Have you been thinking about changing careers and becoming a real estate agent in Colorado? If so, now is a great time to start. A career in real estate is a long journey, but the first step is to get your Colorado real estate license.
I’ve been a real estate broker in Colorado for 25 years and today, I’m going to walk you through the entire process of getting your license from start to finish. I also provide detailed descriptions of Colorado real estate schools, instruction on taking the state exam, how to interview a brokerage, and how to complete your real estate license application.
Let’s start with a quick overview of the five steps to getting your license.
How to Become a Real Estate Agent in Colorado in 5 Steps
Before we get started, we need to clarify some terms. In Colorado, unlike other states, new real estate agents are called brokers. They have the same role as real estate agents in other states, so this is a difference in name only.
I’ll take some time to go through each of these steps in a little more detail later in this article, but in case you just want a quick rundown of exactly how to get a real estate license in Colorado, here are the steps:
Complete the Colorado Real Estate Prelicensing Education Requirements
Schedule & Pass the Colorado State Exam
Complete the Colorado State Background Check
Interview With & Select an Employing Broker
Complete the Online State Application
Now let’s dive into each step to learn a little more. In this section I’ll explain the cost, time commitment, and the educational requirements you will need to get your real estate licenses in Colorado.
Step 1: Complete the Colorado Real Estate Prelicensing Education Requirements
Cost: $244 to $1,099
Time commitment: 168 course hours, four to eight weeks
Difficulty: Basic college level
Each state has different educational requirements to obtain a real estate license. Colorado requires you to have 168 credit hours through a Colorado-approved educational provider. The real estate classes include both state and national requirements. Here are the classroom hours and subjects covered in the prelicensing course in Colorado:
Colorado Real Estate Educational Requirements
- 48 hours, Real Estate Law & Practice
- 48 hours, Colorado Contracts & Regulations
- 8 hours, Trust Accounts & Recordkeeping
- 8 hours, Current Legal Issues
- 24 hours, Real Estate Closings
- 32 hours, Practical Applications
A degree from an accredited college or university with a major course of study in real estate is an acceptable substitution for the educational requirements. Additionally, if you have an existing real estate license in another state you may not be required to take the national portion of the exam and educational requirement.
If you’re already a real estate agent in another state and want to become a broker in Colorado, you’re in luck. Some states offer what is called license reciprocity with Colorado. License reciprocity means you can work as a real estate broker in Colorado without having a Colorado real estate license. See our article Real Estate License Reciprocity and Portability: A State-by-State Guide for more information.
Learning Options for Obtaining Your Prelicensing Education in Colorado
There are a few different ways to take your prelicensing course in Colorado. Here’s a quick rundown of each option.
Online on Demand
Do you want the flexibility to move at your own pace? Then this on-demand option might be the right fit for you. Real Estate Express offers a full suite of on-demand classes starting at $244.30. Since this is the most affordable option and allows you to learn at your own pace, this is the best option for most students.
If you are someone who prefers in-class education over online, then consider Armbrust Real Estate Institute (AREI). AREI boasts a nearly 100% student pass rate on the state exam. Located in the Denver Tech Center (DTC) area, live classes are Monday through Thursday and are completed in less than four weeks. Full-time live classes start at $1,050. Due to COVID-19, in-class sessions begin again on August 17.
Are you looking for the flexibility to study from home and the accountability of a classroom? With Kaplan “Live Online,” you will study each course online and attend with a virtual class for review. This option allows you the flexibility to attend individual courses at your own pace. For $1,099, you receive the full 168-hour course, books, and the state exam test prep.
Online & Classroom
Similar to Live Online, but each weekly review class is held in-person at a local participating real estate office. This six-week course provides you the accountability of a classroom with the flexibility of online. American Dream Real Estate School is currently participating with over 17 real estate offices throughout Colorado. Classes start at $895 and include books and test prep.
Once you have successfully completed the courses and obtained a certificate of completion, you can prepare for the state exam.
Pro Tip: For a deeper dive into your real estate school options, visit my article: 6 Best Colorado Real Estate Schools & How to Choose
Step 2: Schedule & Pass the Colorado State Exam
Time commitment: Four hours
Requirement: 75% to pass
Difficulty: Basic college level
Once you have successfully completed the educational requirements, you will obtain a certificate of completion from the school you attended. With your certificate of completion in hand, you can now register for the state exam.
How to Prepare for the Exam
It is well-known in the industry that Colorado’s real estate exam is no joke, touted as being one of the most difficult to pass in the country. If you have completed your 168 hours and you still feel you are not prepared for the Colorado state exam, then consider an exam prep course. Real Estate Express offers Real Estate Exam Prep for $99 that includes a money-back guarantee if you don’t pass the state exam on your first try!
Where to Take Your Exam
PSI is Colorado’s real estate exam test provider. All tests are in person, and students are given four hours to complete the state and national exams. A valid ID is required to take the exam. Students are required to pass with a minimum score of 75%. The cost of each exam is $44.95, and retakes are an additional cost.
PSI has seven test center locations in the state of Colorado, so you shouldn’t have trouble finding a test center near you. The locations are:
Colorado PSI Real Estate Test Center Locations
|Centennial, Colorado||12200 E. Briarwood Ave, Suite 270|
|Colorado Springs, Colorado||5050 Edison Avenue, Suite 121|
|Durango, Colorado||799 East 3rd Street, Suite 3|
|Fort Collins, Colorado||3000 S College Ave Suite# 206|
|Grand Junction, Colorado||743 Horizon Court, #203|
|Pueblo, Colorado||803 West 4th Street, Suite #803S|
|Wheat Ridge, Colorado||4891 Independence St., Suite 220|
Step 3: Complete the Colorado State Background Check
Next, you’ll need to pass a background check before you get your license. Since the process can take six weeks to get results, I highly recommend taking care of your background check while you are still in school. Here are the steps to passing your background check.
Each real estate applicant must submit a set of fingerprints to the Colorado Bureau of Investigation (CBI) for the purpose of conducting a Colorado and national fingerprint-based criminal history background check utilizing records of both the CBI and the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI).
You can obtain your fingerprints from IdentoGO or at most local police departments. You will need to bring a government-issued identification card. Examples include a driver’s license, passport, or military ID. To learn more about fingerprint requirements, click here.
Once completed, your fingerprints must be submitted to the CBI for the background check. The Colorado Division of Real Estate will NOT notify you on receipt or results of your record. The results will be sent to the Colorado Division of Real Estate (DORA) and matched with your real estate license application.
People with prior convictions including felonies, theft (property and identity theft), and violent crimes are less likely to get approved for a Colorado real estate license.
If you have a sordid past, you may want to contact DORA and explain your situation before going through the trouble and cost of studying to get your real estate license.
Step 4: Interview With & Select an Employing Broker
In Colorado, you will practice real estate under an employing broker for a minimum of two years before you can become an independent broker or an employing broker. This provides you with the ability to learn from other experienced licensees regarding how to work with buyers and sellers and how to successfully complete real estate transactions.
Are you concerned about not getting hired? Don’t worry, brokerages are always looking for motivated and talented people like yourself, so there is no doubt that you will have many offers. This is why you will be interviewing them more than they will be interviewing you.
There are many factors to consider when selecting a brokerage. Training, cost, and location are just a few. We suggest interviewing at least five brokerages before making your decision. Next, let’s look at a few of the factors to consider when choosing a brokerage.
Factors to Consider When Selecting a Brokerage
Mentorship & Training
Some brokerages are set up for new licensees and some are geared for independent veteran brokers. Look for brokerages that offer training specifically for the newly licensed. Some brokerages also provide experienced brokers as mentors to guide you through your first three to five transactions. I would recommend this for new brokers.
There are many fees associated with holding a real estate license. Some of these fees are absorbed by the brokerage and others are passed through to you. Here is a list of the most common broker fees.
- Monthly fee: Some brokerages will charge what’s called a monthly fee or “desk fee” for having you as a part of their team. Fixed monthly fees are fine for experienced brokers, but they can become a repetitive burden on new brokers who are just getting started.
- Franchise fee: Franchises pass the franchise fee to the agent or broker directly. If the brokerage has an additional franchise fee, be clear on how it is charged and if it has a cap or limit.
- Transaction fee: Many brokerages today charge a transaction fee upon the success of a closing. Some transaction fees are charged to you as the broker and others are passed to the buyer or seller.
- Setup and annual fees: Brokerages may have a setup fee associated with you joining them. Find out what this fee is, what you receive, and if it is a one-time fee or a recurring annual fee.
- E&O insurance: Errors and Omissions (E&O) insurance is required for you to obtain your license. Check to see if the brokerage has a group or discounted policy. If they don’t, we have provided more resources for obtaining insurance later in the article.
- Other fees: There are additional systems and services that may be required to operate a successful real estate practice. Check to see if the brokerage offers to cover these additional systems and services:
Split & Cap
Split is a term that is used to describe the percentage of the commission that you receive. A split plan is a nice way to start your real estate career; the brokerage makes money by you making sales, so this is a win-win. Many new brokers will begin with a 50/50 or a 60/40 split (the 60% to you). Many split compensation plans also include a limit on the percentage the brokerage will take, which is called the cap.
The environment you are in has a direct impact on success. If you are around others, new or experienced, who are challenging themselves to be successful then you will naturally pick up strategies that will lead you to greater success. Ask to tour the office and sit in on training classes before you make your decision to join.
The more experience you have, the less reliant you are on the physical office space, but starting out you will need access to training, mentorship, administration, and professional office space to meet clients.
Ask if the brokerage is a member of the National Association of Realtors (NAR). A common misunderstanding is that obtaining your real estate license makes you a Realtor. Realtor is a designation affiliated with real estate agents and brokers who are members of NAR. Benefits of NAR include many discounts with service providers, large-scale lobbying, representation, advocacy for real estate-related issues on a national scale, and designations to help you specialize your business.
Real Estate School Reimbursement
Some brokerages, like Keller Williams Realty Downtown where I work, will reimburse your real estate school costs up to $800. This is rebated to you in four payments of $200 on your first four transactions. So make sure to ask about tuition reimbursement when interviewing brokers.
For a more detailed comparison of real estate brokerages, see our article on the best real estate brokerages to work for in 2021.
Obtain Errors & Omissions (E&O) Insurance
The Colorado real estate commission requires that all active, licensed real estate brokers maintain a policy of errors and omissions (E&O) insurance to cover all acts that require a license. Your brokerage may provide E&O insurance. If they don’t, you will need to obtain a policy on your own.
Colorado Real Estate E&O Insurance Requirements
The broker must maintain a minimum of $100,000 coverage per covered claim and an annual aggregate limit of $300,000. The Colorado Group policy from RICE begins $240 annually. Check here for more information regarding E&O policy requirements.
Step 5: Complete the Online State Application
Time commitment: 15 minutes
The final step to becoming a proud member of the real estate community is to submit your application. This process is easy because it is completely online—that is, if you have all your documentation in order. Be sure you have your documentation in order before you jump onto the application website. We created a simple license application checklist to help.
Colorado Real Estate License Application Checklist
- Certificate of Completion for your real estate school or degree in real estate
- Fingerprints completed
- Fingerprints submitted to CBI
- Brokerage selected
- E&O certificate
- $485 for the state application
Real Estate License Application Process
Once you have submitted your application, it will take three to seven days before your application is approved. DORA may not notify you or your brokerage when you are approved and your license becomes active, so be sure to check the website daily.
Starting Your Career as a New Real Estate Broker
Congratulations, your efforts paid off. You may feel like now is a good time to rest, but you are just getting started. The real estate school taught you the laws, the process, and how to fill out the contracts, but it didn’t teach you how to sell.
Stick with us here at The Close because we are committed to supporting you throughout your real estate career, beginning with our Ultimate New Real Estate Agent Checklist.
(Bonus Resource) The Ultimate New Real Estate Agent Checklist
There’s a lot that goes into becoming a successful real estate agent. As a real estate coach and trainer, I’ve worked through the process of launching new agents many times, so I know what it takes to get your business off the ground.
To help you keep track of all the things you need to do as a new agent, we put together a comprehensive checklist of all the different marketing and operations systems you’ll need to help you launch your business in the right direction. Click below to download our free Ultimate New Real Estate Agent Checklist.
How to Get a Real Estate Broker License in Colorado: FAQs
Does Colorado have a reciprocal license with other states?
Yes. If you are applying under Colorado’s limited recognition agreements, you must provide a certified license history from each jurisdiction in which you hold a license. Here is a list of states that may offer reciprocity with Colorado.
What does it cost to get a real estate license in Colorado?
When you add up the cost of school, the testing and application fees, and the necessary memberships and software, the total cost is around $2,000 to get your Colorado real estate license.
Some of these costs are prior to getting your license, such as real estate school, exam fee, and the application fee. Other fees are optional but necessary if you wish to be successful at selling real estate.
These costs do not include your marketing budget, real estate and open house signs, and lock boxes. No to mention that you may not have your first closing for three to six months. Therefore, you may want to consider having substantial savings before making the jump to full time.
Here is a breakdown of the full cost of getting a real estate license:
Colorado Real Estate License Costs
|Prelicensing School (168 Hours)||(Real Estate Express) $244|
|Exam Prep||(Real Estate Express) $99|
|Colorado Exam Fee||$45|
|Errors and Omissions Insurance||$240|
|Colorado Application Fee||$495|
|Total Cost for License||$1,173|
Costs After Licensure
|Association of Realtors||$400-$600|
|Brokerage Sign-up Fees||$100-$300|
|Brokerage Monthly Bill||$55|
|Total Cost After Licensure||$500-$900||$130|
How long does it take to get a Colorado real estate license?
The educational requirements account for the bulk of time it takes to obtain your real estate license in Colorado. The full 168-credit hour requirements can be completed in as fast as four weeks, but six to eight weeks is more typical.
There are limited testing facilities in Colorado and they can get backed up, which can cause further delays. If you were to make a plan to get your Colorado real estate license, plan on it taking about 90 days.
How much do real estate brokers in Colorado make?
According to Indeed, real estate agents and brokers make an average of $78,611 in Colorado. This money comes entirely from commissions. Having worked as a broker in Colorado for 25 years, however, I’ve found that most full-time brokers can consistently make over $100,000 a year.
What are the real estate broker levels in Colorado?
In Colorado, all real estate licensees are brokers. There are three levels of brokers in Colorado.
The associate broker level allows you to practice real estate with the supervision of an employing broker.
After two years with your associate broker license, you can apply to become an independent broker. You will have to pass the state’s brokers exam. Independent brokers can practice real estate as a self-employed individual but cannot have licensees work for them.
If you wish to employ other licensees, with two years’ experience, you can apply to be an employing broker. Like becoming an independent broker, you will have to pass the state’s broker exam, but you will also have to complete the 24-hour Broker Administration Course along with proof of your actual real estate transactional experience.
How hard is the Colorado real estate exam?
The Colorado test is known to be one of the most difficult in the nation. Students need to achieve 75% to pass. The majority of the questions are vocabulary and multiple choice. Therefore, if you know the vocabulary, you have a good chance of passing.
Is the Colorado real estate exam open book?
The exam is NOT an open book. In fact, students are not allowed any personal belongings. An onscreen calculator is provided to assist with math functions.
Over to You
Do you have any advice for someone getting their real estate license that we didn’t mention here? Let us know in the comments, or if you’re an active agent, join our Facebook mastermind group here.