How to Become a Real Estate Agent in California Online

Dec 02, 2019

This article discusses who real estate agents are, what they do, and the six steps in how to become a licensed real estate agent in California online.

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Information about Real Estate Agents

Real estate agents handle either side, buyer or seller, of the real estate transaction and are paid a commission, a percentage of the sale price, from the transactions. Agents are also stationed in brokerage firms and are responsible for making sure transactions are completed, which includes following up on inspections, paperwork, and important dates such as the closing. Real estate agents acquire a license from the governing state after completing the requirements, and in California, many of those requirements easily can be accomplished online.

Required Skills* Business Skills, Interpersonal Skills, Organizational Skills, Problem-Solving Skills
Job Growth (2018-2028)* 7% (nationwide)
Average Salary in California (2018)* $73,450 per year

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Steps to Become a Real Estate Agent in California Online

In order to become a real estate agent in California there are six steps one needs to do before finding that first job and transaction. Three out of the six steps can be completed easily online. The other three have online components as well as in-person aspects, such as taking an exam or in-person conversations and interviews.

Step One: Follow the General Requirements as Listed on the California Government Website

The first requirements outlined on the California Department of Real Estate (DRE) website are to be at least 18 years or older and a California resident. If the individual is not a resident of the state, he or she can still apply as long as all other requirements are met, including completion of accredited courses and passing the written exam. On top of these, the applicant needs to disclose any criminal history, as failure to do so will lead to a denied license. Any convictions of a crime may also lead to a denial as well. Applicants can find the forms and research this information online, but the application is sent through the mail.

Step Two: Successful Completion of Three College-Level Courses

The individual needs to have a high school diploma or a GED in order to take three college courses that are each worth three semester-units or four quarter-units. These courses must also be approved by the Western Association of Schools and Colleges or another accrediting agency approved by the United States Department of Education. Any private real estate school needs to be approved by the California Real Estate Commissioner.

These three courses can be taken online at any school that meets the requirements: 1. Real Estate Principles, 2. Real Estate Practice, and 3. One course of the following:

  • Real Estate Appraisal
  • Property Management
  • Real Estate Finance
  • Real Estate Economics
  • Legal Aspects of Real Estate
  • Real Estate Office Administration
  • General Accounting
  • Business Law
  • Escrows
  • Mortgage Loan Brokering and Lending
  • Computer Applications in Real Estate
  • Common Interest Developments

Step Three: Study for the Exam, Find An Exam Center, and Take the Exam

The DRE website offers online study materials to be used in preparation for taking the salesperson exam. The exam is taken in-person at certain locations at certain times depending on the demand. In general, the exam takes place in these areas: Fresno, San Diego, Los Angeles Vicinity, Oakland, and Sacramento. One needs to research online with the Department of Real Estate in California for times and locations and may sign up online.

Step Four: Apply for the License

Upon passing the exam, the individual then applies for the license online to start working as an agent. This license is good for up to four years. Once the license expires, the individual can renew it, online, up to two years after expiration in order to continue to practice as an agent. In the meanwhile, the agent isn't approved to handle transactions.

Step Five: Join a Brokerage/Real Estate Firm

Agents must work under a broker, which might be at a brokerage firm or a real estate agency. Agents can apply online, but will most likely have an in-person interview as well. These firms give support systems for finding clients as well as mentorships from more experienced agents. Some brokerage firms require paying a fee or percentage of completed transactions for using the facilities.

Step Six: Find Clients and Start Handling Transactions

Finding clients might be the most challenging part of the career path. Many turn to family and friends for referrals or as clients, especially in the beginning. Most agencies will have websites through which potential clients and agents might communicate with email. Sometimes, agents can find clients online through blogs and other social media, such as Facebook and LinkedIn, or with online advertising through Google Ads or ads on social media that target the local area. Agents can even join networking events through online portals such as to find potential clients.

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