How to Become a Broker in California

We will take an in-depth look at what the California Department of Real Estate (DRE) requires for somebody to obtain a license as a broker.

Short Answer
  1. Verify that you meet the experience requirement
  2. Complete the pre-license education
  3. Submit your broker application
  4. Pass the state exam
  5. Complete your broker application
Long Answer

Basic Requirements:

  • You must be 18 years of age or older
  • California residency is not required.

1. Verify that You Meet the Experience Requirement

The DRE requires that you have a minimum of 2 years full-time equivalent, real estate related experience within the last 5 years.

This means that being licensed as a salesperson for 2 years does not automatically satisfy this experience requirement. You must have been actively engaged in real estate activity on a full-time basis, which is defined as 40 hours of work per week. The DRE does not give any additional credit for more than 40 hours of work per week.

This also means that if you have been working part-time, then as long as your accumulated hours within the past five years add up to the equivalent of 2 years full-time, that is acceptable. However, the DRE will not give you any partial credit for work that was under 10 hours per week.

Your current and/or former employing brokers will have to certify your experience by signing off on the Employment Verification Form (RE226). Letters of recommendation will not be accepted by the DRE.  

If your current or former broker is unable to certify your experience, then you can attach the form Employment Certification (RE 228), and give a short explanation (e.g. deceased, litigation, etc…) in the “Signature of Certifying Broker” field.

As a general rule, it is better to provide the DRE with too much information than not enough information. Otherwise, your application will be delayed.

If you do not have a California salesperson license, there are other acceptable forms of experience.

The DRE will accept two years of full-time experience in the following occupations:

  • Escrow or title officer or as a loan officer in a capacity directly related to the financing or conveying of real property.
  • Subdivider, or speculative builder, during which time the applicant performed comprehensive duties relating to the purchase, finance, development, and sale or lease of real property. General contracting experience does not satisfy the intent of the law.
  • Real property appraiser.
  • Licensed real estate professional in another state or country.

If you have other real estate related experience that you feel should qualify, the DRE is open to hearing about it so long as it satisfies the ultimate intent of the law.

If you are active duty military or veteran, you may be able to use some of your military experience and training to count towards this experience requirement.


Special Exemptions

If you have a college degree from an accredited four year college or university with a major or minor in Real Estate, then you are exempt from this 2 year experience requirement.

2. Complete the Pre-License Education

To become a broker in California, the DRE requires that you complete a total of 8 qualifying college-level courses.

The following 5 course topics are mandatory:

  1. Real Estate Practice 
  2. Legal Aspects of Real Estate
  3. Real Estate Finance
  4. Real Estate Appraisal
  5. Real Estate Economics or Accounting

The remaining 3 courses are electives based on your personal preference. However, they must be from the following list:

  • 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
  • Common Interest Developments
  • Real Estate Economics or Accounting (if not already taken above)

If you have taken any of these courses from college, you will need to provide copies of official transcripts to the DRE. Each college course must be the equivalent of three semester units or four quarter units.


Special Exemptions

If you are a member of the California State Bar, then you are exempt from the pre-license education. However, you will still need to satisfy the 2 year experience requirement.

3. Submit Your Broker Application

Fill out the Broker Examination Application Form (RE400B). You can either mail or fax your application with all the supporting documents, along with the $95 application fee, to the DRE.

After your mail your application, you will have two years to pass the broker state exam. Otherwise, you will have to repay the $95 application fee and re-qualify for the 2 year experience requirement.

The broker state exam is typically given once a month and is administered by the DRE at one of their offices in California. Their main offices are located in Fresno, Los Angeles, Oakland, La Palma, Sacramento, and San Diego. You can check the exam availability here.

It will take approximately 6 weeks for the DRE to finish reviewing your application.  This is why it’s critical to make sure you dot all the i’s and cross all the t’s on the application. You can check the current application processing timeframes here.

There is a “fast track” option where you can send your application with all the support documents, and pay all licensing fees upfront. This will shorten the processing time to receive your broker license. You will need to use the Broker Exam/License Application Form (RE436) instead if you want to go this route. Keep in mind that all fees are non-refundable.

4. Pass the Broker State Exam

You will be given a maximum time limit of 5 hours to answer 200 multiple choice questions with a score of 75% or better.

The test is conducted into 2 parts: a 2.5 hour session in the morning and a 2.5 hour session in the afternoon.

If you fail the test, you may re-apply to take the exam online by using the DRE’s eLicensing System.

If you are still within 2 years of filing your initial broker application, you will not need to pay the test fee again. You are allowed to retake the state exam as many times as you need during this 2 year window.

5. Complete Your Broker Application

If you haven’t done so already, you will need to get your fingerprints taken at an approved Live Scan provider so they can run a criminal background check on you. The fingerprint fee is $49.

Once that comes through clear, you simply need to pay the DRE the broker license fee of $300.

After you receive your broker license in the mail, you will officially become a broker in the state of California!