To become a real estate agent in Rhode Island, the Department of Business Regulation (DBR) requires you to complete 45 hours of approved prelicensing education, including three hours of agency law. In addition, you must complete a three-hour lead poisoning and lead hazard mitigation course, get a background check, pass the exam, acquire errors and omissions insurance, and submit an application. If this sounds complicated, read along so we can guide you through the step-by-step process to get your Rhode Island real estate license.
1. Meet the Legal Requirements for Your Rhode Island Real Estate License
To qualify to get your real estate license in Rhode Island, you must meet a few state requirements. You must be 18 years of age or older and be a legal resident of the U.S.
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Rhode Island offers reciprocity with Connecticut and Massachusetts. To apply for reciprocity or non-resident licensure, salespersons must submit a background check, Letter of Good Standing, Power of Attorney form, get errors and omissions insurance, and complete a three-hour course to obtain and submit a Lead Poisoning/Lead Hazard Mitigation Certificate of Completion with their application.
Also, Rhode Island is a cooperative state in terms of portability. It allows out-of-state real estate agents or brokers to enter the state to conduct real estate business physically. However, for out-of-state agents to work on a real estate transaction, they must have a co-brokerage agreement with a licensee of that state. To learn more about real estate license portability in Rhode Island, check out our guide on real estate license reciprocity and portability.
If you have a criminal record, you may still be able to become a real estate agent in Rhode Island. The DBR will review and evaluate your Criminal History Record Information (CHRI) to determine eligibility. They will consider relevance, number of offenses, pattern, evidence of harm, and other factors to understand the full scope of the applicant’s record. The DBR will either deny the application or grant the application with or without conditions. Read more about the regulations on the Rhode Island Department of State website.
2. Complete Required Prelicensing Courses
If you’ve met the state requirements, you’re ready to begin Rhode Island prelicensing education. The 45 hours must include three hours of lead poisoning and lead hazard mitigation as part of its coursework. These classes can be completed in-person or online through an accredited real estate school. Costs for these schools can range from $229 to $349, and will review the following topics:
- Real property characteristics, legal descriptions, and property use
- Forms of ownership, transfer, and recording of title
- Property value and appraisal
- Real estate contracts and agency
- Real estate practice
- Property disclosures and environmental issues
- Financing and settlement
- Real estate math calculations
- Duties and obligations under licensing law
- Statutory requirements governing the activities of licensees.
In addition to the above 45 hours, Rhode Island licensees are required to complete three additional class hours to receive a Lead Poisoning/Lead Hazard Mitigation Certificate. For a full list of local and national schools that offer this course, visit the Rhode Island Prelicensing Course List.
Start your courses right away at a school like Freedom Trail Realty School. Since Massachusetts and Rhode Island have reciprocity, Freedom Trail recommends that you get your Massachusetts license first by completing 40 hours of education and then applying for your Rhode Island license through reciprocity. This method saves time and provides you with two licenses for the price of one, especially since these states are close neighbors. It’s a great way to showcase your expertise and expand your knowledge in two locations. Check out the details on the Freedom Trail website today.
3. Take the Rhode Island Real Estate Exam
The Rhode Island real estate license exam is split into general and state law portions, and you must pass both to move forward with the licensing process. The exam is administered on the computer, and you are given the results immediately after you’ve completed the exam.
If you pass, you will receive information on how to apply for your license. If you fail, you will be given a score report that includes diagnostic information to let you know your strengths and weaknesses, so you can study and retake the exam. If you fail only one portion of the exam, you can just retake that portion. You must retake the failed portion(s) within one year of the initial examination. Otherwise, you’ll be required to retake and pass the entire exam.
Rhode Island Real Estate Exam Details
80 nationally focused questions
50 state-specific questions
Items to Bring to the Exam
2 valid forms of identification (ID) with signatures:
70% to pass the Rhode Island Real Estate Salesperson Exam, with at least 56/80 on the national portion and 35/50 on the state portion
Unfortunately, Rhode Island does not post its average exam pass rating.
Schedule Your Exam
The global testing company, Pearson VUE, is the official administrator of the Rhode Island real estate license exam. To begin scheduling, you’ll be required to create an account on the Pearson VUE website, which will then allow access to the scheduling portal.
You can schedule directly on the website and will receive a copy of the Rhode Island Candidate Handbook for additional information. Pay the $50 exam fee per part (national and state) directly through the Pearson website using a credit card, debit card, or voucher.
It’s important to go into exam day prepared and confident so you can pass on your first attempt.PrepAgent can help you succeed using tools like vocabulary worksheets, flashcards, live webinars, and audio lessons to make sure you feel ready on the day of the exam. Choose from its one-week, one-month, and one-year packages based on the level of assistance and resources you need.
For extra guidance on passing your real estate exam, download our Exam Prep e-book. We include a pre-assessment to test your knowledge as well as helpful information about what’s included in the exam, the length and structure of the exam, study tips, and sample questions from PrepAgent.
4. Complete a Background Check
All applicants are required to submit a Criminal History Record (CHR) for their license application. Both state and federal CHR checks are conducted by the Rhode Island Department of the Attorney General in person at their office at 4 Howard Avenue, Cranston, Rhode Island.
The cost to complete the state check is $5 and the federal check is $35, which can be paid via credit or debit card, check, or money order made payable to “BCI.” You must bring a state-issued photo ID, such as a passport or driver’s license, with you to the location.
If you’d like to complete the process via mail instead, complete the BCI Release/Disclaimer Form and send a copy of your photo ID, self-addressed and stamped envelope, and payment to the Attorney General’s Office. For additional questions and information, contact the Department of the Attorney General at (401) 274-4400.
5. Pick a Company to Work For
In order to hold an active Rhode Island real estate license, you must find a sponsoring brokerage to affiliate your license. Your brokerage must complete Section 2 on your application to activate your license. To make your choice a little bit easier, check out our in-depth article explaining how to choose a real estate company to work for. Although there are many successful brokerages, below you’ll find some of the top brokerages in the Ocean State:
The Fitzpatrick Team
The Gammons Team
Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Commonwealth Real Estate
Kathy Bain Farrell Hometown Experts Team
RE/MAX Town and Country
The Martone Group
(Source: Real Trends)
6. Acquire Errors & Omissions Insurance
To have an active license, all Rhode Island real estate agents are required to have errors and omissions insurance (E&O). This is used to protect real estate businesses from mistakes made during professional service. DBR works closely with Rice Insurance Services, LLC to provide affordable options, or you can choose your own provider and submit a certificate of coverage with your application.
7. Apply for Your Rhode Island License
Once you’ve found a sponsoring brokerage and purchased errors and omissions insurance, you’re ready to submit your application to become a real estate agent in Rhode Island. Your application can either be submitted in the mail using the paper application or through the DBR website portal. You need to include the following documents with your application:
- Original exam score report from Pearson VUE
- Certificate of Completion for 45 hours of prelicensing education, including the three-hour New Agency Law course
- Criminal History Record (CHR)
- Lead Poisoning/Lead Hazard Mitigation Certificate of Completion
- Certificate of Errors and Omissions Insurance
You will also be required to submit two separate payments—$140 made payable to the “RI General Treasurer” and $25 made payable to the “Real Estate Recovery Account”—making the total license application fee $165. The application will take about seven to 10 business days to process.
8. Start Your Real Estate Career
Now that you’ve learned how to become a real estate agent in Rhode Island, you’re ready to start your professional 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.
- Jump-start 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.