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! The process is quite simple, and we’ll walk you through it, step by step. Within six months, you could be launching a highly flexible new career with great earning potential as a real estate salesperson (known as a broker) in Illinois.
Step 4. Complete the Licensing Process
How Much Does It Cost to Become a Real Estate Agent in Illinois?
It costs about $1,100 to get your Illinois real estate broker license. Some of the costs involved are fixed, including the application fee and exam fee. Some of these costs are dependent upon which real estate school you choose to complete the required 75-hour prelicensing course.
Illinois Real Estate License Costs
|Prelicensing Classes (75 hours)||$329 (through Real Estate Express)|
|Exam Prep Materials||$129 (through Mbition)|
|Illinois Broker Examination Fee||$58|
|Application Fee for Broker License||$125|
(Illinois Real Estate Broker License Cost as of July 2021)
How to Become a Real Estate Agent in Illinois in 4 Easy Steps
Before we discuss how to become a real estate agent in Illinois, it’s important to note that in Illinois, an entry-level real estate salesperson is referred to as a broker rather than an agent. Illinois is one of the few states that use the term broker for an entry-level sales representative. Notably, brokers with additional experience and education who are qualified to oversee other brokers in Illinois are referred to as managing brokers.
In this article, we may use the terms agent, broker, or salesperson interchangeably. To begin your journey to becoming 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. Let’s dive into how to become a real estate agent in Illinois.
Step 1. Complete a 75-hour Prelicensing Course
Cost: As low as $329 with Real Estate Express
Time commitment: Two to three weeks if taking a self-paced course; three to five weeks if taking livestream classes
As a real estate broker, you’re responsible for helping your clients with one of the most important financial decisions of their lives. The State of Illinois requires that you take 75 hours of prelicensing classes to understand the complexities and legal matters pertaining to the sale of property.
You’ll need the help of a highly-rated Illinois real estate school to get through this weighty material. Check out our list of the 5 Best Online Illinois Real Estate Schools in 2021. You’ll have your choice of class formats. Your classes will cover the following topics:
- License law
- Real property
- Structure of agency
- Seller relationships and counseling
- Buyer relationships and counseling
- Illinois law
- Federal laws
- Marketing and advertising
- Real estate transactions
- Contract knowledge
- Independent contractor and employee agreements
- Property management
Whether you live in the Chicagoland area, Peoria, Springfield, or Champaign-Urbana, 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).
Many Illinois education providers have created at-your-own-pace online classes with slides, videos, and interactive content to help you learn the required material to pass the Illinois broker exam. Check out the pros and cons of all three to see which type of instruction is right for you.
|Types of Instruction|
We recommend Real Estate Express as the best online real estate school in Illinois. You’ll like how they break down complicated material so it’s easy to understand and remember. You’ll also appreciate Real Estate Express’ competitive pricing and test prep materials.
[Related article: Real Estate Express Review + Video Walkthrough]
Step 2. Pass the Illinois Real Estate Broker Exam
Within two years of completing your Illinois broker prelicensing courses, you’ll need to take the Illinois Broker Exam. Click to visit PSI, the state’s testing provider to get started. Look for their Candidate Handbook to help you register for the Illinois real estate exam, which you can take at one of PSI’s 31 Illinois testing locations.
The exam is computer-based and consists of 100 questions about national topics and 40 questions about Illinois real estate laws and regulations. You’ll receive your score report from the testing supervisor after completing the exam.
You must pass both the national and state portions of the exam with a 75%. You must bring two valid forms of identification to the testing center and you can bring a non-programmable calculator with no alphabetic keyboard or printing capabilities into the exam room.
You’ll need to study and we recommend exam prep materials from Mbition to help you pass this comprehensive exam on the first try. Their National Master Exam Prep Package uses adaptive learning technology to create practice questions to meet your individual needs.
[Related article: Hacks for the Real Estate Practice Exam]
Step 3. Join an Illinois Real Estate Brokerage
Time commitment: Two weeks to a month
The State of Illinois requires that beginning real estate brokers join an Illinois real estate brokerage and work under a managing broker. A managing broker is someone who has worked successfully in the industry, taken 60 hours of additional training, and passed Illinois’ managing broker’s exam.
Compensation: 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 monthly desk fees. Some brokerages may offer you 70% of your commissions until you reach a cap, which means you’ll receive 100% of your commissions for the rest of the year after earning the pre-specified amount.
[Related article: What’s the Best Real Estate Company to Work for in 2021]
As a new real estate broker, finding the right balance between commissions and desk fees may be tricky. Keep in mind that real estate brokerages do not offer any payment to their agents, so these negotiations with the managing broker are essential. Negotiating a lower cap for yourself will mean you’ll be able to put more of your earned commissions into your own pocket.
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.
[Related article: Can You Be a Part-time Real Estate Agent?]
Step 4. Complete the Licensing Process
Time commitment: Two to four weeks
Helpful resource: Link to apply for an Illinois broker license
Once you’ve successfully passed the exam and found a managing broker, you’re ready to complete your licensing process. Visit the Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation (IDFPR) website.
From there, you’ll create a login, fill out the application form, and pay a $125 fee. You’ll be notified via email when your application has been approved. The State of Illinois does not offer paper licenses. Illinois allows you to practice under the supervision of the managing broker for 45 days while your application is being processed.
How to Get a Real Estate Broker License in Illinois: FAQs
We’re sure you have plenty of questions about becoming an Illinois real estate agent. Here’s some additional information about the process.
What are the legal requirements to become a real estate agent in Illinois?
If you would like to become a broker in Illinois, you must be 21 or older. You also must have graduated from high school or earned a GED. You must never have been convicted of a felony or other crime that has an essential element of dishonesty. You cannot be more than 30 days in arrears on any court-ordered child support payments. You also cannot owe state taxes to the Illinois Department of Revenue.
If you are 18 to 21 years old, you must show proof that you have attended at least four semesters of post-secondary education with an emphasis on courses in real estate. You also must meet all the above guidelines.
What if I have a real estate license from another state?
If you’ve worked as a real estate agent or broker in another state, you might be able to obtain your license to operate in Illinois rather easily. According to the Real Estate License Act of 2000, Illinois has reciprocity with the following states:
If you received your license in one of those states, you need only take the Illinois State Supplemental 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 hours of prelicense education and after you pass both the state and national portions of the Illinois licensing 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. Online courses from Real Estate Express are entirely self-paced and can be completed from the comfort of your home. state licensing board that your license has been approved.
Is the Illinois real estate exam hard?
The Illinois Division of Real Estate does not provide a pass/fail rate for the exam. You must achieve a grade of 75% on both the state and national portions of the exam. There’s a possibility that you may have to retake only the unpassed portion, should you fail one part of the exam but not the other.
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 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. This may consist of a driver’s license, a state ID card, a passport, or a military ID.
The second form of ID must have your name and signature. You can use a credit card, Social Security card, or an employment or student ID card.
In addition to your ID, you may bring a non-programmable calculator that has no alphabetic keyboard or printing capabilities. The testing center will provide pencils and scrap paper during the exam. The exam will be given on a computer.
Finally, you’ll also need to provide biometric verification of your identity. This may include a fingerprint scan.
Which items are prohibited in the testing center?
Cell phones and watches are not permitted in the testing facility. You will be asked to turn out your pockets to make sure they are empty before taking the test. No food or drinks are allowed during testing.
Only wallets and keys are permitted in the testing center. You’ll be given a soft locker to store your wallet and keys with you while completing the test. You’ll not have access to these items during the length of the exam.
Can I get my Illinois real estate license online?
Yes, you can complete all of your Illinois real estate education requirements by taking at-your-own-pace online or livestreaming courses. However, you’ll need to go to one of the Illinois exam testing sites to complete your broker exam.
How long does the application approval take?
Unlike many states, Illinois allows you to practice under the supervision of the 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.
[Related article: The Best Real Estate CRM for 2021: In-depth Reviews & Pricing]
How much money do real estate agents in Illinois make?
According to Indeed, the average salary for a real estate agent is $79,272 per year in Illinois, at the time of this writing. You can check the most current average annual income in your city or town at Indeed.com.
Can I practice real estate part time?
If you’re the sole breadwinner for your family, you may be hesitant to jump into the real estate game with both feet. If you have healthy savings, you may consider making this career switch, but you need to understand the risks associated with such a decision. Learn more become a part-time broker.
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.”
More Career Resources From The Close
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