How to Become a Licensed Real Estate Agent in Iowa

Iowa Real Estate License Basic Requirements

To become a real estate agent in Iowa, you need to meet the following requirements:

  • You must be 18 years or older. You can take the real estate agent exam before you are 18 years old; however, you must be 18 before you can apply for a real estate license, which should be within 6 months after passing the exam.
  • There are no citizenship or residency requirements to get a real estate license in Iowa.
  • You need to undergo a background and criminal history investigation. Criminal history background verification is valid for 210 days.
  • You should not have had a licensure application rejected in Iowa or any other state within 12 months before the date of application and your real estate license should not have been revoked in Iowa or any other state within 2 years before the date of application.

Iowa Real Estate License Costs

  • Real Estate Agent Education in Iowa: $300 to $600 (approx.)
  • Exam Fee: $95
  • Background Check Fee: $51
  • License Fee: $125

Helpful Tips

STEP 1: Pre-licensing Education

To get a real estate license in Iowa, you must complete 36 hours of pre-licensing training courses approved by the commission, consisting of:

  • Buying Practices – 12 hours
  • Listing Practices – 12 hours
  • Developing Professionalism & Ethical Practices – 12 hours
  • In addition to this, you must complete 60 hours of official education covering real estate procedures and topics such as real estate insurance, zoning, appraising, contract law and closing procedures. These courses can be taken in person or online.

All the courses should be completed 12 months before the Real Estate Commission of Iowa receives your completed application. You can take the courses in any order.

You must not register for the real estate exam until you have completed the 60-hour pre-license course that has been approved by the commission and you get a completion certificate. The certificate will be issued by the Iowa Association of Realtors.

STEP 2: Submit a Completed Application

Where to Apply

To take the real estate salesperson exam, you need to register with PSI (Psychological Services Inc.) and take the exam and pass it. This is a computer-based exam and you must take it within 90 days of registration. The exam is held in 3 locations in Iowa—Cedar Rapids, Council Bluffs and W. Des Moines. The exam consists of 2 parts—national, as well as state questions.

Exam Fees

You need to pay a fee of $95 to take the real estate exam and if you need to retake the exam, then you must pay a fee of $95 every time. The exam registration fee is not refundable or transferable.

Iowa offers real estate license reciprocity for agents moving from the following states—Arkansas, Alabama, Louisiana, Georgia, Minnesota, Mississippi, Massachusetts, North Dakota, North Carolina, West Virginia and Tennessee.

STEP 3: Pass the State License Test

The exam consists of 2 parts—national, as well as state questions. The national portion of the exam is for 120 minutes and consists of 80 questions of which you should get at least 56 right. The state part of the exam is for 60 minutes and consists of 40 questions of which you should get at least 28 right.

Topics Covered in the Test

The topics and their breakup in the National portion of the exam include:

  • Property ownership: 8%
  • Land use controls and regulations: 5%
  • Market analysis and valuation: 7%
  • Financing: 10%
  • General principles of agency: 13%
  • Property disclosures: 6%
  • Contracts: 17%
  • Property management and leasing: 3%
  • Title transfer: 8%
  • Practice of real estate: 13%
  • Real estate calculations: 10%

The topics and their breakup in the State portion of the exam include:

  • Licensing requirements: 5%
  • License maintenance: 7%
  • Disciplinary actions: 10%
  • Real estate education: 7%
  • Trust accounts: 7%
  • Contracts: 18%
  • Agency: 15%
  • Property disclosure requirements: 13%
  • Iowa Civil Rights Act of 1965: 3%
  • Unlicensed assistants: 5%
  • Broker responsibilities: 5%
  • Property management: 5%

What to Bring to the Exam Venue?

  • You must carry 2 forms of identification that have your signature.
  • One of the IDs should also have your photo.
  • The name on the photo ID should match the name on your application form exactly when you check-in at the exam venue.
  • Must bring two forms of identification that bear your signature.

If you do not pass the exam, you need to retake the same before you get a license. To retake the exam, you must submit a new registration form along with the appropriate fee of $95 and schedule an appointment to retake the exam.

You can prepare for your exam by using the practice study materials or online drill provided here or you can use the study materials provided by your online or on-site school.

STEP 4: Apply and Obtain Your License

The exam results will be reported only to you and the IREC (Iowa Real Estate Commission). If you pass the real estate exam, then you will receive an application form to apply for a real estate license along with your score report. You must submit your completed application form to the IREC not later than 6 months after the date of qualifying the exam.

Background Check

You need to undergo a criminal history and background investigation. To complete your background check, you need to create a DataPro account on the My Iowa PLB (Iowa Professional Licensing Bureau) website and submit a request for a fingerprint packet. There is no fee for the fingerprint packet; however, when submitting your completed fingerprint card and waiver form to the IREC, you need to pay a $51.

The IREC conducts a check for misdemeanor and felony convictions via the FBI, DCI (Iowa Division of Criminal Investigation) and Iowa Courts Online. The process takes around 8 to 10 weeks; however, you do not have to wait for the completed criminal background check before applying for the real estate license.

Once the IREC website receives your completed application for a real estate license, then these reports are reviewed for final approval. When your background check has been reviewed by the real estate commission, the report is valid only for 210 days. You can get more information regarding background checks on the Iowa Professional Licensing Bureau website.

If you have been convicted for embezzlement, forgery, extortion, theft, conspiracy to defraud, obtaining money under false pretenses, any other similar offense or involved any crime related to moral turpitude, in Iowa or any other state of the U.S. or in any foreign jurisdiction, you may not be approved for a real estate license by the IREC on the grounds of conviction.

Apart from completing the background check, your need to submit the following to the commission when applying for your license.

  • Completed notarized application provided by the IREC. Your signature must be notarized on the application form.
  • Background check.
  • License fee of $125.
  • Get a pass notice from PSI.
  • Certificate of completion of the 60-hour pre-licensing course. The course must be completed 12 months before the license application.
  • Provide Errors and Omissions (E&O) insurance coverage.
  • Signature of the employing broker on the application form.
  • You cannot apply for an inactive real estate license.

STEP 5: Finding a Brokerage

Choosing a real estate brokerage to work with is an important step because the partnership between the brokerage and you will set your career path and determine if you will be a success or failure as a real estate agent. There are several things that you should learn about a real estate brokerage before you join one. Here are some factors you should consider:


What is the reputation of the brokerage in the market and what is the perception of the company? Speak with industry professionals, friends and family and find out what is the reputation of the brokerage in your local area and community.

Market Share

While the largest player in your area may not be the best for you, you will still want to work for a brokerage that is doing well in the market.


What kind of a place is the brokerage to work in? Does the vision and mission of the company align with your goals and beliefs? Do you gel with the personality of the company? Do all the other agents and brokers work collaboratively or independently?

Coaching and Training

Does the brokerage offer training for new agents? What are the systems and tools provided by the brokerage? Will you have a coach/trainer/mentor who will work with you?

Support Services

Does the brokerage have support staff to assist the agents? Does the brokerage offer limited support or does it offer end-to-end support throughout the deal?

Cost and Commission

What is the commission split that the brokerage offers? Are there any costs/fees associated with being a part of the brokerage? Are there any monthly costs such as training, education, etc.? What portion of the costs will the brokerage cover and what costs do you have to pay for?


How to Find a Real Estate Brokerage in Illinois?


Online Search

Do an online search for real estate firms in Iowa. However, before you finalize which brokerage you want to work with, check out the client and employee reviews and feedback on websites such as Glassdoor, Yelp, etc. You could also speak with employees to get their personal feedback on the different brokerages.

Real Estate Ads

Check out the ads in the local newspaper to see which brokerages are advertising. Check out the television, radio and billboard advertising. Visit the various brokerages in Iowa before you decide on the one you want to work for.


You can speak with your friends, family and locals to find out about the real estate brokerages in your area. If you have bought or sold any properties, then think about the agent you worked with. Who are the best real estate agents with the best reputations in town and which firm is growing? Which real estate brokerage firms are advertising the most effectively? Check out websites, Facebook pages and LinkedIn profiles of the various brokerages. Attend webinars, events and meetings conducted by brokerages or the real estate association in your area.

STEP 6: Post-learning Requirements

All real estate salespersons who have received their license before 1st January 2009 and are renewing their license for the first time need to complete 36 hours of education of:

  • Buying Practices: 12 hours
  • Listing Practices: 12 hours
  • Developing Professionalism & Ethical Practices: 12 hours
  • The real estate salesperson license in Iowa is valid for a period of 3 years.
  • To renew your license after the validity period, you require 36 hours of continuing education.
  • The CE must be completed by 31st December of the year in which the license expires.
  • The 36 hours of CE must include:
    • Mandated Ethics: 4 hours
    • Legal Update: 8 hours
  • Only 24 hours of the 36 hours can be completed through distance education.

The CE Shop offers continuing education courses on their website. The website offers packages for $75 to $149 and individual courses ranging between $9 to 49.

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RE Agents Team