The Costs Associated With Getting Your Real Estate License in California

The Costs Associated With Getting Your Real Estate License in California

Published by Kartik Subramaniam

Reading Time : 3 minutes

Cost of real estate school

If you want to become a California-based real estate agent, you must pursue a license to be allowed to legally operate as one. The requirements include being at least 18 years old, completing 135 hours of pre-licensing information, and to work with a real estate broker who is licensed to operate in the State of California and agrees to act as a sponsor.

However, there are additional requirements which include taking the state Salesperson Exam and submitting an application to obtain a California license, being fingerprinted, and getting a background check. Once you complete these steps, you’re eligible to be licensed to work as a real estate agent in California. The process takes approximately five to six months.

As a hopeful real estate agent, you should understand there are several fees associated with this process. The good news is you don’t have to pay them all at once, the costs can be spread out over the course of several months. Here’s a rundown of what you need to do and what’s required to be paid.

1. 135-hour pre-license course

As you start your journey, you’ll need to take courses and complete assigned work. There is no specific place you need to take courses and you may choose from various schools in your area. Some schools offer virtual classes so you may attend those schools regardless of where you live. ADHI Schools offers a zoom classroom setting which gives you the ability to take our courses no matter where you live. ADHI Schools courses includes the following for $499:

3 Real Estate College-Level Textbooks

Unlimited access to near daily Zoom calls to reinforce the material

2-day live crash course

Certificate of completion

100's of practice questions

Amazing instructors

Awesome support

Since our program is technically a correspondence course, you will be able to skip a class if you need to and make it up later. Department of Real Estate guidelines require that students spend 18 days with the course material and 45 hours per course.

2. State exam fee

The standard real estate exam fee set by the DRE for your first test is $60. If you pass and take it on your originally scheduled date, you have no further state exam fees. However, if you need to retake the test, it’ll cost an additional $60. Additionally, the DRE charges fees for rescheduled exams - $15 for the first one and $30 for any subsequent rescheduled dates.

3. Fingerprint fee

Everyone seeking to operate as a California real estate agent must submit their fingerprints through DOJ's Live Scan Program. If you are a California resident, you’ll pay a $49 fingerprint processing fee, along with the fee charged by the live scan servicer. The DRE fee, along with the provider’s fee (if applicable) can both be paid directly to the live scan fingerprint service provider. Out-of-state residents should submit the $49 fingerprint processing fee to the DRE, along with their license application and associated fee; check DRE’s Fingerprint Requirement page for specifics.


Once the fingerprint scan is submitted and fee is paid, your fingerprints are sent to the U.S. Department of Justice and the Federal Bureau of Investigation. Once the DRE receives confirmation you have no criminal history, you are eligible to receive your California-issued real estate license.

4. License application fee

Once the above steps are completed, all that’s left is the license application fee, which is $245 in California to obtain a real estate salesperson license. The DRE requires a license to be renewed every four years, which costs $245.

5. Future expenses

Accompanying the $245 fee due every four years for renewal, the DRE requires licensees to complete 45 hours of approved continuing education courses. This includes courses that cover Ethics, Agency, Fair Housing, Trust Fund Handling, Risk Management, and Management and Supervision. Licensees must also take approved courses related to consumer protection. Continuing education MUST be done prior to renewal. These can be gotten for as low as $60.

Optional fees that can be likened to investments to help agents succeed include brokerage fees (given to the broker who sponsors the agent and TBD by said broker), MLS fees (roughly $20 - $50 per month), and the membership fee and dues associated with joining the California Association of Realtors®.

This breakdown of fees should help you factor these and future costs associated with your decision to enter the real estate industry. Essentially, your startup costs to become a licensed real estate agent in California will be a minimum of $453, which will depend upon which pre-licensing courses you take. Many people find this to be a perfect career choice, especially considering you can immediately get to work without having to go through years of college.

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