If you want to truly work for yourself and make more money in real estate, you need to get your real estate broker license. A real estate broker license is a powerful tool that will let you demand higher splits, manage an office of salespeople, and best of all, run your own brokerage.
Today, we’re going to walk you through the steps to get your broker license quickly—and without the headaches that might have come with getting your salesperson license.
We’ll start with a quick overview of the process in all states, then dig in to the fine print on getting your broker license in California, New York, Texas, Florida, and Illinois.
How to Get Your Real Estate Broker License in 5 Steps
Here is a quick overview of the process in all 50 states:
1. Learn the basic requirements for your state
2. Complete and document the required number of transactions
3. Take your real estate broker prelicensing courses
4. Pass the real estate broker exam
5. Apply for your broker license online
1. Learn the Qualifications You Need for a Broker License in Your State
Before you even think about getting your broker license, you need to learn the requirements in your state. In most states, the requirements to get your license will be age, criminal conviction status, and experience. Let’s quickly look at each to make sure you can get your license.
Minimum Age to Get a Real Estate Broker License
You must be at least 18 years old in order to get your real estate broker license in all 50 states. Of course, since you need to be at least 18 to get your real estate salesperson license, it is simply not possible to become a real estate broker in the United States if you’re under 18.
Criminal Conviction History
Likewise, since you cannot get your real estate license with a felony conviction on your record in most states, you cannot get your broker license either. If you did manage to successfully petition your state licensing department to grant you a salesperson license with a felony conviction, you will need to do the same for a broker license.
Minimum Experience Requirements
Since you can legally enter into contracts of sale as a real estate broker, all states require that you have experience as a licensed real estate agent in order to become a real estate broker. Some states just say you need to be actively licensed for a number of years, while others, like New York and California, require a certain number of transactions.
Here is a quick rundown of the experience requirements in California, New York, Florida, Texas, and Illinois.
Minimum Real Estate Broker License Experience Requirements by State
|State||Time Requirement||Transaction Requirements||Exceptions|
|California||2 years as a salesperson in the last 5 years||None||4-year college degree with real estate as major or minor|
|New York||1 year of full-time work (35 hours per week) as a salesperson or 3 years in the general real estate field||Yes—1,750 points for salespeople working for at least 2 years, or 3,500 for working in general real estate field; more info here||Attorneys do not need to meet the time or transaction requirements|
|Florida||2 years as a salesperson in the last 5 years||None||Attorneys do not need to meet the time requirements in Florida|
|Texas||4 years as a salesperson in the last 5 years||Yes—3,600 points; more info here||Attorneys do not need to meet the time or transaction requirements in Texas|
|Illinois*||2 years as a salesperson in the last 3 years||None||Attorneys do not need to meet the time requirements in Illinois|
*Since salespeople are called brokers in Illinois, brokers are called managing brokers.
2. Complete & Document the Required Number of Transactions, If Needed
If you are in a state like New York that requires a minimum number of transactions to get your real estate broker license, then you need to complete and document those transactions before getting your license.
Since your managing broker is legally your broker of record, they will likely document your qualifying transactions for you. Don’t worry, though—in order to apply for your license, you do not need to provide any details from your transactions. You just need to know the number and type of transactions you completed as a salesperson.
How Transaction Point Systems Work in New York & Texas
In states like New York and Texas that require a minimum number of transactions in order to get your broker license, the state uses a simple point system to judge your past performance. Generally speaking, the more complex the transaction, the more points you get for that transaction.
Here is a quick example of how many points you will get for different residential transactions in New York. Keep in mind you will need a minimum of 1,750 points total if you worked as a salesperson, or 3,500 points total if you worked in a general real estate field like property management.
Number of Points per Residential Sales Transaction in New York
|Single family, condo, co-op unit, multifamily (2- to 8-unit), farm (with residence, under 100 acres)|
|Co-op unit transaction approved by seller and buyer that fails to win Board of Directors approval|
Number of Points per Residential Rental Transaction in New York
|Rentals or subleases effected|
|Property management—lease renewal|
|Property management—rent collections per tenant, per year|
Commercial transactions are also included in your experience points total in New York. For a full list of transactions and their point value, click here (PDF).
Here’s a quick overview of how many points each residential transaction will get you in Texas:
Number of Points per Residential Transaction in Texas
|Closed purchase or sale with improvements|
|Executed lease—landlord or tenant|
|Property management—rent collections per property, per year|
|Exclusive right to sell listings|
|Buyer or tenant representation agreements|
|Closed purchase or sale unimproved residential lot|
Texas also assigns points for farm and commercial transactions. For a full list of transactions and their point value, click here (PDF).
Pro tip: How to get your broker license faster
As you might have noticed, both experience points systems are heavily weighted toward residential sales. However, since rentals are much quicker transactions, it makes sense to work both if you want to get your broker license more quickly.
3. Take the Required Real Estate Broker Prelicensing Courses
Once you’ve learned the qualifications you need to get your broker license and completed and documented the right number of transactions, you need to take your real estate broker courses.
While the length and difficulty of these courses varies a bit by state, you should expect to spend at least a full week taking courses in order to qualify for your broker license. Just remember that these are college-level courses, so they will be a bit more difficult than salesperson courses.
Many agents will find the broker courses more interesting than the salesperson prelicensing courses. Of course, the topics covered are similar, but in most states, there is more of a focus on appraisals, finance, and economics.
Here’s a quick breakdown of how long broker licensing courses are in California, New York, Texas, Florida, and Illinois:
Real Estate Broker Prelicensing Course Hours by State
Pro tip: Save time and money by taking your courses online
Even without the pandemic, schlepping to a classroom to take classes that are available online is a waste of time that most busy agents should skip. Worse, in-person classes are much more expensive. In order to save precious time AND money, take your real estate broker courses online with Real Estate Express. They offer the same courses as everyone else for a better price.
Note: Some Agents or Other Real Estate Professionals Are Exempt From Course Requirements
What many agents don’t know is that not everyone who gets a broker license needs to take the prelicensing course. Attorneys in good standing admitted to your state’s bar, and those who have college degrees in real estate-related majors, don’t need to take the course in most states.
4. Take & Pass the Real Estate Broker Exam
Just like your salesperson license, the next step in getting your broker license is to take and pass your state’s broker prelicensing exam.
While the tests vary from state to state, they are all multiple choice, and will take you several hours to complete. All real estate broker exams are pass/fail, and in order to pass the exam you need to get 70% of the questions correct.
Real Estate Broker Exam Time, Questions & Passing Scores
5. Apply for Your Broker License With Your State Licensing Department
Once you’ve passed your broker exam, all you need to do to officially become a real estate broker is to apply for your license!
The process is pretty straightforward in most states. You need to gather your information, including your application, documented experience (if needed), and certificate of completion of the course, and submit everything to your state’s licensing or real estate commission.
That’s it! Congratulations, you are now a bona fide licensed real estate broker!
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs): Real Estate Broker License
Here are a few commonly asked questions and answers about getting your real estate broker license.
Can I become a real estate broker without being an agent?
No. Unless you are an attorney in good standing admitted to the bar or a property manager, you cannot get your real estate broker license without getting your real estate salesperson license first.
How much does it cost to get a real estate broker license?
Getting your real estate broker license can cost between $350 and $1,000. These costs are broken up between your real estate broker courses and application fees from your state.
Here’s a quick breakdown of the costs for courses and application fees to get your broker license in California, New York, Florida, Texas, and Illinois:
Costs to get a real estate broker license 2020
How hard are real estate broker courses?
The difficulty level for real estate broker courses in all 50 states is college level. If you’ve taken a course in college, then you should have no problem following along with the broker course.
How hard is it to pass the real estate broker exam?
The real estate broker exam is generally a little bit harder to pass than the real estate salesperson exam. However, since many people who take the salesperson exam have no real estate experience, the pass rate for broker exams can be higher.
Getting your real estate broker license can be a long and expensive process, but if you work rentals and sales, document your progress, and take online courses, you can get your license quickly without breaking the bank.
Ready to learn more? Check out our article on How to Start a Real Estate Brokerage in 2020 (Without Going Broke).