How to Become a Licensed Real Estate Agent in Pennsylvania
Pennsylvania Real Estate License Basic Requirements
To apply for a real estate agent license in Pennsylvania, you need the following basic requirements.
- You need to be at least 18 years of age (if you are not of age yet but will turn 18 in the same year, you can take the test)
- You need to have a high school diploma or an equivalent degree
- You need to have good moral character (GMC)
- You need to complete 75 hours of pre-licensing education
- Find a managing broker to sponsor your license
- Clear the Pennsylvania real estate examination
PA Real Estate License Costs
- The standard license fee is $107, which includes the license fee, the application fee and a recovery fund fee. There are other variable fees, including tuition fees for pre-licensing education.
- Pennsylvania Department of State
- Pennsylvania Real Estate Commission FAQs
- Pennsylvania Real Estate Commission Testing Sites: Allentown, Bristol, Cranberry Township, Erie, Pittsburgh, Scranton, Greensburg, Harrisburg, King of Prussia, Philadelphia (Bala Cynwyd)
- Pennsylvania State Exam Candidate Handbook
- You can use online resources like Real Estate Express and The CE Shop to complete your pre-licensing education and prepare yourself for the examinations.
STEP 1: Pre-license Education
The first step is to complete 75 hours of pre-licensing education from a state-approved institute or real estate school. There are several institutes where you can complete the curriculum from, The CE Shop and Real Estate Express are two of the best-known resources.
The 75-hour curriculum will include a variety of topics that will prepare you to practice as a real estate agent in Pennsylvania and will also bring you more up to speed for the state exam that will make you eligible to apply for the license. Once you have completed the 75 hours of pre-licensing education, you must sit for the final exam for all the courses. The minimum passing score for this exam is 75%.
The examination must be taken in the presence of a proctor. If you are taking the exam online, the institute will arrange for an online proctor. Once you have cleared the exam, you will need to collect your transcript and passing certificate from the institute. This will be proof that you have completed your pre-licensing education requirements and are eligible for the next step.
STEP 2: Schedule Your State Exam
The next step is to schedule your exam with PSI. This is the state exam that has 110 questions. The paper will be divided into two portions—one portion will test your general real estate knowledge, the other portion will test your state-specific knowledge. You will have 120 minutes to answer the 80 general questions and 60 minutes to answer the state-specific questions.
At the end of the exam, you will be notified of your result immediately. If you clear the exam (which means you need to get at least a score of 60 in the general portion, and a score of 23 in the state-specific portion), you will get a successful notification. If you do not clear the exam, you will get a diagnostic report that indicates where you can improve so you can work on these aspects when you take the test again.
The test scores are valid only for three years so if you do not apply for your license within that period, you will need to retake the exam. If you have cleared both portions of the exam in separate sittings, the three-year window will begin from the date you cleared the first portion.
Topics to Cover
- Property ownership
- Land use controls and regulations
- Property disclosures
- Valuation and market analysis
- Real estate calculations
- General principles of agency
- Transfer of title
- Leasing and property management
- Practice of real estate
- Real estate commission
- Regulation of conduct of licenses
- License law and disciplinary measures
- Handling of clients’ funds
- Regulation of broker activities
- Property management
What to Bring to the Venue
The following are the essentials you are required to carry to the venue. Without these essentials, you will not be permitted to sit for the test.
- An identification (must be government issued) that has your current photograph and signature (passport, driver’s license, etc)
- A secondary identification that has your legal name (pre-printed) and your signature (Social Security card, credit card, debit card, etc.)
Note that you may not use your student ID, employment ID or any other temporary form of identification. Make sure that all your IDs also have the same legal name and signature as the one you have registered for the exam with.
STEP 3: Find a Sponsor
The next step is to find a sponsor. Ideally, you should start looking for a sponsoring broker even before you clear the exam so that you do not spend more time looking for one after. The validity of the test scores is limited so you need to activate your license in good time. Since it may take some time to find the perfect sponsor, it is best to get started with the process early.
Remember, you cannot complete your real estate agent application in Pennsylvania without having a managing broker to sponsor your license. The following are some of the factors you may want to consider while finding a managing broker to sponsor your license.
One of the first factors you need to consider is the commission split. As a real estate agent, you will be operating based on sales and the commission you can get from each sale. The commission split you have agreed upon will decide the percentage of commission you take back home after a successful deal. Everyone likes to take more money back home, however, this is not always possible when you are starting out. Nevertheless, there is no harm in trying and you should try as far as you can to negotiate a good percentage for yourself. A mutually agreed-upon commission split may be hard to arrive at but you should certainly try to get the best deal.
The reputation of the company you choose as your sponsor should, of course, be considered. You can get a license as long as the company you have chosen is registered and legitimate, regardless of their reputation. However, a company with a good reputation will help you along the way and will open up avenues at the beginning of your career. If you can show a trusted and respectable name on your CV, that is a good place to start and is important for your network in the industry to grow.
Another important thing to think about is the support that a company or an independent sponsor can offer you. The kind of support you are looking for will help you decide what kind of sponsor would be a good fit for you. Some people prefer to work in a more hands-on environment and thrive when they have been thrown into the deep end to figure out how to swim or sink.
Others may prefer a gentler treatment and like to work under the mentorship of a guide. Some sponsors can offer both kinds of work environments. It is up to you to decide which is the best fit for you.
Types of Real Estate Brokerages in Pennsylvania
The following are some of the real estate brokerage types you can work with in Pennsylvania.
National Franchise Brokerage
You may have seen the names of such companies on billboards across the country. This is because a national franchise brokerage firm is one that has a wide reach and operates on a national scale. This is a large company that leases its name to independent brokers to conduct business. These brokers could be anywhere in the country, ensuring that the name of the company is spread far and wide. When a deal goes through, the company stakes claim to a hefty percentage of the commission split. Since these are large companies that can conduct business on the basis of their name and reputation alone, it is safe to say these are extremely established companies.
- A national franchise brokerage firm is one that will follow a singular corporate company line, which means that all employees and agents can be assured that they will undergo thorough training before they have to enter the field.
- The company, with its large reach and resources, will have quicker access to the latest technology and innovations in the field.
- Given how well established these companies are and the great name and reputation that precedes them, this is a great brand to be associated with. The reputation alone will lend credibility to your name.
- As an employee of the company or as a contractual agent, you will have access to several marketing solutions the company has to offer, such as advertising templates, brand logos, design strategies, etc.
- Since the size of the company is so large, it will be difficult to draw individual attention to yourself and shine in a crowd of colleagues.
- The commission split is usually not favorable towards the agent and the bulk of the percentage goes to the company.
An independent brokerage or a boutique brokerage is a company that may not be as large as a national franchise brokerage, but it does command respect locally and will likely be a specialist in a given state, region or area. If you are looking to practice and excel in a certain state, an independent brokerage is a good place to start. Even an independent brokerage can boast of a respectable reputation so you do not need to worry about being associated with a good name.
- An independent brokerage will not be as impersonal and corporate as a national franchise brokerage. Therefore, you can take some liberties in adding your personal touches in interacting with clients.
- Since the company is much smaller, there is more room for you to thrive with individual attention paid to your work. You will also be competing among fewer people.
- Since this is a relatively small company, you may not get access to the latest technology as easily as a national franchise brokerage might.
- An independent brokerage will operate within a far more constrained budget so you will have restrictions on advertising and marketing.
A virtual brokerage is a form of business that has adapted to the age of the internet. This is a brokerage that operates through the web and may or may not have a physical office space. This means that the employees or agents with a virtual brokerage can work out of any place and operate anywhere. However, you may still find that a virtual brokerage focuses on a particular area or region since it can be difficult to scale up so quickly.
- A virtual brokerage does not need to spend money on maintaining a physical office space. This means that the resources can be invested in acquiring the latest technology for the firm.
- The best kind of commission split can be negotiated at a virtual brokerage since the number of employees is typically very little—often you will be your own boss.
- A virtual brokerage is likely to start out quite humbly so it can be difficult to establish a name.
- If this is your first job, you may want to experience a traditional office job where you can interact with colleagues and your peers.
STEP 4: Activating Your License
Once you have cleared the Pennsylvania Real Estate Salesperson exam and have also found a sponsoring broker, you are required to complete the salesperson application. This form can be filled out online.
Make sure you do not wait to complete and submit your application as your license needs to be activated within three years from the date you passed the first portion of your state exam. Once your completed application has been submitted, the state will review and process it before approving you to practice as a real estate agent in Pennsylvania.
STEP 5: Post-Licensing Requirements
Once you have acquired your license in Pennsylvania, you will need to complete your post-licensing commitments. The state of Pennsylvania has a requirement of 14 mandatory hours of continuing education. The license renewal period is two years, and this remains an ongoing exercise if you want to keep your license active.
The CE Shop, known for their pre-license, continuing education and other training programs, has several packages for continuing education in Pennsylvania. While the packages are priced at $99, the prices for individual courses begin at $19.