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Total Cost of Earning a Real Estate License

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Posted by: Kaplan Real Estate Education

Published: June 23, 2020

Pursuing a real estate license is a relatively inexpensive way to jump-start a new career with unlimited earning potential. Becoming a real estate agent is an accessible option for many people who are looking to make a career switch since it doesn’t require copious education, and it rewards those who approach it with passion and determination.

As with any new pursuit, there are a few start-up costs that you’ll want to take into consideration. The more you prepare for these now, the less likely you’ll be surprised by them down the road. In this article, we’ll look at all the potential fees you may need to pay to earn your real estate license.

How Much Does it Cost to Start in Real Estate?

The amount you’ll spend on earning your real estate license will differ depending on which state you decide to get licensed in. This is because each state has its own unique requirements for real estate licensure, including different prelicensing education requirements, exam fees, and licensing fees. Here are the most common fees you can expect to pay in order to get your real estate salesperson license.

  • Real estate prelicensing education fees.

Depending on the state you’re in, you can expect to pay anywhere from a couple of hundred dollars to just under one thousand dollars on your real estate prelicensing education. This difference in cost largely depends on two factors: the format of the course you want to take (live class, live online, on demand, and so on) and the number of prelicensing education hours required by your state.

For instance, Michigan only requires 40 hours of education, while California requires over 100 hours. Additionally, if you’d like to take a live online or live class course, you can expect to pay a couple of hundred dollars more than an on-demand or home study course, as you’re paying for increased instructor involvement and personal attention. To see your course options, select your state from this list.

  • Real estate exam fees.

Once you’ve completed the required prelicensing education, you’ll need to take and pass your state’s real estate salesperson licensing exam. A fee is usually required in order to take your licensing exam. This fee is dependent on the state where you’re seeking to become licensed. For example, in New York, your exam fee is $15 and in Georgia it’s $121. The exam fee amount will usually be listed on your state’s real estate commission’s website.

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  • Real estate licensing application and fingerprinting fees.

When it’s time to apply for your real estate salesperson license, there is usually a fee that comes along with the application, and you might also need to pay a fee to have your fingerprints taken. These costs are also dependent on the state where you are getting licensed, and you can find the exact amounts on the website for your state’s real estate commission.

  • Marketing and business expenses.

While not part of the licensing process, investments in marketing and business supplies are crucial to your initial success as a new agent. These are costs that you should account for early so that you aren’t surprised by them later.

The amount you spend on marketing is your decision, so make a list of all the marketing channels you wish to employ and their associated costs. For instance, you might want to invest in digital advertising for your new real estate business on social media and other online avenues. You may also want to purchase business cards and flyers for grassroots marketing efforts in your community.

Business expenses for new agents can range from office supplies to upgrades for your computer, internet, and cell service. If you anticipate needing to make any additional purchases to get your real estate business up and running, make sure to plan for them ahead of time.


The earlier you’re aware of the costs associated with starting in the real estate industry, the more time you’ll have to make a plan for how to cover them. Doing your research ahead of time can set you up for success as a new real estate agent. Ready to start the process of earning your license? Choose your state from this list to see your course offerings and more.