In order to continue to act as a real estate agent or broker, you must periodically renew your real estate license by your state’s deadline. Each state has different renewal rules, so be sure to determine your state’s specific requirements and complete continuing education classes before submitting paperwork to complete your real estate license renewal.
Here are the 5 common steps needed to renew your real estate license.
1. Know Your Renewal Requirements
In order to maintain your status as a real estate agent, you must renew your real estate license by the deadline in your state. Most states require real estate agents and brokers to renew their real estate license every few years. For example, in Oklahoma, you must renew your real estate license every three years, and in Arizona it’s every two years. However, Michigan brokers and agents have the same deadline every three years.
Additionally, if you do not already have a sponsoring broker, you need to join one before applying for your license renewal. This means that you are associated with a brokerage. This task should already be done if you have been actively practicing real estate. If not, now is the time to join. When you submit your real estate license renewal, your sponsoring broker must have your license number associated with their brokerage.
In single-licensure states like Colorado and North Carolina, there are no “real estate agents.” For example, the entry-level status of real estate professionals in North Carolina is “provisional broker.” However, a provisional broker must still be associated with a Broker In Charge (BIC) for their license renewal.
2. Attend Continuing Education Courses
Many states have varying continuing education (CE) requirements if it is your first time renewing your real estate license. If your state does not have additional requirements for first-time renewals, you may have post-licensing course requirements. Subsequent real estate renewals for agents and brokers usually have a decreased amount of credit requirements.
The four types of continuing education requirements are:
States like North Carolina and Georgia do not have additional requirements for your first renewal, but they require a post-licensing course. Post-licensing courses are designed to educate and prepare new real estate agents or brokers for success, and they must be completed within one to three years of receiving your real estate license.
In North Carolina, the post-licensing course is 90 hours and consists of three mandatory 30-hour classes. You are required to complete a minimum of 30 hours in your first year and must complete all 90 hours in your first three years. North Carolina only allows post-licensing and continuing education courses to be taken in person, so licensed brokers must plan for this.
First Time Renewal Courses
Some states, such as Texas and California, have additional requirements if you are a real estate agent or broker renewing your real estate license for the first time. In Texas, you must complete 98 hours of Sales Agent Apprentice Education (SAE) courses before your first real estate license renewal.
In California, the first real estate agent or broker license renewal has a different number of mandatory coursework than the subsequent renewals. Be sure to check your state’s CE requirements and leave plenty of time to complete additional coursework.
Subsequent Renewal Courses
After your first license renewal or post-licensing requirements, you will be responsible for renewing your real estate license by your state’s deadline. The requirements for subsequent real estate license renewals have a decreased number of hours, but you must complete them in time to receive the certificates and submit them along with the additional paperwork and fees.
State-Specific Mandatory and Elective Courses
In most states, there are additional mandatory CE course topics for each real estate license renewal period, specific for that region. For example, in Texas, eight of the required CE hours must be legal updates. The remaining required hours can be made up of elective choices, which means you can take classes about topics of your choice.
Here are some examples from McKissock Learning, one of the best real estate CE course providers:
- How to Work with Real Estate Investors
- New Construction Essentials: Luxury Homes
- Educating Homebuyers
- Preparing a Listing Agreement: An In-Depth Look
- Uncovering the Facts about Mortgage Financing
- Social Media Success
There are hundreds of other elective course topics from various online real estate schools. When you purchase continuing education courses online, make sure you consider the elective topics and how they will help you grow your real estate business.
Examples of Real Estate License Renewal Requirements
Every two years
Every four years
Every two years
Every two years
$110 to $457
Every three years, Oct. 31, 2021 for all agents and brokers
$78 to $108
3. Choose a Real Estate School
The CE courses you choose must be from a school that is approved by your state. You can take continuing education courses in-person or online, depending on your state’s requirements. Online CE classes are very common, and allow you to take courses affordably, independently, on your own schedule, and in a variety of formats.
Here are the top three online real estate school options around the country:
- Real Estate Express: This school is partnered with McKissock Learning, and offers CE course packages in more states than any other online school. Its text-based lessons can be done on your own schedule and are highly rated by real estate professionals.
- Kaplan Real Estate Education: Kaplan Real Estate is the only online school to offer classes in reading formats, live instructor classes, webinars, on-demand videos, and even home study, where you receive a textbook.
- OnCourse Learning: OnCourse offers many class packages completely online, without the need for instructors or professors. Students have rated their courses very well, and they have some of the most affordable courses of all online schools.
4. Complete CE Requirements
In order to renew your real estate license, you must complete all of your continuing education courses and receive a certificate or proof of completion. Some states, like Michigan, don’t require proof of CE at the time of your license renewal, but you still need a certificate in the case of an audit. Most states allow you to choose your CE course format, so you can take a live class or complete them online.
Continuing Education Course Formats
Some states, like North Carolina, require real estate professionals to take all CE courses in person. However, the majority of states allow real estate agents and brokers to choose their course format.
These are the course formats in which you can find CE courses:
- In-person classes: If you learn best in a classroom setting, you may want to consider in-person courses. While they can be more difficult to schedule, it’s important to set yourself up for success so consider whether this is your preferred learning style.
- Online reading lessons: Online courses are often the most affordable option to complete your CE credits, and the most convenient. You can complete each lesson on your own time. However, it can be difficult to digest large amounts of reading material.
- Live webinars online: Live webinars marry the convenience of online courses with the support of a live instructor. However, they are not offered frequently and only through a few real estate schools.
- On-demand video lessons: On-demand lessons can be taken at any time of the day and can help agents and brokers with various learning styles. However, they are not offered from most online schools and can be more costly.
- Home study: Home study courses are only offered by Kaplan. They allow you to read through a hard copy textbook and mail in your exam questions to prove course completion.
When choosing your CE course format, consider the cost, your schedule, and your learning style.
Pro Tip: Online classes are convenient for busy real estate agents and brokers, so they can complete the class on their own time. However, most online schools only give students access to courses for six months, and some do not make extensions. Make sure you check the dates of your course validity in order to complete them on time.
5. Submit Paperwork & Complete License Renewal
The final step to renew your real estate license is to submit the necessary paperwork. If your license is expired, revoked, or inactive, you may have additional paperwork or necessary tasks to complete your license renewal.
All real estate sales agents and brokers will need to submit these documents:
- CE certificate of completion: It can take a school from a few days to a few weeks to process this certificate once you’ve completed your course. While some states do not require this for your license renewal, you must have it on file by the time you submit your renewal application.
- Renewal application: You can find your state’s application on its licensing board website. You may be able to complete and submit the application online, or you may need to print and mail it.
- Renewal fee: The renewal fee can be paid online or by mail, depending on your state. Some states charge extra if you do not pay by a preferred method. Renewal fee amounts differ by state and depend on your role as an agent or broker, or the status of your license.
All states charge a license fee when you renew your real estate license. Although the fees vary in each state, real estate agent fees range from $32 to $245, and real estate broker fees range from $36 to $300.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
How often do I have to renew my real estate license?
Every state has its own renewal deadlines, but they most frequently range from two years to four years. To find your state’s renewal deadline, check the real estate department or licensing board’s website.
What if I miss the renewal deadline?
Each state has a different procedure for late real estate license renewals. In some states, your license will immediately expire, and you must retake the real estate exam and submit an application fee to receive a second license. Other states provide a grace period after the application deadline, or change your license to an inactive status.
For example, in New York, if you miss the real estate license renewal deadline, your license is immediately expired. However, in Michigan, there is a grace period of 60 days. During this grace period, you can submit the necessary documents for an additional fee. Although you cannot continue practicing real estate during this grace period, you can continue conducting business as soon as your renewal application is submitted.
In other states, you can hold and renew a real estate license in an inactive status. Inactive real estate agents cannot complete transactions, but they can request reactivation of their license without retaking the real estate exam.
Can I renew my real estate license after it expires?
If your real estate license is expired and you want to make it active, you must determine your state’s requirements. Some states will automatically require you to retake the real estate exam and submit an application fee. If your license has been expired for less than three years, some states will allow you to renew your license by completing the CE credits you missed.
To renew your real estate license, you must determine your state’s renewal requirements. Then you’ll choose a real estate school, complete continuing education hours, submit the necessary paperwork, and complete your license renewal.
While these are the steps necessary to renew your real estate license and continue working in real estate transactions, there may be additional steps required by your state. Make sure you check your state’s website for more details.