How Much Does It Cost to Get a Real Estate License in North Carolina?

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In this guide, we discuss how much you should commit financially when earning your real estate license in North Carolina.

Different steps in the licensing process carry different price tags, so understanding what you’ll pay for each can help you budget more efficiently.

Keep reading as we break down the cost of a real estate license in NC so you can get a better picture of the financial investment involved.


Obtaining Your License

Pre-Licensing Coursework: $500+

In obtaining your real estate license in North Carolina, the cost of your pre-licensing education tops your list of expenses.

North Carolina only offers a broker license to individuals and to qualify, you must take 75 hours of pre-licensing education and a mandatory end-of-course exam.

This is a single, North Carolina Real Estate Commission-approved course that’s only provided by accredited educational providers.

You may be able to get out of this requirement if you have a college degree in the field of real estate, real estate brokerage, real estate finance, real estate development, or law.

In order to qualify for this exemption, this degree must be from an accredited college or university, and you’ll need to provide a transcript.


Exam Application: $100

Once you complete your pre-licensing education, you can begin to gather all the documentation for your application.

You must submit this before you can schedule your license exam, and pay the non-refundable $100 fee.

Once your application is approved, you’ll get a notice of exam eligibility. This will enable you to take the real estate license exam and move forward with the entire process.


Exam Fee: $56

When it’s time to register for the real estate license exam in North Carolina, you’ll do so through PSI by either visiting the website or by calling 855-579-4638.

You must wait 24 hours from when you receive your notice of exam eligibility to schedule your test, but it’s only valid for 180 days, so don’t wait too long.

You’ll pay the exam fee of $56 directly to PSI.

The exam itself consists of two separate sections: a national section and a state section. The national section has 80 questions, and the state section has 40.

You’ll have a total of four hours to complete the test; 2.5 hours for the national section, and 1.5 hours for the state.


Exam Retake: $156

Should you not pass the North Carolina real estate license exam on your first attempt, you’ll pay a $156 fee no matter if you’re retaking one or both sections.

This larger fee covers the testing fee of $56, but also a $100 application fee you must also pay each time you retest.

In order to receive a passing score, you need to answer at least 57 questions right in the national section, and 29 questions right in the state section.

You must wait 10 days from the day you fail one or both sections of the exam before rescheduling a retake, and your eligibility to test is only good for 180 days.

Should this time expire before you pass the exam, you’ll need to reapply for eligibility and submit a new background check.

To avoid retakes, read my tips for studying for the real estate exam.


Criminal Record Check: $15

At the same time you’re working on your license application, you’ll need to get a criminal record check completed. The North Carolina Real Estate Commission requires you to do this through CRC Licensing.

You’ll pay a flat fee of $15 for state records.

Make sure not to do this too far in advance of sending in your application. The Commission won’t accept a background check that’s more than six months old from your application date.

We discuss the background check in detail in our article on getting a North Carolina real estate license with violations on your record.

Once you pass the background check, you will be issued an inactive license. You and your broker-in-charge will have to apply to activate your license.

To find a licensed broker to sponsor you, refer to our guide discussing how to choose the right broker to work for.

When you’re ready to select one, go over our list of top-rated real estate brokerages in North Carolina.


Keeping Your License Active

Post-License Education: $600+

Within the first 18 months of having an active real estate license, North Carolina real estate agents are required to complete 90 hours of post-licensing education.

This is a one-time expense.

Your total hours are divided into three, 30-hour courses:

  • Broker Relationships and Responsibilities
  • Contracts and Closing
  • NC Law, Rules, and Legal Concepts

Until you complete these hours, your license is considered provisional.


Continuing Education: $130+

Once your license is no longer considered provisional (after the first year), you’re required to complete an annual set of continuing education hours.

This consists of eight hours each year from an approved provider.

Four of these hours are always taken as a General Update Course. The remaining four hours are open for a Commission-approved elective of your choice.

All hours must be completed by June 10 of each annual license period, which is from July 1-June 30.


License Renewal: $45

North Carolina real estate licenses come up for renewal once a year on June 30.

The NC real estate license renewal fee is $45, and you’ll pay this annually to maintain an active license.

You’re able to pay the renewal fee between May 15 and June 30 of each year. Failure to do so will require you to apply for reinstatement.


How to Reduce Real Estate License Education Costs

Thinking through NC real estate license costs, there are many fees that are fixed. You’ll have to pay those amounts no matter what, but there are a few where pricing can vary.

This includes the pricing for your educational requirements.

Whether you’re talking about pre-licensing classes, post-license courses, or continuing education, you can price-compare to try and save a little.

What impacts price the most is class format. A self-paced, online class may have a smaller price tag than one that meets in person.

Compare the pros and cons of each class format by reading our A-to-Z guide on real estate classes online vs. classroom courses.

However, going for the lowest price doesn’t always mean you get the best value.

Another way to save costs in the long run is to really look at what you get at each North Carolina real estate school. Are there extra resources? Does the school have a really high pass rate?

Features like these could mean a better chance of not having to pay for any exam retakes, which is another way to cut your real estate license budget down.

A thorough comparison of your options is the best way to find the best deal and value for your real estate license education, ensuring every penny you spend is worth it.


We hope this cost breakdown helps eliminate the guesswork when thinking how much a real estate license in NC is.

For more information on the licensing process, check out our detailed guide on how to get a real estate license in North Carolina.

We also provide an estimated timeline for completing the licensing process in our article on how long it takes to get a real estate license in North Carolina.

As you establish your real estate career in the state, refer to these resources to guide your every step:

To help you build and grow your real estate career quickly, we at Real Estate Bees created a directory for real estate professionals.

It’s designed to help you get more exposure for your business, including receiving leads. Create a free profile by signing up here.


If you want to contribute your expert advice on a topic of your expertise, feel free to apply to our Expert Contributor Program.


About the Author

Kristina Morales is a REALTOR® with over 20 years of professional experience. She actively practices real estate in Ohio but also has practiced real estate in California and Texas. Conducting her real estate business in three states has allowed her to gain unique experiences that make her a well-rounded realtor. She obtained her Bachelor of Arts in Business Management and her MBA with a concentration in Banking and Finance. Prior to real estate, Kristina had an extensive corporate career in banking and treasury. She ended her finance career as an Assistant Treasurer at a publicly traded oil & gas company in Houston, TX.

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