Thanks to its Midwestern hospitality, seasonal activities, and one of the lowest costs of living in the country, Wisconsin is an attractive place to live—and an even better place to begin your journey as a real estate professional. But in order to connect residents of the Badger State with the properties of their dreams, you’ll need to first get your real estate license.
And that’s where we come in. Follow these five easy steps, and you’ll be launching your career in Wisconsin real estate in no time.
How to Become a Real Estate Agent in Wisconsin
Let’s dive into these steps in a little more detail. Before long, you’ll be helping clients buy and sell split-level houses in Milwaukee, Tudors in Madison, and Colonials in Lake Geneva.
How Much Does It Cost to Get a Real Estate License in Wisconsin?
It costs approximately $700 to get your real estate license in Wisconsin, including your prelicensing education. Some of the costs are fixed, such as the state’s licensing and exam fees, and others vary.
While you don’t need a college degree to become a real estate agent in Wisconsin, you must complete the state-specific licensing process. The price of the required 72-hour prelicensing courses (and optional exam prep materials) will vary depending on the provider you choose.
Wisconsin Real Estate License Costs
(Wisconsin real estate license costs as of April 2023)
How to Get a Wisconsin Real Estate Agent License in 5 Easy Steps
Before you begin, let’s make sure you’re eligible. Wisconsin requires those seeking real estate sales associate designations 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 Wisconsin Department of Safety and Professional Services (WDSPS) for education and examination requirements tailored to your specific situation.
Ready to learn more about how to become a real estate agent in Wisconsin? Here are the steps you’ll need to follow:
1. Apply for Predetermination
Many states require real estate professionals to pass a background check in order to get licensed. In Wisconsin, this process is called applying for predetermination. The WDSPS encourages candidates to apply for predetermination before pursuing a real estate license. This allows the department to run a background check and determine if a candidate can earn a license. Some previous criminal convictions may keep Wisconsinites from becoming a practicing real estate agent.
If you possess a criminal record, you may still be eligible to get your Wisconsin real estate license. The Real Estate Examining Board uses Wisconsin’s Crime Information Bureau to perform criminal history checks. They will review whether you reported felonies, misdemeanors, and other federal or state law violations to determine whether you’re approved for obtaining a license.
If you don’t have any past criminal convictions, this step should be a breeze. In fact, the hardest part might be paying the $68 fee: You’ll need to send a check or money order payable to WDSPS or use this credit card authorization form.
The time period for conviction review varies depending on whether all information and documentation are complete, and whether it needs to be reviewed by a real estate licensing board.
2. Complete a 72-hour 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 72 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 just under two 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 Wisconsin to find the prelicensing course that’s right for you.
The state of Wisconsin requires 72 hours of coursework before sitting for the licensing exam. 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 Wisconsin real estate school to get through this weighty material. Most people choose a real estate school based on the cost and the educational format of the course. Here are the most popular options in terms of course design.
Wherever you live in Wisconsin, 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).
Self-paced Online Classes
On-demand real estate classes are extremely popular for those wanting to become real estate agents in Wisconsin 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 roundup of the best online real estate schools.
For more options, visit The Close’s article on real estate schools in Wisconsin 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 it as many times as necessary. Once you pass the final exam, you’ll receive your Course Completion Certificate, which is required in order to register for the state licensing test.
3. Pass the Wisconsin State Real Estate Exam
Time to complete:
Computer-based, 140 questions
Bring to the testing center:
Two forms of identification, including one current government-issued photo ID that includes your signature
While you have four years to submit your licensing application after completing your prelicensing education, you need to apply within one year of passing the license exam, so it’s best not to delay.
Pearson VUE is the official administrator of the Wisconsin real estate exam. To begin scheduling, you’ll be required to create an account on the Pearson VUE website, which will then allow access to the scheduling portal.
You can find additional information on preparing for and taking the exam in Pearson’s Wisconsin Real Estate Candidate Handbook. You can pay the $65 exam fee directly through the Pearson website.
The salesperson exam consists of 140 questions covering laws, regulations, and the practice of real estate in Wisconsin. There’s no limit on how many times you can take this in-person, computer-based exam, though you are required to pay the exam fee each time.
You will have four hours to complete the entire exam. A passing score for the Wisconsin Real Estate Salesperson Exam is 75%. The rate at which test-takers pass the exam is also 75%.
You should arrive 30 minutes early at the testing site. The Wisconsin Real Estate Candidate Handbook outlines 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 Wisconsin real estate exam are located in the following cities:
- Eau Claire
- Green Bay
- Chicago, IL
- Eagan, MN
- Hermantown/Duluth, MN
- St. Paul, MN
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 one year following the date on which you sent in your original exam application. But you will have to pay $65 each time.
4. Select a Sponsoring Broker
Wisconsin requires that you work under a broker after passing the real estate salesperson exam. A broker has received additional training, worked in the industry for at least two years, and passed the broker’s license exam.
Real Estate Broker vs. Agent: A Head-to-Head Analysis
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?
While you’re not required to have a sponsoring broker at the moment you submit your application, it’s better to do so. Otherwise, you’ll pay an additional $10 fee.
5. Complete the License Application
The final step is a simple one. With all the above tasks completed, apply for that hard-earned salesperson license. This license allows you to handle real estate transactions, including buying and selling properties, as well as managing the rental process. You can find the application for this license on the WDSPS’ website. After paying a $75 fee, you can send your application in for review.
Upon a successful application review, you will be recognized as a Wisconsin real estate salesperson!
How to Become a Real Estate Agent in Wisconsin: FAQs
Still not sure about the path forward? Get answers to common questions about how to become a real estate agent in Wisconsin below.
Is the Wisconsin real estate exam hard?
The passing rate for the Wisconsin Real Estate Salesperson Exam is 75%, meaning that a quarter 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 $65 to take the test again.
What if I have a real estate license from another state?
If you’re already licensed in another state, you can check out our state-by-state guide on license reciprocity to help you get started on the process. You may be exempt from some of the requirements of obtaining a license in Wisconsin. Wisconsin currently has a reciprocal agreement with both Indiana and Illinois.
If you are licensed outside of these states, you can apply as via endorsement. This means you’ll need to complete either 10 semester hour credits at a college or university in real estate education or an approved 13-hour prelicensing course. For more information, visit the Wisconsin Department of Safety and Professional Services’ real estate salesperson page.
How long does it take to become a real estate agent in Wisconsin?
The average amount of time that people take from start to finish is generally three to six months. The two steps that take the most time when getting your license are prelicensing classes and test preparation. We estimate that it takes one to four months to complete classes, though self-paced learners could be done in as few as two weeks. After that, administrative tasks will likely take another few weeks.
Can I get my Wisconsin real estate license online?
Do real estate agents make good money in Wisconsin?
According to ZipRecruiter, real estate agents make an average of $64,855 in Wisconsin.
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’ve spent in your profession.
Other significant details you should consider are brokerage fees and commissions. Usually, this is a fixed percentage between you and your brokerage. 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 Wisconsin?
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