Should I Get My Real Estate License? An Investor’s Examination of Benefits & Costs

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One of the most often asked questions on the BiggerPockets Forums is from relative newbies wondering if they should get their real estate licenses. I have seen this question on almost every forum topic, asked at least once a week. On the surface, it seems like there are only perks.

There are definite benefits to having a license:

  • Instant “Rebate” When Purchasing: This is easily the number one reason I got my license. I am not a high-volume flipper. I buy one property at a time, fix it up myself, and then sell it when I’m done. I add considerable value to the property, listing every home I have ever sold for more than $100,000 above what I paid for it. Just that $100,000 will cost you $3,000 in typical commissions or save you an equal amount when you list it yourself.
  • MLS Access: This is especially helpful for comparative home sales so you know what properties have sold for recently.
  • Property Access: Get in to see the houses when it works for you. My husband works from home, and our farm area is our neighborhood. When a property gets listed, we immediately make the earliest appointment to view it. We don’t have to call our agent, who then has to call the listing agent to set up a time.

But getting a license isn’t just calling up the state licensing commission and asking to be added to their list. If you are starting from ground zero — that is, no prior licensing — it takes a serious time commitment and an initial outlay of cash to not only earn your license, but to become a member of the several different professional organizations that go along with having a license.

So what does it take? Let’s look at the different steps involved in earning your license.

Unfortunately, there isn’t a national system for licensing; each state has their own rules and regulations. I live in Colorado, and we are a fairly progressive state, real estate agent licensing-wise. Here are the expenses related to earning your real estate license in the state of Colorado.

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Expenses Related to Acquiring Your Real Estate License


The great state of Colorado requires 168 credit hours of study to be eligible to take the state exam. I did a little Googling and found a company called VanEd that is completely online. (They offer licensing courses for about seven different states.) I have young children, and going to a physical classroom for those 168 hours wasn’t really feasible for my family. Taking courses online, I could watch and re-watch the lessons again and again. I could take 10 hours this week and not do anything else for the next 3 weeks if I so chose.

Related: You Just Passed Your Real Estate License Test. Now What?

The total for my VanEd courses was $695. This price includes a test preparation course, which was invaluable to me. I started my classes at the beginning of November and took (and passed on the first try) my state exam at the end of February.

State Licensing Exam

While the course cost includes the exam prep, it does not include the cost of the state licensing exam. It cost me $85 to take the exam the first time. Since I passed with flying colors, I didn’t have to take it more than once. If you don’t pass, it will cost you $80 each time you sit for the exam. It’s worth passing the first time.

OK, now that you have paid for the course and the exam, you’re done, right? Not even close…

Fingerprinting & Background Check

Being a real estate agent allows you access to any property listed on the MLS. Most homeowners aren’t home when the house is being shown. You must pass an FBI background check to be allowed a real estate license. In order to pass said background check, you have to submit your fingerprints, along with your Social Security Number.

How do you get your fingerprints to them? Two ways: certain testing facilities will do it for a fee, or you can go to your local police department who will also do it for a fee. The testing facility will do an electronic fingerprint, which has a higher success rate, meaning the prints are more easily read than the traditional ink pad fingerprint done at the police department. The testing facility I used charges $56.75, which includes the $39.50 state processing fee and their own $17.25 processing fee. The police department in my city charges $10 to fingerprint, on top of the $39.50 state charge.

Employing Broker

Most states require newly licensed agents to work under the supervision of an Employing Broker for a period of two years. Unlike other fields, there are fees charged for being associated with a particular brokerage. The fees vary widely, but are usually a monthly “desk fee” and a portion of your commission earned for every house sale.

Honestly, these fees kept me from getting my license for a really long time. Desk fees I was quoted were up to $1,500 a month. New agent commission splits can be up to 50% of the commission, meaning you only pocket half of what you earn. That seemed a bit steep for me. I read about a company founded by an agent who felt the same way and ended up with a $52/month desk fee and a flat rate of $499 per property bought or sold.

Errors & Omissions Insurance

All licensed agents are required to have errors and omissions insurance. Your license will be suspended immediately upon board notification that your insurance has lapsed, so this isn’t something you can go without. Figure $350-$400 per year.

NAR Membership

My office requires me to be a member of my local Realtor board. With that membership comes inclusion in the National Association of Realtors. Dues are paid yearly. 2015 Dues are $562. To become a member of your local board, you must take an ethics class to the tune of $65.

MLS Access

The MLS (Multiple Listing Service) is where the majority of properties are listed. The amount of additional information available to MLS users can be pretty substantial. My MLS has a bit of software that analyzes comparable properties — that is, properties similar to the one you are considering.

Related: Pursuing Real Estate Investing Freedom? Consider Getting a Real Estate License!

While it isn’t perfect, it helps give a quick look, which lets me know if the property is worth looking into further. Access costs $117 every quarter, $468 per year.

Out-of-Pocket Tally

School: $695
State Exam: $85
Fingerprinting: $10
Background Check: $39.50
Desk Fee: $624 ($52 X 12 months)
E&O Insurance: $374
NAR Membership: $562
Ethics Class: $40
MLS Access: $468

First Year Out-of-Pocket: $2,923

While it won’t be the exact same for you if you are in a different state, this is a fair estimate of what it will cost, both time and money, for you to earn your license. These out-of-pocket expenses are just the beginning. I haven’t factored in any marketing costs, including business cards and signs. It has been a few months since I earned my license; I am sure I am forgetting something that would push that out-of-pocket total over $3,000.

To Be or Not to Be (Licensed): That is the Question

So back to the topic at hand: should you get your license? It certainly isn’t necessary to obtain a license before you start looking for deals. If you are new to this, perhaps it would be better to have an experienced agent to help walk you through your first deal or two. Factor in the commission you will pay when you sell the house before you make the offer.

On the other hand, if you plan to — or already are — executing multiple transactions per year, you could reap huge rewards by earning your license.

Has earning a license helped you in your investing? Do you wish you hadn’t spent the time and money earning it?

Let’s help each other out by sharing our experiences in the comments below!

About Author

Mindy Jensen

Mindy Jensen has been buying and selling homes for almost 20 years. She buys houses, moves in, makes them beautiful, sells them, and starts the process all over again. She is a licensed real estate agent in Colorado, author of How to Sell Your Home, and the community manager for, where she helps new and experienced investors learn the proper ways to invest in real estate to grow their wealth. Mindy is an alumnus of the School of Hard Knocks and will happily share her experiences with anyone who asks. When you can get her to stop talking about real estate, you can find her on her bike or adventuring in the beautiful mountains of Colorado.


  1. Uyenchi Ho

    Thank you, Mindy, for this informative post. I, too, have wondered whether it would be beneficial to my investing business to have my own real estate license. After having read your break-down (especially the costs), I’ve decided that I will not be getting licensed for the time being. Maybe some day, but definitely not now. Thanks again! Looking forward to reading more of your blogs.

    • Mindy Jensen

      Thank you for your kind words, Uyenchi.

      While I am glad I have my license, I didn’t know all the costs involved before I started those classes. I’m not sure it would have changed my mind, but I thought I would put it out there for all the people who are on the fence.

  2. Adrian Tilley

    Thanks for the good article and breakdown. I’m in Colorado too, and joined a brokerage that requires no splits, no “desk fees”, only charges $400/transaction, and doesn’t require me to be a realtor. That brings the total down to ~$1800.


    • Mindy Jensen

      When I first read this, I thought “You have to be licensed in order to sell property!” But then I realized you were referring to membership in the National Association of Realtors. For those of you who haven’t seen the commercials, “Only members of the National Association of Realtors are allowed to call themselves Realtors.”

      That is a pretty sweet deal you found, Adrian. I thought my deal was good…

      Thanks for reading!

  3. Jonna Weber

    Very accurate description – thank you for putting is succinctly! One realization I had while getting licensed: there is more paperwork for each transaction than many people think, and there are mandatory continuing education courses each year to take. If you are only doing using your license for a couple of transactions per year, it can be like starting the learning curve over each time. I think the answer on whether to get licensed is a very individual one…and a key component is whether or not the person enjoys working in the fine print details in each transaction.

    • Mindy Jensen

      WOW, you could not be more accurate!

      I have bought and sold a lot of houses. I thought being the buyer or seller meant a lot of paperwork. The agent really has a ton of it. And every “i” dotted and “t” crossed or it is void, or has to go back to the other party to be initialed, or this or that or or or!

      Holy cannoli there is a lot of paperwork. That is a great point!

      Thanks for reading!

    • Julia Rowling

      I really appreciate this post and the comments on it. I’d been toying with whether I should get my license, but now I’m thinking I will not do that right away. I think I’d be much better off getting some experienced realtors on my team before setting off on my own. Thanks!

  4. Dan Shaker

    Thank you so much Mindy for this wonderful article. This will bring light to people who would want to have an idea of how much getting a license cost. I think it will be better if you start getting to know more about the market first and then start selling on a smaller scale and once you have established yourself and saved up enough money to continue with the business and get a license at the same time that will be better in that way you were not just spending but also earning.

    • Mindy Jensen

      Thanks, Dan.

      That’s a really great idea. Absolutely get acquainted with your market before getting a license. One deal here or there isn’t really going to line your pockets with saved commissions, not when you consider the first deal will just about get you to the break even point on licensing. Unless you are buying those $20,000 properties I keep reading about in the forums.

      And you can always get it later. Like you pointed out, once you are established, getting a license will be a little easier.

  5. Jonathan Steingraber

    My recommendation would be to just pay the “mls fee” to list your property with a broker and offer a commission to the buyers agent that is very attractive. Say a 4% commission to the buyer’s agent. This will increase the amount of agents that show your house to buyers. No need to get your license these days unless you want to make referral commissions on seller leads.

  6. Scott Price

    Thank you for the informative article, Mindy.

    I recommend that people consider the pros and cons beyond just the commission / expense part of being an agent/broker/Realtor. As an active investor, I have a broker’s license for the following main reasons:

    1) Inside access to people and resources.

    2) Access to forms and legal assistance.

    3) Access to MLS for property history, determining comps, and other data.

    4) Ability to get a commission on my own purchase (though I definitely do work through other brokers as their buyer client, too). For time reasons, I even generally pay someone else to be the listing agent for any investment properties that I may be selling.

    Main downsides to having a broker’s license:

    1) Fees and dues (as described in the article).

    2) Continuing education requirements that may not align with the kind of education you would prefer to devote time towards.

    3) Some sellers and others are “put off” by being contacted by a broker instead of a “regular person”, so that needs to be addressed for some folks.

    4) Held to a higher legal standard, but hopefully you are doing that higher standard anyhow.

    Best Regards,
    Scott Price

    • Mindy Jensen

      Thanks for taking the time to respond, Scott.

      You have added some great points. Continuing education isn’t a huge time commitment, I think 24 hours a year in my state. But those certainly aren’t the most exciting 24 hours you will be spending that year…

  7. Nathan Brooks

    Mindy .. Although I am licensed in another state I used to live in, I am back to being motivated to get my license here as well. I feel it just has too many upsides (and the $22k I’ve given out in the last 2 months) … so that was my motivation! Thanks for the article 🙂

  8. Mindy,

    I am a licensed Realtor in Virginia, working the areas just outside Washington DC. I’ve been licensed 25+ years and the last few years a significant part of my business has been with investors – both rehabbers and buy and hold investors. And I do a bit of buy and hold investing on my own.

    To me, getting or not getting your license depends upon the type of investing you want to do. Usually I do no think it makes sense.

    Wholesaling – I think getting a license will do more harm than good. The sellers may well be put off by a Realtor contacting them. Our ethics require that every time your present a contract you must put in that you are a licensed Realtor. This may hurt your position in negotiating with a seller or prevent you from even getting in the door as you really should disclose that fact when you contact a seller.

    Rehabbers – Again, it would depend how you are buying your rehabs. If you are contacting sellers not currently on the market the same issue I mentioned above applies. If you are are buying off the MLS, well, there may be some savings but unless you are doing several properties a year, the cost of carrying your license will not be worth it.

    I know in my market the best deals are not on the MLS. Any fixer uppers that get listed on the MLS are bid up so high that rehab margins are thin. I have found the most successful rehabbers in my market are the ones who find the deals no one else knows about. Once exposed to the market, the advantage swings to the seller. But maybe that is just my market.

    It is not only the hard costs but your time. How many hours does your state require for continuing ed? Our contracts and systems are changing all the time. How many hours do you need to spend to keep up with the logistics of the business? The time is not all consuming but over the course of a year could be dozens of hours. How much is your hourly time worth? More importantly, if that time was spent looking for more deals would you have made more money? And let’s not forget the time needed to show the home if you are the agent. Last, if you are not an active agent familiar with multiple lenders, special financing and creative financing, you may have a buyer walk when the deal could have been closed with a professional active Realtor.

    Buy and Hold – The typical buy and hold investor probably does not do enough deals in a year to make it worth your while.

    There is no doubt that a Realtor will get a little better ROI when investing because they are a licensee but I don’t really see the clear advantage for an investor getting their license. Only if you are doing multiple rehabs a year and are in a market where you can actually make money buying off the MLS would I see getting a license only to increase margins.

    Bottom line, I can see how investors would lose deals by having to disclose they are a Realtor and I can see investors wasting time trying to get deals done. I know if I were to rehab a home I would spin my wheels doing things that an experienced rehabber could do in minutes. The same can be said for a rehabber trying to sell real estate.

    Yes, I know I am biased since I am a Realtor. Feel free to disagree.

    • Mindy Jensen

      I think you make some really great points. I don’t think having a license is the best decision for everyone, and I think there is this idea that it is easy, inexpensive and quick. It is none of those things.
      I do think it can be a great tool for some, like you have pointed out. Thanks for sharing from the voice of experience! That is what I love most about BP! The willingness of the more experienced to help out and give advice to people who are just starting out.

  9. Brian Gibbons

    Hi Mindy,

    I love the detail of this post.

    I work in the Seller Financing area and I always recc folks doing sub2, wraps, and lease options to be licensed. You can act as a principal and be licensed, and make the Dept of Real Estate happy. You are not acting “agent for” unless you want to.

    Thanks again!

  10. Adam Kroll

    Hello Mindy,

    I have just moved to Broomfield, Colorado and am currently enrolled in the 168 hour course so your post compelled me! Thanks for the post, it was very informative. I am curious, though, if it is necessary in Colorado to work for a Broker for 2 years before applying for your Broker’s license. Also, if you have any ideas on costs associated with a Broker’s license. I can’t seem to shake my 9-5 yet.

    Thanks again,

    • Mindy Jensen

      Hi Adam.

      If you are a licensed attorney, you do not have to work for a broker for two years. Otherwise, I don’t think there is any way to fast-track the broker test.

      Honestly, I think it is a good idea to work under a broker and learn more about the process. A lot of it is the same thing, over and over, but every once in a while, it is really nice to have someone to ask.

      PM me anytime.

      • Michel Gephart

        Thank you Mindy and Adam!

        I am a new(ish) resident to Colorado. I have been in RE for 10+ years in capital, finance, flipping, etc. and have been licensed in other states. My concerns here are at my age and experience, I cannot afford to take 2 years away from my career to work full time under a broker. I truly want the experience to develop and be developed professionally; however, the salary decrease for my family is not a viable choice.

        Does anyone have a suggestion? I would happily work for commercial or residential real estate. My concern is I cannot go directly back to the “home sales agent” role at this stage in my career simply to try and jump start a new branch of real estate.

        I am literally sitting here with my “finger on the trigger” to order the RE Broker License course as we speak. I simply need to know if there are viable options to completing this 2 year requirement where I can gain knowledge and experience while either not quitting my current job or finding avenues to match income levels.

        Thank you in advance!

  11. Tommy Lorden

    Another thing to consider in Colorado, or any state besides AK, OR, KS, OK, MO, TN, LA, MS, AL, and IA in certain circumstances, is that commission rebates are legal. In other words, the real estate broker used by the buyer can take a portion of what they are paid and credit it back to the buyer at closing!

    Why would a broker do this? It is generally only done when the buyer can save the broker time. Where can the buyer save the broker time? While this can be discussed with the real estate broker, it is typically on the front end with the property search and screening. Being investors are generally doing all of their own legwork, commission rebates can be a great tool. While you as an investor wouldn’t technically be getting paid a commission in this scenario, the affect isn’t totally dissimilar from having a real estate license in that you’d be getting a significant cash benefit for your efforts.

    Do note, however, that not all investors are a great fit for brokers that do commission rebates. If the premise behind most rebates is to give the easy buyers back money, these brokers are looking for deals that are going to actually close. They may not be particularly interested in offering buyers money back in a scenario where there are going to be a bunch of low ball offers, where the financing is sketchy, or where a hairy inspection is likely to complicate the deal.

    I am on expert on this (here in Colorado anyway), so don’t hesitate to contact me for questions or information. And don’t let anyone tell you this is illegal or not possible….especially real estate agents who just haven’t done it or who don’t want to do it for obvious reasons. In fact, if you google “commission rebates us department of justice”, you’ll find an informative article from the feds on this!

    • Mindy Jensen

      Thanks for sharing, Tommy.

      I think one of the most difficult aspects of this would be to find an agent willing to do this. Partnering with an investor-friendly agent is an absolute must if you don’t have your license. Having an agent who is actively looking for you can be the difference between getting the deal, and having it slip through your fingers.

      There is still the MLS access that you (legally) can’t have if you aren’t an agent.

  12. Thank you for the article. It has convinced me that I don’t want to pursue my own license. I have noticed a trend lately of realtors hiring themselves out to fill in and file the paperwork only. I have a realtor/friend who does this for me already. I always want to show the houses myself since I feel no one can do my work justice the way I can. So far so good.

    • Mindy Jensen

      Thanks for reading, Alexis.

      I do want to point out that while no one can do your work justice the way you can, many buyers feel uncomfortable when the seller is at the home. They don’t feel they can be truly honest, or they don’t want to discuss the house with each other in front of the seller. I never recommend having the seller be present at the showing and try to discourage it.

      I think signs with information about what has been done conveys the same message.

  13. Michael Woodward

    You’re absolutely right! I didn’t have my real estate license for the first several years of my investing career and was always frustrated with the communication barriers and lack of access to people and real estate data. Getting my license has been the single biggest boost to my investing business! I HIGHLY recommend it for all the reasons you listed. Thanks for the article Mindy!

  14. Lynn Weber

    I’m signed up to take my courses next month. I think the benefits of being able to get to houses quickly (our Realtor frequently takes a day or two because of other clients) and the savings in commissions will outweigh the expenses (as outlined above). I’ve been Broker shopping this afternoon, comparing splits, desk fees, support, etc, so that once I get my license I will have it narrowed down a bit. I’m very much looking forward to becoming a Realtor. I think it will really complement our REI business.

    • Mindy Jensen


      It sounds like you have already been investing for a while. I think you illustrate my point pretty well. You don’t need to have the license off the bat. Knowing the costs involved can help you make a more informed decision.

      Thanks for reading!

  15. Don Clark

    With today’s technology and resources, I don’t see the need to becoming an agent. I’m not saying there’s no benefit, but doesn’t seem worth it to me, unless you’re going to make substanial money from the commissions.

    • Mindy Jensen

      You are correct, Don. There is an awful lot of information available to today’s non-agent through technology. And I do believe you could find all the information available to agents in the MLS through other sources, but it would take quite a bit longer to comb through everything.

      Thanks for reading!

    • Mindy Jensen

      Thanks for reading, Robby.

      Check with your state, you may not have to go back and take all the classes again – maybe just a refresher course. I know in CO you have different levels of coursework depending on past experience. Good luck!

  16. I am in the middle of my real estate class here in Illinois. We are required only 90 hours. A couple of months ago I was working at buying my first multi-family property and missed out a great deal because my real estate agent was dragging his feet. It cost me plenty losing that deal. I am a newbie at this but it seemed if I had my own license I could have moved things along without waiting for him. Right or wrong, that is why I decided I needed to look into getting my own license.

  17. Tommy Lorden

    There is a great website out there that summarizes what different brokerage firms offer: …it is specifically designed to match brokers with the right firm. Of course, the bigger firms are better represented, and sometimes it can be the smaller firm that is “off the radar” where some of the best arrangements can be made, but this is a great starting point and resource.

  18. willie banks

    THANKS for the post I went to get my license and failed the test twice but, I learned a lot about Real Estate, things I didn’t know before I attended the class. Now that I’ve became a RealEstate Investor I think its much easier when it becomes to just flipping properties and dealing with Agents that know exactly what we do, Everybody has to figure out what works for themselves, And Just Do It!!!!

    • Mindy Jensen

      Thanks Willie.
      That test can be very difficult. I didn’t really think much of the practice test when I first took it, and it was a real eye opener. I studied for a couple of weeks, every night, before I took the real test and those practice tests were the difference between pass and fail.
      Glad you found something that works for you, that is the key to successful investing!

  19. I have been a full time Real Estate Investor for over 18 years and became a Real Estate Broker 13 years ago. The primary advantage to having a license is “seeing” the market through your own eyes, not what a broker wants to tell you. When starting out the most difficult thing to accomplish is buying great deals at 20% or more below the market, they are very hard to find and typically low value (i.e. low commission) how could a Real Estate agent devote so much time to find a few very low commission deals… not worth their time so I had to do this job myself. I also was able to be the first person to see the property, first to make an offer and got first hand information. I am primarily a buy and hold investor with 54 properties, however to get to this point I have done my share of flips and wholesale deals. A great point is made about the investment of time to do this, keeping up with the laws, forms, technology as well as cost if you only do a few deals is a matter to consider. Keep in mind the profit on one good transaction could pay for a decade or more of these expenses.

    • Mindy Jensen

      Dan, these are all really great points – especially the low commission one. Real estate agents don’t get paid until you buy a house. Many new investors are looking at the lower-priced properties, and don’t typically buy the first house they see. I can understand why an agent wouldn’t want to spend a lot of time showing properties to make $600. So having your license can be a huge help like you said. You see the property first, you make the first offer. You get to analyze the market. I set my personal search parameters very wide so I can see everything.
      That last sentence is key – “…one good transaction could pay for a decade or more of these expenses.” Very well said. Thanks for reading!

      • As I mentioned above, I am a Realtor so perhaps I am biased but, as stated, I believe most investors are best off not getting their license and finding a good Realtor. Time is the only commodity you can not replace. I think novice Realtors can create more problems than they solve. They will save money but waste time and how valuable is that time?

        Also, as mentioned above, I feel most of the best deals are not on listed properties but ones found privately where a Realtor is not needed unless the investor wants to pay for them to write and guide the contract to settlement. That would be a time tradeoff made just the same way you would decide if you should paint or hire it out.

        However, the main point I wanted to address is the comment that most Realtors would not want to devote time to a low commission deal. Well, I can’t speak for most Realtors but I can speak for smarter, business oriented Realtors.

        I love working with investors regardless of price point. Why? First I am energized by investment real estate but from a practical standpoint, how many investors do you know who are one and done? Not many I assume. If I work with an owner occupant, I probably won’t get another deal from them for 5 to 7 years, if ever. Investors are repeat clients and once the investor and Realtor know each other, the deals become easier and easier.

        If I meet a new person, I need to sit with them and get to know them and sell myself to them. Then during the negotiation process, I need to learn how they want to approach the that part of the transaction. What terms they want in the contract, etc.

        With an investor doing multiple deals, I know this and can get things done much quicker. With some volume investors, I have been told I don’t need to attend settlement, and when I do, it is much quicker than with an owner occupant.

        So, for this Realtor, and for many others I am sure, they are ready willing and able to work hard for investor clients regardless of price point as they recognize the value in a long term relationship with an active investor.

        • Brian Gibbons

          Joe, most Realtors I have met are not great. Sorry.

          Many have the licenses and do not know the basics of our REI business.

          “You better jump on this, it is a great investment!!”

          [email protected]#t.

          You as a group do not know the basics.

          If you have a CCIM maybe.

          It is like a CFP and CLU in insurance.

          Top 5% of realtors make most of the income.

          The other beef I have is 6% for sellers. Maybe for a $50K house, sure as hell not for $600K house.

          I wish your 6% model was hourly and not contingent.

          A bad realtor can waste alot time and missed opportunities that a great realtor would have performed well and quickly.

          Just sayin’, not just me. Very few Realtors know a good investment and can negotiate a good deal for a investor.

          Lastly, Seller Financing on a low equity deal, where a traditional sale would make a seller PAY to get rid of a house, might just serve the seller very nicely, such as sub2, a wrap, or a lease option. You guys as whole know very little about negotiating a creative deal, so I am nervous about working with Realtors on Creative Financing Deals. Never in 30 years have I found a talented one. Just sayin’, not just me.

      • Brian,

        That is very sad but too often true. I guess with most professions you can say the top 5%- 10% do most of the business. I know it is hard finding an investment oriented Realtor who is really working to build a relationship and not trying just to earn a commission today.

        I recently bought an investment property outside my market area in a different state and I was surprised how long it took me to find an agent who understands investing and what I wanted to do. She was invaluable. (If you want to buy in Memphis let me know and I will pass along her name and number.)

        Fees and arrangements are negotiable. If a client only wants me to perform limited tasks, we will work out a fee. If a client is doing several deals a year, I am happy to work out a mutually beneficial arrangement. I am sure most good Realtors would.

        Some of the things you mentioned regarding creative financing can be taught but integrity and professionalism can not. I hope you eventually find one of the good guys and your opinion of us changes.

  20. Dave Defourneaux

    Great article, Mindy. I am currently working on my FL state license, and only AFTER I began did I realize all of these hidden costs. It can be very deflating, but as a new investor, the education has still been worth it. Hard to believe how complicated a new career can really be, and nothing out there really prepares you for the costs involved in doing business. I did this for both the education and for the potential doors it might open up in enabling me to quit my “day job” and pursue this full time, but it is still difficult to calculate the final “cost”. Thanks for the enlightening words!

  21. One other thing I didn’t see mentioned in the many comments is the Supra Key. That’s another ongoing cost, albeit small in comparison to some of the others.

    Also, Scott Price mentioned being held to a higher legal standard but you are also held to a higher moral standard as well. If you are out buying homes to flip, you need the price to be right or it’s not worth doing. We are required to disclose to the seller what the ARV is. Then the seller has to decide whether it’s worth doing themselves or selling it at a steep discount just to get out from under it. Most sellers don’t have the cash in the first place and they probably don’t have an extensive background in rehabbing so they don’t know what costs involved. But, you don’t want to get sued over a home you purchased for $100K, put $40K in it and sold it for $200K. All the seller sees is “I sold it to the flipper for half price! They ripped me off!”

    I’m an agent as well and have bought REO’s and rehabbed them for rental property but I did all of that before I was an agent. Now that I am an agent, I think buying through the MLS is the only way to do it since it’s a free market place for all to compete on. If you are a wholesaler, I would personally think twice about getting my license. Just my two cents

  22. krystle little

    Hello Mindy!

    Thanks for recommending me to read this article and thanks for all the information within the article. It has really brought some things to light for me! As a new investor, I wasn’t fully aware of all the costs that were associated with obtaining your license. I feel that I will eventually get my license, but right now would not be the time as I have yet to do a deal and still trying to find out what my niche will be. This article has helped made it that much easier for me to come to a conclusion. Thanks soo much, this was really helpful!

  23. Ryan Wolcott

    Thanks for the article Mindy, I may hold off now on pursuing my license. The main reason I wanted to get the license was for the education purposes, since I am brand new to the real estate industry and am no where near ready to make my first deal yet.

    Do you know if there are any alternative material like certain books that will give you similar information that the courses 1, 2, and 3 give you from a real estate school, so that way I can get the same type of information without having to pay $500-$700 for?

  24. Leo Obasohan on

    Is it possible to be licensed, but not an agent? I am planning to get my license in the state of Ohio to be an assistant to a realtor. Since she is actually a personal friend, I don’t want her co-workers asking questions since it’s a big deal for assistants to be licensed. They would be my sponsoring broker for exam purposes. I plan on using the knowledge in my investment business for which I created an LLC. Would this be an issue if I were licensed?

    • Mindy Jensen

      It is possible to pass the licensing test and not be an agent. Your license would be inactive – at least in my state of CO.
      To be honest, the licensing coursework only teaches you how to pass the test – it doesn’t provide much real value to investors. At least that has been my experience.
      I still find value in being licensed, but I didn’t learn anything about investing through the process.

  25. Daisy Joy

    Hello fellow investors, great info from all of you! I attended Fortune Builders seminar and they do offer educational programs that appear to be legit but cost is overwhelming. Just recently joined Bigger Pockets, upgrading to Pro this week, are the tools provided here enough or would you recommend an additional educational course – time is a huge factor – vs learning on my own? Anyone have any input?
    Thank you in advance!

    • Mindy Jensen

      Hi Sherri.

      The coursework prices vary from state to state. My state requirements (at the time this was originally written in late 2014) are the longest (and now in second place to Texas) so our course costs will be higher than a state that has a significantly lower education requirement.

      There are few places to take the licensure courses – and their prices are pretty similar across the board. You may be able to shave off a few dollars here and there – I liked my online course provider because they offered practice tests included with the course cost.

  26. Josh Cook

    Wow, great article! I had no idea how much time and money you have to shell out to become an agent. I was definitely in that boat of thinking “It’s easy to become an agent!”

    I don’t think the benefits outweigh the costs of becoming an agent for me right now, as I’m just starting out on my journey in real estate investing. The main benefit I could see would be having access to the MLS, but, then again, I know in many circumstances the best deals are to be had outside of the MLS.

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