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How to Get Your Real
Estate License in

Have you dreamed about selling luxury apartments in Chicago or gorgeous homes with river views in Peoria? If so, you’ve likely found your way here because you’re thinking about getting your Illinois real estate license. Maybe it’s been your dream to get your real estate license and start selling for some time now, or maybe you’re just looking for a new career with a higher earning potential. I know I’ve been there.

Before I became the number one real estate agent in New York City and a star on Bravo’s Million Dollar Listing New York, I was a struggling actor just trying to get by. I became a real estate licensee because I didn’t want to have a ceiling on what I could accomplish, and I didn’t want anyone to be able to tell me how to make my money. But that’s enough about me for now. 

You’re here because you want to know how to get your real estate license in Illinois. Fortunately, the overall licensing process tends to be fairly similar across the United States. Just some of the finer details will change from state to state. Let’s get started with the list of requirements you’ll need to meet for Illinois. 

  1. Meet the pre-qualifications. 
  2. Complete your pre-licensing education course. 
  3. Pass your coursework final exam. 
  4. Pass the Illinois real estate broker exam. 
  5. Choose a sponsoring broker to work under. 
  6. Pass your real estate license exam. 

Let’s take a deeper dive into these requirements together. 

1. Make sure you meet the prerequisites. 

The first step the Illinois Division of Real Estate requires is to make sure that you’re at least 18 years of age before applying for your license. You’ll also need to have a valid social security number or individual taxpayer identification number. Illinois is also one of the states that requires you to have your high school diploma or GED. That’s it for prerequisites. 

2. Complete your required pre-licensing education program. 

man writing on pen and paper

The pre-licensing education for Illinois is made up of two courses. The first is Broker Pre-license Topics, and the second is Broker Pre-License Applied Real Estate Principles. The total pre-licensing program comes to 75 clock hours. Sixty of these hours will be spent on pre-licensing education, and the reaming 15 are interactive hours. 

 Depending on what real estate school you go to, you may be able to find pre-license course packages that provide you with exam preparation and additional guidance. You may even be able to get scholarships or grants for Illinois REALTORS education through the Illinois Real Estate Educational Foundation (REEF) and the GI Bill. It’s important to note that becoming a new agent or broker isn’t the same thing as becoming a REALTOR. REALTOR is a copyrighted term owned by the National Association of REALTORS (NAR), and its members are held to specific ethical guidelines. 

3. Pass your real estate course final exam. 

After you complete your pre-licensing coursework, you’ll need to register for your final exam at a testing center. You’ll need to do this within two years of finishing your coursework. Due to COVID-19, you may be able to book an e-proctor for the exam using a PSI testing center. 

 It’s a great idea to take advantage of course packages that provide practice exams, so you can time yourself and your performance on those. You’ll need a minimum passing grade of 75% on this exam. Upon finishing this course, you’ll receive a certificate of completion, along with your official transcript. 

 4. Pass the Illinois Real Estate Broker Exam. 

Upon completing your license coursework, you’ll have a two-year window to complete the real estate broker examination. This real estate exam is broken into two sections. The first is a national portion that tests your knowledge of general real estate best practices and regulations. The second section is a state exam, which will test you specifically on Illinois real estate law. Each attempt at the exam will cost an exam fee of $55, and you’ll need two valid forms of photo ID to take the exam. 

The entire exam is composed of 140 multiple choice questions. You’ll have three and a half hours to complete it. Like with your course exam, you may need to find a PSI test center that allows for e-proctoring. It’s strongly recommended that you read over the candidate handbook before your first try at this exam. After this, you’ll be done with your education requirements. 

5. Select your sponsoring broker. 

sponsoring broker man

 Before you can get your Illinois license, the state requires you to become affiliated with a sponsoring broker. This broker will be your mentor as you start your new career, so you’ll need to think carefully about who to choose. This process might seem like it’s just a hoop to jump through, but I would recommend it, even if the state didn’t require it. 

 The first thing you’ll want to look for when selecting your sponsoring broker is a brokerage with a good reputation. See how they’re regarded as both an Illinois broker and on a national level. If you’re considering working with a newer brokerage that may not have established their reputation yet, you’ll want to ask them about their educational approach and whether you’ll have opportunities to grow within their brokerage. Always remember that there are plenty of real estate professionals out there looking to recruit new agents. You may even experience brokers trying to recruit you as soon as you leave the testing center. This is about which broker will suit your needs the best, not the other way around. 

Once you have a managing broker, they’ll submit your IDFPR paperwork and give you a 45-day permit. You’ll now be able to represent this managing broker in real estate transactions and get the training you’ll need to earn a living in the business. 

6. Complete your licensing application. 

Once your license education and training under a sponsoring broker are taken care of, you’ll finally be ready to submit your application for your broker’s license with the Illinois Department of Financial & Professional Regulation. Assuming everything is in order, your license status should be updated within two to four business days. That’s it! You’re good to go. 


What about license reciprocity? 

If you’re a bar-licensed attorney or you have your real estate license in another state, then you may be eligible for a reciprocity agreement that will adjust your required education and testing appropriately. Currently, Illinois has reciprocity agreements with the following states under the Real Estate License Act of 2000: 

For additional information on reciprocity agreements with each state and the Illinois requirements, check the IDFPR website. 

How long does it take to get a real estate license? 

That’s a question that only you can truly answer. The maximum amount of time you’ll have to complete your real estate license in Illinois may depend on your real estate school, instructor, or other contributing factors. What’s certain is that you have two years to pass your final exams after completing your education requirements. Still, it’s always better to get everything done as quickly as you can, so you can start growing into your new role. 

If you’re familiar with my work, then you’ll know that my favorite word is “initiative,” and my belief in its power has helped me achieve a great deal in this business. The best time to start working on your license is RIGHT NOW, and you have the power to start learning as soon as you want. If you feel trapped by your current career, or you feel like your back is up against a wall with all the license education and requirements, that’s actually a good thing! 

In my own Real Estate Online Core video course, Sell It Like Serhant, I like to open by talking about my Four W’s. These are basic concepts that you can use to evaluate and change your own work ethic for the better. One of the four W’s I talk about is “the wall,” which is a situation or feeling that you know you can’t afford to go back to. Use that as your motivating force to drive yourself to advance your real estate career progress every day. 

How can new or aspiring agents gain an advantage?  

You sure can! In fact, I’ve created the advanced course package that I wish I had when I first started my real estate journey. The Sell It Like Serhant: Pre-Licensing Accelerator gives you everything you’ll need to pass your state exam on the first attempt, and it also teaches you the same sales system that my team and I use at my New York City brokerage. 

With this course package, you’ll receive three important textbooks, including the Principles of Real Estate Practice, Real Estate Math Handbook, and my “Quick Start Guide” filled with the latest information and tips for aspiring sales agents. You’ll also have access to support from expert instructors, all of who will respond to questions within one business day. We also provide you with five practice exams for the state test, so you’ll be equipped to pass on your first try. We’re so confident about this that Illinois students also get our Pass or Don’t Pay guarantee. If you don’t pass on your first attempt, we’ll refund your money! 

The good news doesn’t stop there, either. This package also includes a membership to additional resources from me and my team, including the full Real Estate Core online course. Once you have your license, I’ll teach you everything you need to know about making sales in the biggest U.S. markets! 

Becoming a successful real estate agent may not be something that happens overnight, but it’s well worth the investment if you want a career with no cap on your earning potential. With all of the excellent resources and help available online, there’s never been a better time to jump in. Schedule your initial education, and get started on the road to success today! 

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  • Ryan Serhant is a founder, entrepreneur, producer, public speaker, bestselling author, star of multiple TV shows, and Chief Executive Officer of SERHANT., the rapidly growing tech-forward real estate organization comprised of two core businesses: brokerage and education. Founded in 2020, SERHANT. is a content-to-commerce technology ecosystem revolutionizing the sales industry. SERHANT. is home to the first ever full-service, award-winning, in-house film studio solely dedicated to real estate content, and its digital education platform is comprised of more than 14,000 members across 110 countries.