How to Become a Licensed Real Estate Agent in Minnesota
Minnesota Real Estate License Basic Requirements
Here are the basic requirements that candidates must meet in order to be eligible for a real estate license in Minnesota:
- Applicants must be at least 18 years old.
- Applicants must complete 90 hours of pre-approved education from a recognized, approved education provider, divided into 3 parts—Course I, Course II and Course III (30 hours each).
- Applicants must apply for and pass the salesperson’s examination.
- Though only Course I needs to be completed to be able to attempt the exam, both Course II and III need to be completed before applying for the exam.
- Applicants must associate themselves with a licensed real estate broker.
- After completing the courses and associating with a licensed real estate broker, candidates must pay the appropriate fees and apply for the license within 12 months of passing the exam.
MN Real Estate License Costs
- Cost of Real Estate Agent Education in Minnesota: Between $190 and $700, approximately (depending on whether you’re opting for an individual course or a package consisting of all 3)
- Several online institutions offer pre-licensing courses, both as individual courses as well as combined packages, such as Continuing Ed Express, Real Estate Express, Kaplan and The CE Shop.
- State Resources:
- Exam Locations: Brooklyn Park, Brainerd, Bloomington, Hermantown, Eagan, Marshall, Rochester, St. Paul and Pine City
- The exams are administered by PearsonVUE
STEP 1: Pre-License Education
Candidates may find Minnesota a harder state to crack than its cousins, considering that the state requires candidates to complete 90 hours of pre-licensing education as compared to the general 50 or 60 hours. The pre-licensing course is pre-approved by the Government of Minnesota and only courses completed at approved centers will be recognized by the state.
The 90 hours are split into 3 courses of 30 hours each—as mentioned before, these are Course I, II and III. In order to be eligible to appear for the exam, candidates need to complete Course I, whereas the other two can be completed after passing the exam and before applying for the real estate license. It should be noted that candidates who attempt the exam without completing the course will have to retake the exam; their results won’t be counted as valid.
As mentioned earlier, a plethora of sites offer pre-licensing education; ensure that whichever institute, you enroll in, whether you’re doing classroom hours or online hours, it’s a government-approved education provider. Many students opt for online courses thanks to the flexibility of scheduling and learning pace, the convenience and the fact that they’re sometimes the cheaper option.
The final exam of each of the courses, whenever you choose to complete them, must be done in the presence of a proctor. Proctor appointments need to be taken in advance and candidates must score at least 75% in each course to pass the final exam.
STEP 2: Apply For and Pass The Exam
Once you successfully complete at least Course I of your pre-licensing education, it’s time to apply for the Minnesota salesperson real estate examination. As mentioned earlier, the exam is administered by Pearson VUE and candidates can take the computer-based exam in any of the specified test centers.
Like other states, the Minnesota real estate exam also consists of 2 parts—the general or national portion and the state portion, that you can take together or separately. Both contain multiple-choice questions that hold a value of 1 mark each; the general portion contains 80 questions while the state portion contains 50, making for a total of 130 questions. The former is a 2.5-hour exam and the latter a 1.5-hour exam, so candidates have 4.5 hours, in total, to complete both parts.
The passing percentage required is 75 (scaled score). Both general and state exams consist of pre-test questions (5-10) that don’t count towards your final score and are purely for the assessment and development of future examinations/examination structure.
Additionally, since exams are computer based, the results are available to candidates as soon as they finish the exam. Those who pass receive confirmation emails and instructions to apply for the license, whereas those who fail are issued instructions on retaking the exam. Those who fail one portion of the exam and pass in the other need to retake only the failed portion.
Topics Covered in the General Exam
The following topics are covered in the general exam:
- Real Property Characteristics, Legal Descriptions and Property Use
- Forms of Ownership, Transfer and Recording of Title
- Property Value and Appraisal
- Real Estate Contracts and Agency
- Real Estate Practice
- Property Disclosures and Environmental Issues
- Financing and Settlement
- Real Estate Math Calculations
Topics Covered in the State Exam
The following topics are covered in the state portion:
- Real Estate Brokerage License Law
- Contracts and Disclosures
- Interests in Real Property
- Conveyance Procedures and Protection of Parties
- Financial Instruments: Obligations, Rights and Remedies
Scheduling the Exam
Candidates need to schedule the exam at least 24 hours in advance of the desired date, unless they’re paying via an electronic check, in which case, the exam needs to be scheduled at least 5 days in advance so that the check can be processed. Walk-ins are strictly not permitted.
Pearson recommends that candidates reserve their exam slots online; first-time users will have to create an account to be able to do so. Candidates can also call 24 hours prior to the desired exam date and make reservations.
Examination fees need to be paid at the time of reserving the exam slot and will not be accepted at the test center. The fee per exam is $39 and $63 for both exams together. Candidates can pay the non-refundable, non-transferable fee using a credit/debit card, voucher or electronic check.
What to Carry to the Venue
Candidates are required to carry the following to the venue on the day of the exam:
- Documentation of Eligibility: Candidates must prove that they are eligible to take the salesperson’s exam, which could be either a valid Course I Certificate of Completion, a valid Certificate of Completion for the Wisconsin-to-Minnesota 13-hour pre-license course, a copy of the candidate’s expired Minnesota resident real estate salesperson license or a letter of certification from the candidate’s resident state, no older than 90 days.
- Identification Cards: Candidates are required to carry and present 2 ID cards, with the name, on both, exactly matching the registration name. The primary ID should be a government-issued photo ID with a valid signature, such as a driver’s license, passport, or military ID, while the secondary ID can be a Social Security card or debit/credit card with a valid signature.
- Stationery: Candidates are allowed to carry one basic calculator and no other belongings into the hall.
As mentioned earlier, many schools offer comprehensive exam prep guides, and using these will definitely give you an edge over candidates who don’t opt for a prep course. Concepts are simplified and some schools boast a 95% pass percentage, such as Kaplan.
STEP 3: Find A Sponsoring Broker
To be eligible to apply for your real estate license, finding a sponsoring broker and working with them is mandatory. Additionally, if you haven’t completed Courses II and III of your pre-licensing education, now is a good time to do so! A sponsoring broker not only acts as a mentor but also helps you with the application process and provides employment, so candidates can start working and get into the real estate industry with minimal delays.
In your first days as a real estate agent, a sponsoring broker will answer all your questions and uncertainties, guide you on the ways of the industry, and allow you to use their name to make your own. You can kickstart your career without worrying about not having sufficient funds or experience to compete with established brokerages.
Choosing a Sponsoring Broker
Given the important role that sponsoring brokers play in your career, picking out the right broker is paramount. Here are a few factors to consider when picking out a broker to work with:
The Commission Split
It is more the norm than the exception for real estate agents to get paid on commission. This means that if you don’t sell, you don’t earn. If you manage to close a deal for a million dollars, you’re not going to get all of it—you’ll be splitting this with various parties, and one of them is your sponsoring broker. The percentage of this amount that you get is your commission split.
Many brokers offer different commission structures, such as hybrid models, capped and uncapped commissions and so on; some even offer salaries with these commissions, though these are extremely rare. The more experienced you are, the more your split is.
There’s no standard definition when it comes to what a good split is—this depends on the market, the firm, the other benefits you’re receiving and whether or not you’re receiving a salary too.
Ultimately, look around and do your research before you settle in on a brokerage to work with.
What to Consider
The Work Environment and Culture
How happy and satisfied you are with your job depends, to a large extent, on how you like the workplace environment and culture. Therefore, ask yourself what kind of a company you want to work with? What support you’d like to receive from your boss and coworkers? Would you like to work in a small, intimate, personal space with family vibes or if you will thrive in a large workspace with mostly impersonal interactions and limited attention on you. Chatting with employees of a firm, browsing through websites and attending any events organized by the brokerage will help you find answers to these questions.
Ultimately, what kind of environment you’d like to work in also dictates what kind of brokerage you end up working with. If you like a more intimate workspace where you’re working with a small or mid-sized team and have the independence and freedom to make decisions and do business your way, you’ll like working in an independent brokerage (such as boutiques and mom-and-pop firms), whereas if you like corporate culture and don’t mind being controlled in exchange for support, training and brand recognition, a big franchise with a pan-American presence may be more your thing.
Consider the Firm’s Reputation and Niche
A simple Google search can tell you how well reputed (or not!) the brokerage you’re considering is. Try looking up ‘homes for sale in Minnesota’ or ‘best brokerages in Minnesota’ and see which sites come up at the top of the list. Choose a brokerage with a strong market presence, a good reputation and a high market share, as this means you have better chances of getting and finding leads.
Additionally, consider the niche of customers that the company is primarily catering to; some niches are more profitable than others.
Training and Support
Ultimately, whichever brokerage you end up working with, ensure that you receive adequate mentoring and training. Some firms actively invest in their agents’ growth while some just leave you to yourself and offer the occasional sales class or let you sit in on the monthly meetings. Interviews and reading up will help you zero in on the right brokerage for you.
Where to Look for a Sponsoring Broker
You can look in the following places to find a broker:
Online Search and forums
The easiest and most simple way of finding a broker is to look online. Look at online ads, websites, ranking lists, comparison sites and job sites to find vacancies that you can fill. Sites such as Yelp, Glassdoor, LinkedIn and Facebook Marketplace often have information on the same.
Don’t just bank on online advertisements; look at advertisements in your local newspapers, especially in the classified section. Additionally, keep an eye on television, radio and billboard advertisements as well as ‘for sale’ signs outside houses.
Events and Networking
Networking is a great way to find firms to work with; whether or not you choose to work with a particular firm, you’re growing your contacts list! Networking online, on sites like LinkedIn, also works. For real-life networking, attend events organized by firms, such as conferences and webinars. Minnesota has a lot of real estate associations that host events frequently. Your local chamber of commerce can also help.
STEP 4: Apply and Obtain Your License
Once you’ve found yourself a sponsoring broker to work with, you can get to work applying for your real estate license. Your sponsoring broker will have to submit your application to the Minnesota Department of Commerce. Applicants have to apply within a year of passing the real estate salesperson exam and pay a fee of $130. Salespersons don’t have to submit to a background and fingerprints check.
STEP 5: Post-learning Requirements
Your license needs to be renewed by the 30th of June, every renewal year (licenses have to be renewed every 2 years). To renew your license, you’ll need to complete 30 hours of continuing education; you can do 15 in each year of the renewal period and it is recommended that both be completed by the 15th of May in the renewal year. Licensees require 1 hour of credit in Agency Representation and Disclosure, State and Federal Fair Housing Laws, Regulations and Rules and other anti-discrimination laws, and other required modules; the modules may change each year.
The CE Shop offers continuing education courses for licensees, with individual courses priced between $9 and $35 and $109 for the entire 15-hour package, with ethics courses included. One course also offers electives.
The Bottom Line
By following the above steps, you can become a licensed real estate agent in Minnesota within a short period. Remember, hard work and determination are key, so keep at it! Also, remember that while you may want to breeze through the course, the state only recognized 8 hours of education a day (24 hours) for credits. So, while the going may seem a little slow at times, persist and you’ll crack it!