It is probably no surprise that the process for getting your real estate license is pretty simple. It’s basically one class—which you can take in person, online or on a flex schedule—and then a state and national exam. You have to pass both sections, and once you do, you can have your license sent to whichever brokerage you choose. (Fun fact: you don’t actually “get” your license to just have it—your license is sent to a broker who has agreed to take you on and be responsible for you.)
First, it’s important to point out that getting a real estate license is one thing, becoming a REALTOR (and yes, it is required to be in all caps!) is another. You can get your real estate license and not join the local, state and national association. You can list and sell real estate, but you are not bound by the code of ethics, and you cannot join or have access to an MLS. (In our market, however, practically all agents are members/REALTORS.)
What most non-REALTORS may not realize is that, once licensed, agents are required to complete ongoing continuing education. Real estate licenses renew every two years, however all new licensees are required to complete 30 hours of post-licensure education within the first 12 months. After that, all licensees are required to take 16 hours every two years, and all brokers must take 24 hours every two years.
It is important for the public to know that, in order to maintain an active real estate license, one must complete classes in the following subjects:
Ethics & Standards of Conduct (3 hours): All REALTORS (those who are members of the National Association of REALTORS) are required to conduct themselves by the Code of Ethics. These 17 articles address an agent’s duties to clients and customers, duties to the public, and duties to other REALTORS. Maintaining an active knowledge of the Code of Ethics is foundational to an agent’s success.
Fair Housing (2 hours): Owning a home is one of the most impactful ways to build wealth. With this in mind, it is important for that opportunity to be afforded to all people equally and without discrimination. Understanding the actions—both intentional and unintentional—that could hinder someone’s ability to buy or sell enables an agent to provide competent service to all.
Legal Updates and Emerging Trends (1 hour): The world changes rapidly and the many facets of buying or selling a home are no exception. Understanding the current risks and future changes coming to the real estate transaction helps agents advise and advocate better for their clients.
Real Estate Agency (1 hour): When someone hires a REALTOR to represent them in the sale of their home, or in the purchase of a new home, an “agency relationship” is created between the real estate firm and the client. Understanding those responsibilities, and how to convey them to a client, are essential skills to maintain.
Real Estate Contracts (1 hour): While REALTORS are not lawyers, they are guiding clients through legally binding documents—the terms of which may change depending on emerging issues or customs. Staying up to date on forms and documents gives agents the knowledge to provide the service their clients should expect.
Real Estate–Related Subjects/Electives (8 hours): These hours can take many forms, including more of the subjects noted above, or other topics related to the business or real estate. However, in order to qualify the course must be approved by the Department of Professional and Occupational Regulation (DPOR). A seminar or popular real estate speaker may not meet the qualifications, if their course has not been submitted and approved ahead of time.
Brokers—which is anyone with a broker license—must take an additional eight hours in the following:
Broker Management (6 hours): Covering the many additional duties of being a broker, these courses cover topics including escrow accounts, office manuals, document management, risk management and broker-level education on the above topics. Whether the person is a managing broker, supervising broker, broker/owner or associate broker, these courses are required to keep such a license.
Broker Supervision (2 hours): Specifically related to how brokers are to manage their agents and firms. Being a broker essentially means you are willing to be responsible for the actions of others. The broker is (in most cases) liable for the conduct of the agents they manage, and therefore required education is one way to ensure brokers do that well.
The real estate industry has an ongoing desire to raise the level of professionalism. Requiring all agents and brokers to complete continuing education in a variety of key subject areas is one way we pursue that goal.