This article is part of a larger series on How to Become a Real Estate Agent.
California real estate agent license renewal must happen every four years to keep a license active; renewal requirements include the completion of 45 clock hours of mandatory continuing (CE) coursework and submission of course completion proof to the state of California. Coursework must be completed within 90 days of license expiration.
These are the five steps for California real estate license renewal:
1. Determine Coursework Requirements
License renewal in California is somewhat unique compared to the renewal process in other states in that first-time license renewals have different coursework requirements than subsequent renewals. For example, you will need 45 hours of coursework to renew your real estate license in California for the first renewal, but subsequent renewals only require 35 hours of continuing education.
In addition, the state also specifies that 41 of the required 45 hours for first-time renewal be spent covering mandatory topics. However, the state only requires 26 of the 35 hours required for secondary renewals be spent learning about mandatory topics. These mandatory classes are required so that agents are aware of changes to laws and regulations and cover everything from ethics to risk management and consumer protection.
2. Choose a Real Estate School
While California offers classroom-based education for both prelicensing and continuing education, online schools offer the greatest flexibility because they allow you to take classes all at once or one at a time. In addition, the best schools for license renewal in California also offer additional benefits for busy agents.
For example, McKissock Learning, which is a subsidiary of Real Estate Express, offers a program featuring 24/7 access. It also features instructor assistance, progress tracking, printable chapters, and more. Packages of complete coursework for first-time and second-time renewals start at $58.95.
3. Take Continued Education Courses & Pass Tests
Once you know what courses you need to take and decide on a school, sign up for your classes online. You have one year from the date of course enrollment to complete your coursework. This should be sufficient for the course hour requirements for either first-time or second-time license renewal.
However, it is also worth noting that all online real estate license renewal courses end with a final test, similar to the process for gaining your real estate agent or broker license. These are proctored with a unique time limit; each one offers only one minute per question. If your final test has 30 questions, for example, the allotted time for the test will be 30 minutes.
Your test will be available through your online dashboard following completion of a course. If you fail the test, then you are allowed to retake it once. Upon failing a second time, real estate agents must retake the course again before being able to retake the test.
Pro tip: Unlike what is required by other states, California real estate renewal classes are based on clock hours, not credit hours. To ensure agents meet this requirement, courses have seat timers, which show how long an agent is in attendance for a particular class. Be mindful of this when setting aside study time, as you will not get access to end-of-course tests until you have spent the required “seat hours” in the course.
4. Gather & Submit Necessary Forms
After completing your coursework and passing your tests, submit your license renewal application to the California Department of Real Estate. You will need any CE certificates supplied upon passing your course tests, the course titles, and total hours of each class.
These are the required inclusions for renewal application for the state of California:
- Fees: There is a fee of $245 to process your application for renewal in California.
- Application form: This form asks questions about your residency, real estate background, felony convictions, and purpose for the license. These should be easily answered questions that do not require excessive documentation—unless you have a felony conviction.
- Proof of CE: As part of the application process, you will be required to submit your CE certificate numbers to verify completion of required coursework.
You can download license renewal forms from the California Department of Real Estate or you can renew entirely online through the eLicensing online system. After submitting the necessary forms and fees, you will have to wait up to six weeks to receive application acceptance and a new license. You can, however, track the status of your application online.
5. Keep Track of Renewal Dates
Although the state of California will send you a letter or email 60 days before your next renewal date, you should not rely on these notices. It is easier if you track your renewal date and plan for your coursework ahead of time. Allowing yourself extra time can keep you from paying extra fees and filing more paperwork if your license expires.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Can I renew my real estate license after expiration?
You can renew your license up to two years after the expiration date in California without retaking the licensing exam. However, you cannot practice real estate or complete any sales until your California real estate license has been renewed.
What are the real estate license renewal fees?
At $245, the fee for renewing your license is less than the fee to get your California real estate license in the first place, as long as you renew before the expiration date. If you are renewing your real estate license after two years from its expiration, the cost jumps an extra $122, to $367.
What if I fail a course exam?
You get two chances to take the exam for any course. If you fail the same exam twice, then you have to retake the class for it to count toward your license renewal requirements. To avoid this problem, consider taking prep tests and studying with other agents.
To renew your real estate license in California, you have to complete 45 hours of continuing education and elective credits and submit your proof of completion to the Department of Real Estate with your application. While there is some flexibility in scheduling for the completion of required coursework, it is recommended you completed all necessary CE credits early to avoid license expiration.
Renewing a real estate license in California can be a time-consuming process, requiring extensive planning to avoid extra renewal fees and additional paperwork. McKissock Learning offers affordable online courses that save you both time and money. Find out more about their extensive CE course offerings today.