Become a Real Estate Agent in Washington
Real estate agents enjoy a career that offers independence, a flexible work schedule, and unlimited earning potential. A successful real estate career requires preparation, commitment and hard work, but the process to get a real estate license takes time, money, and dedication. Learn the specific requirements for obtaining a real estate license in the state of Washington.
Completing the Coursework
- Know the requirements. Each state has different requirements for becoming a real estate agent or broker. Before you begin undergoing the necessary training, make sure you meet the basic requirements. In Washington, in order to be a real estate agent you must:
- Be at least 18 years of age
- Have at least a high school diploma or the equivalent, such as a GED
- Gain experience that could help you down the road. You will have to engage in nearly two years of education to get your real estate license in Washington. Use that time to your advantage to gain experience in the field. While not directly related to obtaining your license, certain experiences are invaluable to your success as an agent.
- Try to get an internship or office job in a real estate firm. Even an administrative position that seems only tangentially related to buying and selling houses can teach you hard work and give you a sense of what the industry is like. Not to mention, if you make a good impression on someone in the industry you could snag a job after you get you license.
- Ask an experienced real estate agent if you can shadow them for a day or week to see what the industry is like just to make sure this career path is really for you.
- Enroll in approved real estate education. In Washington, there are specific educational requirements you must complete before taking the real estate exam.
- Make sure the courses you enroll in are approved by the Washington State Department of Licensing. If you're unsure if a class is approved, give the Department of Licensing a call during office hours just to be sure. You don't want to invest time and money in a course that won't be accepted when you apply to take the exam. A list of approved curriculum is found on the Washington Department of Licensing website, as well as some approved schools.
- Classes are available online, through colleges such as Kaplan, and in-person at universities and community colleges. Find a route that works for you and enroll. Fees vary from program to program, but tuition can cost as much as $300. Be prepared to spend some money during the process of obtaining your license.
- Take your courses. You must complete 90 total hours of coursework within a 2-year time frame. These courses are extensive and demanding, so be prepared to commit.
- Your 90 hours include a 60-hour course in real estate fundamentals. This course is an overview of the real estate trade. You will learn about various real estate firms and what they do in communities. You will learn about policies like contract laws, fair housing laws, property ownership rights, and listing agreements. There's also an extensive overview of the buying and selling process, and a good deal of basic real estate vocabulary you must commit to memory.
- The additional 30 hours are comprised of a course in real estate practices. Here, you will learn about basic business skills and procedures in the real estate world. You will learn how to evaluate, price, and market property as well as a variety of negotiation and sales techniques. You will also learn about the closing process and how to conduct real estate math.
- Invest in exam preparation. The state exam is hard. Knowing the information and having completed the necessary coursework does not guarantee you will pass. The structure of the questions and specific vocabulary can throw even the most well-researched test taker. Exam prep, whether through software or a test prep class, can help you get a passing score on the real estate exam.
- Free practice exams are available online, but are not subject to as rigorous review as paid courses and prep work.
- Online universities offer test prep courses for a variety of state real estate exams, including Washington.
- Self-guided exam prep guides are available for purchase online, which include information on the format of the test, information you'll need to know, and a variety of practice exams.
- You can purchase exam prep books, either on Amazon or from a local bookstore, that help with real estate test prep. However, make sure you get the most recent edition as real estate exams are subject to change. Going to a used bookstore is not the best option if you're going the book route, as you're likely to find a dated exam guide.
Taking the Exam
- Register as a student with the testing vendor. In Washington, you have to register as a student with a testing vendor before completing your coursework. This is so your school can submit your course completion information electronically and let the testing vendor know you've met all the basic requirements to take the real estate exam.
- Go to www.goAMP.com.
- Click on the "Portals" tab on the top of the screen and then click "Washington Student User."
- Follow the registration instructions from there.
- Schedule your exam. Once your school submits your course completion information, you can register for an exam. This can be done online, by mail, or by phone.
- To register online, return to www.goAMP.com, click "Schedule/Reschedule Examination" and follow the instructions from there.
- There is a $138.25 fee to take the exam that you pay at registration.
- Reservations are made according to a site's seating availability. Sometimes, there are delays up to 2 weeks in securing a spot so be prepared to wait.
- If you need to change your exam date, call the AMP office at least 1 business day prior to the exam date.
- Know the rules for the exam room. Be prepared going into the exam room. Know what to expect and what materials you will need.
- You must bring 2 valid forms of identification, at least 1 of which contains a current photograph. If you don't bring your ID, you won't be able to take the exam so be sure to come prepared.
- Dictionaries, books, and reference materials are not permitted in the testing site.
- Cell phones and other electronic media are not permitted.
- Personal belongings, such as briefcases and wallets, are not allowed in the testing room.
- Eating, drinking, and smoking are not permitted in the exam room.
- You cannot ask questions or converse with other exam takers during the exam.
- You have 3 and a half hours to take the exam.
- Calculators are permitted, as long as they are non-programmable and battery or solar powered.
- Take the exam. When the date you signed up for arrives, you will go in to take the real estate exam.
- The exam is 140 questions. Out of these questions, 100 are devoted to the national portion of the exam, and the remaining are only about Washington real estate.
- Each questions is multiple choice with 4 options. Test scores are based on the number of questions answered correctly, so it's best to give an educated guess if you are unsure.
- You will be tested on all the information you learned during your training, including vocabulary, law, policies, procedures, property value, finances, and more. The exam is hard, so make sure you know this information well beforehand.
- The exam is scored immediately after completion. You will leave the test center knowing if you passed or failed.
- Do not panic if you do not pass the exam. Many people do not pass the exam their first time, and while it's a set back it does not mean you can never receive your license. Your score will provide diagnostics of your strengths and weaknesses, giving you an opportunity to know what to study. Your score report will also include instructions for re-taking the exam. You have 6 months to retake the exam if you did not pass. Many people only fail a certain portion of the exam. If this is the case, you will only need to retake the part of the exam you failed.
Applying for a License
- Get your fingerprints taken. At the testing site, you will receive a fingerprint card. Take this card to any fingerprinting service approved by the Washington State Patrol and get your fingerprints taken.
- Fees and hours of operation vary from agency to agency. Make sure you know how much fingerprinting will cost as you'll be required to pay at the station.
- You must include your completed fingerprint card with the application you will fill out. Do not bend or fold the card, as this obscures results and your fingerprints will have to be retaken.
- The fingerprints are used in the criminal background check that's standard for real estate agents in Washington.
- Apply for your real estate license. The real estate agent application is available online through the Washington State Department of Licensing. Follow the instructions on the form to complete the application.
- The form can be sent by mail to the Seattle, WA Department of Real Estate Licensing or it can be delivered in person the Olympia office. Addresses are available at the Washington State Department of Licensing website.
- Your exam results are valid for 12 months, so be sure to get your application in before this time has passed to avoid having to retake the exam and pay additional fees.
- There is a $146.25 for your license. This should be paid by check or money order and mailed in or delivered with the application.
- As long as you have completed the necessary training, passed the exam, and paid the fees, you should receive your license pending a routine background check.
- Use your license. Now that you have an official Washington real estate license, you can start a career in real estate. You will have exclusive access to a variety of databases for agents only, be able to connect with other agents and apply to firms, and collect commissions on any sales you make or assist with.
- Know how long your license lasts. Your license will expire within 2 years of obtaining it. Make sure you keep up to date on your license expiration date and get it renewed in time. This can be done online or via mail. You are also required to complete additional education to renew your license.
- For your first renewal, you will need to complete a 30 hour Advanced Practice Course, 30 hours of Advanced Law Courses, and 30 hours of approved continuing education including a 3-hour core course.
- For any subsequent renewals, you will need 30 hours of continuing education, including a 3-hour core course, and a minimum of 15 hours must be completed within 24 months of your renewal date.
- Start out as an agent. Getting into the field is the first step in your new career. You'll need to decide whether you want to join a company or work solo. Know the pros and cons of each, and what factors to consider.
- If you want to join an office, make sure the office fits your goals and philosophy as a real estate agent. Ask during an interview, or before, what the vision is for the company and what values they represent.
- If you're joining a company, consider how much you will make off commission, how many listings the company has, and whether there are any formal opportunities for training and mentoring.
- Going into the market independently means more flexibility, lower costs, more input on your part, and gaining local credibility in the marketplace. If you're successful, you could end up making more money as an independent agency.
- Working without an agency does mean you work in a smaller network with less support and guidance, and there are fewer formal training opportunities.
- Don't skip the exam preparation/review course. The test is tricky, and knowing what to expect is half the battle in receiving a passing grade.
- Becoming a real estate agent is rewarding, but the journey can be pricey. Be sure to budget for the cost of a course, any exam prep, testing and license fees, and fingerprinting costs.
- Take a license course that will help you retain the most knowledge. In some courses you'll simply read a textbook and take tests, while in other courses you'll engage with fellow students in a classroom setting. Think about the way you learn best, and seek a course that fits your personal learning style.
- Talk to real estate agents and brokers for advice and tips. They've gone through the licensing process, and not only can they help you decide if a career in real estate is for you, they can help direct you a good real estate school and give you advice on the test.
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