How to Get a Real Estate License in Maryland 2021: All Requirements for Taking the Exam
Are you thinking about launching a new career as a Maryland real estate agent or broker? We’ve got you covered.
We compiled all the information you need to know about the process into this guide for your easy reference:
- Maryland real estate license requirements
- Reciprocity with other states
- Costs to get your MD real estate license
- Background check
and other important details.
Keep reading to learn what’s required from start to finish.
Maryland Licensing Requirements for Real Estate Salespeople
The process of becoming a real estate agent in Maryland is a relatively straightforward one. It begins with an age pre-qualification.
A state statute for business occupations and professions sets the minimum age for applying for a salesperson license in Maryland at 18. That same statute also establishes other qualifying requirements for licensure.
Sixty hours of pre-licensing education is among those requirements. And you have four options available to you for satisfying this criterion.
One way is passing the 60-hour pre-licensing course on real estate principles and practices taught by education providers the Real Estate Commission has approved. Completing college courses in real estate is an acceptable alternative, as long as the classes meet the Commission’s approval.
If you have a license in another state, you can fulfill the education requirement if you either qualify for an out-of-state waiver or are exempt under a reciprocal agreement. Both of these scenarios are explained when we talk about Reciprocal States later in this guide.
Passing the exam is another condition for licensure. You’re eligible to take it once you check pre-licensing education off your list.
If this will be your first real estate license, you’ll have to take both parts of the exam — the national portion and the portion specific to Maryland. You must pass both sections independently. You have to score 56 of 80 points on the national section, and 21 of 30 points on the state portion to accomplish that.
To schedule taking the exam, contact PSI, the company that manages the real estate exam for Maryland. They will set you up with an appointment based on availability at the test center you choose.
As soon as you pass the exam, you’re eligible to apply for your license.
Here’s an important related note: The Commission will use information you provide during the application process to determine if you meet another condition — being of “good character and reputation.” Depending on your answers to questions about criminal history and occupational disciplinary actions, you may need to submit supplemental information.
You’ll also have to take a pause here if you want to dive right into doing business and you haven’t picked a sponsoring broker. The Commission requires you to be affiliated with a broker before issuing an active license.
You’ll find helpful guidance on how to choose a sponsoring broker in our article written by an experienced realtor. It shares practical tips for figuring out what will work best for you as you get started in the business.
To help you plan ahead, here are the requirements for renewing your license:
- Renewal every two years from the date of original licensure
- Payment of the $70 renewal fee
- 15 hours of continuing education within the renewal cycle
Maryland Licensing Requirements for Real Estate Brokers
Just as it does for a real estate salesperson license, Maryland law establishes requirements for obtaining a broker license in the state.
Real estate agents in Maryland applying to become a broker must meet certain pre-qualifications, including age and experience. You must be 18 or older to apply. And you must have been actively licensed a minimum of three immediately preceding years.
You are required to complete 135 hours of approved pre-licensing education as well, attorneys being an exception. If you are qualified to practice law in the state of Maryland, the Commission will waive the education requirement. They also waive the experience prerequisite but not the licensing exam.
All broker applicants must take both the national and state-specific portions of the licensing exam unless excused under an exception. We cover this in the information on reciprocity provided in this guide.
To take the exam, set up a date and time at one of PSI’s official test centers. You can make the appointment online, if this is more convenient for you.
The exam has a total of 115 questions, 75 of which are in the national section. Some of those 75 questions are scored up to two points. Each question in the state-specific portion is scored at one point. To pass, you need 56 points on the national part and 28 points on the state section.
When you apply for your license, you’ll have to submit a recent credit report. You may also have to provide additional information if you disclose any criminal convictions or real estate-related disciplinary actions on your application. The Commission will use this information to decide whether you are of “good character and reputation.” This is another requirement for licensure.
If you are going out on your own, you must provide associated documents for your company. The Commission has detailed instructions on its website.
As for requirements for license renewal, associate brokers and brokers must:
- Renew every two years from the original licensure date.
- Complete 15 hours of continuing education within the renewal cycle.
- Pay the renewal fee ($170 for brokers and $110 for associate brokers).
What Is Real Estate License Reciprocity?
Reciprocity is a system that comes into play when you’re already licensed as an agent or a broker in a state other than Maryland. It determines whether you’ll have to go through Maryland’s full licensing process, or whether the Commission will exempt you from some or all of the state’s requirements.
Recognition of your licensing qualifications depends on whether Maryland and your “home state” have a reciprocal agreement. Even if they do, it’s not a given that you’ll get a license under that agreement. You must apply and qualify.
The Commission lists the basic terms of getting a license under a reciprocal agreement on their website. The list includes requirements such as:
- Your first license must have been earned in a state with a reciprocal agreement with the Maryland Real Estate Commission.
- You must submit a certified license history when you apply.
- Your license must be current and active.
US States Having a Reciprocal Agreement with Maryland
At this time, the Maryland Real Estate Commission has signed reciprocal agreements with two states: Oklahoma and Pennsylvania. Under the terms of these agreements:
- You are eligible for reciprocity upon passing the Maryland section of the licensing exam, if you are licensed in Oklahoma.
- You are excused from the exam if your current license is in Pennsylvania.
Applicants from other states may qualify for a Maryland real estate license through out-of-state license recognition. The Commission will review your education and experience for transferability and let you know if you qualify for a waiver in those areas. The waiver does not apply to the state-specific portion of the exam.
How to Study for a Real Estate License Exam in Maryland
Pre-Licensing Classroom Courses
Education providers in Maryland that offer agent and broker classroom courses range from real estate academies to community colleges. You’ll also find a choice of in-person and live online classroom formats.
If you’re taking the salesperson pre-licensing course, you’ll be introduced to the principles and practices of real estate. More specifically, during the 60 hours of instruction, you will learn about topics such as contracts, agency, financing, and Maryland real estate law.
The pre-licensing course for brokers is divided into three 45-hour modules for the required 135 hours of education. In addition to covering Maryland real estate practice and law, the modules focus on broader aspects that you’ll be tested on in the national part of the exam.
- Module 1: Real Estate Principles
- Module 2: Real Estate Brokerage Management
- Module 3: Real Estate Investment
Going to class virtually or in person provides you with a setting that is geared toward active learning. It also allows you to clarify questions immediately. Participating virtually in real time also offers a blend of convenience and scheduled learning.
Classroom courses do tend to be more expensive than online ones. But, setting aside time to attend class can help you stay organized and hold yourself accountable.
Pre-Licensing Online Courses
You can complete the salesperson pre-licensing course online as well. Just be sure that the school is on the Commission’s list of approved providers.
The distance-learning option for the broker course — real-time virtual learning — is described in the classroom course section above.
On the plus side, if the course is done well, online learning can be as effective as face-to-face classes. And something that you may consider a big plus is the ability to learn at your own pace and on your own time.
A downside is that you’ll lose the social aspects of a classroom course, such as peer discussions. But, if budget is a factor, you can save money on the cost of the class and transportation.
We have a guide that walks you through the similarities and differences of real estate courses online compared to classroom format. There is a video version if you prefer to access it in that format.
Where to Take the Real Estate Exam in Maryland
PSI provides real estate examination services for Maryland and gives the exam at their test centers. You’ll register with them to reserve a time slot.
PSI has test centers in Baltimore, College Park, Crofton, Hagerstown, Lanham, and Salisbury (at Braintree Testing).
They also have a limited number of test centers in other parts of the country that meet the standards of the Maryland Real Estate Commission. You can request alternate arrangements for taking the exam in one of the other locations.
If you are taking the broker exam, PSI will require verification that you have fulfilled the pre-licensing education requirement. You can provide that proof in the form of original or notarized copies of course transcripts or course completion certificates.
For additional information about the licensing exam, it’s helpful to download PSI’s Candidate Information Bulletin.
Be prepared for the exam and you will surely pass it on your first try. Read these tips on how to pass the real estate exam the first time to know what strategic steps to take to properly study for the most important test of your life.
How to File for Your License After the Exam in Maryland
Most applicants may apply through the online licensing system of the Maryland Department of Labor. You’ll get instructions in the Confirmation Notice that the testing service emails you. The email usually arrives 3-5 business days after you pass the exam.
You cannot apply online if you have a criminal conviction on your record or a prior real estate disciplinary action. That requires a paper application. When you submit it, you must also include whichever of the following documents applies to you:
- An original Certification of License History from the state(s) where you were disciplined
- True Test copies (exact copies given under the court clerk’s seal) of the proceedings related to criminal convictions
All broker applicants must submit a credit report with their application. The credit bureau must have pulled the information within the last six months.
If you plan to operate your own brokerage, you must submit a complete broker application package. The Commission has a handy Broker Checklist to guide you through it.
No matter which license you’re applying for, be mindful that your exam score expires 12 months from the day you pass the test. So, you’ll want to make a timely application.
How to Receive Your Real Estate License in Maryland
The Commission doesn’t mail out paper copies when licenses are issued. You’ll get an email with instructions for printing your license online if you don’t immediately activate it. If you obtain an active license, ask your sponsoring broker to give you a copy.
After getting your license, joining a real estate team is your next plan of action. Being a part of a reputable team can gain you better insight into the different types, as well as the benefits and drawbacks of participating in one. Learn how to properly join a real estate team from our detailed guide. Then read what to do after getting your real estate license.
How long does it take to get a Maryland real estate license when studying in the class?
The fastest you can finish the classroom course for agents is two weeks if you have the option available and the time to do so. A rule of thumb is to allow 5-8 weeks for completion.
For the broker course, plan on anywhere from 3-6 months, based on the available course schedule and how many days or evenings you can devote to going to class.
It will take additional time after the course to get your license in hand. You still have to take the exam and complete the application process.
How long does it take to get a Maryland real estate license online?
According to online education providers, most students finish the salesperson pre-licensing course in a month. Because you’re studying at your own speed, you may be done sooner or sometime later.
You typically have 90-180 days from the date you enroll in the online pre-licensing course to finish it. So, consider that window of time in looking at the longest that it will take for the class.
The time between finishing the class and getting your license would be the same whether you took the course online or in a classroom.
Is there a background check for a Maryland real estate license?
You do not have to complete a background check to apply for a Maryland real estate license. But, the Commission does pose questions about criminal history and occupational disciplinary actions as part of the application process.
If you answer “yes” to any of these questions, you must provide the required supplementary information with your application.
How much does a Maryland real estate license cost?
If you’re a salesperson applicant, your monetary investment will look something like this:
- Pre-licensing fee: Around $300
- Examination fee: $44
- License fee: $90
For broker applicants, the price tag will include:
- Pre-licensing course: Approximately $1500
- Examination fee: $44
- License fee: $190 ($130 for associate brokers)
You may have other costs, such as a fee for a license history from another state, if you need it for your application. Or, you may have to pay for your credit report that goes with your broker application if you’ve received all your free copies for a given year.
How long do you have to wait to retake the real estate exam in Maryland?
You can’t make a new appointment the same day you take the exam because the testing service has to process and report scores. You can reschedule with PSI the next day and then retake the exam as soon as a space is available.
How many times can you retake the Maryland real estate exam?
If you fail the exam, you’re only required to retake the portion you didn’t pass. There is no limit on the number of times you can take the exam. However, there is a time limit. You have one year from the date you complete the education requirement. After that, you’ll have to start over with a new pre-licensing course.
Do you have to pay to retake the real estate exam in Maryland?
Yes. You have to pay $44 each time you take the exam.
How much does it cost to retake the real estate exam in Maryland?
All retakes are subject to the PSI examination fee of $44.
Can you get a real estate license with a felony in Maryland?
A felony conviction doesn’t result in an automatic “no” on your application. But, it could hurt your chances. The Commission gets the say in whether the offense causes you to fall short of the requirement related to character and reputation.
You’re required to provide court documents associated with any criminal convictions as part of the application process. These documents (referred to as True Test copies) must be obtained from the applicable court clerk.
The Commission evaluates each applicant individually and looks at each conviction separately. If they don’t decide in your favor, you can contest the decision.
Can you get a real estate license with a misdemeanor in Maryland?
How much of a roadblock a misdemeanor conviction will be depends on the nature and circumstances of the crime.
As part of disclosing the misdemeanor on your application, you’ll have to submit associated court documents, which are:
- Signed by the person authorized to provide certified copies (usually the court clerk).
- Given under the clerk’s seal and typically stamped “True Copy Test.”
The Commission will consider this information as part of vetting your suitability for licensure. If you get a thumbs-down, you can ask for an appeal to plead your case.
Will a DUI prevent you from getting a real estate license in Maryland?
The Commission welcomes everyone to apply. Therefore, it’s possible that you could get a real estate license if you have a DUI. However, the offense(s) could raise concerns about your character and your ability to perform job-related activities like driving clients.
You’ll need to provide court documents (with an authorized signature and clerk’s seal) pertaining to the charge(s). The Commission will consider this information and reach a decision.
Can I get a real estate license without a high school diploma in Maryland?
The Maryland Real Estate Commission does not specify a high school diploma as a requirement for licensure. However, with limited exceptions, you will need a high school diploma or equivalent certificate to enroll in a pre-licensing course taught by education providers in Maryland.
With this detailed information, I hope I have answered all your questions on how to get your real estate license in Maryland. Do note that marketing your real estate business is a must to position yourself strategically in the target market you hope to excel in.
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