How to Become a Real Estate Agent in San Francisco, California

May 16, 2022
5 min.

With median prices of homes upwards of seven figures, San Francisco is one of the most expensive housing markets in the country. 

Despite these seemingly high prices, the San Francisco real estate is still a fast-paced one, with the average selling period of houses being just 2 weeks on the market. 

San Francisco has a large flow of people moving and leaving the city, which makes it primed for prospects. 

Starting as a real estate agent in San Francisco is tough, but it is possible. 

If you want to start a career as a real estate agent in San Francisco, California, you just have to put in the required effort and time while following the steps in this guide.

5 Steps to Becoming a Real Estate Agent In San Francisco

Once you are 18 years old and you are eligible to work in the U.S., you can get started on your journey to becoming a real estate agent in San Francisco. 

This section will cover, in detail, the step-by-step process you have to follow to get started. 

Enroll in a Real Estate School

You are required to complete state-specific pre-licensing coursework before you can take the real estate license exam. 

For the pre-license coursework, you have to enroll in a California real estate school that is approved by the Department of Real Estate. Approved real estate schools educate and prepare you for the necessary courses ahead of the real estate license exam.

Real estate schools also provide the certification you need to apply for the real estate license exam.

Pass the 3 Required Courses

The DRE-approved pre-license education is a compulsory 135-hour coursework that can be spread out to fit your schedule. 

You have to complete the 3 required courses to prepare you for the license exam within a year of your enrollment. 

Each of the courses has a 45-hour duration:

  • Real Estate Practice
  • Real Estate Principles
  • One elective course

For your elective course, there are several options you can choose from which will result in a slightly different experience. Some of these courses include: 

  • Finance
  • Appraisal
  • Management
  • Economics
  • Legal Aspects
  • Office Administration

All of these courses constitute the core curriculum formulated by the California Department of Real Estate (DRE). They cover the topics and terminology that the license exam questions will be based on.

Apply for the Real Estate Exam

Once you have completed all 3 courses, the next thing to do is to apply for the California Department of Real Estate’s Salesperson Examination. 

This exam is the most critical aspect of your licensing process. It is used by the DRE to evaluate your knowledge and understanding of real estate concepts and terminology.

To apply, you will need to provide the following:

  • A valid photo ID
  • Completed live scan form
  • $60 check (exam application fee)
  • Completed DRE Application Forms
  • Certificates for the 3 pre-license courses

You will also have to pass a background check. This is to check for any criminal history and ensure you are eligible to practice as a real estate agent in San Francisco. 

If you have a criminal history, you can contact the DRE directly to see if you will still be eligible to take the exam.

Pass the Exam

After submitting your application and the DRE has approved it, you can schedule the date, time, and location for your exam. 

The exam is pretty tough. It consists of 150 multiple choice questions and you need a score of at least 70% to pass.

Sign with a Brokerage

Until you sign with a brokerage in California, you are not yet officially cleared to practice as a real estate agent. You will need to find a broker or brokerage to work under. 

Getting a brokerage that will recruit you is straightforward. You can contact whichever brokerage you are interested in joining to inform them that you are a licensed agent looking to sign. 

Once you sign with a brokerage, you are set to start practicing as a real estate agent in San Francisco.

How Competitive is the San Francisco Real Estate Market?

The San Francisco real estate market is highly competitive. There are thousands of real estate agents throughout the city who are vying for a high commission check from the expensive land value.

It’s no secret that there’s plenty of money to be made as a real estate agent here and everyone wants their cut.

So, as you enter the market, remember that it’s important to stand out and connect with the people in your network. That’s the best way to start building experience and a reputation for yourself. 

How Much Money Do San Francisco Agents Make?

Real estate agents in San Francisco make a yearly average income of $127,179, which is about 22% over the national average. 

Keep in mind that, as a real estate agent, you earn on commission instead of a salary. However, in San Francisco, you can make a decent living even by selling fewer homes because of the real estate prices in California.

In major areas of San Francisco, the median home price is about $1,200,000 and this puts your commission, using the typical 3% rate, at over $35,000 on just one sale.

How Fast Can You Become a Real Estate Agent In San Francisco?

It takes about 5 months to become a real estate agent in San Francisco. You have to take 135-hour compulsory coursework which will span over at least 2 months. 

Then you apply for the exam and your application is processed for about 3 months before you can take the exam.

Should You Become a Real Estate Agent In San Francisco?

As a licensed agent in a strong real estate market like San Francisco, you could be living the life of your dreams. 

While the journey may be somewhat rigorous, you have to put in the required effort and time. 

Once you become licensed in San Francisco, you can make more from selling fewer homes. So is it worth it? Yes, it is definitely worth it.

TL;DR: To become a real estate agent in San Francisco, you have to enroll and complete an accredited real estate school, pass the state exam, and sign with a brokerage in that order. Remember that San Francisco is very competitive but it also comes at high reward because land value is so high.

May 16, 2022
How To
5 min.