and financial analysis
  • Financing
  • California Transfer of property
  • The practice of real estate and disclosures
  • California Real Estate Contracts

The essential thing to ensure you excel in the exam is to plan your time well. Study extensively and avoid procrastination!

Some online real estate schools provide additional resources to help you study for the licensing exam.

We recommend a California real estate exam preparation course such as the PrepAgent California Real Estate Exam Prep course before taking the final exam.

What Are The Best California Real Estate Exam Prep Courses?

California Real Estate Broker License Requirements

Acquiring a real estate license for a broker in California is just the same as one for a salesperson, the difference arising in the experience of the former.

For one to be a licensed broker, the general requirements as per the California Department of Real Estate include;

  • Being at least 18 years of age
  • A person of truth and integrity. Failure to disclose any criminal record or a conviction of a crime may lead to measures and denial of license in the long run.
  • Being a California resident or having applied out-of-state form.
  • Complete eight college-level broker courses.
  • A minimum of 2 years of being a full-time California salesperson experience.

If you want to acquire a license as a real estate broker in California, you must follow the steps outlined below.

  1. You need to complete 360 hours of broker education course
  2. You need to apply for the California broker licensing examination
  3. Undergo the background fingerprint check for criminal record
  4. Take and pass the California broker licensing exam by achieving at least 75%
  5. Complete the California Broker license application process 
How to Gain Real Estate Experience

After meeting the minimum requirements to acquire a California real estate license, you may think of getting the necessary experience that would enable you to register for the Broker course.

The following requirements are needed to qualify as a California broker;

  • Practiced as a full-time real estate agent or salesperson for the last five years or part-time for four years.
  • Acquired a degree from an accredited four-year college with a major or minor in real estate course.
  • Experience can also come from working in a variety of real estate-related experiences. These can include being a real estate developer, loan officer for real property, manager of the property, or a licensed real estate professional.

The Eight California College-Level Broker Courses

Members of the California State Bar are exempted from taking this. But for any aspiring broker, these eight courses are prerequisites;

  1. Real estate practice
  2. Legal aspects of real estate
  3. Real estate finance
  4. Real estate appraisal
  5. Real estate economic
  6. Three elective courses unless you are talking (Real Estate economics and real estate accounting), then the elective courses become two.

You need to undertake these courses in accredited institutions or private real estate schools that the California Department has approved of Real Estate.

Each course takes 45 hours. It is also essential to ensure you get course completion certificates and official transcripts. 

When Can I Become a Real Estate Broker in California?

After gaining experience of two years as a salesperson or agent, you can enroll in the broker pre-licensing course. The course takes 360 hours, in any school offering the broker education in California.

After completing this course, you can apply for the broker licensing exam.

Get The Fingerprinting Done if You Have Not Already

For anyone getting a license for the first time, fingerprinting is a mandatory step.

You can skip this step if you have undergone a background check when applying for a real estate agent license.

The Live Scan provider will require $49. The service provider will fill in some sections of the fingerprint form. After completion, attach a copy of it to the exam application and send it to the Department at this address.

Department of Real Estate
P.O. Box 137002,
Sacramento, CA 95813-7002
Attn: Fingerprint

Application For the California Real Estate Broker Licensing Exam

You must fill out and complete the Broker Examination Application before submitting it. The application should be attached with the required payment and transcripts confirming that you indeed completed college-level real estate courses and degrees.

You should submit your application through your eLicensing account online.

You need to be qualified at the time you are applying. If that is not the case, the Department of Real Estate will send feedback that you will have two years from the date of receiving the application to qualify and then take the examination.

If you fail the examination during the two years and fail to be eligible for the broker examination, you will be forced to make a new application altogether. This shall include paying the fee and submitting the documents again.

Submitting Your California Broker License Application

Fill out the Combined Broker Examination and license application. Make sure you stick to your checklist to avoid sending the wrong or fewer documents. Attach all the supporting documents, fees, and transcripts.

Note that the Department of Real Estate gives you the option to do the scheduling themselves or you can self-schedule.

Submit the applications and all the other documents in the checklist to this address;

Department of Real Estate
Examination Section
P.O. Box 137001
Sacramento, CA 95813-7001

Scheduling And Passing the California Broker Licensing Exam

After sending the application, the Department of Real Estate takes 6 to 8 weeks to send feedback.

The examination schedule notice will include the date, time, and location. You can pick your convenient test time if you self-scheduled for the exam.

The California Real Estate Broker exams, which go for 5 hours, have 200 multiple-choice questions. These questions 
cover the following topics;

  • Contracts
  • Financing
  • Laws of agency
  • The practice of real estate and mandated disclosures
  • Property ownership and land use control and regulations
  • Transfer of property
  • Valuation and market analysis

To pass the California real estate broker exam, you are required to attain 75%.

If you fail the exam, you can schedule a time to retake it using the eLicensing system. Just like the real estate exam, you can retake it as many times as you pass.

The cost of a broker exam is outlined in the general table above.

How Can You Lose Your California Real Estate License?

A license can be lost in several ways, and I will list only six of them in this article. For more explanation and information, visit the California Department of Real Estate.

  1. Failure to disclose
  2. Mishandling client’s money
  3. Criminal conviction
  4. Violation of the Fair Housing Act
  5. Failure to cooperate with investigators

California Real Estate License Requirements – Final Thoughts

We hope you have found our 2022 guide to the California Real Estate License Requirements helpful. Please let us know below with any questions or comments!

A social share is also always appreciated. Wishing you all the best in your California real estate career!

Research the Real Estate License Requirements for another US state or take a look at some of the best online real estate schools in California.