From the home of the blues in Memphis to the Appalachian Mountains near Pigeon Forge, there are plenty of reasons to consider a real estate career in Tennessee. The Volunteer State is renowned for its beautiful landscapes, temperate weather, and one of the lowest costs of living in the country, making Tennessee an attractive place to live—and an even better place to get your license as a real estate professional.
But how can you take advantage of this vast market and break into exciting new territory? Well, that’s where we come in. Follow these six easy steps and you’ll be launching your real estate career in Tennessee in no time.
Let’s dive into these steps in a little more detail. Before long, you’ll be helping clients buy and sell craftsmans in Nashville, colonial revivals in Knoxville, and bungalows in Chattanooga.
How Much Does It Cost to Get a Real Estate License in Tennessee?
It costs approximately $775 to get your real estate license in Tennessee, including your prelicensing education, with additional renewal costs every two years. Some of the costs are fixed, such as the state’s licensing and exam fees, and others vary.
5 Best Tennessee Real Estate Schools for 2023
While you don’t need a college degree to become a real estate agent in Tennessee, you must complete the state-specific licensing process. The price of the required 90-hour prelicensing courses (and optional exam prep materials) will vary depending on the provider you choose.
Tennessee Real Estate License Costs
Background Check & Fingerprinting:
Errors & Omissions Insurance Premium:
(Tennessee real estate license costs as of March 2023)
How to Get a Tennessee Real Estate Agent License in 6 Easy Steps
Tennessee requires those seeking to become a real estate agent to:
- Be at least 18 years old
- Be a United States citizen or lawful permanent resident
- Have a high school diploma or equivalent
- Clear a fingerprint-based background check
If you are a licensed attorney, have a degree in real estate, or have a license in another state, you may be able to waive some of your licensing requirements. Visit the Tennessee Real Estate Commission for education and examination requirements tailored to your specific situation.
Another important item to keep in mind is that what other states call real estate agents or salespeople, the state of Tennessee refers to as brokers. When you first obtain your real estate license, you will have an affiliate broker status.
Want to know more about how to become a real estate agent in Tennessee? Here are the steps you’ll need to follow:
1. Complete a Tennessee Real Estate Prelicensing Course
Prelicensing courses kick off your real estate career, and you’ll have your choice of completing them online or in person. Your choice of course format will depend on your learning style and what suits your schedule best.
The amount of time you’ll need comes down to how much class time you allot per week. You can complete all 90 hours online; those who study at a faster pace will finish in a shorter amount of time. If you approach it like a 40-hour workweek, you’ll finish in about three weeks.
Prelicensing courses will often include extra features like exam prep, instructor support, or career resources. Visit The Close’s article on real estate schools in Tennessee to find the prelicensing course that’s right for you.
The state of Tennessee breaks the required 90 hours of class time into two courses: the 60-hour Basic Principles of Real Estate course and the 30-Hour New Affiliates course.
The individual real estate school you choose may offer a 90-hour course or split the requirements into two courses of 60 hours and 30 hours each. That’s because you only really need to complete the first 60 hours of your education before taking the licensing test. Once you’ve passed your exam, you’ll need to complete the remaining 30 hours of coursework to obtain your license. Throughout the process, you’ll learn:
- 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
You’ll need the help of a highly rated Tennessee real estate school to get through this weighty material. Most people choose a real estate school based on the cost and educational format of the course. Here are the most popular options in terms of course design.
Wherever you live in Tennessee, you should be able to find a real estate school that meets in person during regularly scheduled sessions.
Classes that meet online at scheduled times are usually broadcast over Zoom (or another videoconferencing tool).
Our local pick for best real estate school hosting live and livestream classes is Tennessee Real Estate Academy.
Self-paced Online Classes
On-demand real estate classes are extremely popular for those wanting to become affiliate brokers in Tennessee quickly. The course material may be presented in a series of slides, videos, and interactive content.
If you’re looking for a self-paced experience, we like Colibri Real Estate’s online platform best. They also happen to be featured on our national round-up of the best online real estate schools.
For more options, visit The Close’s article on real estate schools in Tennessee to find the prelicensing course that’s right for you.
You will need to pass a final exam with a minimum of 70% correct, though you can take them as many times as necessary.
2. Complete a Background Check
We recommend scheduling your fingerprinting appointment as soon as you start the affiliate broker course, as the fingerprinting and background check can take three to six weeks. You can get yourself fingerprinted at an IndentoGO location. After your appointment, IndentoGO will send your fingerprints to the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation and Federal Bureau of Investigation for processing.
You can also use IdentoGO’s non-resident card scan service if you live outside Tennessee or are not able to physically go to an IndentoGO location. Either way, fingerprinting will cost you around $35.
3. Schedule & Pass the Tennessee State Real Estate Exam
Time to complete:
Computer-based, 120 questions
Bring to the testing center:
Two forms of identification, including one current government-issued photo ID that includes your signature
Once you’ve passed your course exam, the prelicensing school will send a certificate of completion to PSI, the state-approved testing center. After they’ve confirmed that you are eligible to sit for the exam, you have six months to schedule your licensing exam. Students can schedule their licensing exam online or call a dedicated number for Tennessee candidates with questions about scheduling their exam at 855-340-3710. The cost of the exam is $39.
How to Study for the Real Estate Exam: Tips & Strategies
PSI administers the Tennessee Real Estate License exam. The exam is an in-person, proctored test administered via computer. The exam consists of two parts that review state and national real estate laws. There are 120 multiple-choice questions altogether: 80 questions in the national portion and 40 additional questions in the state portion. You will have 240 minutes, or four hours, to complete the entire exam.
A passing score for the Tennessee Real Estate Affiliate Broker Exam is 56 correct answers out of 80 for the national section and 28 correct answers out of 40 for the state portion, or 70%. The rate at which testers pass the affiliate broker exam in Tennessee is 66%. There is no limit to the number of times you can retake the exam; you can retest as many times within the six-month window as needed.
You should arrive 30 minutes early at the testing site. Visit the PSI website to review the types of government-issued identification they’ll accept. There’s also a lengthy list of items you’re prohibited from bringing to the exam room (including common items like calculators, pens, and cell phones).
Testing sites for the Tennessee real estate exam are located in the following cities:
- Johnson City
As soon as you’re done with the multiple-choice exam, you’ll learn whether you passed or failed. If you don’t pass, you’ll be given a detailed score report that will help you prepare for the retake. Again, you can take the exam as many times as you’d like within six months following the date on which you sent in your original exam application, but you will have to pay $39 each time.
Take an Application Photo
Luckily, combs aren’t among the items prohibited by PSI, because after you complete the examination, you’ll want to get your application photo taken at the testing center. You’ll need to submit this photo with your application to the Tennessee Real Estate Commission. Fortunately, the testing center will provide this upon successful completion of the Tennessee Affiliate Broker Licensing Exam. Application forms and other information can be found on TREC’s website.
4. Obtain Errors & Omissions Insurance
All active licensees in Tennessee are mandated to carry errors and omissions (E&O) insurance. This insurance typically protects brokerages and individual agents from getting sued by a client if they made a mistake related to real estate transactions. It’ll cover the legal, defense, and court costs related to a claim.
You can use any insurance agency to find the E&O policy that works for you, so it’s best to take some time and research your options. However, your brokerage may offer this coverage, so you may not want to seek it out until you’ve chosen a firm to associate with. Expect to pay more if buying in at the start of a policy term. If you’re toward the end, your initial payment could be less than $100.
5. Find a Sponsoring Broker to Hire You
Tennessee requires that affiliate brokers work under a principal broker after passing the real estate salesperson exam. A principal broker has received additional training, worked in the industry for at least two years, and passed the broker’s license exam.
Finding a broker to work under will feel like applying for a job. Once you’ve landed some broker interviews, you’ll want to ask each broker about the split (or how you and the brokerage will divide sales commissions). You’ll find that some brokerages will ask for a 50-50 split on commissions. Usually, brokerages that offer an even split will not charge monthly desk fees.
As you evaluate your options, remember that as a commissioned salesperson, your income entirely depends on your abilities and effort. Some brokerages may offer you 70% of your commissions, a ratio that may rise to 100% after you’ve met a specific sales goal (or cap) for the year.
It’s important to be realistic about your earning potential in the first few months. It takes time to launch your new business. Some new agents choose to work part time so they can still bring in additional revenue as they’re learning the ropes. And if your brokerage does charge fees, you’ll have to pay them regardless of whether you’re closing deals or not.
Here are some questions to consider during your broker search:
- What is their reputation, both locally and nationally?
- What kind of real estate agents are they looking for?
- Are they technologically advanced and up to date with the latest systems?
- How do they support their agents with education and training?
- What kind of commission structure do they offer?
- Do they offer benefits?
- Do they provide agents with leads and marketing material?
- Is there room to grow with the brokerage?
6. Complete the Licensing Application
The final step is, thankfully, a simple one. With all the above tasks completed, apply for that hard-earned affiliate broker’s license. This can be done at the department of commerce’s Comprehensive Online Regulatory & Enforcement System website. Creating an account is relatively simple. In addition to the $91 licensing fee, applicants will need to submit proof of their eligibility with:
- Photo ID
- Proof of high school graduation or GED
- Application photo
- Proof of electronic fingerprinting
- Eligibility form
- Proof of completion of prelicensing education
- Proof of errors and omissions insurance policy
Within a few weeks, you should receive a license certificate in the mail.
How to Become a Real Estate Agent in Tennessee: FAQs
Still not sure about the path forward? Get answers to common questions about how to become a real estate agent in Tennessee below.
Is the Tennessee real estate exam hard?
The passing rate for the Tennessee Real Estate Salesperson Exam is 66%, meaning that roughly a third of the people who take it do not pass. Be sure to pay attention during your prelicensing course and take studying seriously. If you put in the proper effort, you should pass on your first attempt. Otherwise, you’ll need to pay another $39 to take the test again. Check out our tips and free practice exam here.
What if I have a real estate license from another state?
Tennessee does not offer reciprocal licenses for real estate agents currently licensed in another state. However, you may be eligible for a simplified licensing process. You’ll need to provide the Tennessee Real Estate Commission with information from every state where you’ve held, or currently hold, a real estate license.
If approved, you won’t need to take the national portion of the license exam, but will still be responsible for taking the state portion. Visit the TREC website for more information.
How long does it take to become a real estate agent in Tennessee?
Usually, it takes prospective affiliate brokers six months to complete their prelicensing hours and get their license. If the online real estate school you choose offers self-paced classes, you usually get access to educational materials for six months. Plus, students can use the flexibility of self-paced classes to work around their current schedules.
In-class or livestream webinar classes can be completed in as little as a few weeks, but require more of your time to complete in a short time frame. You’ll have to weigh the pros and cons of finishing your course quickly and taking your time to understand key concepts. Learn more about your options in our review of the best real estate schools in Tennessee.
Can I get my Tennessee real estate license online?
Unfortunately, you’ll need to go to one of the exam testing sites to take your Tennessee real estate salesperson exam. But the good news is that you can complete the required 90 hours of classwork from the comfort of your home.
Do real estate agents make good money in Tennessee?
According to ZipRecruiter, real estate agents make an average of $86,358 in Tennessee—the highest average in the United States. Salary ranges can vary widely depending on the area and many other important factors, including education, certifications, additional skills, and the number of years you have spent in your profession.
Other significant details you should consider are brokerage fees and commissions. Usually, you’ll earn a fixed percentage; commission is shared between you and your broker based on a negotiated ratio that will be fully outlined in your contract. While this may differ based on several factors, a common commission split is 70% to the agent and 30% to the broker.
What are the pros & cons of becoming a real estate agent in Tennessee?
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