Top 3 Online Real Estate Schools in Illinois

If you want to become a real estate agent in Illinois, you will need to fulfill the requirements set by the Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation (IDFPR). This is the state agency that oversees all real estate-related activities and enforces the rules.

You should be aware there were some recent changes to obtain the Broker license. Before, they required people to complete 90 total hours of pre-licensing education. However, they lowered the requirement down to 75 hours. Also, 15 of those hours used to be required in a classroom or live webinar. Now, you can also take those 15 hours in a standard online format. In other words, the IDFPR has made it a lot easier to get licensed.

Real Estate Express, based out of St Louis, MO, is the dominant online real estate provider in the country. A big part of that is because they innovate and stay up-to-date on current regulations. In fact, they were one of the first schools to reflect the recent changes that lowered the required hours from 90 hours down to 75 hours.

The 75-hour program that they offer is 100% online and is broken up into two courses. The first part is the 60-hour Illinois Broker Prelicense Topics and the remaining 15 hours is called Managing Broker Pre-Applied Management and Supervision. The course itself consists of reading online and passing a set of multiple-choice questions. You have 6 months of online access to pass the final exams.

What I really like about how Real Estate Express is that they give you a lot of packages and options. The Basics is great for people on a tight budget. If you want to add on some exam prep for the Broker exam, the Exam Preparation (and up) packages contain over 1,000 practice test questions and are backed with a Pass or Don’t Pay Guarantee. This means that if you fail the Broker exam, they will give you all your money back. There are also live instructors available to ask questions with the Instructor Q&A as well as hardcopy books under the Ultimate Learning package. The Professional Development Membership and 90-day Boot Camp are additional video courses to help you hit the ground running once you are licensed.

There are four packages available:

  1. The Basics – $329 – This gets you the minimum 75 hours of Pre-licensing courses.
  2. Exam Preparation – $429 – You get The Basics plus 1,000 online practice test questions and a money-back guarantee.
  3. Exam Preparation Plus – $499 – You get Exam Preparation plus access to interact with instructors via live webinar at scheduled times. This also includes the Post-licensing course that you need to complete after you get licensed.
  4. Ultimate Learning – $593 – You get all of the above plus hardcopy books to accompany the online courses and additional video courses to help launch your real estate career.

Bottom Line: Best Overall

Real Estate Express has the most complete program out of any school. They have packages to accommodate anyone’s goals, whether you want to do the minimum amount of work to get licensed or if you want full support and additional training materials to help you after you get licensed. Backed by their industry-leading money-back guarantee and frequent promotions, you can’t go wrong with this program.  

The CE Shop was founded in 2005 and is one of the few real estate schools that have programs in all 50 states. Although they call themselves “CE” (as in continuing education), they definitely do more than that. They have every course you will need before you get licensed as well as after you are licensed.

The CE Shop has really been propelling its way to the top of real estate education by developing their own proprietary learning platform called LEAP. This mobile-friendly platform is 100% online and was designed to make learning streamlined and engaging. They incorporate active learning to keep you on your toes the whole time and will come at you with questions from every angle. The courses take real-world examples and present them with techniques that are proven to help people retain the knowledge better. There are definitely no shortcuts with this program.

They offer three different packages for obtaining the Illinois Broker license:

  1. Standard – $325 – This package gets you all you need to successfully get licensed. You get all 75 hours of Pre-licensing courses plus unlimited practice exams to study for the Broker exam.
  2. Value – $375 – This includes the Standard package and includes 3 additional online courses to help you build your real estate business
  3. Premium – $475 – This includes the Value package as well as the 30-hour Post-licensing course

Bottom Line: Best for Overachievers

The CE Shop’s approach is to arm the student with as much knowledge as possible. They do an amazing job at presenting a wealth of information into a clean and sleek format. If you want to learn about real estate as much as possible, this is the perfect program for you. If you just want to fly through the pre-licensing courses as fast as possible, then this is definitely not the right program for you.

Illinois Realtors is the most prominent trade association for real estate agents in Illinois. There are over 50,000 active members that represent all aspects of a real estate transaction. To be clear, being a Broker doesn’t mean that you are automatically a realtor. You first have to get licensed as a Broker and then, you may be eligible to join the realtors association as a member. To become a member, you will have to pay annual membership dues and fulfill the continuing education requirements.

They have two options for obtaining the Broker license.

  1. 90-hour Broker Pre-license package – $544– This is an online program that includes a 75-hour course called Broker Pre-license Topics and a 15-hour Applied Real Estate Principles. You are given 6 months to complete the 60-hour course and can work on it at your own pace, at any time. The 15-hour course is a live webinar that you must attend at a pre-determined date. There will be polls and quizzes throughout the webinar. You do have to be logged in to the webinar the whole time. If you miss more than 15 minutes, you will be dropped from the course and have to re-take it from the beginning.
  2. Accelerated Broker Pre-license package – $619 – This is a 9-week program with classes every Wednesday that lasts 2 to 3 hours long. This is a blended format that has a combination of online reading and 20 hours of live webinar instruction, which is done in partnership with Eastern Illinois University. Although they call it “accelerated,” you are able to finish just as fast, if not faster, with the other package.

Bottom Line: Best for Networking

Illinois Realtors hasn’t updated their program yet to reflect the lower 75-hour pre-licensing requirement. That means that you will be doing (and paying for) the additional 15 hours of education. Nonetheless, if you are serious about building a real estate career and are thinking long-term, then having them listed on your resume will look good, especially if you are planning to join the realtors association.  

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