How to Get a Real Estate License in Virginia in 2021
Becoming a real estate professional is one of the best ways for self-motivated people to succeed without the restrictions of the corporate world.
This article will answer any questions you have about getting a real estate license in Virginia so you can get started right away.
Virginia Licensing Requirements for Real Estate Salespeople
To receive a Virginia salesperson’s license you have to meet the following minimum requirements:
- Be at least 18 years old
- Have a high school diploma or the equivalent
- Be a US citizen, or otherwise be able to legally work in the US
- Be of high moral character
Getting a real estate license in VA requires completing 60 hours of a board-approved Principals of Real Estate pre-licensing course.
When you have completed the course, you can schedule an appointment to take the state license examination. The exam has two sections:
- National section
- State section
To pass, you’ll need to have a score of 70% or higher on the national section, and 75% or higher on the state section. The national section of the test takes about 1 hour and 45 minutes to complete. The state section takes about 45 minutes.
If you don’t pass one section, you only have to retake the section that you failed. You can take the exam as many times as necessary. You will have to pay the fee each time you take the exam or either portion of it.
In Virginia, real estate license tests are administered by PSI Services. PSI is the leading private administrator of state licensing exams in the US. They provide a thorough explanation of the process in their Candidate Information Bulletin at www.psionline.com.
If you show up for your exam and you are not prepared, you may not be allowed to take the exam. Every person taking the exam should review the Candidate Information Bulletin.
When you arrive at the PSI exam center, you will be fingerprinted for security. This is in addition to the fingerprinting that’s done for a background check. You also have to give PSI a digital photo of yourself. The photo must be:
- JPG format.
- 2″ x 2″ color photo taken within the last six months.
- Sized so that the head is approximately one inch from the bottom of the chin to the top of the head.
- Taken in front of a plain white background.
- Be a full-face view, directly facing the camera with a natural facial expression.
The exam can be scheduled about two weeks in advance.
Once you have passed the state exam, and before applying for your license, you will need to pass a background check. This includes providing your fingerprints. Electronic fingerprinting can be done at some PSI exam centers.
Fingerprinting can also be done by a company called FieldPrint. You can schedule an appointment and find the closest location by going to www.fieldprintvirginia.com.
Because real estate agents in Virginia require supervision by licensed managing brokers, it is mandatory for a licensee to be sponsored by an active licensed broker.
This is an important decision for your career. You should consider and interview multiple firms. Carefully evaluate their integrity, success record, commission split structure and the training and tools that they provide to their sales people.
Read our retailed guide How to Choose the Right Real Estate Brokerage to Work For as a New Agent to learn what factors to consider when selecting a sponsoring broker.
After educating yourself on how to select a brokerage, choose a few companies from our directory of the best real estate brokerage firms in Virginia and interview them to make the final decision.
After receiving your salesperson’s license, you will have to complete an additional 30 hours of post-licensing education within one year of the month in which you received your license.
Virginia Licensing Requirements for Real Estate Brokers
The next step in your career is to move up from salesperson to broker.
A broker is expected to have a higher level of knowledge and experience than a salesperson. In addition to the minimum salesperson requirements, to be a broker you must have:
- Experience as a full-time real estate salesperson for 36 of the previous 48 months
- 180 hours of broker pre-licensing classes
- Pass the state broker’s exam
The 180 hours of pre-licensing classes are contained in 45-hour courses with in-depth training in the areas of law, finance, appraisal/valuation, and management.
Your 36 months of experience as a real estate salesperson must be verified by the broker who supervised you during that time.
What Is Real Estate License Reciprocity?
Real estate license reciprocity is when two states accept each other’s real estate licensing standards. States typically have reciprocity with other states that have education and testing standards that are similar to their own.
They are giving the licensee credit for the courses that they took, for the experience and supervision they have had, and for passing the national section of their state’s exam.
The reciprocating state will want to see that the licensee has knowledge of its laws and regulations.
If a licensee from another state, salesperson or broker, wants to be licensed in Virginia, they will have to:
- Be at least 18 years old.
- Have a high school diploma or its equivalent.
- Be in good standing everywhere that they are licensed (license not suspended, revoked, etc.)
- Be licensed in a state with educational standards that are substantially equivalent to those in Virginia.
- Pass the state portion of the Virginia exam.
- Pass a background check.
- Be of high moral character.
- For a broker’s license, the licensee must have full-time active real estate experience as a licensee for at least 36 of the previous 48 months.
- Submit certification from all jurisdictions where they are licensed.
US States Having a Reciprocal Agreement with Virginia
Not all states reciprocate with all other states. It can be very confusing.
Some states have reciprocity or partial reciprocity agreements with a few states. Others have no agreements but will consider your experience and education on a case-by-case basis.
In this discussion, reciprocal states are states that have the same requirements as Virginia. Reciprocal states with Virginia are:
- North Carolina
- South Carolina
- South Dakota
- West Virginia
Nevada accepts broker licensees from Virginia without added education requirements, but not salespersons.
Delaware has an added requirement of a minimum number of completed real estate transactions.
Alabama, Georgia, and Missouri require 6 to 25 hours of added pre- or post-licensing classes.
Indiana, Kansas, Michigan, Mississippi, Nebraska, and Tennessee will consider other states’ licensees for reciprocity on a case-by-case basis.
States that don’t have no reciprocity with other states are:
- New Hampshire
- New Jersey
- New Mexico
- New York
- North Dakota
- Rhode Island
Licensees from other states will have to start over and take all the required pre-licensing education classes and the full exam.
How to Study for a Real Estate License Exam in Virginia?
Pre-Licensing Classroom Courses
When choosing a real estate school, you should ask about their state exam pass rate.
The average pass rate for first time takers of Virginia real estate exam is 62% for the state portion and 59% for the national portion. To pass the exam on the first try, you should pick a school that can beat that.
Knowing how you learn can help you decide whether to take your pre-licensing courses in person or online.
Courses that are held in the classroom can be participatory in ways that online classes can’t match. Teachers often involve the students in classroom discussions and question and answer sessions.
A classroom schedule is more structured. There is a set time and day for the class. It helps some people to schedule their life around the class rather than the other way around.
Real estate professionals benefit from networking. Building relationships online is far less effective. Classroom instruction provides a good opportunity for networking among students.
Being a real estate agent is a job for someone with people skills. Many people who are drawn to real estate for a career perform best in a classroom setting.
Pre-Licensing Online Courses
Online learning is an appealing choice for more and more people. Younger people, including those just graduating from college, are well-experienced in taking online classes.
Taking classes online allows the student to set their schedule. This can be a big help if your current job has fluctuating hours such as a restaurant or retail store.
“Students who can learn the material more quickly may be able to finish earlier than others. Just be careful to make sure that you’re fully absorbing the information. Most training materials have crush courses with numerous questions at the end of each chapter. If you’re not scoring well, take more time” — says Darren Robertson, the head of Darren Robertson Homes, a leading real estate agent team in Northern Virginia.
Our expert, Kristina Morales, has great tips on how to study for the real estate exam that can aid you while preparing for the big day.
Where to Take the Real Estate Exam in Virginia
Currently, the PSI website shows that they hold exams in the following cities:
- Virginia Beach
This appears to be a more updated list than the one you’ll find on the Candidate Information Bulletin or the VA DPOR website. The bulletin and DPOR don’t show all these locations.
The bulletin and DPOR also include sites outside of the state in Johnson City, TN, and Salisbury, MD. Those sites have been used in the past to accommodate students living in remote areas of Virginia such as the Eastern Shore of the Chesapeake Bay.
If you live in those areas, you should contact PSI or the testing location to make sure that testing is available before scheduling your exam.
How to File for Your License After the Exam in Virginia
Before you can file for your real estate license in Virginia, the following things have to happen:
- You pass both sections of the exam.
- Your background check is done.
- You associate with a real estate firm or sole proprietor for supervision.
Once you are prepared, you will need to fill out the application for licensing found on the DPOR website.
The application must be filled out 100% with no omissions. All required documentation and the fee must be included with your application for it to be considered.
Applicants are encouraged by DPOR to use the online application process. These applications are handled more quickly and you’ll get your license faster.
Exam results are good for one year. If you haven’t filed for your license within one year, you will have to retake the exam.
Background checks are good for 45 days. If you haven’t filed for your license within 45 days you will have to pay the fee and get fingerprinted again for another background check.
How to Receive Your Real Estate License in Virginia
Virginia DPOR will send you a paper copy of your license. In addition to the paper copy, you also have the option of accessing your license digitally.
Digitally accessing your license will allow you to have a copy of your license on a smartphone, tablet, or computer.
To learn more about digital Virginia real estate licenses, go to www.merits.com/dpor.
Once you receive your license, you’re now ready to be a part of a real estate team.
How long does it take to get a Virginia real estate license when studying in the class?
A review of class schedules that are available on school websites shows that classroom instruction will take from as little as 11 days to 28 days.
After that, it will take a few weeks to schedule and take the state exam.
The mandatory background check can be done fairly quickly, a week at the most.
Students should start early to research real estate firms with which they can affiliate. If they are prepared, they can have that done by the time their background check is finished.
The review of your license application can take several weeks from the time that DPOR (Virginia Department of Professional and Occupational Regulation) receives it. Applying online will speed up the process.
If they apply themselves and pass the exam on the first try, classroom students can receive their license within 8 to 10 weeks after starting classes.
How long does it take to get a Virginia real estate license online?
It depends entirely on the student. If a student is motivated and disciplined and commits to doing the work every day, they can finish the class material in a little over a week.
If the student has a job, it will make that timetable very difficult. It’s more likely that it will take them several weeks or more to finish the class.
The regulations for a salesperson license require that a candidate take 60 hours of approved pre-licensing classes. If you divide that number by the number of hours per day that you can devote to your study, you’ll get an idea of how long the class will take.
The time needed to finish the remaining components of getting their license (the background check, associating with a firm, and filing their application) will not change. It’s approximately 5 weeks.
For a diligent, responsible student, taking classes online may reduce the time needed to get their license by a week to 10 days. However, for those lacking self discipline or favorable conditions for concentrating at home, in-class courses might work better. Learn about the pros and cons of each type from the guide Real Estate Courses Online vs Classroom.
Is there a background check for a Virginia real estate license?
Yes. A candidate for a Virginia real estate license has to provide their fingerprints and pay a fee for a background check.
How much does a Virginia real estate license cost?
Pre-licensing classes can cost anywhere from $300 to $700 depending on the school. The cost of taking the state exam is $85. Fingerprinting for the background check costs about $60. The application fee is $170 for a salesperson license and $210 for a broker’s license.
A Virginia real estate license will cost from $615 to $1,015 for a salesperson license. It will cost from $655 to $1,055 for a broker license.
How long do you have to wait to retake the real estate exam in Virginia?
You cannot schedule another exam on the same day that you took and failed a portion of the exam. You will have to wait at least until the next day.
Since PSI is scheduling exams about 2 weeks out, it will probably be 2 weeks until you can take the exam again.
How many times can you retake the Virginia real estate exam?
There is no limit to the number of times that you can take the Virginia real estate exam. If you fail the exam or a portion of the exam, you can keep taking it as many times as you want.
Do you have to pay to retake the real estate exam in Virginia?
Yes, you will have to pay the exam fee every time that you take it.
How much does it cost to retake the real estate exam in Virginia?
The fee to retake the exam is the same as it was the first time. Currently, the fee is $85. If you are only taking one part of the exam, you still have to pay the full exam fee.
Can you get a real estate license with a felony in Virginia?
Yes, you can. However, the final decision on whether or not someone with a felony record is approved for a real estate license depends on a review of the circumstances.
Virginia’s real estate regulations say that an applicant “shall have a good reputation for honesty, truthfulness, and fair dealing…”.
They also state that an applicant must submit their fingerprints and divulge all felony convictions during their lifetime.
However, the Code of Virginia, 54.1-204 says that “A person shall not be refused a license…solely because of a prior criminal conviction, unless the criminal conviction directly relates to the occupation or profession for which the license…is sought.”
The real estate board has to consider the circumstances of the crime. They have to decide whether or not the applicant can perform their duties in a way that safeguards the interests of the public.
Can you get a real estate license with a misdemeanor in Virginia?
Yes, but the applicant and the crime they committed must be reviewed by the Real Estate Board. They have to decide if the applicant’s crime or their behavior since then indicates that they are not fit to perform the licensed job.
In their application, the applicant has to list all misdemeanor convictions from the past 5 years that involved:
- moral turpitude
- sexual offense
- drug distribution
- physical injury
If the applicant is otherwise qualified, and if the circumstances of the crime don’t indicate that they will be unable to perform the licensed job properly, then the applicant shouldn’t be denied the license.
Will a DUI prevent you from getting a real estate license in Virginia?
It’s possible to get a real estate license if you have a DUI on your record. It will depend on the board’s review of the circumstances of the conviction and your behavior since.
When the Real Estate Board considers an applicant with a DUI conviction, some of the things they have to look at include:
- the extent and nature of the criminal activity,
- the applicant’s age at the time of the conviction,
- how long it’s been since the conviction,
- their behavior since the conviction,
- evidence that the applicant has rehabilitated.
One DUI on an otherwise spotless record may not keep you from getting a real estate license in Virginia.
Can I get a real estate license without a high school diploma in Virginia?
You can get a real estate license without a high school diploma in Virginia if you have the equivalent of a high school diploma.
If you didn’t graduate from high school, you can get your GED (General Education Development Test) and qualify for a real estate license.
Once you’ve got your license, discover game-changing opportunities with Real Estate Bees. Click here to join the one-and-only free real estate platform that aims to help Realtors kick start their business’ growth by leveraging game-changing strategies! Find out more about us here.
To start your career fully equipped and prepared, you can also get a checklist of steps to take after passing the exam from our article I Got My Real Estate License, Now What?.