Are you considering a career change and wondering how to become a real estate agent in Illinois? There’s no time like the present to get started! Within six months, you could be launching a highly flexible new career with great earning potential as a real estate salesperson in Illinois. The process is quite simple, and we’ll walk you through it step by step.
Before we discuss how to become a real estate agent in Illinois, it’s important to note that here, real estate agents are referred to as brokers. But in many other areas, a broker is someone with additional experience and education who manages agents and real estate deals. In Illinois, these supervisors are referred to as managing brokers.
To become a real estate broker in Illinois, you must be at least 18 years old, have a Social Security number or individual taxpayer identification number, and have a high school diploma or its equivalent. Now, let’s break the process of getting your real estate license in Illinois down into steps.
1. Complete a 75-hour Prelicensing Course
Time Commitment: 1-2 months
As a real estate broker, you’re responsible for helping your clients with one of the most important financial decisions of their lives, which is why education is so important. The 75-hour prelicensing course required by the state of Illinois helps you understand the complexities and legal matters pertaining to the sale of property.
Your classes will cover the following topics:
|License law||Buyer relationships and counseling||Financing|
|Real property||Illinois and federal law||Contract knowledge|
|Structure of agency||Marketing and advertising||Independent contractor status and employee agreements|
|Seller relationships and counseling||Real estate transactions||Property management|
While that’s a great deal of information to cover, keep in mind that your prelicensing classes don’t necessarily cover test preparation. To prepare for your exam, consider purchasing quality exam prep material from an Illinois real estate school. Exam prep packages offer helpful tools like flashcards and simulated exams to help you study. We recommend checking out Colibri Real Estate. Many of their courses include practice exams and flashcards, and they even offer a pass guarantee.
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2. Pass the Illinois Real Estate Exam
Time to Complete:
Computer-based, 140 multiple-choice questions
Bring to the Testing Center:
Two valid forms of ID
Time Commitment: 4 hours (arrive 30 minutes early)
Congratulations! You’ve finished your prelicensing course, and you’re ready to take the Illinois broker exam. You have two years to take the broker exam from the time you complete your prelicensing courses.
You’ll be able to schedule your broker license exam online through PSI Testing Services. You’ll have the choice of taking your broker exam at one of PSI’s 31 Illinois testing locations.
The broker exam is computer-based and consists of 100 national real estate questions and 40 state-related questions. You’ll receive your score report from the testing supervisor after completing the exam. You must answer 75% of the national and state questions correctly on the exam in order to pass.
Bring two valid forms of identification to the testing center. You’re also allowed to bring a non-programmable calculator—with no alphabetic keyboard or printing capabilities—into the exam room.
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3. Join an Illinois Real Estate Brokerage
Cost: No cost
Time Commitment: 2-4 weeks
In Illinois, beginning real estate brokers must be sponsored by a managing broker. You can either ask a managing broker to sponsor you, or the managing broker can invite licensees to join their firm through the Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation’s website.
When considering which brokerage to affiliate with, you’ll want to consider the company culture, commission structure, and support systems to make sure it’s a good fit.
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But if you’re more interested in a leadership role, you should know that a real estate professional must take 45 hours of additional training and pass Illinois’ managing broker’s exam to become a managing broker.
4. Complete the Licensing Process Online
Time Commitment: 2-6 weeks
Congrats! You passed the license exam and found a managing broker to work under. Now you’re ready to apply for your broker license. You can start the application on the Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation website.
You’ll need to create an account, fill out the application form, and pay the $125 fee. You’ll be notified via email when your application has been approved. However, Illinois allows you to practice under the supervision of a managing broker for 45 days while your application is being processed.
How Much Does It Cost to Become a Real Estate Agent in Illinois?
It costs about $660 to get your Illinois real estate broker license. Some of the costs involved are fixed, including the application exam fees. Other outlays, such as the tuition at the real estate school you choose for your prelicensing course, will vary.
Illinois Real Estate License Costs Example
|Prelicensing Classes (75 hours)||$339 (through Colibri Real Estate)|
|Exam Prep Materials||$135 (through The CE Shop)|
|Illinois Broker Examination Fee||$58|
|Application Fee for Broker License||$125|
(Illinois real estate broker license cost as of March 2023)
Choosing an Illinois Real Estate School
Whether you live in Peoria, Springfield, Champaign-Urbana, or the Chicagoland area, you’ll have your choice of class formats.
Many Illinois real estate schools also offer self-paced, online classes with slides, videos, and interactive content to help you learn the required material and pass the Illinois broker exam.
You should be able to find an Illinois real estate school that offers in-person classes that meet during regularly scheduled sessions. Livestream classes are scheduled classes that are broadcast over Zoom (or another video communication tool). Check out the pros and cons of all three to see which type of instruction is right for you.
|Types of Instruction|| |
|In-person Classes|| || |
|Livestream Classes|| || |
|Online Classes|| || |
We recommend Colibri Real Estate as our top pick for the best online real estate school in Illinois. They have a long-standing reputation for quality instruction so the material is easy to understand. You’ll also appreciate Colibri Real Estate’s competitive pricing and exam prep materials.
Illinois Real Estate Agent Compensation
In terms of your future earnings, those will vary depending on the brokerage you affiliate with. As a new real estate broker, finding the right balance between commissions and desk fees may be tricky. Keep in mind that most real estate brokerages do not offer any flat-rate payment or salary to their agents, so these negotiations with the managing broker are essential.
Once you’ve decided which companies to reach out to, ask the managing broker about your split, or how you and the brokerage will divide the commissions you earn. Some brokerages will ask for a 50-50 split on commissions. Usually, managing brokers that offer an even split will not charge monthly desk fees. Other real estate companies may allow you to keep between 70% and 100% of your commissions. However, those brokerages will often charge higher fees.
Some brokerages may offer you 70% of your commissions until you reach a cap, which means after that point, you’ll receive 100% of your commissions for the rest of the year. Negotiating a lower cap for yourself will mean you’ll be able to put more of your hard-earned commissions into your own pocket.
Curious how much an agent or broker makes in a year? Colibri surveyed thousands of real estate professionals, compiling the data for a comprehensive report that gives this kind of deep insight into the industry. If you want to understand your income potential, click on Colibri’s report below to learn all the secrets of the trade. The future is bright and the numbers are there to prove it.
How to Become a Real Estate Agent in Illinois: FAQs
We’re sure you have plenty of questions about becoming an Illinois real estate agent. We’ve answered your questions below, and we welcome you to ask more in the comment section.
Am I eligible to get my Illinois real estate license?
You’re eligible to get your Illinois real estate license if you’re 18 years old or older, have a high school diploma, and possess good character. That means you must never have been convicted of a felony or other crime that has an essential element of dishonesty.
If you are 18 to 21 years old, you must also show proof that you have attended at least four semesters of post-secondary education with an emphasis on courses in real estate.
What about reciprocity for agents who have a real estate license in another state?
If you’ve worked as a real estate agent or broker in another state, you may be able to apply for your Illinois real estate license by reciprocity. Illinois has reciprocity with the following states:
If you received your license in one of those states, you need only take the state portion of the Illinois license exam, which consists of 40 questions. Then you’ll fill out your license application and start working as a broker in Illinois.
How long does it take to become a licensed real estate agent in Illinois?
It takes most people between three and six months to become a broker in Illinois. You can apply for a real estate license after completing your 75-hour prelicensing course and after you pass the Illinois license exam with a grade of 75% or higher.
The length of time depends on how long you need to complete the prelicensing coursework and study for the Illinois broker exam. One example of a school that allows you to proceed more quickly is Colibri Real Estate, which offers convenient self-paced online courses that can be done from the comfort of home.
Is the Illinois real estate exam hard?
With dedicated time to prepare and proper study habits, you can pass the Illinois real estate license exam. You must achieve a grade of 75% on both the state and national portions of the exam.
What should I bring when taking the exam?
Bring two valid forms of ID when you arrive at the testing facility. At least one needs to be a government-issued photo ID that includes your name and signature. The second form of ID must have your name and signature.
You may also bring a non-programmable calculator that has no alphabetic keyboard or printing capabilities. Finally, you’ll also need to provide biometric verification of your identity. This may include a fingerprint scan.
Can I get my Illinois real estate license online?
Yes—you can complete the majority of the Illinois real estate license requirements online. First, you can take your prelicensing course through an online real estate school. You’ll also be able to schedule your license exam online. However, you’ll need to complete your fingerprinting background check in-person, and you’ll take your Illinois broker license exam in person at a PSI testing center.
How long does the application approval take?
It only takes about five business days for your completed license application to be approved by the Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation. Backlogs may cause processing delays, but Illinois allows you to practice under a managing broker for 45 days while your application is being processed.
While you’re waiting, it’s a great time to set up some systems and social media platforms so you can hit the ground running once your license is ready. First, take some time to find a customer relationship management (CRM) tool to manage your real estate leads and clients. An affordable real estate tool that offers personalized email and texting capabilities, like LionDesk, is a good place to start.
You probably also want to start working on your website. Consider using a real estate website builder like iNCOM to help you create a professional-looking website that will bring you more leads.
How much money do real estate agents in Illinois make?
Can I practice real estate part time?
Yes! Many real estate agents begin their careers by selling part time, while others choose to work part time to accommodate their other commitments. Sometimes, you may be hesitant to jump into the real estate game with both feet. To see if working in real estate part time fits your lifestyle, check out our helpful guide to part-time real estate.
The reward of commissioned sales is that if you work hard and provide excellent customer service to your clients, you can have amazing earning potential and build on your successes. Some people entering the profession choose to go part time at first and maintain a steady salary in some other part-time pursuit.
What if I fail the Illinois real estate license exam?
Illinois gives you one year from your original testing date to retake and pass the parts you’ve failed. You can retake the exam up to four times. If you fail on the fourth attempt, you’ll be required to retake the prelicensing coursework before you can sit for the exam again.
What are the pros & cons of becoming a real estate agent?
For some, working as a commissioned salesperson means months of feasts and months of famine, which can be a stressful lifestyle to manage. It takes careful budgeting and financial awareness.
On the other hand, there are benefits to working as a commissioned real estate broker. You have a flexible schedule, even though you’ll be required to work many evenings and weekends. You also have the potential to earn a lot of money since both buyer’s and seller’s agents earn a commission on every property they help buy, sell, or lease.
Here’s what rock star Chicago broker, Brittany Wrenn, had to say:
“Real estate in Illinois is very cyclical, and sales volume tends to correlate closely with the weather. This can be especially difficult for new agents to navigate as it can cause extremely low sales volume in the beginning of your career during the slow season. I would say that, above all else, getting used to being on full-commission salary and having a block of time during the year with little to no sales was a huge source of stress for me.
“Even though I had already been in the real estate industry for roughly three years prior to getting my broker license and was familiar with the ebbs and flows of real estate in Chicago, the winter months were difficult to get used to.”
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We hope our helpful guide has made getting your Illinois real estate license manageable and that you feel energized to start your new career. We’re here to celebrate every milestone in your real estate career. To get more actionable strategies directly to your inbox, subscribe to our newsletter. And don’t forget to check out our Real Estate Agents Mastermind group to get advice from fellow agents and brokers.