This article is part of a larger series on How to Become a Real Estate Agent.
Real estate agents are called real estate brokers in Washington State. To become one, you’re required to complete 90 hours of Washington State Department of Licensing-approved (DOL) prelicensing education, pass the real estate exam, submit an application, select a sponsoring brokerage, and complete a background check. Put on your Seattle tuxedo, fill your Starbucks cup with leaded, and read through our guide to get your Washington real estate license.
1. Meet the Legal Requirements for Your Washington Real Estate License
The legal qualifications to become a real estate agent in Washington are fairly similar to other states. You must be at least 18 years of age and have a high school diploma or GED. Unlike most other states, Washington real estate brokers must submit fingerprints and complete a background check every six years.
Did you know? Washington has reciprocity with other states, so if you have equivalent real estate education and have been licensed in another state for the past six months, you can become a broker in Washington State. While you can waive prelicensing education requirements, you’ll still have to complete a background check and take the state portion of the exam before submitting your reciprocal application.
Also, Washington is a cooperative state in terms of portability. It allows out-of-state real estate agents or brokers to physically enter the state to conduct real estate business. However, in order 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 Washington, check out our guide to real estate license reciprocity and portability.
2. Complete Required Prelicensing Courses
Once you’ve certified you meet the Washington prequalifications, you’re ready to take your prelicensing classes. High-quality education is available in-person or online through accredited real estate schools in Washington with costs ranging from $164 to $309. The 90 hours of required prelicensing education needed to become a real estate agent in Washington is broken into two parts—60 hours of Real Estate Fundamentals and 30 hours of Real Estate Practices—and covers the following topics:
- Property ownership
- Land use controls and regulations
- Valuation and market analysis
- General principles of agency
- Property disclosures
- Leasing and property management
- Transfer of title
- Practice of real estate
- Real estate calculations
Did you know? If you are an active attorney in good standing with the Washington Bar, you can be exempt from licensing requirements to become a broker in Washington State.
There are many accredited online real estate schools to choose from, but if you’re ready to complete prelicensing education to become a real estate broker in Washington State, take a look at Kaplan for online education. Kapan offers a variety of tiered course packages with add-on features such as live group study and on-demand video exam preparation―all available in a self-paced format. Check out their website to learn more.
3. Complete Fingerprinting & Background Check
All applicants are required to submit fingerprints so the state of Washington can perform a background check. Results can take 10 to 14 days to appear in the DOL system, so it’s important to schedule fingerprinting in conjunction with taking the real estate exam and applying for licensure.
Washington residents should schedule an appointment online through MorphoTrust/IdentoGO, a third-party site that conducts background checks. The fee for the service is about $50 and can be paid directly on the website via credit or debit card.
Out-of-state residents can use MorphoTrust/IdentoGO if they have locations in your area. You can also go to your local law enforcement agency or a private fingerprint company in your area to have your fingerprints taken and mailed to the Division of Real Estate. Cost varies depending on the company you choose for fingerprinting. For more instructions for out-of-state fingerprinting, take a look at the DOL website.
4. Take the Washington Real Estate Exam
Candidates often find success with the Washington real estate exam, showing pass rates for the national portion at 71% and the state portion at 75%. Since the exam is administered on the computer, you will know whether you’ve passed or failed the exam immediately.
In the event you fail the exam, you’re provided with a diagnostic breakdown showing the categories where you need to improve. You will also be given reapplication instructions for retaking one or both portions of the exam. If you only pass one portion, you are required to pass the other portion within six months; otherwise, you have to take the entire exam again.
Washington Real Estate Exam Details
100 nationally focused questions
30 state-specific questions
3 1/5 hours
Items to Bring to the Exam
2 valid forms of identification with signatures:
Simple functioning calculator (optional)
70% to pass the Washington Real Estate Broker Exam
71% on national portion
75% on state portion
Schedule Your Exam
PSI, a national platform for state licensing exams, is the provider for your Washington real estate license exam. To begin scheduling, you’ll be required to create an account on the PSI website. Your education provider must submit your Certificate of Completion before you will be eligible to register for the exam. After your school submits your education information, you’ll receive access to the scheduling portal.
Once you register, you will receive a copy of the Candidate Information Handbook for additional testing information. The fee to take the exam is $138.25 and is paid directly on the website using a credit or debit card. Keep in mind that you must take your exam within two years of finishing your education, and your results are valid for one year after passing your exam.
Not a great test taker? That’s OK—consider using the real estate exam prep tools offered by Real Estate Exam Scholar to guarantee you pass the Washington real estate license exam on the first attempt. For $39, you get six months of access to practice exams, flashcards, study materials, and more to assist you in preparing for the Washington real estate exam. Plus, they have a money-back pass guarantee.
5. Pick a Company to Work For
In order to hold an active Washington real estate license, you must find a sponsoring brokerage with which to affiliate your license. To make your choice a little bit easier, check out our in-depth guide to choosing the right real estate company to work for. Although there are many successful brokerages in the Evergreen State, below you’ll find the top five brokerages reported for 2021.
Northern Key Team
The Maxey Home Team
Keller Williams Realty
Icon Real Estate Group
Realty One Group Prestige
Keller Williams Realty
Kenmore Team, LLC
(Source: Real Trends 2021)
Washington Cities With Highest Median Sales Price 2021
To earn more commission, you must sell more expensive properties. To get a sense of which cities are bringing in the bucks for real estate agents in Washington, check out this sales data from Towncharts.com below:
6. Apply for Your Washington License
Once you’ve passed your real estate exam, wait four business days before applying for your Washington real estate license to ensure your passing score shows up in the Real Estate Licensing Division’s system. However, your passing score report is considered an interim license that is valid for up to 45 days from the postmark date of the application submission.
You can either apply online or by mail to the Real Estate Licensing Division using the Real Estate Application Form. Through the online portal, you must register to gain access to the “To-Do” Box, which allows you to submit your application. Keep in mind that it takes 14 days for the DOL to receive fingerprints, and four days to receive exam results, so you won’t have the option to apply until then. The licensing fee is $146.25 and you pay online by credit or debit card.
If you have a criminal record, it is still possible to obtain your Washington real estate license. The DOL will review your answers to the criminal history questions as well as your fingerprinting report to determine if you’re eligible for licensure. They will look at the type of crime, level of the conviction, how the crime relates to your profession’s practices, and length of time since the conviction, and then make a decision whether your application to become a real estate broker in Washington will be approved.
7. Start Your Real Estate Career
Now that you’ve learned how to get your Washington real estate, 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