This article is part of a larger series on How to Become a Real Estate Agent.
If you’re a North Carolinian who wants to get a real estate license and become a provisional broker, you’ll need to complete 75 hours of prelicensing courses. You also need to submit a license application, get a background check, and pass the real estate exam. In just eight steps, you’ll be able to go through the process of getting your North Carolina real estate license.
1. Meet the Legal Requirements for Your North Carolina Real Estate License
In order to become a real estate agent in North Carolina, you must be at least 18 years of age or older, be a U.S. citizen or lawfully admitted alien, and have at least a high school diploma or GED.
Did you know? North Carolina no longer has mutual reciprocity agreements with any other state. Instead, anyone with equivalent experience who has held an active real estate license (in the U.S. or Canada) in the last three years can obtain a North Carolina real estate license by applying and passing only the state section of the exam. This new approach has been referenced as a “limited license recognition” by the North Carolina Real Estate Commission.
In terms of portability, North Carolina is a cooperative state. That means it allows out-of-state agents and brokers to conduct business in the state. To learn more about real estate license portability in North Carolina, check out our real estate license reciprocity and portability guide.
2. Complete Required Prelicensing Courses
If you meet the state’s requirements for real estate brokers, you can start completing your prelicensing courses. You can choose to take these classes in a physical classroom, live online, or through an online accredited real estate school. Courses range from $320 to $635 and will cover these North Carolina Real Estate Commission (NCREC)-mandated topics:
- Basic real estate concepts and law
- Property taxation
- Land use controls
- Environmental hazards
- Brokerage relationships and practices
- Real estate contracts
- Real estate financing
- Closing a real estate sale transaction
- Real property valuation
- Property insurance basics
- Fair housing laws
- Landlord and tenant
- Property management
- Federal income taxation of real estate
- Basic construction
- Basic real estate investment
- North Carolina real estate license law
- North Carolina real estate commission rules and trust account guidelines
Did you know? Any active member of the North Carolina Bar who is in good standing and qualified under the real estate license law is exempt from taking the real estate course.
There are many North Carolina online real estate schools that will help you prepare for the real estate exam and your real estate career. If you’re looking for a real estate provider that offers virtual classes taught by a real estate instructor, consider the NC Real Estate School. With many different class schedules and an affordable cost, it can help you start your real estate career on the right foot.
3. Obtain a Background Check
After your prelicensing courses are completed, you must submit a background check along with your license application. You can order the background check online via NCREC Criminal Record Checks or mail in a form.
If you’ve lived in North Carolina for the past seven years, the background check will likely only cost $50. However, you must submit a criminal record report for every state or country you’ve lived in the last few years, which can cause the cost to change. You can order this background check before completing the NCREC application, but it must be done no more than six months before your application.
4. Submit Your North Carolina Real Estate License Application
After completing your prelicensing courses and background check, you must complete your license application on the NCREC Portal. After registering for the portal, you’ll be asked to input the following information:
- Full name
- Social Security number
- Email address
- Education provider, instructor, and course information
- License history
- Places of residence
- Employment history
- Check if it is your first time taking the exam
- Criminal offenses, professional license disciplinary actions, and liens or unpaid judgments
Be sure that your background check is submitted within six months of your North Carolina real estate license application. At the end of the application, you’ll pay a $100 license fee. If your application is approved, you’ll receive a Notice of Exam Eligibility via email within two to three days of submitting your application that will allow you to schedule your exam. This Notice is valid for 180 calendar days.
Did you know? 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 the Federal Bureau of Investigation. Upon investigation, each applicant will be considered on their own merits based on a Character and Fitness Review.
5. Take the North Carolina Real Estate Exam
With your Notice of Exam Eligibility in hand, it’s time to take your North Carolina real estate license exam. It’s best to schedule the exam as quickly as possible since you only have 180 days to pass both the national and state portions of the exam.
If you fail one or both sections, you must wait at least 10 days to reattempt it. If you have not passed both sections of the exam within 180 days, you’ll have to reapply and pay the $100 application fee as well as the $56 exam fee again.
North Carolina Real Estate Exam Details
80 national-focused questions 40 state-specific questions
Items to Bring to Exam
70% to pass the North Carolina Real Estate Salesperson Exam (at least 57/80 on the national portion and 29/40 on the State portion)
Schedule Your Exam
Once you receive your Notice of Exam Eligibility, you must wait one business day before registering for the exam on the PSI website. You pay $56 to PSI during registration, and you can choose an exam date and location that is most convenient for you. In most cases, you’ll be able to take the exam within seven days of your registration.
Since you have a limited time to pass your real estate exam in North Carolina, you may want to consider going through a real estate prep course to help you pass on the first try.
Real Estate Exam Scholar is a comprehensive exam prep course provider that offers a money-back guarantee if you don’t pass on the first try.
6. Pick a Company to Work For
To hold an active North Carolina real estate license, you must find a sponsoring brokerage to affiliate your license. To make your choice a little bit easier, check out our in-depth guide on choosing the right real estate company to work for.
Although there are many successful brokerages in the Tar Heel State, below you’ll find the top five brokerages reported for 2021.
David Hoffman Group
Keller Williams Realty
Mary Cheatham King Real Estate
Keller Williams Realty
The Premier Team
Andy Bovender Team
Allen Tate Realtors
Your Property People
(Source: Real Trends 2021)
North Carolina Cities With Highest Median Sales Price 2021
With higher home prices come higher commission checks. To get a sense of which cities are bringing in the bucks in North Carolina, check out this sales data from Towncharts.com below:
7. Finalize Your North Carolina Real Estate License Application
Although you’ve already submitted your license application, you must finalize your application after passing your North Carolina real estate license exam. The NCREC will consider your character and approve your license.
In most cases, you will receive your license certificate within approximately 10 days of your real estate exam. The final step is to affiliate your license with a brokerage and activate it on the NCREC website. This will take up to 30 days to process.
8. Start Your Real Estate Career
Now that you’ve learned how to become a real estate agent in North Carolina, you’re ready to start your real estate journey. For more information, here are some of our articles with content that is perfect for new real estate agents:
- Our article with 14 Real Estate Agent Tips covers the basics that every agent should know when they are starting out, including how to write a real estate business plan
- Learn how to generate real estate buyer leads
- Get nine strategies to help with real estate seller lead generation
- Jumpstart your career with the top 25 New Real Estate Agent Tips From the Pros
- Get the tools you need to build a strong real estate business out of the gate using the best real estate software and tools