In this guide you’ll learn all the details you need to know to get your license and become a real estate agent in California.
You’ll learn the basic real estate licensing requirements in California, information about the exam including pass rates and test prep, reciprocity rules, county by county breakdowns of the most expensive real estate in California, and more.
Okay, grab a cup of coffee, and let’s start at the beginning.
Basic California Real Estate Licensing Requirements
Getting a real estate license in California is a little tougher compared to other states. You need a total of 135 classroom hours of commission-approved pre-licensing courses. In comparison, to get a license in Florida, real estate licenses require applicants to complete only 63 hours of courses. Here’s a quick breakdown of the real estate licensing requirements in California.
Pre-licensing Courses Required in California
In order to get a real estate license in California, you will need to complete 135 hours of real estate pre-licensing courses that will cover:
- Real Estate Principles (45 hours)
- Real Estate Practice (45 hours)
- California Business Law and Real Estate Math (45 hours)
California Real Estate Exam Information
While the California Real Estate License exam has a higher passing rate (49-60 percent) than other states, you should still take studying for the test seriously.
If you’re looking for help in studying for the test, we recommend Exam Prep Master, a top-notch and affordable exam prep course from Real Estate Express. Best of all, you get your money back if you don’t pass your exam on the first try.
California Pre-Licensing Exam Questions
- Total of 150 multiple-choice questions (to be completed in 3 hours and 15 minutes)
What to Bring to the Exam
- 2 valid forms of identification with signatures. One ID must be a government-issued Photo ID
- Confirmation number when the test reservation was made.
You must earn a score of 70% or higher to pass the California Real Estate Exam
California Real Estate License fee
Exam Fee in California
You need to have at least a high school diploma or GED in order to apply for a license in California.
Applicants must be at least 18 of age or older
Any U.S. citizen or a lawfully admitted alien can apply.
Any active member of the California Bar who is in good standing and qualified under the real estate license law is exempt from taking the real estate prerequisite course.
Applicants who have an existing criminal record may still apply for a real estate license. It would be best if applicants were to include their criminal history along with the necessary documents related to the conviction, if any, on their application. After submitting your fingerprints, your application will be forwarded to the Division of Criminal Justice Information Systems and to the Federal Bureau of Investigation. Upon investigation, each applicant will be considered on their own merits.
Due to mandatory wait periods, it takes 5-6 months from education to license in hand.
Online Real Estate Schools in California
While taking your real estate pre-licensing course in person can be helpful, many online programs offer the exact same courses at a much more affordable price. Real Estate Express offers exam preparation programs and pre-licensing courses to help real estate agents get a strong start on their careers.
California Real Estate License Reciprocity and Portability
If you plan on working in states besides California, then you need to know the real estate license reciprocity and portability laws for California.
- Reciprocity: California doesn’t have reciprocity with any other state.
- Portability: Physical Location
To learn more about real estate license portability in California, check out our guide on real estate license reciprocity and portability here.
How to Choose the Right Real Estate Company to Work For in California
Let’s face it. Choosing the right brokerage to work for in any state isn’t easy. In order to make your choice a little bit easier, check out our in-depth guide on choosing the right real estate company to work for.
If you’re curious about which California brokerages are the most successful, check out Real Trends list of the top real estate brokerages in California for 2017 below.
|Real Estate Brokerage||Sales Volume (2016)|
|Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage/Sotheby’s International Realty/Climb/NRT||$21,741,542,000|
|Alain Pinel Realtors||$11,179,788,519|
|Pacific Union International -John Aaroe Group||$7,648,235,565|
|Intero Real Estate/HomeServices||$6,537,708,779|
|Real Estate Brokerage||Sales Volume (2016)|
|Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage/Sotheby’s International Realty/NRT||$15,360,816,000|
|Keller Williams - Forward Management||$5,475,318,335|
|First Team Real Estate||$4,845,344,000|
|RE/MAX Estate Properties||$4,452,000,000|
*Data from Real Trends Market Leaders 2017
California Counties with Highest Average Listing Price and Highest Median Sales Price 2017
Let’s face it, higher listing prices mean higher commission checks! To get a sense of which counties offer the best opportunities for big bucks in California check out this sales data from Trulia’s California home price page below (week ending June 21):
|County||Average List Price||Median Sales price|