How to Become a Licensed Real Estate Agent in Washington State

Washington State License Requirements

To be a real estate agent in Washington State, you need to meet the following requirements:

  • You must be 18 years or older.
  • You should have a high school diploma or equivalent.
  • You should be a U.S. citizen or a permanent resident alien.

Real Estate License Costs

  • Real Estate Agent Education in Washington State: $200 to $500 (approx.)
  • Exam Fee: $138.25
  • License Fee: 146.25
  • Fingerprint Fee: $8.05
  • Background Check Fee: $34.75

Helpful Tips


STEP 1: Prep Education

Sign up and Complete the Pre-licensing Education

Before you get a real estate broker’s license in Washington State, you must complete 90 hours of approved real estate pre-licensing education within two years before applying for the exam.

The pre-licensing education includes:

  • Real Estate Fundamentals: 60 hours
    • Language, Principles and Legal Concepts
    • Land-Use Controls, Development and Environmental Issues
    • Laws Governing Real Estate Ownership and Transfers
    • Real Property and Washington-Specific Laws
    • Real Estate Brokerage Relationships Law
    • Residential Landlord-Tenant Act
  • Real Estate Practices: 30 hours
    • Agency Relationships
    • Sales Techniques
    • Listing Agreements
    • Negotiations
    • Residential Financing
    • Closing Process
    • Standards of Conduct
    • Business Ethics in Real Estate
    • Risk Reduction Strategies

You can refer to the Real Estate Education Course Catalog for a list of approved real estate education in Washington. If you are qualified and currently licensed in any other state, the pre-licensing education requirements will be waived.


STEP 2: Submit a Completed Application

You must register and pass the broker’s exam to get a real estate license in Washington. The test locations in Washington State include—Seattle (Bellevue), Seattle (Federal Way), Bellingham, Kennewick, Everett, East Wenatchee, Olympia, Spokane (Argonne Rd), Spokane (Division St), Tacoma (Tacoma Way), Tacoma (Spanaway), Yakima and Vancouver.

Where to Apply

You must register with Applied Measurement Professionals, Inc. (AMP), the exam provider to take and pass the Washington real estate broker’s examination. Once you follow the registration instructions and register on the AMP site, to complete the exam registration process, your school must submit your pre-licensing course completion to AMP electronically. Once this is done, you can schedule your examination online, by mail or phone.

Exam Fees

When you register for the broker’s exam, you must pay a fee of $138.25 to take the exam. The fee can be paid via credit card (MasterCard, Visa, Discover or American Express), money order, cashier’s check or personal check payable to PSI Services Inc. You cannot make the payment by cash. The exam fees are non-refundable and non-transferable. The examination fee is valid for a period of one year.


STEP 3: Pass the State License Test

The Washington State real estate broker’s exam consists of two sections – National Broker Section and the State Broker Section. The exam consists of multiple-choice questions and you will have 3.5 hours to complete both sections of the examination. The national section consists of 100 questions and the state-specific portion has 30 questions.

Topics Covered in the Test

The topics for the national portion of the real estate salesperson exam and the breakup of questions are as below:

  • Agency Relationships and Contracts: 28
  • Real Property Ownership/Interest: 13
  • Finance: 14
  • Marketing Regulations (Purchase and Rental):10
  • Real Property: 14
  • Property Management: 8
  • Real Estate Calculations: 13

The topics for the state-specific portion of the exam include:

  • Trust Fund Responsibilities
  • Agency
  • Supervision
  • Auditing/Investigation Procedures

What to Bring to the Exam Venue?

You must bring two forms of current and valid forms of identification with you to the examination venue. If you don’t bring the IDs, you will not be allowed to take the examination. The two IDs should:

  • Have your current name and signature.
  • At least one of the IDs should have your current photograph.

The examination results are valid for a year and if you do not apply for your broker’s license before the results expire, then you will have to reapply and retake the examination. You may also have to meet the additional education requirements.

If you fail the licensing exam, then the instructions to retake the exam will be included in your score report. If you fail one portion of the exam, then you will have to retake the section that you have failed. You will have to pay a fee of $138.25 to retake the exam and you have up to 6 months to retake the failed portion of the exam.


STEP 4: Apply and Obtain Your License

Once you have taken the broker’s exam and completed the fingerprint and background check, you can apply for your real estate license by completing the Real Estate License Application and send it to the Department of Licensing of Washington State along with your fingerprint card. You can go to a fingerprinting service that is approved by the state and have your fingerprints taken. Click here for more details.

If you are:

  • In Washington: Then you can schedule an appointment on MorphoTrust’s IdentiGo and get your fingerprinting done.
  • Outside Washington: You can call the Real Estate Regulatory for more information.

Reciprocity

Washington State does not have any reciprocity agreements with other U.S. states. However, if you have a real estate license in any other state, you can request for the broker’s exam by submitting your license history from the real estate licensing agency where you are licensed to currently to the Washington Real Estate Licensing Department.

Once the department reviews your license history, they will inform you about how to take the Washington State real estate broker’s exam. If you have an active license in another state in the last 6 months, then you may be required to only take the state-specific portion of the broker’s license exam.


STEP 5: Finding a Brokerage

As a new real estate broker starting your career in Washington, the most important thing is to choose a real estate brokerage. Here are some tips on how you can choose a brokerage firm that is right for you.

Commission Split

Real estate agents are usually paid on a commission basis, which means that if you don’t sell, then you won’t get paid. And, when you sell, you will split the sale proceeds with the broker. While aspects such as the culture of the company, reputation, market share, support and resources are important, you will want to pick a brokerage that offers a commission split that is agreeable.

Usually, commission splits get better with sales volume and experience. The commission splits also depend on the market conditions, business, broker’s resources and support, etc. and so, it is a good idea to shop around and join a brokerage whose compensation structure appeals to you.

Brokerage Culture

The important thing to consider is what type of company you want to work for and the support you will get from the company and your coworkers. Are you looking for a family-run business or do you want to work for a large franchise brokerage? Do you want open house days and weekly get-togethers? The best way to understand the culture of the brokerage is by attending a company function or chatting with agents working with the brokerage.

Reputation and Niche

When you begin your research, you could do a simple internet search for all the brokerages in your area and see the names that come up. The brokerage you work with should have a good reputation and a strong market presence. A company with a high market share will help you get leads. Also, the niche the brokerage is in is important and the right real estate brokerage can increase your income significantly.

Support Offered

Some real estate brokerages offer free training, marketing materials and extensive mentoring, while other firms are places to just associate with while you grow your own business. You are on your own mostly, except for monthly meetings or occasional training. The idea is to find a culture that works best for you.

How to Find a Real Estate Brokerage in Washington State?

Online Search

Find the list of real estate brokerage firms in Washington state by doing an internet search. However, before you finally decide on the brokerage you want to join, check out the employee testimonies and reviews about the brokerage on sites like Yelp, Glassdoor, etc.

Real Estate Ads

Check out the local newspapers and see which brokerage firms are advertising in your area. Also, check out the radio, TV and billboard advertising of the various real estate companies.

Networking

Networking is an excellent way to find a real estate brokerage to work with. Get recommendations of the best brokerages in your area from locals, family and friends who have bought/sold properties recently. Find out which brokerage firms have the best reputation and which are growing. Check out the websites, LinkedIn profiles and Facebook pages of the various real estate brokerages in Washington State.

Types of Brokerages in Washington State

National Franchise Brokerage

National franchise brokerages sell the right to use their name, processes and branding to brokers in return for a commission on every deal closed by the broker. Some popular examples of national franchise brokerages are Re/Max, Century 21, Keller Williams, etc.

Pros
  • National franchises have an established reputation in the market and are well known.
  • They are larger and have more resources that brokers can use such as technology support, marketing and training tools.
  • You can access their wide network of agents across the country.
Cons
  • You may not have too many opportunities to develop your individuality or creativity.
  • When you’re a beginner, it may cost more to work as a broker with a national franchise and the commission splits may be much lower.

Boutique Brokerage

Also known as independent brokerages, boutique brokerage firms are smaller, localized firms and usually work in the area where they are based.

Pros
  • Boutique brokerages have a deeper knowledge and understanding of the local real estate market, which can give you a greater advantage, especially with local customers. 
  • They usually charge lesser fees and may offer higher commission splits.
  • You have greater flexibility and freedom to work independently and focus on building your business.
Cons
  • Since boutique brokerages are smaller, they may have fewer resources, marketing, training and support staff compared to national franchise brokerages.
  • While the boutique brokerage may charge lesser fees, you may end up spending a lot more on things like office space, admin support, education, marketing services, etc. As a result, you could end up making less money as compared to working with a national franchise.

Virtual Brokerage

Also called a cloud-based brokerage, virtual brokerages don’t have physical offices. They make use of cloud-based technology to connect agents. They are quite inexpensive to join and are suitable for real estate agents living in remote areas, agents preferring a virtual workspace or agents who like to work independently.

Pros
  • Virtual brokerages charge a low joining fee, a small transaction fee and a monthly fee to access the cloud-based systems. Real estate agents who don’t want to pay large amounts charged by traditional brokerages prefer this method of working.
  • Virtual brokerages offer plenty of independence and the flexibility to work from anywhere, as long as you have a computer and an internet connection.
  • Since virtual brokerages are paperless and all tools and systems are cloud-based, tech-savvy agents prefer this.
Cons
  • If you are starting your career in real estate, then a virtual brokerage may not offer you a support system and will have to do all the hard work and build your own network.
  • In a virtual brokerage, you will be practically working alone without a physical office, no physical meetings, etc. and if you enjoy collaborative working, then you may find this way of working quite lonely.


STEP 6: Post-learning Requirements

You must renew your real estate license in Washington every two years, for which you must complete the necessary continuing education and then renew your license via mail or online along with the license renewal fee of $146.25.

The continuing education requirements in Washington state include:

1st Renewal

  • 90 hours of education (63 mandatory hours and 27 elective hours)
  • Advanced Practices Course: 30 hours
  • Real Estate Law Course: 30 hours
  • Approved Continuing Education: 27 hours
  • Core Course: 3 hours

Subsequent Renewals

  • Approved Continuing Education: 27 hours
  • Core Course: 3 hours

The CE Shop offers post-licensing education packages for $209 to $299 and individual courses ranging between $29 to $139. The CE Shop offers continuing education packages for $159 to $169 and individual courses ranging between $25 to $45.

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RE Agents Team