Real Estate License Expiration in California: What Are Your Options?

Real Estate License Expiration in California: What Are Your Options?

Published by Kartik Subramaniam

Reading Time : 4 minutes

Real Estate License Expiration

Real Estate License Expiration in California: What Are Your Options?

The California real estate market is bustling with opportunities. Yet, life's unpredictable nature sometimes calls for a pause, leading many agents to an inactive license status. Did you know that thousands of California real estate licenses move into an expired status each year due to various personal and professional reasons? If you're one of many facing this scenario, exploring your options and making informed decisions to manage your career trajectory effectively is crucial.

Understanding License Inactivity

In California, a real estate license is deemed expired if not renewed prior to expiration. Reasons for this may range from a career shift or relocation to personal commitments or simply taking a break from the industry. Holding an expired license means you're prohibited from engaging in any activities requiring an active license.

Understanding Late Renewal of The License

If you don't renew your license before it expires, you are granted a two-year grace period for late renewal. During this period, you must refrain from any activities that require a valid real estate license until your renewal is processed and approved.

Options for Expired Licensees

1. Reactivation:

Reactivating your license is a straightforward process outlined by the California Department of Real Estate (DRE). It involves completing required continuing education hours and paying the applicable fees. If you renew late, you must pay the license renewal fee plus a late fee. The specific courses needed vary depending on whether it is your first real estate license renewal or subsequent renewal.

2. Letting the License Expire:

If you're sure you won't return to real estate, you might choose to just let your license expire out.

There are several drawbacks to this approach:

  • Future uncertainty: Even if you are currently confident in your decision, your circumstances or interests may change in the future. Keeping your license active provides you with the flexibility to return to real estate if an opportunity arises.
  • Reapplication challenges: If you decide to re-enter the field later, you'll have to start from scratch, repeating the entire licensing process, which can be time-consuming and costly.
  • Professional network: Maintaining an active license can help you stay connected to the real estate industry and its network, which could be beneficial even in other career paths.

While letting your license expire might seem appealing in the short term, it could limit your options and create unnecessary hurdles if you ever decide to return to real estate.

Risks In Letting the License Expire

Consider a scenario where you obtained a real estate broker's license in 2004. At that time, a four-year college degree could count towards the two years of real estate experience required to qualify for a broker license. However, regulations changed significantly by January 1, 2013. From then on, only a degree specifically in real estate or two years of actual real estate experience would meet the qualifications for a broker's license.

Now, imagine that you allowed that broker license to expire in 2008. If you were to seek requalification after 2013 under the new rules, your previous degree (unless in real estate) would no longer suffice. Additionally, by 2024, new requirements were introduced, including completing a Real Estate Practice course that incorporates training on implicit bias—recognizing and addressing unconscious prejudices in professional settings.

The lesson here is clear: maintaining your licensure continuously can shield you from the impact of such regulatory changes. Keeping your license active means you retain qualification under the conditions that existed when you were first licensed—often referred to as being 'grandfathered in.' Letting your license lapse, however, could mean facing more stringent, updated requirements should you decide to re-enter the field.

Benefits of Reactivating Your License


Reactivating your license can reopen numerous economic and professional doors. By diving back into the thriving California real estate market, you can capitalize on emerging trends and leverage your existing network and expertise. Consider the significant effort required to retake and pass the real estate license exam again, especially after you've already completed the required courses through a real estate license school. Reactivating your license avoids this hassle. Many agents have found renewed success and satisfaction in their careers after reactivating their licenses, demonstrating the clear advantages of maintaining active status.

How to Plan for Reactivation

Effective planning ensures a smooth return to active status. Start by familiarizing yourself with the continuing education requirements and by setting aside funds for associated fees. Engage with your network, stay abreast of industry trends, and consult a mentor or career coach to strategize your reentry.

Whether you reactivate, maintain, or let your license expire, understanding your options is fundamental for effective career management in real estate. Proactively addressing your license status positions you for future success in California's dynamic real estate environment.

Ready to reactivate your real estate license or need more guidance on your options? Contact us today for a free consultation to tailor a plan that best suits your professional needs. Let us help you navigate your journey back to active status quickly and confidently!

Kartik Subramaniam

Founder, Adhi Schools

Kartik Subramaniam is the Founder and CEO of ADHI Real Estate Schools, a leader in real estate education throughout California. Holding a degree from Cal Poly University, Subramaniam brings a wealth of experience in real estate sales, property management, and investment transactions. He is the author of nine books on real estate and countless real estate articles. With a track record of successfully completing hundreds of real estate transactions, he has equipped countless professionals to thrive in the industry.

Enjoy what you read?

Sign up for our newsletter and get weekly updates on our latest articles