So, you want to be a real estate agent?
I’m happy to share my initial experiences with you, but this applies to Georgia and your state may be different so be sure to check with your state real estate commission.
First, you have to take an approved real estate Salesperson Prelicensing Course. This is a 75 hour course which you can take either online or in a two week all day class. This costs $199 for basics, $50 more if you want the book (recommended). Actual prices may vary, so check around when you are ready to proceed.
I found it more convenient to take the online version, but a word of caution: a friend and I thought we could share the study material and save $199. I started out first, although it was in her name. After about 40 hours, I started wondering how they were going to verify that the potential licensee was the one actually doing the work. That’s when I discovered she would be the only one getting credit for the work I had already done. Bummer! I had to buy my own course and start from scratch. So after about 120 hours, I had completed the course work and passed the preliminary exam.
I really did not care for the way the course material was structured. It started out with esoteric terms and concepts that felt like learning a foreign language. Then you had to answer tricky questions that really made me feel stupid. I have had a lot of education and I always did well on multiple choice exams so I was surprised by how poorly I did. They asked a lot of what is not true type questions, and by the time I finished reading all the possible answers, I frequently picked one that was true. Or another favorite, answers were the same except one word was reversed and since they created time pressure to answer each question (totally unnecessary in my opinion), I ended up picking the first one that seemed right before the time was up. If I had more time to read all the answers, I might have chosen better. There was a lot of repetition so eventually things started to sink in, but the material presented did not make me feel very confident.
A lot of people take a weekend cram course before the test which they speak of favorably, but by now I had the book too and found it more friendly for learning. I spent the weekend plus Friday going cover to cover doing my own cramming. Testing is readily available so I didn’t have any trouble scheduling that. It is included in the course cost and is used to verify that you actually studied the material and probably have a decent chance of passing the licensure exam.
When I arrived at the testing site, no one else was there. That added to my anxiety as I started thinking I had the wrong day. Finally, about 10 minutes later the proctor arrived and I could get started. You have plenty of time to finish the test (3 hours of which I used about 1.5 hours and read the test twice) – which is why I didn’t think the course should have had time pressure. They tell you within minutes of finishing, whether you passed or not. I asked for my actual score but they never told me.
Next, you can actually schedule the licensing exam. You will also need finger prints and a criminal background check from the local police department. This was done while I waited—about 20 minutes, but I have a clean record. If a problem is discovered you may have to appeal to the real estate commission to proceed. I understand some offenses are passable, but beware.
If all is well so far, you can schedule the licensure exam with Applied Measurement Professionals (AMP) Monday through Saturday at 9AM or 1:30 PM. They allow 4 hours to complete the 152 multiple choice questions—again plenty of time. The fee is $115. I believe you have to get about 75% correct, but they won’t tell you your actual score, only pass or fail. You can bring a simple calculator which is very helpful and they provide a calendar. No watches, cell phones or graphing calculators.
I asked the staff about what percentage who pass the exam and was told it varies – sometimes most pass and sometimes few. The questions are randomly generated from a pool they have created, so it is possible you could be there on a day when the questions are more difficult so, by all means if you don’t pass the first time take it again – it may have more to do with the questions than your knowledge. Unfortunately, the course and exam have little to do with the actual practice of a real estate agent and most agents agree, you won’t use very much of what you learned there.
When you pass, you can pick up your license in the next day or so for $170. You have to find a broker that is willing to take you on, post your license on their wall, and be responsible for you. Then it can be activated. You must do this or be inactive. So far I had spent $534. You can spend more but probably no less. Many more expenses are coming but we’ll get into some of those later. Now you can really learn what being a real estate agent is all about, but more about that in a future post.