Are you ready to take your real estate business to the next level? Obtain your broker license with these instructions.

Becoming a broker

Becoming a California Bureau of Real Estate (CalBRE) broker is a great way to up the ante in your real estate practice. When you attain the status of a licensed broker, you are handed three business opportunities a sales agent does not enjoy. You may:

  • remain employed by a broker with the status of a broker associate, no longer an associated sales agent;
  • act independently as a self-employed broker representing clients without employing other licensees to team up with you; and
  • take on considerably more responsibility as an employing broker, recruiting and hiring agents and other brokers to associate with you in your real estate services business.

On becoming a broker, you place a bet on receiving the benefit of increased public acceptance and a higher income. Greater earnings flow to licensed brokers, whether as the result of negotiating a better fee split percentage with your employing broker or simply taking on the risk of running your own business – self-employed and acting alone or by employing other licensees.

However, you do need the tenacity to complete a few tasks to get your broker license. To meet all the CalBRE requirements and obtain a broker license, you need to complete the following steps.

Step 1: Real estate sales experience requirements

First, you need to meet minimum experience requirements in real estate related activities under one of the following conditions:

  • two years of experience working as an active, full-time sales agent in the five years immediately prior to applying for a broker license [Calif. Business & Professions Code §10150.6(a)];
  • alternative equivalent experience related to real estate services [Bus & P C 10150.6(b)]; or
  • a four-year degree with a major or minor in real estate. [Bus & P C §10150.6(c)]

Full-time sales experience means at least 40 hours per week performing licensed real estate sales agent activities. However, you may also use prorated part-time experience that amounts to a total of two years.

For example, if you work 20 hours per week for four years, you have fulfilled the two years’ experience requirement. [Bus & P C §10150.6(b)]

Anything less than ten hours per week toward your sales agent experience may not be counted.

If you claim full-time sales agent experience and simultaneous full-time experience in an industry unrelated to real estate services, the CalBRE will only credit you 20 hours of sales experience per week.

To verify your sales agent experience, your employing broker(s) fills out an employment verification form. [See RE 226]

If your employing broker is unable to fill out an employment verification form due to insurmountable circumstances, you will need to:

  • submit the employment verification form (without the broker’s signature);
  • submit two employment certification forms filled out by other industry professionals able to vouch for your experience. [See RE 228]

As an alternative to sales agent experience, the CalBRE allows you to substitute two years of experience related to real estate services, including work as:

  • an escrow, title or loan officer directly working with conveyancing or mortgaging real estate;
  • a subdivider, contractor or builder working directly with financing, purchase, development, sales or leasing of real estate;
  • an appraiser; or
  • a practitioner of real estate law, which also substitutes for broker licensing education. [Bus & P C §§10150.6(b), 10153.2(b)]

You need to submit an equivalent experience verification form to the CalBRE in order to count experience in the professions above toward your broker license. The form requires two signatures verifying your employment. [See RE 227]

In lieu of experience, you may present evidence of a degree from an accredited, four-year college or university with either a major or minor in real estate. Verify your education by submitting a copy of your transcripts to the CalBRE with your license application. [Bus & P C 10150.6(c)]

Step 2: Broker licensing courses

You need to take a total of eight licensing courses to qualify to sit for the state broker exam (unless you have passed the California State Bar exam). You likely took three of these courses in the process of obtaining a sales agent license.

Continuing education (CE) courses taken as a requisite to renewing your sales agent license do not count toward the broker licensing courses needed to qualify to take the state broker exam.

Five course topics are mandatory:

  • Real Estate Practice;
  • Real Estate Finance;
  • Real Estate Appraisal;
  • Legal Aspects of Real Estate; and
  • Real Estate Economics or Accounting. [Bus & P C §10153.2]

When you take both Real Estate Economics and Real Estate Accounting, you only need to take two other courses from the above list.

In addition to the five mandatory courses, you need to complete three elective courses. Topics for elective courses include:

  • Real Estate Principles;
  • Business Law;
  • Property Management;
  • Escrow;
  • Real Estate Office Administration;
  • Mortgage Loan Brokering and Lending;
  • Advanced Legal Aspects of Real Estate;
  • Advanced Real Estate Finance;
  • Advanced Real Estate Appraisal;
  • Computer Applications in Real Estate; and
  • Common Interest Developments. [Bus & P C §10153.2]

These courses need to be taken through a private real estate school with courses approved by the CalBRE or an institution accredited by the Western Association of Schools and Colleges. [Bus & P C §10153.5(a)]

Live courses taken at a college or university need to qualify as three semester-units or four quarter-units. You may submit your official transcripts to verify the courses.

Editor’s note – When you take broker licensing courses through first tuesday, you receive a course completion certificate for each course. Submit these certificates to the CalBRE with your license and exam application to verify your courses.

While you do not need to take any licensing courses when you have passed the California State Bar exam, you do need to meet the two-year experience requirements by working as a sales agent or attorney practicing real estate law. [Bus & P C §10153.2(b)]

Verify your course exemption by submitting a photocopy of both sides of your California State Bar membership card or other proof that you passed the bar exam.

Step 3: Licensing and exam applications

To complete your application for a broker license, you need to submit:

  • a license and exam application (RE 436);
  • an employment verification form (RE 226);
  • a LiveScan fingerprinting form (RE 237);
  • any equivalent experience or additional employment certification forms (RE 227; RE 228);
  • the $395 exam and licensing fee; and
  • your transcripts or course completion certificates.

You may pay the $300 exam fee and $95 licensing fee by check or by credit card using a credit card payment form. [BRE Regs §2716.1; See RE 909]

Mail the above documents to:

Bureau of Real Estate
Examination Section
P.O. Box 137001
Sacramento, CA 95813-7001

Once the CalBRE has received and processed your application, you will receive notice that you may schedule your state exam. However, CalBRE processing times run about a month behind, so you will need to exercise some patience before you may actually select an exam date.

Step 4: The state broker exam

You will receive an examination schedule notice or authorization to self-schedule your exam through the CalBRE’s eLicensing system once they have processed your application.

Exams are held in various locations in the following areas:

  • Fresno;
  • San Diego;
  • Los Angeles;
  • Oakland; and
  • Sacramento.

You may use eLicensing to check the date and location of your exam.

Editor’s note – first tuesday’s Broker Exam Prep Book and live crash course are available to help you prepare for the state exam. The live crash course provided by an affiliate of first tuesday is an all-day study session reviewing sample questions, practice exams, study material and more.

You will take the state exam for broker licensing over a five hour period, broken into two 2.5-hour sessions. It includes 200 multiple choice questions.

You need to achieve a 75% or higher score to pass the state exam. You will receive your exam results immediately upon completion.

If you fail the state exam, you may submit a new exam application and fee within two years of the date you submitted your original application to retake the exam. [Bus & P C §10153.8]

Cheating on the exam wreaks significant consequences. When you are caught cheating, the Real Estate Commissioner may bar you from taking the state exam or obtaining a real estate license for three years. [Bus & P C §10153.01]

Step 5: Congratulations – you’re a broker

Once you’ve passed the state exam, you will receive your broker license from the CalBRE. Then it’s time to get familiar with what it takes to be a broker – and start enjoying your new capabilities for income growth as a real estate broker.

Still have questions about becoming a broker? Check out first tuesday’s Broker Licensing Kit for step-by-step instructions.