Get a CA Real Estate Broker’s License: Step-by-Step Guide

Jul 18, 2023
10 min

California's dynamic real estate market offers many incredible opportunities, and with the right knowledge, anyone can unlock the door to a rewarding career as a real estate broker in the state. 

Whether you're an aspiring entrepreneur, a seasoned agent looking to level up, or simply someone with a passion for properties, this step-by-step guide will teach you everything you need to know to obtain a real estate broker’s license in California. 

How to Get Your Real Estate Broker’s License in California

If you’re looking to get licensed as a real estate broker in California, there are certain criteria that you have to meet and steps you have to take. They include:

#1. 2-Years Salesperson Experience

To qualify for a real estate broker’s license in California, you are required to have a certain level of experience or education in real estate. The state requires all broker license applicants to have one of the following: 

  • A minimum of 2 years of full-time experience as a licensed salesperson within the past 5 years. You can also have the equivalent experience as a part-time agent, which would total 4 years.
  • 2 years of equivalent experience in real estate as an unlicensed professional. This experience could be as a property manager, real estate developer, escrow officer, or any other position as a real estate professional.
  • A 4-year degree with a major or minor in real estate from an accredited college.

If you are a licensed full-time agent, you will be required to submit an Employment Verification form duly signed by a brokerage. If you’re claiming to have equivalent experience, then you have to submit an Equivalent Experience Verification form with a detailed description of your experience, as well as 2 signatures from people willing to vouch for you.

#2. Get Your 8 Certificates

All applicants for a broker’s license in California must have successfully completed 8 statutory college-level courses. The only exception to this is if you’re a member of the California State Bar. These courses include: 

  • Real Estate Practice
  • Legal Aspects of Real Estate
  • Real Estate Finance
  • Real Estate Appraisal
  • Real Estate Economics or Accounting

Three courses from the following list of elective classes

  • Real Estate Principles
  • Business Law
  • Property Management
  • Escrow
  • Real Estate Office Administration
  • Mortgage Loan Brokering and Lending
  • Advanced Legal Aspects of Real Estate
  • Advanced Real Estate Finance
  • Advanced Real Estate Appraisal
  • Computer Applications in Real Estate
  • Common Interest Developments

Note that if you take both Real Estate Economics and Real Estate Accounting, then you will only need to select two courses from the electives list. 

The courses above are to be taken at an institution of higher learning that’s accredited by the Western Association of Schools and Colleges or a private real estate school that’s accredited by the California Department of Real Estate (DRE). Each course should be a minimum of 45 hours long, and depending on the education provider, can either be three semester-units or four quarter-units. 

After taking these courses, you must also sit for and pass a final exam conducted by your education provider. After this, you will be provided with your transcript or course completion certificate, which will be needed during your broker application.

#3. Pass the Real Estate State Exam

After completing your courses, the next thing to do is apply for the state’s real estate broker’s exam. This can be done by filling out a Broker Examination Application, which should be submitted to the DRE, alongside supporting documentation and an exam fee of $95. 

On your application form, you’ll be given the choice to either self-schedule or have the DRE schedule the exam for you. If you choose the latter, an Examination Schedule Notice will be sent to you, containing the date, time and location of your exam. If you choose to self-schedule, however, you’ll be notified about when you can. To schedule your exam, you’ll need to register for or log in to an eLicensing account.

You must pass the California real estate licensing broker exam within 2 years of applying for it. This exam is held every day of the week at testing facilities across the state, located in:

  • Los Angeles
  • Oakland
  • San Diego
  • Fresno
  • Sacramento

The exam consists of 200 multiple-choice questions, covering the following topics: 

  • Contracts
  • Financing
  • Laws of Agency
  • Practice of Real Estate and Mandated Disclosures
  • Property Ownership and Land Use Controls and Regulations
  • Transfer of Property
  • Valuation and Market Analysis

Each candidate will have a total of 5 hours to complete the exam. Once you are finished with the electronic test, your results will be displayed on the screen. To pass, you need to have answered 75% of the questions correctly. If you didn't pass the exam, don’t worry, you can retake it as many times as needed within the 2 years. 

#4. Submit Your Paperwork to the Department of Real Estate (DRE)

After passing your exam, you can then submit a Broker License Application to the DRE. This application should contain all supporting documents that show that you meet the education and experience requirements of the state. You will need to pay a license fee of $300 either by credit card, check, cashier’s check, or money order. 

The paperwork you need to submit during this application depends on your experience qualification but generally includes:

  • An Employment Verification form or an Equivalent Experience Verification
  • Your transcript or Course Completion Certificate
  • Proof of license fee payment  
  • Your Broker’s License Application form

The above documents should be submitted to: 

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

Note you are required to complete a fingerprint-based background check regardless if you have already completed one to become a salesperson agent. To do this, fill out a Live Scan Service Request Form and take it to an approved live scan service location in the state. A fingerprinting fee of $49 will be required. You may also have to pay any additional service charges to the live scan provider. 

After submitting your fingerprints, you should also submit a copy of the Live Scan Service Request Form to the DRE.

Frequently Asked Questions about Getting a Broker’s License

Here are answers to some frequently asked questions you may have regarding becoming a licensed broker in California:

Should You Become a Real Estate Broker?

The truth is, although being a broker comes with many exciting career opportunities, it also comes with lots of responsibilities that could be overwhelming. It might therefore help to consider the pros and cons of becoming a broker, as well as your unique characteristics, such as your industry knowledge, entrepreneurial spirit, leadership skills, and your risk appetite. 

If the pros outweigh the cons for you, and if you possess the basic characteristics needed by a broker, you should consider becoming a real estate broker.

How Fast Can You Get a Broker’s License?

The entire process of getting a broker’s license in California will typically take anything between 3 - 6 months. The activities that account for this timeframe include completing the pre-licensing courses, passing the exam, and submitting an application to the DRE for review. You should however note that this timeframe may vary depending on the DRE, as well as your personal circumstances. 

To quicken this process, you can try to finish your pre-licensing education course in the shortest time allowed. You should also get all the necessary application documents ready for submission to the DRE as quickly as possible. 

Can You Get a Real Estate Broker’s License Without 2-Years Salesperson Experience?

Yes, you can get a real estate broker’s license without 2-year salesperson experience in California. Although this requirement is a major one, the DRE has provided other alternatives for people who do not have 2 years of experience as a licensed salesperson. They include:

  • 2 years of equivalent unlicensed experience in real estate. This experience could be as a real estate professional in any form, such as a property manager, real estate developer, or escrow officer
  • A 4-year degree with a major or minor in real estate from an accredited college

If you have any of the above-mentioned requirements, then you can apply for a real estate broker’s license.

How Much Does a California Real Estate Broker’s License Cost?

The amount a California real estate broker’s license will cost you depends on a few factors. These include your choice of a pre-licensing education provider or how many times it takes to pass the broker’s real estate exam. That being said, here are some fees you should expect to pay during the process of getting a broker’s license (Note: that prices are only attached to fees with fixed prices):

  • Broker’s examination fee: $95
  • Broker’s license application fee: $300
  • Pre-licensing education
  • Fingerprinting: $49

Is a Real Estate Broker’s License Hard to Get?

Getting a real estate broker’s license is a considerably difficult task. Not only does it require a lot of background experience, but it also requires hundreds of hours to learn real estate concepts in order to qualify. Perhaps the most difficult part of the process is passing the broker’s licensing examination. 

This examination requires a lot of planning and studying if you have any hopes of passing it. Ideally, the more time you spend studying and planning for the exam, the less difficult it should be. 

What is the California Real Estate Broker’s State Exam Like?

The California real estate broker’s examination consists of 200 questions with a total of 5 hours to complete. These questions are based on various real estate topics, including Contracts, Financing, Laws of Agency, Practice of Real Estate and Mandated Disclosures, Property Ownership and Land Use Controls and Regulations, Transfer of Property, and Valuation and Market Analysis. 

This exam requires a minimum score of 75%  to pass and has a passing rate of 50%. This implies that the exam is quite difficult, and requires extra effort to pass. We recommend a real estate broker’s 

Can You Transfer a Broker’s License from Another State to California?

No, you cannot transfer a broker’s license from another state to California. Every license applicant must meet experience and education requirements, as well as pass the state’s broker’s examination before qualifying for a license in California. 

Should I Stay at My Brokerage or Start a New One?

If you’re a new broker, then it might be better for you to stay at your current brokerage for a while before going off to start a new one. This is so that you can get accustomed to the responsibilities of a broker and gather all the necessary knowledge and financial resources needed to successfully establish and run a new brokerage. 

However, if you intend to get your broker’s license to start your own brokerage, then you’ll have wind at your back to launch into an exciting business endeavor.

How Often Do I Need to Renew My Broker’s License?

In California, you are required to renew your broker’s license every 4 years before the expiration date listed on the license. Note that to qualify for a license renewal for the first time, you need to complete 45 hours of post-licensing education in California.

Which Real Estate School Should I Choose?

The ideal real estate school is one that meets your learning needs at the right price point. Therefore, when choosing a real estate school, here are some factors to consider:

  • The academic history and success rate of the school
  • The qualifications of their teachers
  • The school’s teaching style and class format 
  • The quality and depth of their course content 

CA Realty Training is one of the best real estate schools to enroll in while completing your broker’s pre-licensing education. We offer a high-quality and personal approach to assisting each of our students throughout the learning process. 

You can also purchase our exam prep package to get a plethora of valuable resources to help you pass the broker’s exam on your first try. Included at an affordable price are:

  • 1,500+ California real estate exam practice questions
  • Customizable practice state exams
  • Vocabulary flashcards
  • Video explanations
  • E-book study guide

What Do Real Estate Brokers Do?

Real estate brokers are professionals who assist their clients through the buying, selling and transferring of real estate property. Brokers perform a wide range of duties, a few of which include:

  • Mentoring and overseeing the real estate agents who work under them
  • Reviewing and correcting important transaction documents 
  • Filing property paperwork
  • Overseeing the flow of funds in and out of escrow accounts 
  • Settling conflicts during a dispute 
  • Witnessing legal transactions, such as contract signing 

How Much Do Real Estate Brokers Make?

In the US, the average annual salary of real estate brokers is $68,256 per year. In California, this will be skewed on the higher end as the property value is significantly higher than the rest of the country. A broker’s salary can differ based on their specialty, the size of their brokerage and the state within which they operate.

Final Thoughts on Getting a Real Estate License in California

The article above has discussed in great detail the four major steps you need to take to get your real estate broker’s license in California. With dedication, hard work, and the right knowledge at your disposal, you can embark on this journey to growing a fulfilling and prosperous career in the real estate industry.

TL;DR: To become a real estate broker in California, you have to have 2-years of prior real estate salesperson experience, complete your broker's pre-licensing education, pass the broker's real estate exam, and submit your paperwork to the Department of Real Estate (DRE.)

Jul 18, 2023
How To
10 min