Are you thinking of getting your Iowa real estate license? A career in real estate offers variety and allows you to be your own boss. The best part is that it’s relatively simple to get started too. With just a few straightforward steps, you could be helping buyers and sellers in Des Moines or any other community in Iowa in no time.

To qualify, you must be over 18 and a legal U.S. resident. Our helpful guide will walk you through each step of the process so you know what to expect. Let’s jump in!

How to Get an Iowa Real Estate License

  • Complete a Prelicensing Course & Exam
  • Pass the License Exam
  • Complete a Background Check
  • Join a Real Estate Brokerage
  • Purchase Errors & Omissions Insurance
  • Apply for Your License

Each step of the process is straightforward, and we’ve researched every detail so you can get started right away. Let’s dig deeper into each step.

1. Complete a Prelicensing Course & Exam

Cost: $650 – $800
Time commitment: One to two months

To get started, you will need to complete 96 total hours of prelicensing coursework. In Iowa, the coursework is split into a 60-hour Principles of Real Estate Course and three 12-hour additional mandatory courses. Your mandatory courses cover buying, listing, and ethical practices.

The Principles of Real Estate course can be taken either in-person, via livestream, or in a self-paced online format. Many people prefer the flexibility that a self-paced course allows to accommodate their work and life schedule.

Your three additional mandatory courses, however, must be taken via live instruction. This means you can take them in-person or in a livestream format from the comfort of home.

If you’re interested in taking as much of your prelicensing course online, we recommend looking through the value-packed options for the 60-hour Principles of Real Estate portion at Colibri Real Estate. Their courses are expertly designed for self-paced learning, easy to use, and engaging.

Readers of The Close can SAVE 30% on any Colibri Real Estate prelicensing course in Iowa. Just use promo code TheClose30 at checkout.

In Iowa, you must also show proof of completing a final exam, although this isn’t your state license exam yet. Your chosen real estate school will provide you with unit tests or checkpoints for understanding throughout your course, and your final exam will check your overall comprehension of the material.

2. Pass the Iowa Real Estate License Exam

Quick Facts: Iowa Real Estate Exam

  • Cost: $95
  • Time to complete: Three hours
  • Format: Computer-based, 120 multiple-choice questions
  • What to bring: Two forms of valid signature ID (one photo ID)

Once you’ve finished your course, you’re ready to schedule your Iowa real estate license exam. You’ll need to visit the PSI Testing website to schedule your exam or schedule by phone at 1-800-733-9267.

You’ll be able to choose from one of Iowa’s three testing locations for your exam:

  • West Des Moines
  • Cedar Rapids
  • Council Bluffs

Aim to arrive at your testing site 30 minutes early to allow for registration and be sure to bring two pieces of ID. You’ll have three hours to complete the 120-question exam. There will be two sections to your exam—a national and state portion. You will need to score 70% on each of the state and national portions to pass the license exam.

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3. Complete a Background Check

Cost: $51
Time commitment: Four-plus weeks for processing

Congratulations on passing your license exam! Now it’s time to check some paperwork off our to-do list to get your license. In Iowa, you’ll need to complete a background check that you will submit with your license application.

We recommend starting the background check process right away, as it can take around four or more weeks to process. Start by visiting the Iowa Professional Licensing Bureau’s website to create an account (called “My Iowa PBL”). You’ll be able to request a fingerprinting packet and pay the $51 fee online.

4. Join an Iowa Real Estate Brokerage

Cost: None
Time commitment: Two to four weeks

Before you can apply for your license, you must be associated with an active sponsoring broker in Iowa. Your sponsor broker will oversee you as a new agent and provide guidance and support as you navigate your new career.

You can start by finding local brokerages in your city and getting in touch with them. Brokers are familiar with this process since they had to go through it themselves, and they’ll be happy to tell you if they are looking to grow their real estate team.

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5. Purchase Errors & Omissions Insurance

Cost: $140 – $887
Time commitment: 30 – 60 minutes

You’re almost there! In Iowa, you must purchase Errors & Omissions (E&O) insurance and include proof as part of your real estate license application. E&O insurance is a form of liability insurance that protects you and your real estate business in case of an unintentional mistake that leads to a lawsuit.

The Iowa Real Estate Commission has selected Rice Insurance Services Center as their group insurer, and there are two avenues you can pursue to get your coverage. The easiest is likely to work with your sponsoring broker since they have experience with E&O insurance and can guide you on what coverage to purchase.

You can also view and submit the application for individual E&O coverage through the Iowa Professional Licensing Bureau’s website.

6. Apply for Your License

Cost: $125
Time commitment: 30 – 60 minutes

You’ve completed every step and now it’s time to apply for your Iowa real estate license. You’ll do this by visiting the Iowa Professional Licensing Bureau’s website and logging into your My Iowa PBL account. This is the same account you created to complete your background check.

To complete the application, you will follow the prompts in your Iowa PBL account and submit the following information or documents:

  • The $125 application fee
  • The application form with your and your sponsoring broker’s signature
  • Proof of completion of your prelicensing courses
  • Proof of passing the Iowa license exam
  • Proof of E&O insurance coverage

Once you have submitted your license application, you’ll be notified by email of your active Iowa real estate license. You can also check your My Iowa PBL account at any time to check your license application status.

How Much Does It Cost to Get an Iowa Real Estate License?

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Quick Facts

Iowa Real Estate Governing Board:

Iowa Real Estate Commission


Prelicensing Requirements:

96 Hours of Prelicensing Coursework


Price Range for Prelicensing Courses:

$750 – $900


Total Estimated Cost:

$1,145 – $2,000

It costs an average of $1,400 to get your Iowa real estate license. Iowa is a unique state to get your real estate license because you must also purchase Errors & Omissions (E&O) insurance. The cost of E&O insurance can vary by the type of coverage you choose.

Likewise, you’ll have some variability in the price of your 60-hour Principles of Real Estate course. Be sure to look through each of the real estate schools’ package features to get the most out of your learning experience.

Iowa Real Estate License Costs

60-hour Prelicensing Course $359 – $475
36-hour Additional Mandatory Courses $375
Iowa Real Estate License Exam Fee $95
Background Check Fee $51
Errors & Omissions Insurance $140 – $887
Iowa Real Estate License Application $125
Total Costs: $1,145 – $2,000

Choosing an Iowa Real Estate School

In Iowa, the 96 hours of prelicensing coursework is often split into a 60-hour Principles of Real Estate course and three 12-hour additional courses on Buying, Listing, and Ethical Practices. The Iowa Real Estate Commission allows you to complete your 60-hour Principles of Real Estate course in an online, self-paced format, but your additional courses must be taken via live instruction.

This means you’ll be able to choose between taking your courses entirely in person, online via scheduled livestream classes, or a combination of the two formats paired with self-paced study. Luckily, you can complete all of your prelicensing courses from the comfort of home online.

Types of Instruction
In-person Classes
  • Traditional classroom setting
  • Get to know other students
  • Easy access to the instructor
  • More expensive than online classes
  • Commuting and traffic
  • Finding class times to fit your schedule
Livestream Classes
  • No commute
  • Ideal if you live far from in-person schools
  • You can ask instructors questions in real time
  • Finding classes to fit your schedule
  • No interaction with other students
  • Technology doesn’t always work as it should
Online Classes
  • Work at your own pace anywhere with internet access
  • Take classes when convenient for you
  • Often the least expensive option
  • Instructors can generally only be accessed via email or phone
  • Little interaction with real estate pros
  • Technology doesn’t always work as it should

You can expect to find a variety of features offered by Iowa real estate schools, such as instructor support, exam prep materials, and study groups. If you like the idea of learning at your own pace, Colibri Real Estate courses are packed with useful tools. Their courses are easy to navigate and designed by industry professionals with decades of experience, all at an affordable price.

For a one-stop shop, we recommend checking out the Iowa Association of Realtors, which offers all 96 hours of prelicensing coursework in a convenient bundle. You’ll be able to take all your courses via scheduled livestream classes from the comfort of home.

Related article: 5 Best Iowa Real Estate Schools for 2022 (when published)

Iowa Real Estate FAQs

Now that you’re all set to embark on getting your Iowa real estate license, you may have more questions. We’ve got you covered with answers to the most commonly asked questions below. Send us a comment if there’s something we missed—we’d love to hear from you!

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