How to Become a Licensed Real Estate Agent in Maryland
Maryland Real Estate License Basic Requirements
Getting a real estate license in Maryland is relatively easy when you pit it against other states. The pre-requirements are very basic and the steps after that are also pretty straightforward. The state requires that:
- Applicants be 18 years of age or older
- Applicants be US citizens or admitted aliens
- Applicants display good character and have a good reputation
- Applicants hold a high school diploma or an equivalent degree (GED) to be eligible to apply for the license
- Aspirants complete 60 hours of pre-approved real estate education at a recognized and approved institute
- Aspirants pass the licensure exam
- On passing the exam, aspirants find a sponsoring broker and submit their license application forms, fees and other required details to the Maryland Real Estate Commission (MREC)
Maryland Real Estate License Costs
- Cost of Real Estate Agent Education in Maryland: Approximately between $250 and $510.
- Joining an online school for your pre-licensing education is a more convenient and flexible option, compared to enrolling for classes in a brick-and-mortar institute. Many online institutions offer a number of quality pre-licensing courses, such as The CE Shop.
- State Resources:
- Exam Locations: Baltimore, Lanham, Salisbury, Crofton, College Park and Hagerstown in PSI’s testing centers
- The exam is administered by PSI Examination Services
STEP 1: Complete the Pre-Licensing Education
The first step in your journey to becoming a real estate agent in Maryland is to enroll for and complete 60 hours of pre-licensing education, either online or in a classroom. The course is pre-approved by the MREC, and the institution that you enroll in must also be an approved license education provider. The course will cover a range of important topics, such as “License Law and Commission Rules”, “Property Rights”, “Legal Descriptions”, “Real Estate Contracts”, “Residential Mortgages”, “Appraisal”, “Taxation and Planning”, “Zoning and Environmental Hazard”, to name a few.
To complete the course, students must meet the minimum time requirements, as well as pass the pre-licensing course final examination in the presence of a proctor. The CE Shop, for instance, has tied up with PSI itself for these examinations, which means that students can take the exam from their homes with a proctor monitoring the process through video/screen sharing.
Proctor appointments must be made in advance and can be done by creating an account on the PSI website and completing the required steps. There’s a one-time fee of $25 levied as proctoring fee, to be paid at the time of scheduling the exam.
The exam comprises 110 questions and students need to score at least 70% to pass.
Additionally, a person who is an active member of the Maryland Bar, has a good reputation and the desired qualifications in real estate license law can be exempted from taking the pre-licensing course.
STEP 2: Pass The MD Real Estate Exam
On successfully passing their pre-licensing courses, students are expected to attempt and pass the Maryland Real Estate Salesperson Examination within a year of passing. The exam is divided into the national and state portions; the former consists of 80 questions equaling 80 points, whereas the latter has 30 questions equaling 30 points totally. Candidates have 90 minutes to complete the national portion and 30 minutes to complete the state portion, making for a combined 120 minutes for all the 110 multiple-choice questions.
To pass the exam, candidates need to score 70% or above, which means you need to correctly answer a minimum of 56 out of 80 questions in the national portion and 21 out of 30 in the state portion. If a candidate fails the exam, they may retake it as many times as required in the one-year limit. On exceeding the one-year limit, failed candidates will have to retake the pre-licensing course to be eligible to write the exam again.
Topics Covered In the National Portion
- Property Ownership
- Land Use Controls and Regulations
- Valuation and Market Analysis
- General Principles of Agency
- Property Disclosures
- Leasing and Property Management
- Transfer of Title
- Practice of Real Estate
- Real Estate Calculations
Topics Covered In the State Portion
- Duties and Powers of the Real Estate Commission
- Licensing Requirements
- Brokerage Relationship
- Business Conduct
Where and How to Register
Your approved education provider, under whom you completed your pre-licensing course, will communicate your eligibility to PSI once you successfully complete the course, along with the required documents/certificates. Once PSI receives this and processes it, you will receive a confirmation email that directs you on paying for the exam and scheduling it.
PSI charges an exam fee of $61 per registration. This means that every time you attempt the exam, you’ll be paying a non-refundable, non-transferable deposit of $61. The fee is valid for a period of 1 year, so you don’t need to immediately schedule your exam just because you’ve paid the fees; you can prepare thoroughly and take it at your own convenience in the given time.
Fees may be paid using a credit/debit card, money order, cashier’s check made payable to PSI or by a company or personal check. Cash is not accepted. Exam fees have to be paid at the time of applying for the exam.
Scheduling the Exam
Exams need to be scheduled in advance; walk-ins are strictly not allowed. Candidates can schedule exams either online, via standard mail registration, telephone, fax or email.
What to Carry to the Venue
Applicants are required to carry the following to the exam venue:
- 2 identification cards, of which one must be a valid government-issued photo ID, such as a passport, state ID or driver’s license. Both ID cards must have the applicant’s preprinted legal name and signature, matching the name on the registration form and education certification.
- Applicants may carry a basic silent calculator into the exam hall.
All other personal belongings are prohibited in the exam hall.
The best (and worst!) part of the exam is that you will immediately know your results. If you pass, you’ll receive a confirmation of the same via email and be guided on the next steps to take. Failed candidates will receive a diagnostic report that analyzes their strengths and weaknesses and will help them in future attempts.
The Maryland Real Estate Salesperson exam has an average pass rate of 50%, but with the right use of resources, a great exam prep guide/course and your own will, dedication and determination, you can pass the exam in your first attempt! Plenty of online resources are available from a variety of institutes, including question banks and practice tests.
STEP 3: Choose a Sponsoring Broker
In order to be able to apply for your real estate license, you must choose a sponsoring broker and work with them to get your license. Sponsoring brokers agree to let you affiliate with their brokerage, mentor you and also help you in completing your license application. Aspirants may also continue to work with the brokerage after receiving the license. Picking out the right brokerage to work with is extremely important, as the right firm will provide the required growth and training.
Here are a few questions that may help while picking out a firm:
- What is the brokerage and the broker’s reputation?
- What is the firm looking for in agents it hires?
- How technologically advanced is the workspace?
- What education and training are offered to agents?
- What is the commission structure followed?
- What benefits are available?
- Are agents provided with leads and marketing material?
- What growth can agents expect in the firm?
Checking out the commission split is of utmost importance. The commission earned is generally the main type of income agents earn; ergo, if you don’t sell, you don’t earn. However, agents don’t get the complete commission amount from the sale—they split this with the brokerage in pre-agreed percentages. Therefore, examine the commission split percentage offered, and also whether the commission is capped or uncapped, which could limit your earnings.
Additionally, having an idea, beforehand, of the kind of company you want to work for is wise, as it also lets you understand what to expect from your co-workers, boss and what the workplace culture will be like. Decide whether a large brokerage, a family-run brokerage, an independent brokerage or a franchise, among others, is more to your taste; each comes with its own pros and cons. Other agents and the employees of the company will also help you further understand the company’s culture.
STEP 4: Apply and Obtain Your License
Once you’ve cleared your licensing examination and are working with a sponsoring broker, you are eligible to finally apply to the MREC that is a part of the Department of Labor, Licensing and Regulation for your real estate salesperson license. Applications are available on the MREC’s website for a one-time non-refundable deposit of $90. You can apply for a commercial or residential license. Licenses are valid for 2 years from the date of issue.
Unlike other states, Maryland doesn’t require you to submit to a background and fingerprints check.
STEP 5: Post-learning Requirements
15 hours of continuing education must be completed in an approved institute while the license is still valid. Completing CE hours is mandatory if you want to renew your license ($70) or reactivate it.
For those who hold commercial licenses, the 15 hours need to be split among “Legislative” (3 hours), “MREC Agency-Commercial” (3 hours), “Ethics” (3 hours) and the remaining 6 hours for electives. For those who hold residential licenses, the 15 hours need to be split as 3 for “Legislative”, 3 for” Brokerage Relationships and Disclosure”, 3 for “Ethics”, 1.5 for “Fair Housing” and the remaining 4.5 hours for electives.
Maryland makes it relatively easier for aspirants hoping to obtain a license, but the right training and education are paramount. Do your research, don’t be afraid to look at as many options as required for your sponsoring broker and don’t give up—you’ll be golden!