How to Get a Real Estate License in RI: 2021 Rhode Island Requirements for Taking the Exam
Earning a real estate license in Rhode Island is easier when you have a game plan. This guide will help you create one.
You’ll learn all about what you need to do, where to start, and how to maneuver through nuances in the Rhode Island licensing process.
Ready to get up to speed? Begin by reading below.
Rhode Island Licensing Requirements for Real Estate Salespeople
If you are 18 or older, you can get a real estate salesperson license in Rhode Island. The process to do so generally involves satisfying six requirements before you apply.
Pre-licensing education is one of the more time-intensive of these requirements. There are two courses for licensure covering the following topics:
- Real estate fundamentals (45 hours)
- Lead paint issues and mitigation (3 hours)
Most applicants must take both courses. If you’re an attorney licensed by the supreme court of Rhode Island, you can bypass the 45-hour course and, subsequently, the licensing exam.
Applicants taking both courses can schedule them consecutively or at different times. You need to finish the lead paint course before applying for your license. But you have to complete the 45-hour course to sit for the licensing exam. You’re required to take both courses at any of the accredited real estate agent schools to get credit.
Once you’ve finished the principles and practices classwork, you can meet the requirement to pass the exam. To do so, you must get a minimum scaled score of 70 on each portion.
In Rhode Island, the salesperson exam is divided into two parts. You can expect 80 questions on general real estate topics in the national portion. The state part has 50 questions. It assesses your grasp of Rhode Island real estate law. You’re given four hours to take both portions.
A background check is another licensing requirement. Specifically, you’ll need to provide a Criminal History Record from the Rhode Island Department of the Attorney General. Fingerprinting isn’t required. The check is name-based.
You must also purchase errors and omission insurance and provide proof of that when applying for your license. Your coverage also has to meet the minimum limits set by the state (see the section 2.28 Errors and Omission Insurance here). If you’re not familiar with E&O, it helps protect you if a client accuses you of negligence or a mistake.
Before submitting your application, you’ll need to take care of two other items. First, you must identify at least three individuals to recommend you for licensure. They must be Rhode Island residents. They can’t be relatives, and you must have known them for three years. There’s a place on the application to list their names and contact information.
Second, you need to line up the brokerage where you’ll work. So, you’ll have to choose the right real estate brokerage that will help you flourish. And that broker has to sign your application, certifying that you are competent, trustworthy, and suitable for licensure.
You can make selecting a broker to work for easier by checking our directory of the best real estate companies near you.
Rhode Island Licensing Requirements for Real Estate Brokers
To apply for your broker’s license in Rhode Island, you must have reached the age of majority, currently 18. You must also have been a full-time real estate salesperson for the immediately preceding two years unless you are a licensed Rhode Island attorney.
The education requirement for Rhode Island real estate agents to become brokers consists of a 3-hour course on lead paint issues and at least 90 hours of broker classroom study through an approved provider. You may choose any of the courses offered that count toward the 90 hours. And you can take them in any order.
You’ll get a pass on the education requirement if you’re a Rhode Island attorney at law. You only have to take the 3-hour lead paint course. And the waiver also extends to the exam.
Otherwise, passing the licensing exam is mandatory. Here are key things to know about the test:
- You must register with Pearson VUE, the company that manages the exam.
- You’ll have 2.5 hours to take the national portion and 1.5 hours for the state section.
- The national portion has 80 questions, and there are 60 questions on Rhode Island law.
- The state section has eight questions that require real estate math calculations.
- You need a scaled score of at least 70 on each portion to earn a passing score report.
As part of the application process, you must also submit a Criminal History Record from the Department of the Attorney General. And you’re required to provide a certificate of errors and omissions insurance. Be sure to confirm that your policy meets the minimum requirements for coverage established by the state.
In completing your application, you’ll also need to submit the names of at least three people who will recommend you for licensure. These individuals have to reside in Rhode Island. They can’t be related to you. And you must have known them for three years.
In addition, you must fill in the name of the brokerage you’ll be affiliated with. And your current broker must certify that you have two years of salesperson experience and attest to your good character and suitability to be granted a broker’s license.
What Is Real Estate License Reciprocity?
When you hear the term reciprocity, think about it as a way that practicing agents and brokers in one state can more easily get a license in another. What’s required is determined by an agreement made between the two states.
Rhode Island offers partial reciprocity, which means they honor the licensing education, exam, and experience requirements of some states. And so, active licensees from those specific states get credit for the standards they have already met.
They only need to do the following things to obtain a Rhode Island license:
- Submit background checks from Rhode Island and their home state.
- Complete an approved three-hour course on Lead Poisoning/Lead Mitigation.
- Submit a complete reciprocal application and remit the appropriate fee.
- Provide proof of current error and omissions insurance coverage.
- Provide a Letter of Good Standing from the licensing authority in their state.
- Submit a Non-Resident Power of Attorney Form for service of process.
Residents of Florida can also apply for a reciprocal license in Rhode Island through a Mutual Recognition Agreement between the two states. In addition to the items listed above, they will also have to pass the Rhode Island-specific portion of the licensing exam.
US States Having a Reciprocal Agreement with Rhode Island
The following states have reciprocity agreements with Rhode Island: Connecticut and Massachusetts.
How to Study for a Real Estate License Exam in Rhode Island
Pre-Licensing Classroom Courses
At this time, pre-licensing courses are taught in traditional and live virtual classrooms. The virtual format is via Zoom. Day, night, and weekend classes are available for both options.
Virtual classes maintain the benefits of structure and organization that come with being in a classroom. Their availability also makes it more convenient for students to participate in person.
Both formats promote collaborative learning and offer opportunities for interaction with other participants and immediate clarification on the material presented. Also, instructors can modify their approach based on the students in the class and enhance their learning experience.
Pre-Licensing Online Courses
Currently, Rhode Island requires that you take pre-licensing courses in an in-person or a live virtual classroom. Therefore, you can’t complete the salesperson or broker classes via on-demand instruction.
Online education providers have a workaround for those who need an anywhere, anytime option to study for their salesperson license. That solution is to get a Massachusetts license first.
Here’s how it works: You’re allowed to take the Massachusetts salesperson course online. Rhode Island and Massachusetts have license reciprocity. That means, once you get a Massachusetts license, you can apply for a comparable one in Rhode Island and be fast-tracked. You’ll only have to take a 3-hour class, and you don’t have to take another exam.
See the section in this article entitled Reciprocity for additional information. And see our guide on getting a license in Massachusetts for details on what’s required in that state.
You can also read our article comparing real estate classes online vs. classroom courses to choose the best method that fits your schedule.
Where to Take the Real Estate Exam in Rhode Island
You must take the licensing exam in person. It’s given by appointment only and proctored by Pearson VUE, a provider that delivers computer-based exams. They have authorized test centers in the following Rhode Island locations: East Providence, Peace Dale, and Westerly.
Locations and schedules are subject to change. Pearson VUE has a “Find a Test Center” option on their website for your scheduling convenience. They also publish an exam handbook that provides invaluable information about the test.
Take some time to read our article on how to pass the real estate exam the first time, which includes tips on how you can property study for the test.
How to File for Your License After the Exam in Rhode Island
You can apply for your license using the Department of Business Regulations online system. As a first-time user, you’ll need to create a new account. Then, you can complete your application. And you can upload any required documents through the system.
The deadline for filing for your license is one year following the date that you passed the exam. If you didn’t pass both parts the same day, the one-year time frame begins with the later date.
As you wait for the approval of your license, arm yourself with useful information that could help put your career in the right direction. Check out our article on the pros and cons of becoming a realtor written to give you a good boost as you start working as an agent.
How to Receive Your Real Estate License in Rhode Island
Hard copies are not provided when licenses are issued. A digital version is sent to licensees at the email address on record with the Commission.
Once you receive your real estate license, you can now network with experienced agents from any local real estate team to guide you as you start your career. Read our article on how to join a real estate team to know what it takes to get accepted in one.
How long does it take to get a Rhode Island real estate license when studying in the class?
Allow 5-10 weeks to complete the salesperson pre-licensing coursework. Some daytime and weekend schedules will put your finish time at the lower end of that range. Evening classes tend to take longer. So will classes that meet only a day or two a week or a few hours per class.
How long the broker education will take varies based on the availability of the courses, how many you take, and what fits into your schedule.
Keep in mind that you don’t have to wait until you have two years of experience before enrolling in broker classes. You can work them in as time permits. The hours will count as long as each course is finished within four years of filing your license application.
Other things that impact completion time include exam study time, the background check, brokerage comparisons, and the time it takes the Commission to process your application. That window can be shortened if you do some steps concurrently rather than consecutively.
Time for exam prep and researching brokerages will vary based on what works best for you. The Bureau of Criminal Identification and Investigation asks that you allow at least seven days for a state background check. In most cases, application review takes 7-10 days. After you submit your application, you can check the status online.
How long does it take to get a Rhode Island real estate license online?
If you opt to use the workaround described in the Pre-Licensing Online Courses section of this article, the time to get your Rhode Island license will include obtaining a Massachusetts license. You can find all the pertinent details in our how-to guide on getting a license in that state.
Then, you’ll need to add time for Rhode Island components like obtaining a background check (allow seven days), completing the 3-hour lead paint course, and application processing by the Commission (7-10 days in most cases).
Is there a background check for a Rhode Island real estate license?
Yes, there is, and the requirement applies to all applicants. Residents of Rhode Island must obtain a Criminal History Record (CHR) from the Department of the Attorney General. Non-residents are also required to have a CHR completed in Rhode Island. In addition, they must obtain a criminal background check from a law enforcement agency in their home state.
How much does a Rhode Island real estate license cost?
You’ll pay $70 to register for the licensing exam. And the fee is the same for a retake if you don’t pass the test on the first try. The license fee is $165 for a salesperson and $205 for brokers. These two fees include $25 that goes to Rhode Island’s Real Estate Recovery Account.
Your monetary investment in pre-licensing education typically ranges from $300 to $500 for the salesperson course. The cost of broker courses will depend on which classes you take. The 3-hour class on lead paint hazard mitigation costs around $30.
And, you’ll need to add in the cost of error and omissions insurance.
How long do you have to wait to retake the real estate exam in Rhode Island?
You should wait until the next day to contact Pearson VUE about an appointment for a retake. Doing so gives them time to report scores for that exam day to the Commission.
How many times can you retake the Rhode Island real estate exam?
You’re not limited in the number of retests you can do if you fail the exam. However, time is a factor. Both portions of the exam must be passed within one year of each other or you’ll have to take both again.
Do you have to pay to retake the real estate exam in Rhode Island?
Yes, you have to pay for each retake of the real estate exam.
How much does it cost to retake the real estate exam in Rhode Island?
Each attempt to pass the exam will cost $70.
Can you get a real estate license with a felony in Rhode Island?
You won’t be barred outright from getting a license because you have a felony on your record. The Commission will ascertain the facts about the conviction and consider how it relates to the occupation as part of determining whether to grant a license.
Rhode Island Statute grants the Commission the power to deny an application based on specific grounds, though. That includes certain felonies. Examples are financial crimes such as forgery, fraud, and embezzlement, crimes involving dishonesty and breach of trust, and similar offenses.
You will be notified if the intended action is to deny you a license, and you’ll be informed of the grounds for that action. You’ll have a chance to request a hearing to state your answer to the grounds specified in the notification.
Can you get a real estate license with a misdemeanor in Rhode Island?
You’re eligible to apply for a real estate license even if you have a misdemeanor conviction. The Commission will give individualized consideration to your application and your conviction. But, the nature of the offense could adversely affect the Commission’s decision about your license.
For instance, honesty, trustworthiness, and good reputation are among the qualifications for licensure. And certain offenses like larceny, embezzlement, and fraud could place you in an unfavorable light concerning character. Plus, the Commission may view these offenses as substantially related to practicing real estate, which puts them into consideration.
The Commission will notify you if it intends to issue a conviction-based denial and provide information about the reasons for disqualification. You can respond with a request to appeal the decision and provide evidence of rehabilitation.
Will a DUI prevent you from getting a real estate license in Rhode Island?
While there isn’t a rule or regulation that says you won’t get a real estate license if you have a DUI, your character is considered in your suitability to be licensed. So, serious traffic offenses like a DUI could present an issue. Personalized questions about issues such as these and the potential impact on getting a license can be posed to the Commission administrator.
Can I get a real estate license without a high school diploma in Rhode Island?
Yes, you can. Rhode Island does not require a high school diploma to be licensed as a real estate salesperson or broker.
Whether you’re a new agent or broker, getting your license is a significant first step in realizing your real estate career dreams. Next comes advancing your career. Knowing what to do after you get your real estate license can help you devise a good plan of action for building your real estate agent career.
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