If you have a passion for real estate or are simply looking for a new way to earn a living, becoming a real estate agent is an option that you should definitely explore. As a real estate agent in Iowa, you will have the opportunity to set your own hours, have better control of your earning potential, and if you have a passion for real estate, the luxury of exploring your dreams.
However, before you get to enjoy all the benefits that come with having a successful real estate career, you will need to take the first step: get an Iowa real estate license. Here is what you should know about getting this Real Estate License.
Things You Should Know Before Starting The Process Of Applying For An Iowa Real Estate License
Before you embark on the journey to get your license, there are a few things that you should keep in mind. Being aware of these things will make the process smoother and less frustrating. Therefore, it can go a long way towards avoiding unwelcome surprises and will definitely make the journey less stressful.
It takes time to get an Iowa license
Most people underestimate the time that it takes to get a license. As a result, they become inconvenienced, especially if they make earning projections and general life plans based on this misconception.
In most cases, it takes a while simply because some of the requirements take longer to fulfill. For example, a background check is a requirement, and getting it usually takes a long time. As a result, the period that it takes for you to get the license will be affected by the time it takes to get the background check.
Getting a license requires a significant financial commitment
Before starting the process of applying for a license, you need to make sure that you have enough funds to pay for the exams, a background check, fees, course materials, and any other expenses that may be incidental to ensuring that you qualify for the license. Typically, it is not surprising for the costs to run over a thousand dollars.
You need to meet the basic requirements
In Iowa, not everyone qualifies to apply for a real estate license. People who are under the age of 18 cannot apply for a license. There are also restrictions when it comes to people who have already applied and been rejected. For such people, they can only apply after 12 months have elapsed. Therefore, any application made by such a person within 12 months of their application for licensure being rejected will not be valid.
Another category of people who do not qualify to apply is those who have had their licenses revoked. People who fall into this category have to wait for two years to elapse before applying for a license. Therefore, before the two years lapse, they do not qualify to apply for a license. In Iowa, this rule applies even for those whose licenses have been revoked in other states.
It is also important to note that you will need to be attached to a broker to qualify to make an application. And for this to count, they need to have an active license, without which you will be disqualified from starting the application process.
Steps to Getting an Iowa Real Estate License
The following is a comprehensive list of steps that you will have to take to receive your real estate license in Iowa successfully.
Step 1: Request a Background Check
Since the law makes it mandatory for anyone who is applying for a license, getting a background check should be your priority. This is so mainly because it is a process that takes long, and if you don’t cater to this requirement early on, it can end up delaying the whole application process.
Concerning the background check, there are two things that you should keep in mind. The first is that while the background check process is continuing, you can go ahead and complete the other steps on this list. The second thing to keep in mind is the date at which the background check was completed. In Iowa, the background check is only valid for 210 days from the date of completion, and so you should make sure that you submit it before this period expires. Also, keep in mind that background checks cost money, and so you setting aside funds for this process is a good idea.
Step 2: Take the 60-Hour Pre-Licensing Course
To ensure that everyone who sits for the licensing exam has sufficient knowledge of the real estate space in Iowa and the law governing it, it is required that every applicant complete a 60-hour course. Therefore, while you are still waiting for your background check results, you should enroll in an Iowa approved real estate school.
For you to be considered to have met this requirement, the school that you opt for has to be approved by the Iowa Real Estate Commission. Consequently, before enrolling, you should make sure that the school you are going to has approved course providers and offer approved courses.
Since you will need to pay for the course, it is important to be aware of the available options. Online classes are typically more affordable. They also offer highly flexible schedules. As a result, if you are short on either funds or time, they are an ideal option.
On the other hand, while in-person classes tend to cost more, most learners are typically preferred. The personal touch to education that they offer, and the ability to seek clarification in real-time, seems to be a more effective learning process. This may be a good enough reason for you to choose these classes. For people who are new to the real estate space, such classes tend to make the course material less intimidating and recommended.
Step 3: Register and take the Real Estate Licensing Exam
The next step is to register and then take the licensing exam. However, before you submit your registration application, you need first to get the certificate indicating that you have completed the pre-licensing course. This is important for two reasons.
The first is that completing the course is a qualification requirement, and the certificate shows that you qualify to register for the exam. The second reason is that you will need to present the certificate once you get to the testing center. Having it already printed out and in your possession will make the whole process smoother.
On applying for the exam, you will need to pay the exam fee of $95. You will also be assigned a testing center where you will take the exam. It is always advisable that you choose a center near where you reside — for the sake of convenience.
The exam will be 3 hours long, with 2 hours designated for the national section of the exam and the state section’s last hour. Since the exam has multiple choices, and since it will be largely based on the approved course materials provided for the 60-hour pre-licensing course, getting the necessary grade to pass shouldn’t be a challenge.
Furthermore, if you are enrolled in a good Iowa real estate training institution, you will have better odds of passing the exam since such institutions tend to offer:
- Test-styled practice exams that are designed to familiarize you with the type of questions the actual exam will require you to answer
- Exam-prep sessions where the course instructor glosses over the material and answers any nagging questions
- Comprehensive study guides
- Various types of study tools that are designed to make the exam preparation process easier and more effective.
To increase your odds of passing the exam, it is always advisable that you take the exam soon after completing the 60-hour course. This is because the content will still be fresh in your brain, something that will give you a better chance of giving correct answers.
Step 4: Complete additional courses
The Iowa Real Estate Commission requires you also to take additional courses. These are three courses that each take 12 hours and are designed to enhance the knowledge acquired in the 60-hour pre-licensing course stage.
Unlike the 60-hour course, these additional courses do not have an online option. They all have to be taken in-person. However, if you need a little more flexibility in your schedule, you can opt for weekend classes.
It is important to note that the costs of these classes vary. How much you pay depends on the school that you choose. Your choice of schedule may also play a role in determining the costs of the courses.
The three courses you have to take and which you can take in whichever order you like to include developing a professional and ethical practices course, a listing practices course, and a buying practices course. And once you are done with these courses and have received your completion certificate, you should now be ready to start looking around for a good brokerage firm to which you will be assigned.
Step 5: Commit to a real estate brokerage
As an applicant for a real estate license in Iowa, you cannot operate on your own. You need to be attached to a brokerage firm, and so you need to zero in on your preferred brokerage before submitting your license application.
It is always advisable that you take your time when choosing a brokerage since this is a decision that will have a lasting effect on your journey as a real estate agent. The type of brokerage you choose will determine the type of early training that you will receive for starters. Great brokerages offer extensive training for newcomers. They also offer opportunities for continuous training and can even cover the costs associated with such training. The resources available to you at the start of your journey, such as support staff, tools of the trade, and even financial support, will also depend on the brokerage you choose.
When choosing a brokerage, consider their culture, the commission structure that they provide, their values, and the opportunity for career growth possible in the firm. Doing so will go a long way towards improving your odds of having a successful real estate career. Therefore, it is worth taking your time to make a list of qualities that matter to you and then shopping around to find a brokerage that best aligns with your values.
Step 6: Get an Errors and Omissions Insurance
To get a license, you will need to get a level of professional protection that shields you from claims related to errors committed when discharging your duties as a real estate agent. This type of coverage is necessary before you apply for the license.
If you are lucky, you can land on a brokerage that can provide coverage to you under their own plan. In such a case, you may not need to get your own personal coverage. However, even if the brokerage you are attached to does not offer a path to enrolling you in their own plan, they may prove useful in giving you the necessary guidance as far as choosing a good provider is concerned.
Step 7: Apply for A Real Estate License
Once you have completed the above steps, it is now time to make the application. This process is typically done online, and it is pretty straightforward.
To make and complete a successful submission, you will need:
- A 60-hour pre-licensing completion certificate
- Certificates for all three of the additional 36-hour courses
- A background check
- Evidence of having passed the licensing exam
- Evidence of E&O insurance
- Proof that you have committed to a brokerage
In addition to the above, you will need to pay the licensing fee for the application to go through. And once you are done, all you have to do is wait for your application to be reviewed. This process takes about a week, and once it is complete, you will receive notification of whether your application is successful or not.
After getting the official notification that you are an Iowa licensed real estate agent, the next steps you take will be geared towards setting yourself up for professional success. Therefore, you should start by joining a local association. Access to a local MLS platform will also boost your odds of success since it will provide easy access to listings.
Joining an association is advisable simply because it ensures that you get easy access to the local MLS. There is also the fact that being a member of a reputable association signals a level of professionalism that can make it easier for potential clients to trust you. This, in addition to the fact that most associations provide insurance, opportunities for education, representation in the political arena, legal help, and other forms of discounts, makes it worth paying for.