Frequently Asked Questions> Real Estate License

How to Apply for a Real Estate License After Passing the Exam

So, you are ready to look beyond the lens of licensing and take on the world of real estate? What exactly comes after the hours of pre-licensing education and grueling exams?

As an aspiring real estate agent, it’s normal to wonder how to apply for a real estate license after passing the exam. Five steps follow the licensing exam. You must first submit to a background check, get broker sponsorship, and apply for your real estate license. After those three initial steps, go ahead and shine your license at a local real estate association and start your career.

This step-by-step guide will help you transition from the exam room to the property market. We’ll walk you through the steps that follow passing your real estate licensing exam, from background checks and broker sponsorship to networking at local associations. By sticking with us, you will gain a clear understanding and be equipped to navigate these crucial steps confidently.  

Step 1: Submit to a Background Check

Your first step toward realizing your dream and becoming a real estate agent after acing your real estate exam is a date with your state’s Department of Justice. Depending on the state, you will have to either submit a form authorizing the commission to complete the background check or visit a designated center for biometric collection.

For instance, the California Department of Real Estate desires applicants to visit an approved fingerprint scanning partner to collect licensee fingerprints. Licensees will then submit the fingerprint card alongside their license application.

But in Mississippi, you must complete an authorization form and submit it to the Mississippi Real Estate Commission.

It’s essential first to determine if your state mandates these procedures before beginning. Some states don’t have clear background check requirements beyond a declaration attached to the application form.

A good example is the New York Department of State. The Empire State doesn’t provide a clear directive concerning the background and criminal check requirements for license applications.

After completing the process, comes the inevitable, eerie, and deafening sound of waiting for results. Naturally, most licensing bodies wait for the background results before proceeding with licensure applications.

During this time, try not to stress too much. Keep in mind that these checks are standard procedures designed with everyone’s safety in mind.

Step 2: Get Sponsorship from a Licensed Broker

Having broker backing goes beyond licensure. It is synonymous with finding a worthy home for your license.

A sponsoring broker plays an integral role in your career journey. They provide you with invaluable industry insights and guide you through complex transactions, regulatory compliance, and client negotiations.

However, their work doesn’t stop there. Why? This is because some states don’t grant licensing to agents without a sponsoring broker.

In states like New York, your broker is the person tasked with completing the license application on your behalf. No sponsoring broker equates to no license.

I often advise students to find a sponsoring broker before sitting for the exam. This is due to two significant benefits. Most brokers were once agents.

They know the drill and understand what it takes to succeed in real estate. But they also have industry knowledge that would be invaluable during your exam preparations.

Your sponsoring broker could be a tutor, helping you understand licensing procedures better. However, finding the right match requires some groundwork on your part, too.

Don’t just join a brokerage. Find a fitting one for you. Begin with thorough research about potential brokers in your area. Look into their reputation, areas of specialization, and the training opportunities they offer.

Gauge their work ethos and see if it aligns with yours. Ask questions about their expectations from you and what support they can offer in return.

A few other brokers or real estate companies may even be willing to treat you to a real estate license and pick up the tab on your behalf.

Step 3: Apply for a Real Estate License 

This third step can often feel scary and unsurmountable. We mean, could error mean no license? Can you even redo your application?

But it doesn’t have to be daunting or petrifying. Filling out the application form and submitting it is a relatively straightforward process.

If you reside in one of the states that still accept mailed application forms, like New Hampshire, download and fill out the application form. This document usually requires you to provide basic personal information along with details pertinent to your licensing needs.

But if your state accepts online applications, go to the commission’s website and create a licensing portal account. The portal is where you will submit your application and process the payment.

Once that’s done, it’s time for submission or mailing. Alongside your filled-out application form, there are certain documents you’ll need to submit.

Check your licensing website to ensure you have every document lined up before you begin filling out the application. These documents could range from identification proofs to specific certifications. Create a personal documentation checklist so you don’t miss anything. Most states will require the following:

  • Application form furnished with a social security number
  • Background check form
  • Proof of completed Pre-licensing education
  • Passing score for the real estate exam

Don’t forget about the fees! Each type of real estate license comes with its own fee structure, which must be paid at this stage.

If you are submitting a physical form, insert your proof of payment in your application package. But, if you use a portal, you may pay the application fee immediately after completing your form.

Once all these elements are with the real estate commission, another round of waiting comes. There is no telling how long you will have to bear with the choir of crickets before you hear back from the commission.

Remember that different factors affect how long it takes to get a real estate license. But, processing times can range between two to four weeks.

Step 4: Join a Local Real Estate Association

There are countless organizations that cover the landscape of the real estate industry. Joining one of them will provide an opportunity to network with other industry professionals. You will have access to exclusive resources and tools that will help you stay updated on the latest trends and changes in real estate laws.

These associations also provide continuous learning opportunities through seminars, workshops, and online courses that help you keep your skills sharp.

The top organization for agents to join is the National Association of Realtors or NAR. NAR is a leading real estate professional organization and home to over 1.5 million professionals.

You must apply to be a part of this elite group of agents.

Before you join any association, ensure you find one that aligns with your niche market. For instance, if you specialize in commercial properties within urban areas, join an association focused on urban residential properties.

Step 5: Start Your Real Estate Career

With your license in hand and a broker behind you, it is time to start your career. This is what you have been working towards.

So, instead of giving you a list of tips, I will take you on a journey. A home-building experience:

Create a Business Plan and Budget

Mapping out a solid business plan and budget is the cornerstone of any successful venture. Your business plan is the blueprint for your dream, while the budget acts as the foundation. They provide structure and stability, guiding you through each growth phase steadily.

Tip: Anticipate every expense and have a parachute for dry seasons. Remember, checks can be far in between and costs right on each other’s heels. So, plan accordingly.

Generate Leads

Building your network and generating leads can be likened to constructing walls for this house. These connections form the protective layer around your business, shielding it from market fluctuations while offering opportunities for expansion.

Tip: Ensure you understand the specific needs of every business lead.

Market Yourself

Marketing yourself and your services equates to installing windows in that house. They allow others to see what’s inside, showcasing all that you have to offer. This could mean creating an engaging website with compelling content or using social media platforms to reach a broader audience.

Tip: Don’t try to target every social media platform. Focus on the platform your clients frequent.

Work with Clients

Working with clients and closing deals can be compared to adding doors. They are entry points inviting people into doing business with you. The key lies in understanding their needs and meeting them effectively.

Tip: Communication is key here. Try your best to establish an open channel of communication between you and clients. Be transparent about every transactional stage.

A Count Down to a Real Estate Takeoff

Congratulations on passing your real estate exam. Every successful real estate agent was once where you are now, at the beginning. The path may seem intimidating, but armed with knowledge and determination, there’s no limit to what you can achieve.

Remember, becoming a real estate agent isn’t just about selling houses but building dreams.

Next Steps:

Ready to get started? Here are some action steps you can take right away:

  • Begin researching your state’s specific licensing requirements and procedures.
  • Start searching for potential broker sponsors in your area.
  • Draft a business plan outlining your goals as a real estate agent.
  • Brainstorm ideas on how you can market yourself in the industry.

Embarking on this journey is exciting, but it also comes with its own set of challenges. We’d love to hear about your experiences or any questions that popped up during this process! Share them in the comments below, or reach out directly if you need more personalized advice.

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