FAQs: California Real Estate

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California Real Estate Salesperson’s License FAQ

Basic Licensing Requirements

Registering for the State Exam

The Examination Itself

What Next?

Basic Licensing Requirements

Question: What are the requirements for a salesperson’s license in California?

Answer: You must be at least 18 years old, you must successfully complete three 3-semester-unit or 4-quarter-unit courses in Real Estate Principles, Real Estate Practice, and an approved elective, and you must pass the California real estate salesperson’s license exam. You must be honest and truthful; if you have previously committed a felony or other crime of moral turpitude, your license application may be denied. You also need to provide proof of legal presence in the United States, either as a citizen or as a resident alien.

You do not need to have a high school diploma or its equivalent, or any employment experience, to qualify. Residency in California also is not a requirement.
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Question: I took real estate courses at a community college or other institution of higher learning. Do I still have to take Real Estate Principles, Real Estate Practice and the elective?

Answer: If you took courses equivalent to Real Estate Principles, Real Estate Practice, and the approved elective, you don’t have to take the courses again. When you apply to take the license exam, you should submit an official transcript that shows you passed the classes, along with an official course or catalog description.

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Question: I have a salesperson’s license in another state. Do I still have to take the three licensing courses?

Answer: Yes, you do. California has no reciprocity arrangement with any other state that would allow a person to waive any of the requirements for obtaining a license.

However, you may register for the California salesperson’s examination without taking the courses, if you can provide proof that you completed equivalent courses at an out-of-state institution of higher learning that is properly accredited. (Courses taken at an out-of-state private vocational school won’t satisfy this requirement.)

When you apply to take the license exam, you should submit an official transcript that shows you passed the classes, along with official course or catalog descriptions.
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Question: I thought only one course was required for a salesperson’s license?

Answer: Anyone applying for a license after October 1, 2007 must also complete, in addition to Real Estate Principles, two three semester-unit or four quarter-unit courses. One of these two additional courses must be Real Estate Practice. For the other additional course, you must select one 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
  • Escrow
  • Mortgage Loan Brokering and Lending
  • Computer Applications in Real Estate
  • Common Interest Developments

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Question: Don’t I need to be fingerprinted?

Answer: Yes. To be issued a real estate license, you must submit your fingerprints to the Bureau of Real Estate. You may have your fingerprints taken and submit them to the DRE as soon as you apply to take the real estate exam—it isn’t necessary to wait until you’ve passed the exam.

Click here for information about getting fingerprinted and submitting your fingerprints to the DRE.
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Registering for the State Exam

Question: How do I register for the salesperson’s exam?

Answer: To register for the salesperson’s exam, you need to prove you have completed Real Estate Principles, Real Estate Practice, and the other required elective course using transcripts or course completion certificates.

You may register by mail or by fax.

You’ll need to submit the following:

  • transcripts or course certificates for the three required courses;
  • the examination fee; and
  • if paying by credit card or debit card, DRE form RE 298.
  • The examination fee can be paid by credit card or debit card, or with a check, cashier’s check, or money order made payable to the Bureau of Real Estate.

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Question: Where do I send my application?

Answer: To register by mail, send the required forms and payment to:

Bureau of Real Estate Examination Section P.O. Box 137001 Sacramento, CA 95818-7001

To register by fax, send the required forms and payment to (916) 227-0925.

The DRE cautions that applicants should make sure they do not submit their application more than once. Duplication could delay the application process, and you could be charged twice (with no refund).
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Question: Can I pay the examination fee by credit card? Debit card? Check?

Answer: You may pay by credit card or debit card as long as you include DRE form RE 298 with your application. If you’re registering by mail, you also have the option of paying by check, cashier’s check, or money order, made payable to the Bureau of Real Estate.
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Question: When and where are the examinations given?

Answer: The examination sites are in the following cities:

  • Fresno
  • Los Angeles
  • Oakland
  • Sacramento
  • San Diego

You can check the availability of particular dates and times at the different exam sites on the DRE’s website (www.dre.ca.gov). When you register, you may specify the site you prefer and the earliest date you can take the exam, and the DRE will assign you a date and location. Alternatively, once you are qualified to take the exam, you may choose your date and location using the eLicensing system on the DRE website.
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Question: When do I find out my examination date?

Answer: Once you have been qualified to take the exam, the DRE will notify you by mail. If you opted to schedule your exam date and location yourself, you may do so using the eLicensing system on the DRE website (www.dre.ca.gov).

Alternatively, if you specified a preferred date and location in your exam application, the DRE notice will also contain your exam date and time and the address of your exam site.

If you have not received this notice within six weeks after mailing or faxing your application, you can go to the DRE website and use the eLicensing system to find out your exam date. If your exam has not been scheduled, call the DRE Examination Section at (916) 227-0900.
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Question: What if I can’t take the exam on the date that is assigned?

Answer: If the assigned date is unsuitable, you may apply for another exam date either online (using the eLicensing system at www.dre.ca.gov) or by completing and returning the reschedule request form that will be sent to you with the notice of your examination date. A rescheduling fee will apply. Any subsequent reschedulings will require a fee as well.

As mentioned above, you can access a calendar of upcoming scheduled examination dates at the Bureau of Real Estate’s website, www.dre.ca.gov. However, because slots are filled on a rolling basis, you aren’t guaranteed to get the particular date that you request.
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Question: What if an emergency occurs and I’m not able to request a reschedule in time?

Answer: The same procedure applies. If you do not take the examination on the date scheduled, you may still return the reschedule form (or reschedule online using the eLicensing system) and pay the reschedule fee in order to receive a new examination date.
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The Examination Itself

Question: What should I bring to the exam site?

Answer: You will need to bring:

  • the notice of your exam date and location that you receive in the mail, and
  • a signature-bearing photo I.D. (for example, a driver’s license or passport).

In addition, you should bring a calculator. You may use a scientific or financial calculator, but you may not use a calculator that makes any noise, is programmable, or has a print capacity or an alphabetic keypad. You may not use a PDA.

If you bring a cell phone to the examination, it must be turned off and placed out of sight once you enter the exam room. You may not use a cell phone during the exam, and your examination may be terminated if your cell phone rings during the exam. Do not bring books, notes, or other study materials to the exam; you won’t be allowed to consult them during the exam. Also, backpacks, briefcases, and suitcases are not allowed in the exam room.
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Question: How will the exam be administered?

Answer: The exam is given in a four-option multiple-choice format. Exams conducted in Los Angeles, Sacramento, and San Diego are currently offered in pencil and paper format; exams conducted in Fresno and Oakland are currently offered in an electronic format. (Exam formats may be subject to change.)

Points are not deducted for answering incorrectly, so it is best to answer every question, even if your answer is a complete guess.
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Question: How many questions are on the exam? What percentage do I have to get right?

Answer: There are 150 questions on the exam. A salesperson candidate has to score 70% on the exam to pass. This means that you must answer at least 105 questions correctly.
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Question: How long do I have to take the exam?

Answer: The exam is given in a single 3¼-hour session.
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Question: What subjects are tested on the exam?

Answer: Here is a summary of the subjects tested on the exam, and the approximate percentage of the exam that they comprise:

  • Property Ownership and Land Use Controls and Regulations (18% of exam) (Estates in land, encumbrances, and public restrictions on land)
  • Laws of Agency (12% of exam) (Creation and termination of agency, agent responsibilities, disclosure)
  • Valuation and Market Analysis (12% of exam) (Methods of appraising property, factors that affect value)
  • Financing Real Estate (13% of exam) (Mortgage instruments, types of loans, sources of financing)
  • Transfer of Property (9% of exam) (Methods of alienation, title insurance, escrow)
  • Real Estate Practice and Mandated Disclosure (24% of exam) (State laws and regulations, civil rights laws, transfer disclosure statement)
  • Contracts (12% of exam) (Contract law, listing agreements, purchase contracts, leases)

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Question: Are there a lot of math problems on the exam?

Answer: No. On most exams, you can expect to see five to seven math questions. You can miss every math question and still easily pass the exam, so long as you have mastered the definitions and legal concepts associated with real estate.

If you’ve had trouble with the math questions while preparing for the exam, when you take the exam it may be advisable to skip over the math questions and then return to them after you’ve finished the rest of the questions. (But don’t forget to come back to them!) Don’t spend too much of your time and energy on the math questions, since they are such a small portion of the exam.
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Question: How long will it take to get my examination results?

Answer: If you take a pencil and paper exam, the results will be mailed to you within five business days after the examination. Exam results are also available through the Bureau of Real Estate website, www.dre.ca.gov, often within three business days. Or you can get your results by calling the DRE’s automated system at (916) 227-0899, but the DRE asks that you wait at least five business days before calling.

If you take an electronic exam, the results are provided to you upon completion of the exam.

If you pass the exam, you will not receive your actual score, only a notification that you have passed. You will also receive the necessary forms to apply for your salesperson’s license.

If you fail the exam, you will be notified of the actual score. You will also be notified of the percentage of questions answered correctly in each of the subject areas.
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What Next?

Question: What happens after I pass the exam?

Answer: The DRE will send you the paperwork necessary to complete your license application.
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Question: How long are my exam results valid?

Answer: You have one year after the date of your exam to submit the license application, the fee, and the other required documents, or you’ll have to take the exam again.
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Question: Do I have to arrange for employment with a broker before I can apply for my license?

Answer: No. You may apply for and receive a license without being affiliated with a broker. However, you will not be able to engage in any real estate activities. A salesperson must be affiliated with a broker in order to provide real estate services to the public.
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Question: What happens if I fail the exam?

Answer: If you’re notified that you failed the exam, you may apply for re-examination. Use your Examination Result Notice or the online eLicensing system at the DRE website to apply for a new exam date. (You cannot apply for re-examination until after you’ve been notified that you failed.) Keep in mind that depending on available exam dates for your location, it could be a few weeks or months before you can take the exam again.

You will have to pay a new examination fee of $60 to take the exam again.
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Question: How many times may I retake the exam, if necessary?

Answer: In the first two years after you apply to take the exam, you may retake it an unlimited number of times if you fail. After two years, you’ll need to submit a new application to take the exam; at that point, you will again be able to take it an unlimited number of times.
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Where to Turn for Additional Information

More information is available at the Bureau of Real Estate’s website, www.dre.ca.gov. You can also call (916) 227-0931 for more information.
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