How Hard is it to Become a Real Estate Agent?

become real estate agentBecoming a real estate agent was one of the best decisions I ever made.  Real estate has provided me with a great income, a flexible schedule and incredible investment opportunities.  There are many ways to make money as a real estate agent or a Realtor, but it is difficult to become an agent.  I specialize in listing REO and HUD homes, but I also fix and flip houses, run a team with buyer and seller agents, complete broker price opinions (BPOs) and I buy long-term rentals.  I am also planning to start a property management business and expand my retail sales team.  Here is a great article on just how much money real estate agents can make.

How I save money by being a real estate agent?

One of the biggest advantages to being a real estate agent is the money I save on my investment properties.  I have saved at least $70,000  in the last year on properties I have personally bought or sold.  The savings on commissions on my investment property  is why I think it is vital that real estate investors should become real estate agents.  I save money on fix and flips when I buy the flip and when I sell it.  I save money on my rental properties when I buy them and I get more deals because I am an agent. For more information on my long-term rental property strategy and how having a real estate license saves me so much, check out my complete guide to investing in long-term rental properties.

How hard is it to get your real estate license?

If you are thinking of getting your real estate license, you need to know how hard it is to get your license.  That is a difficult question to answer, because each state has different licensing laws and requirements.  However, a good friend of mine just passed the real estate test in Colorado and I have some great information from him on what to expect when getting your real estate license in Colorado.  This information may not be state specific for where you live, but it will give you an idea of what is involved.  Some states have less requirements and some more requirements to get your real estate license than Colorado.  I have had my license since 2001 and it was not easy for me to get my license; things have become even more difficult over the years.  Colorado is one of the most difficult states to get a real estate license in; here is a list of the requirements for all 50 states.

How long does it take to get your Real Estate license?

In Colorado you must take 168 hours of real estate education before you can take the Colorado real estate exam.  That is over four weeks of classes if you went to school full-time for 40 hours a week.  Most people don’t have the time to devote 40 hours a week to real estate school.  It took my friend 8 months to take the classes and pass his real estate test.  He had a full-time job and was forced to take classes after work and on the weekends.  He took his real estate classes online so that he could have a flexible schedule.  In Texas you need 210 hours of education, but in California just three courses are needed. If you are interested in getting your real estate license I took my classes at VanEd.com back in 2001.  My assistant got his license through Real Estate Express last year, which offers classes in all 50 states and has very good prices.

What do you have to do to become a real estate agent?

There is more to getting your real estate license than taking classes and passing a test. real estate is a highly regulated industry and here are some of the other requirements in Colorado.

  • You must pass a background test, which involves being fingerprinted.
  • You must pass tests and quizzes to go along with the 168 hours of education you take.  The education required for a Colorado real estate license  is not a breeze through the park.  A quote from my friend:  “Reading dry material at night after work and after family time.  I was usually tired. The tests at the end of each section were flipping impossible.  They would ask about minute details that had little to do with comprehension. My school didn’t even try to make it interesting or add commentary.  They pretty much copy and pasted out of the Colorado legal documents on the topics.”
  • You must hang your license with a broker once you pass the exam and the background check to activate your license.  Each brokerage has different costs; some take part of your commissions and some charge base fees.
  • You must buy E and O insurance and most likely will want to become a Realtor, join a local board and join local multiple listing service (MLS).  It is not cheap to become an agent.
  • Once you have your license you must take 24 hours of continuing education every three years to keep your real estate license active.

For more information on how to become a great real estate agent, check out my E book: How to Make it Big in Real Estate, From a Millionaire Agent available at Amazon as a 125 page E book or in PDF for only $6.49!

How hard are real estate classes?

You can take the real estate courses online or in person in a school.  My friend took the classes online to work with his busy work schedule.  In my experience and my friends taking real estate classes online is extremely boring since staring at a computer for 168 hours is not easy to do.   Here is what my friend had to say about his experience with the real estate education. ” If I could do it over again I would take the classes in person if it fits your lifestyle.  In person would have been way more engaging and exciting. Online is good for flexibility of hours, but that’s about it.  The material is pretty dry, so it’s exhausting reading that much on a computer screen for that long.  You are probably fully familiar with this.  Some online schools are starting to do video based instruction.  I personally would put this in last place.  With written material, you can move at your own place and easily copy/paste, and review sections as needed.  Video would be at their pace and you’d have to manually take notes.  I’d avoid online video like the plague.” I took the classes online 11 years ago and I struggled to get through the courses.  I had been around real estate my whole life and I still had a hard time reading all that information online. The material that is covered in the classes is very dry.  If you are hoping to learn how to invest in real estate or learn advanced techniques in selling homes, think again!  The material is about technical laws, rules, settlement sheets and case history.  Very little is covered on material that will help people sell houses or help you personally invest in real estate.  The material is meant to keep people from going to jail for committing fraud or misleading buyers and sellers, not to actually help you succeed. Here is a great article on some misconceptions about being an agent. 

How hard is the Colorado real estate test?

The Colorado real estate test is not easy!  To tell the truth I failed it twice myself even though I thought I would breeze through it.  Many of the questions on the Colorado test are very tricky with double negatives and wording meant to trick the test takers.  There is also a ton of memorization needed and you need to be able to do math for the settlement sheets!  The test is about memorization and your ability to take tests.  The test itself takes up to four hours, is conducted in a high security test center and you aren’t allowed to bring notes. My friend passed the test on his first try, but as he says he is used to taking exams like this.  He has his MBA and has taken many similar professional exams in his previous corporate career.

How much does it cost to get your real estate license?

In Colorado, the real estate courses vary widely in cost.  Some online schools cost as little as a few hundred dollars, while classroom school courses can run into the thousands.  The exam itself costs $80 and you must also pay an accredited company or a law enforcement office to fingerprint you.  Once you get your license you will have continued costs like board dues, MLS dues, operating expenses and fees or commission splits to pay your broker.

Conclusion

If you want to become a real estate agent, make sure you research what is involved in your state.  Some states have easier requirements than others, but it is difficult to get your license in most places.  It costs a lot of money to become a real estate agent, but it is well worth it in my opinion.   Becoming a real estate agent saves me a ton of money and allows me a better opportunity to buy properties below market value.  I consider those bonuses on top of the incredible income you can earn from real estate.

Related Articles

How much money can you make as a Real Estate agent My Plan to Purchase 100 rental properties

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I have been a licensed Realtor since 2001, I own 11 rental properties and fix and flip 10-15 homes a year. I love writing, real estate, cars and my family!

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23 comments on “How Hard is it to Become a Real Estate Agent?
  1. Bob says:

    Great post. I love this blog, keep it coming :)

  2. weston says:

    Interesting, insightful article. It got me thinking about pursuing a real estate license myself, although I’m more interested in real estate investing. In looking through the requirements I found that you must have an employing broker to actually get the license. Is there a way around that if working for a broker is not the ultimate goal? Or is it not worth getting a license if I don’t expect to be a real estate agent long term? Thanks!

    • I have had a lot of questions about having to work under a broker when you get your license. The short answer is yes, in most states if not all you have to hang your license with a broker. I am writing a new article now with more details.

  3. Eric Bishop says:

    Thank you for your article. I have just begun investing in real estate and was researching the requirements in my state for becoming a an agent for the same reasons you state. I am unsure about the requirement of being affiliated with a broker. How does one find a broker that takes in agents that primarily get their license to support their own REI business?

  4. Harry says:

    Is 50-year-old too old to start this career? Thanks!

  5. Celine Crotty says:

    Licensed Realtor
    Thanks Mark, your Articles are very informative. I have learned a lot.

  6. Brit says:

    Hi Mark,
    It sounds like I’m taking the same Colorado online course that your friend is. I want to throw my computer against the wall. Although I will say I cannot thank you enough for posting about how hard it is to sit and read 70+ slides that are, in my opinion, poorly structured, and then regurgitate it for the test when zero anecdotal information is provided. I was beginning to question my level of intelligence.
    That said, is there any exam prep course you (or your friend) would recommend? I don’t want to take the test multiple times if I can help it and I can confidently say that I am not currently prepared despite being nearly finished with my online classes.

    Thank you!

  7. Jacquelyn Long says:

    Hi Mark,

    Thanks for your article. I’m thinking about pursuing my license as well, but wanted your opinion on the best school to do it as there are a lot of options. One of the links off of your article lead me to an online option for Colorado called RealEstateExpress.com. What are your thoughts here?

    Thanks!

    Jacquelyn

    • Hi, I have not done the classes in so long that it is hard for me to give personal experience. I have never used them and I do not know how good or bad they are. Part of the problem with the Colorado license is the material is so dry and hard to retain.

  8. Rosa says:

    Hi, I have been inquiring about real estate for quite sometime now… in your opinion, how much would you have to invest in order to get licensed?

  9. anthony.taing@stmartin.edu says:

    Is it possible to be a real estate agent only during the hours of 5pm to midnight and weekends? I am a full time engineer and do not plan to leave my job but I enjoy real estate very much. I’d like to do it on the side and be deeply involved for investment purposes.

    • Its possible but tough. Some people want to see houses during the day and many agents work during the day who you will have to work with. It is best if you have a partner or someone who can help during those hours.

  10. Ray says:

    If one is interested in real estate, I strongly suggest taking the course at a school/college. I give your friend a lot of respect for completing the course online. With that said the information is very dry, usually leaving the first 5 chapters about all the fun stuff in real estate, and the 18 remaining chapters in dry cut law and contracts. (In IL). I took the night class route, had a very outgoing teacher and having the option to ask questions was a plus. To sum it up, it honestly felt like a course in law school besides the option to add language to a contract.

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