Whether they prepare online or in a classroom, real estate sales agents and brokers are required to study the concepts of real estate for a minimum number of hours, and to pass a real estate exam before being granted a license. Much of that process can take place online -- but in most cases, you need to appear for the testing in person.
Find an Accredited School
Your online course will prepare you for earning a real estate agent license in one particular state, and will cover the basics of real estate, plus the state and local laws. Thus, the first step is to find out which courses are approved by your state's real estate commission. Most states maintain a list of approved or accredited real estate schools on their websites. Some schools offer courses that are fully online, while others offer courses that are a combination of time in the classroom as well as online. All accredited schools offer the minimum number of educational hours required for real estate agents in your state.
Take Courses Online
Like an in-person real estate program, your online course will cover real estate law, how to develop contracts, and financing and sales techniques, usually delivered via video lectures, assigned readings, and online quizzes and exams. Depending on the state in which you want to work, you may be required to take a shorter course, such as a 72-hour course, ahead of the license exam, and then take the remaining coursework -- often 90 or more hours -- after you've passed your state's real estate exam.
However the training is structured in your state, choose your course based on the pace of the course, the course price and the course offerings. Some courses are rigidly structured over 10 weeks, for example, while others are stretched out over six months or allow you to set you own pace. If you aspire to be a broker -- a higher-level real estate professional who's required to be a sales agent for a number of years -- some schools might delve more heavily into a certain topic that you're interested in, such as condominium real estate, for example, or selling vacation homes.
License Application Process
In most states you can apply for your real estate license exam online. Visit your state's real estate commission website for specific instructions, but typically, you can submit proof of taking a real estate agent or broker course, pay an application fee, supply your personal information for a background check, and then sign up for an exam date, all online. Depending on the state, you may need to submit a hard copy of the certificate of completion of your real estate course. In some states, you won't be able to sign up for your test online until you've received a certificate of completion. You may also need to visit a fingerprinting station or send in a fingerprinting card as part of the background check.
Typically, the real estate salesperson or agent or broker course is administered by a third-party testing service and is conducted in person to avoid fraud. When you arrive at the testing center, the test administrator will likely ask you to supply several forms of identification as well as other documents required by your state's real estate commission.
Depending on the state, you may have multiple testing locations to choose from. You can sometimes supply your email address to be notified of your test results online, though the test result process, like all steps in the process, varies by state. Once you've passed the test, visit the real estate commission website in your state to share your results, complete your license application and receive your license.