Top 3 Online MLO NMLS Courses in California

If you want to work in the real estate industry, helping people obtain financing for a house is one of the best ways to do it. You can make as much money as a real estate agent without having to step outside of the office.

You will need to obtain a Mortgage Loan Originator (MLO) license (or what they call an endorsement if you have a real estate license) by completing the 20-hour course required by California and passing the National Exam.

If you are like me, you did a quick Google search to find an NMLS-approved course provider and can’t decide on which school to choose. There are so many of them!

This Is What I Discovered

There are certain things that every school will do the same. There are mandatory requirements set by the NMLS, so there is no way around it. Here are just a few examples:

  • When you login to your account, you have to go through an annoying biometric password system called BioSig-ID.
  • If you take an online course, you will have to spend a minimum number of hours logged in online. If you are idle for too long, it will automatically log you out. There are no shortcuts.
  • Every course has to be “instructor-led” that starts and ends on a specific date. This doesn’t necessarily mean that a live person has to teach the class. It just means that you will be put in a group (or what they call a cohort) and has an instructor assigned to you. The instructor will check in with you and try to interact with you on assignments. This is usually done via messaging or discussion forum.

What Makes A School Different From The Rest?

Although every approved NMLS course provider has to abide by certain regulations, what sets a school apart from the others is their price, quality, and course availability.

  • Price: My only advice here is don’t go with a school just because it’s cheaper. If a school is cheaper, there is usually a reason for it (low quality). This will come and bite you later on. For example, the average pass rate for the National Exam is 58%. If you don’t pass it on your first try, you have to pay the $110 exam fee again and wait another 30 days to re-attempt it.
  • Quality: Every school develops their own courses and content. They have their own staff of instructors that teach in a certain way and with a certain style. Eg. Do you want an instructor who talks in a monotone voice or someone who is full of energy and gets you excited?
  • Course availability: Every school has their own start dates and course schedule. This will vary widely. Some programs are only 2 days long while others can last for 2 weeks. Some schools require you to show up at certain times while others do not. Regardless, they will cover the same 20 hours of content.

Now that you know the basic similarities and differences between each school, let’s take a look at the best NMLS course providers in California to launch your career as a Mortgage Loan Originator.

Best School for Busy People is arguably the biggest online mortgage school in the nation. They are one of the few schools with courses in all 50 states. Since a lot of loan originators prefer to be licensed in multiple states, this comes in handy because you can get all your courses done at one place.

While their courses follow your typical online format, where you are basically just reading an online book, they have a very unique approach to the way the courses are scheduled. At other mortgage schools, you are given a specific number of days to finish the course (e.g. typically 5 days, 7 days, or 14 days), and there are assignments that need to be completed by a certain deadline along the way. 

With, there are 9 independent sessions held every week, and you are given the freedom to pick any 6 out of the 9 sessions to complete your course. New classes start every Tuesdays, and there are morning sessions and afternoon sessions from Tuesday through Friday. You can join the morning sessions at any time between 7 am to 12 pm PST and afternoon sessions at any time between 12 pm to 4 pm PST. There is also a shorter cram session available on Saturday for stragglers. Each session can last between 2 to 5 hours, depending on which module you are on.

If your goal is to finish this course as soon as possible, you will want to take the first 6 sessions (i.e. both morning and afternoon sessions from Tuesday through Thursday). This will allow you finish in 3 days. However, you get the flexibility to take up to 2 weeks if you want.

Best School with the Lowest Prices

Mortgage Educators and Compliance also has a solid mortgage course and has one of the biggest programs in California. They incorporate a video format, which makes it more engaging. However, there are activities and quizzes that you have to complete every 5 minutes, so you will definitely have to be 100% focused the whole time.

They offer classes in person, but only in select locations (California and Utah) a few times a month. There is also a live webinar option, which lasts 3 days. However, the webinars are only offered three times per month and usually start at 9 am. You will most likely have the best chance at finding a convenient time with one of their online options. They are offered very frequently several times every week.

The biggest differentiator that separates Mortgage Educators and Compliance from other mortgage schools is their price. You can get a whopping 30% off all online pre-license and continuing education courses when you sign up through this “Get 30% Off” page.

Best School for Interactive Learning

Affinity Real Estate Services offers both online, live webinar, and live classes. The classes are taught by founder Artricia Woods. Her passion and charisma will keep you engaged the whole time. However, they currently only have one physical location for live classes in Bellflower, CA, and the slots are frequently sold out, so you have to reserve your spot early. While live classes provides you the best learning experience, the online format has been setup to keep you equally engaged. If you want the best of both worlds, you can go with the live webinar option. You get the interaction of a classroom from the comfort of your home.

All of the courses at Affinity Real Estate Services are built on a state-of-the-art online platform, and their commitment to constantly find new ways to innovate and improve the learning experience for the student is impressive. This is probably how they were able to receive a perfect 5-star rating on Yelp and score 4.9 out of 5 points on Facebook reviews. So, chances are that you won’t be disappointed. 

While their prices are more expensive compared to other schools, if reading a textbook is too boring for you or you just have a hard time concentrating when taking an online course, the instructor’s contagious enthusiasm will keep you on your toes the whole time. They will help you learn all the laws and regulations while having some fun at the same time. 

Allied Schools is the biggest and most well known real estate school in California. They have been the industry leaders for almost 30 years. However, their program has undergone some major changes. They retired their old platform and migrated to the Learn Mortgage platform. You will be taking a different course than what other people have taken with Allied Schools in the past. 

That’s not necessarily a bad thing, it’s just different. For the most part, the course is the same format. You get one page of text to read at a time. One notable change is the exam prep. Although it is a little more expensive, you can now get access (for an additional cost) to better test prep called CompuCram to help you study for the national exam. CompuCram Test Preparation kit integrates vocabulary tools, practice testing, and comprehensive simulated exams into an “all-in-one” solution.