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FAQs - California

How do I get my California real estate salespersons license?

In order to obtain your California real estate salespersons license, you will have to complete the following steps: 1) Complete the 135-hour pre-license courses. 2) Apply for the State exam. 3) Pass the State exam. 4) Get fingerprinted. 5) Submit your salesperson license application.

Is the RealEstateU CA pre-license course approved by the DRE?

Yes! RealEstateU's 135-hour online California real estate salesperson licensing courses are fully approved by the California Department of Real Estate.

What are the requirements to apply for a CA real estate license?

In order to apply for a California real estate license, you must satisfy the DRE's general and course requirements, and pass the state licensing exam. Once you complete all of these requirements, the DRE will send you a license application.

How do I get my fingerprints taken if I'm not a CA resident?

If you live outside of California, the DRE will send you a fingerprint card along with your license application. You must use the fingerprint card to get your fingerprints taken at a local law enforcement agency. You will then mail the fingerprint card back to the DRE, along with your license application.

How much does it cost to get my fingerprints taken?

​The California Department of Real Estate (DRE) charges a $49 non-refundable fingerprint processing fee. You must get your fingerprints taken at a local Live Scan office, which charges an additional fee. The Live Scan fee varies per location.

Where can I find my local Live Scan office?

​The California Department of Justice website publishes a list of Live Scan fingerprinting locations. You first have to select your County, after which you will see a list of all Live Scan locations in that County.

How do I get my fingerprints taken in California?

You must have your fingerprints taken at a local Live Scan service provider. You will have to complete a Live Scan Service Request form, schedule your fingerprints with a local Live Scan provider, get your fingerprints taken at the Live Scan office, and submit a copy of the Live Scan Service Request form to the DRE.

Why do I have to get my fingerprints taken?

​Your fingerprints will be electronically sent to the California DOJ and the FBI. Both the DOJ and FBI will run a criminal background check and report their findings to the California Department of Real Estate. The DRE will use the criminal background check to verify that you meet their qualifications for "honesty".

What does the DRE do with my fingerprints?

The DRE requires all applicants to disclose any prior criminal activity on their license application. The DOJ and the FBI use your fingerprints to run a criminal background check. Their findings are sent to the DRE, where it is cross-checked with the criminal activity disclosed on your license application (if any).

When do I have to get my fingerprints taken?

Most applicants get their fingerprints taken after they pass the State exam and before they submit their license application. However, you can still get your fingerprints taken before the State exam by requesting a blank fingerprint card from the DRE.

Can I get my CA license if I have a prior conviction?

Yes, you still may be able to obtain a real estate license if you have a prior conviction. It's important to note that you must disclose all past and pending criminal activity to the DRE as part of your license application. If you fail to do so, your application will most likely be denied.

Can I get my CA license if I have a felony?

​Yes, it is still possible to obtain a California real estate license if you have a felony; however, the DRE must evaluate your specific case and determine your eligibility.

What criminal activity may lead to a denial of my license application?

The following are several convictions that will disqualify you from obtaining a license: Assault with intent to commit rape, bribery, burglary, embezzlement, extortion, forgery, fraud, grand theft, murder, perjury, petty theft, possession of drugs for sale or transport, and tax evasion.

What should I do if I have a prior conviction?

You must disclose any past or pending criminal activity to the DRE as part of your license application. That being said, you may still obtain a real estate license if you have a prior conviction. The DRE will review your specific case and determine if you are eligible to receive a real estate license.​

What criminal activity would disqualify me from getting a license?

The following are several convictions that will disqualify you from obtaining a license: Assault with intent to commit rape, bribery, burglary, embezzlement, extortion, forgery, fraud, grand theft, murder, perjury, petty theft, possession of drugs for sale or transport, and tax evasion.

What does the DRE consider a conviction?

According to the DRE, a "conviction" includes a verdict of guilty by a judge or jury, a plea of guilty, a plea of nolo contendere (no contest), or a forfeiture of bail in the courts (including military courts) of any state or country.

How should I disclose any prior criminal activity?

You must disclose any prior criminal convictions or pending criminal charges on your license application. If you fail to do so, you risk having your license application denied by the DRE.​

When should I disclose any prior criminal activity?

You should disclose any past criminal convictions or pending criminal charges on your License Application. You must fully disclose all criminal activities. The DRE will use the background reports generated by the California DOJ and the FBI to verify that you have fully disclosed all criminal activity.

How old do I have to be to get a CA real estate license?

You must be at least 18 years of age or older to obtain a California real estate license.

Do I need a high school diploma to get my CA real estate license?

No, you are not required to have a high school diploma or GED to obtain a California real estate license. The Department of Real Estate only requires you to be at least 18 years old when it comes time to apply for your real estate license.

Can I get my CA real estate license if I'm not a CA resident?

​Yes, you are not required to be a California resident to obtain a California real estate license. As an out-of-state resident, you will have to complete a Consent to Service of Process form, and get your fingerprints taken with your local law enforcement agency.

How much does it cost to get my CA real estate license?

There are four fees you have to pay to obtain your California real estate license: 1) 135-hour pre-license course: $99 2) State exam fee: $60 3) Fingerprint fee: $49 4) License application fee: $245 Total Fees: $453

How long does it take to get my CA real estate license?

It takes a minimum of 15-1/2 - 19-1/2 weeks to obtain your California real estate license: Step 1: Complete the required 3, 45-hour pre-license courses - 7-1/2 weeks. Step 2: Apply to take the state exam - 6-8 weeks. Step 3: Apply for your real estate license - 2-4 weeks.

What tests do I need to take to get my CA real estate license?

In order to obtain a California real estate salespersons license, you must pass the real estate school's final exams for each of the 3, 45-hour courses (3 final exams in total), and the state licensing exam.

Does California offer reciprocity with other states?

California does not offer reciprocity with any other state. Even if you are licensed in another state, you will have to go through the same licensing process​ as every other applicant.

How can I get my CA license if I'm licensed in another State?

California does not offer reciprocity with any other state. For this reason, you will have to go through the same licensing process as any other non-licensee.

What education is required to get a CA real estate license?

In order to qualify to take the state licensing exam and apply for your California real estate license, you must first complete three college-level courses. These courses include Real Estate Principles (45-hours), Real Estate Practice (45-hours), and one 45-hour elective course.

What courses am I required to take to get a CA real estate license?

You must complete the 45-hour Real Estate Principles course, 45-hour Real Estate Practice course, and one, 45-hour elective course in order to qualify to obtain your California real estate salespersons license.

How many hours of education is required to get a CA license?

You must complete a total of 135-hours of education in order to qualify to take the state licensing exam. The 135-hours are broken down into 3, 45-hour courses: Real Estate Principles, Real Estate Practice, and one elective course.

How can I take the 135-hour CA real estate license course?

You can take the required 135-hours of pre-licensing education online or in-person at a local school. Most students prefer to take the courses online since it gives them more flexibility and they can typically complete the courses in a shorter time frame.

Can I take the 135-hour CA real estate license course online?

Yes, you can certainly take the 135-hours of required education online. The DRE approves both online and in-person courses. Most students actually prefer to take the courses online, as it allows them to complete the courses at their own pace.

Can I take the CA pre-license course if I'm still in High School?

Yes, you are allowed to take (and complete) the 135-hours of required pre-license education while you are still in High School. The DRE only requires that you are at least 18 years old when it comes time to apply for your real estate license.

Can I take the CA pre-license course with more than one school?

Yes, you are allowed to complete the 3, 45-hour pre-license courses with more than one school. The DRE only requires that you submit your three Course Completion Certificates when it comes time to apply for the state licensing exam. The 3 Course Completion Certificates may be from more than one school.​

Can I use my law degree credits towards the pre-license course?

If you are admitted to the California ​State Bar, the DRE will waive the 135-hours of required pre-license education. If you hold a law degree but are not admitted to the California State Bar, you may use your law degree credits in place of the 45-hour elective course.

Can I use my college credits towards the CA pre-license course?

The DRE may allow you to use college credits towards the 45-hour elective course if the credits were earned as part of a real estate or law related course. However, you will still be required to complete the 45-hour Real Estate Principles and 45-hour Real Estate Practice courses.

What elective courses can I take as part of the pre-license course?

The 45-hour elective course may include one of the following: RE Appraisal, Property Management, RE Finance, RE Economics, Legal Aspects of RE, RE Office Administration, General Accounting, Business Law, Escrows, Mortgage Loan Brokering and Lending, Computer Applications in Real Estate Common Interest Developments.

How many times can I take the pre-license course final exam?

You can take the school's final exam for any of the 3, 45-hour pre-license courses as many times as needed until you pass. There is no limit as to how many times you can take the school's final exam.​

Is the school's final exam open book?

Yes, the final exam for any of the 3, 45-hour pre-license courses is open book. You can use any textbooks or other resources when taking the final exam.

How soon can I finish the 135-hour CA pre-license course?

The Real Estate Law requires that a student cannot complete any 45-hour pre-license course within 2-1/2 weeks.​ Since an applicant is required to complete 3, 45-hour pre-license courses, you cannot complete all three courses (135 hours in total) within 7-1/2 weeks from the date of enrollment.

Is the school's final exam proctored?

No, the final exams for each of the required 45-hour pre-license courses are not proctored. If you take the course online, you can also take the final exam from the comfort of your own home.

How many questions are on the pre-license course final exam?

The Real Estate Law requires the final exam for each 45-hour pre-license course to include a minimum of 100 questions.

How do I receive my Course Completion Certificate?

As soon as you pass the course final exam, your Course Completion Certificate will be available within your RealEstateU account. You can print the Certificate or save as a PDF. You will eventually have to submit a copy of each Certificate to the DRE as part of your state exam application.

How do I register for the CA real estate licensing exam?

To schedule your state exam, you will have to mail the DRE a completed exam application, pay the appropriate fee, include copies of your course Certificates, and include a reasonable accommodation request (if applicable). Once the DRE approves your application, you will receive an Examination Schedule Notice.

How much does the CA real estate exam cost?

The California Salesperson Examination fee is $60. You can see a full breakdown of all costs here.​

How do I pay for the CA state licensing exam?

You can pay the $60 exam fee using a credit card, cashiers' check, money order, or check. Checks or money orders must be made payable to: Department of Real Estate. If you want to pay using a credit card, you must complete a Credit Card Payment Form.​

Where can I take the CA real estate licensing exam?

You can take the state licensing exam at one of five proctoring locations throughout the State of California. The five proctoring locations include the following: Fresno, San Diego, Los Angeles Vicinity, Oakland, and Sacramento.

How does the DRE know that I have completed my pre-licensing courses?

When it comes time to submit your state exam application, the DRE requires you to include copies of your three Course Completion Certificates (one for each of the 3, 45-hour pre-license courses). The DRE will use these Certificates as evidence that you have completed the 135-hour education requirement.

Will my school notify the DRE that I have completed my courses?

No, the school will not transmit any of your information to the DRE. Instead, the DRE requires the student to submit copies of their three Course Completion Certificates as part of their exam application. The DRE will use the Certificates as evidence that you have completed their education requirements.​

Do I need to take the State exam if I’m licensed in another state?

​Yes. Since California does not offer reciprocity with any other state, you will have to complete the licensing process just like any other applicant. You must complete the 135-hours of pre-license education and pass the state exam.

Can I take my CA state exam if I don't have a sponsoring broker?

Yes, you do not need a sponsoring broker to schedule and take the state licensing exam. You only need a sponsoring broker if you opt to submit a Combined Salesperson Exam/License Application​.

How do I change or cancel my CA state exam date?

You can change or cancel your exam date by using the eLicensing Online System​. You can also submit a Salesperson Exam Change Application.

How much does it cost to reschedule my CA state exam?

The DRE charges the following rescheduling fees for the state exam: First-time rescheduling fee: $15. Any additional rescheduling requests: $30 per request.

What is a Combined Salesperson Exam and License Application?

The Combined Salesperson Exam and License Application allows you to apply for your state exam and your real estate license at the same time. Once you pass the state licensing exam, the DRE will go ahead and issue your real estate license. This will allow you ​to save several weeks of time during the licensing process.

When should I file a Combined Exam and License Application?

​You should file the Combined Salesperson Exam and License Application after you have completed the 3, 45-hour pre-licensing courses. Please note that you can only file a Combined application if you have a sponsoring broker lined up by the time you are ready to take the state exam.

What is a Salesperson Exam Application?

​The Salesperson Examination Application is used to apply to take the state licensing exam. You should file the Salesperson Examination Application after you have completed the 3, 45-hour pre-licensing courses.

What is the DRE's time frame for processing my application?

​The DRE generally takes six weeks to process your exam application. You can click here to see the DRE's current application timeframes.

Does my state licensing exam application expire?

​You have two years to pass the state licensing exam from the date your exam application is received by the DRE. If you do not pass the state exam within two years, you must submit a new exam application and pay the exam fee again.

How many questions are on the CA real estate exam?

The California state real estate salespersons exam consists of 150 multiple-choice questions with a time limit of 3 hours and 15-minutes.​ You must answer at least 70% (105 questions) of the questions correctly in order to pass the exam.

What is included on the CA real estate licensing exam?

The California state licensing exam tests the following seven topics: Property ownership and land use controls and regulations, Laws of agency and fiduciary duties, Property valuation and financial analysis, Financing, Transfer of property, Practice of real estate and disclosures, and Contracts.

How long does it take to get my CA state exam results?

If you took the state exam in an electronic format, ​you will receive your exam results right after you complete the exam. If you took the exam in a paper format, your results will be mailed to you within five business days after your exam date.

I just passed my CA real estate exam, now what?

If you previously submitted a Salesperson Examination Application to apply for the state exam, the DRE​ will mail you a Salesperson License Application to complete. If you previously submitted a Combined Exam/License Application, the DRE will issue you your real estate salespersons license.

How many times can I take the CA state exam?

There is no limit as to how many times you can take the state exam. You can take the state exam as many times as needed until you pass. You simply have to reschedule your next exam attempt and pay the $60 exam fee.​

What happens if I fail the CA state licensing exam?

​If you did not pass the state licensing exam, you will have to apply to retake the exam and pay the $60 exam fee again. You have two years to pass the exam from the date your exam application is received by the DRE.

How do I retake the CA state exam if I previously failed?

You can only apply to retake the state exam after you have received notification that you failed the exam. ​You can apply to retake the state exam by using the eLicensing Online System. Or, you can mail in your Examination Result Notice form along with the $60 exam fee to the DRE.

Do I need to bring a calculator for the CA state exam?

No, you are not permitted to bring a calculator into the exam room. Instead, the testing center will provide you with a basic calculator to use for the exam.

What am I required to bring with me to the CA state exam?

​In order to take the state exam, you must present a valid photo ID that has been issued within the past 5 years. If you do not have a valid photo ID, you will not be permitted to sit for the state exam.​

Are there any testing accommodations available for the state exam?

​Yes, the DRE can provide reasonable accommodations for applicants with disabilities. You must submit a Reasonable Accommodation Request for Examination form along with the required documentation.

What are the exam policies at the state exam testing center?

While taking the state exam, you must abide by the rules set forth by the Real Estate Commissioner. Cell phones are strictly prohibited in the exam room and cannot be used while out on a break. For security reasons, there are several items that are not permitted in the exam room.

How do I apply for my CA real estate salespersons license?

If you have a sponsoring broker, you can submit a Combined Exam/License Application when you apply for the state exam. This application includes your license application. If you submit a Salesperson Examination Application, the DRE will mail you a Salesperson License Application after you pass the state exam.

How do I submit my license application to the DRE?

​You must mail your license application back to the DRE at the following address: Department of Real Estate, P.O. Box 137001, Sacramento, CA 95813-7001. You cannot apply for your license using eLicensing. You also cannot fax your license application, as the DRE requires an original signature.

How much is the CA real estate license application?

The California real estate salespersons license application fee is $245.​ Acceptable payment methods include credit card, cashiers' check, money order, or check. The application fee is non-refundable.

When should I file my license application with the DRE?

​If you have a sponsoring broker, you can submit the Combined Exam/License Application right after you complete the 3, 45-hour pre-license courses. If you previously submitted a Salesperson Examination Application, the DRE will mail you a Salesperson License Application after you pass the state licensing exam.

How long does it take the DRE to process my license application?

​It takes the DRE several weeks to process your Salesperson License Application. The processing times vary depending on the volume of applications. You can see the current application processing time frames here: http://www.dre.ca.gov/Licensees/CurrentTimeframes.html

Can I get a CA real estate license if I don't work for broker?

If you do not have a sponsoring broker when you submit your license application, the DRE will send you an inactive real estate license once your license application is approved.​ If you have an inactive real estate license, you will not be able to perform any duties that require an active real estate license.

Can the DRE expedite my license application if I'm a Veteran?

​Honorably discharged Veterans of the U.S. Armed Forces are eligible for expedited processing. In order to receive an expedited processing time, you must submit a copy of your U.S. DD Form 214, NGB-22 form, or Honorable Discharge certificate to confirm your condition of discharge, along with your license application.

How long is my license application valid for?

If you submitted a Combined Exam/License Application, you have two years to pass the state licensing exam and submit the required documentation. If you​ received a Salesperson License Application from the DRE, you have one year from the date you passed the state exam to submit the completed application.

How do I renew my California real estate license?

​The DRE recommends that you submit your renewal application online using the eLicensing Online System. You also have the option of mailing in a completed Salesperson Renewal Application. You must submit a Continuing Education Course Verification form and pay the required renewal fee.

How much does it cost to renew my CA real estate license?

​If you renew your license on-time, the renewal fee is $245. If you are late to renew your license (within 2 years after your license expiration date), the renewal fee is $367.

How often do I have to renew my CA real estate license?

A California real estate license must be renewed every four years.

What are the continuing education requirements in CA?

​For the second or subsequent renewal of your real estate license, you must complete 45-hours of CE consisting of: 1, 8-hour survey course covering the six mandatory subjects. A minimum of 18-hours of consumer protection courses. The remaining hours may be related to consumer service or consumer protection courses.

What are the CE requirements for first-time renewals?

First-time renewals must complete 45-hours of CE. This includes 5 separate 3-hour courses in Ethics, Agency, Trust Fund Handling, Fair Housing, and Risk Management; a minimum of 18-hours of consumer protection courses; and the remaining hours may be related to consumer service or consumer protection courses.

How soon can I renew my California real estate license?

​You can renew your California real estate salespersons license up to 90 days prior to the expiration date listed on your license. As a courtesy, the DRE will mail you a renewal reminder around 60 days prior to your license expiration date.

What happens if I do not renew my license on-time?

​If you fail to renew your real estate license on time, your license will be considered inactive and you will not be able to perform any activities requiring a real estate license. However, the DRE does allow you up to two years to renew your license after your license expiration date.

How long does it take the DRE to process my renewal application?

​It typically takes the DRE at least 6 weeks to process your renewal application. However, your license renewal will be considered on-time if your eLicensing renewal submission is completed, or your application is postmarked before midnight of your license expiration date.

What happens if my license is expired for more than 2 years?

​If you fail to renew your license within two years of your license expiration date, you will have to retake the state licensing exam and re-apply for a new real estate license.

Can I obtain my CA real estate license if I'm not a U.S. citizen?

Yes, you may still obtain a California real estate salespersons license if you are a "qualified alien". See section 2718. Legal Presence Requirements of the Regulations of the Real Estate Commissioner for a more detailed definition of a qualified alien.

How do I select my state exam date and location?

​If you wish to schedule your state exam location and date yourself, you must select 'Yes' under section #11 of the Salesperson Examination Application, or section #14 of the Combined Exam/License Application. The DRE will then notify you via email when you are qualified to schedule your state exam using eLicensing.

What can I do with my California real estate license?

​Once you obtain a California real estate salespersons license, you can perform all of the duties of a licensed real estate broker. This includes the sale or lease of residential, commercial, and industrial properties throughout California. You can also represent buyers or tenants looking to buy or lease.

When is a real estate license required in California?

A real estate license is required if you represent a seller, buyer, landlord, and/or tenant in a real estate transaction and earn a commission in the process. Please note that a real estate license is not required if you want to sell, buy, or lease your own property.

Can I apply for a license if I'm behind on child support payments?

The DRE is not permitted to issue or renew a full-time license if you are on a list of persons who have not complied with a court order to provide child support payments. ​The DRE will issue a 150-day license, during which time you must be cleared from the Department of Child Support Services' list of obligors.

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