How to Get a Real Estate License in SC: 2023 Requirements for Taking the South Carolina Exam
Whether you’re ready to become a real estate salesperson or broker, this guide will make it easy for you to get up to speed on South Carolina license requirements.
We’ve gone in depth on the basics of how to obtain your license and provided answers to all the questions we predict you may have.
So, let’s get down to business.
South Carolina Real Estate License Requirements for Salespeople
SC real estate license law stipulates that you must be 18 or older to get a salesperson’s license.
You must also have a high school diploma or GED and prove that you’re a U.S. citizen or otherwise lawfully present in the country.
Meet those conditions and you’re eligible for licensure.
To obtain your license, you must then satisfy the specific requirements set by the Commission.
Just so you’re aware, if you’re a licensed real estate agent in another state, modified criteria may apply to you. See the section on reciprocity in this article for specifics.
Applicants who have never been licensed can meet the requirements by completing five steps.
Step one is taking 90-hours of real estate courses in South Carolina, divided into the following:
- Unit I: Salesperson Pre-Licensing Course (60 hours)
- Unit II: Advanced Real Estate Principles (30 hours)
You don’t have to complete the courses back-to-back unless that’s your preference. In terms of timing, you must take Unit I before you can sit for the exam.
You must finish Unit II before you apply for your license. So, you can put that one off until after the exam if you like.
There is an exemption to this requirement. You can skip the pre-licensing courses if you have a law degree (J.D. or Bachelor of Law) or a bachelor’s degree with a real estate major.
The second step is submitting an Application for Examination to the Commission. It must be accompanied by an affidavit of lawful presence and a criminal history form if applicable.
Once the Commission approves your exam application, you’ll receive an eligibility letter. You’ll need that to book an exam appointment with the test vendor PSI.
Once you’ve reserved a time slot with PSI, you’re ready for the third step – taking and passing the licensing exam. It has two portions.
The national portion covers general real estate principles and practices. It has 80 questions, and answering 56 of them right will earn you a passing score.
SC real estate license law is a primary focus of the state section. To pass it, you must get 28 of 40 questions correct.
In addition to your eligibility letter, you’ll also receive an email from the Commission that provides instructions for getting fingerprinted and your background check completed.
This is the fourth step, and it entails state and FBI criminal records checks.
Step five is selecting a sponsoring broker and finalizing your application for a license. You’ll receive a post-examination application from PSI once you pass the exam.
Your choice of a brokerage is a defining moment in your new career. Your search doesn’t have to be a hit-or-miss process.
Use our guide on choosing the right broker to work for as a new agent to get your career off to a strong start.
Once you get an idea on the type of broker you want to work for, use our directory of the best real estate brokerages in South Carolina to select the most fitting broker from your location.
South Carolina Real Estate License Requirements for Brokers
You need to be 21 or older to be licensed as a broker. You must also be a high school graduate (or have a GED) and have experience in the profession.
You must have been an actively licensed salesperson for at least three of the preceding five years for the latter.
If you have a law degree or a bachelor’s degree in real estate, that substitutes for experience.
As well as satisfying these pre-qualifications, South Carolina real estate agents applying to become a broker must also meet the state’s education, examination, and background check requirements.
There are instances when some of these conditions are waived for out-of-state licensees. That all depends on whether you qualify for licensing reciprocity.
You can read more about mutual recognition arrangements and the impact on licensing in the next section of this article.
Otherwise, if you’re upgrading from a South Carolina salesperson’s license to become a broker, here’s what you’ll need to do.
First, you must complete the approved pre-licensing coursework. That amounts to 60 hours divided equally over two courses.
Attorneys and applicants with a four-year degree in real estate get a pass. However, the Commission asks for a transcript, which is reviewed to authorize you to apply for the broker exam.
Applying to take the exam is next on your must-do list. Be prepared to provide documents proving you are legally present in the United States.
You must also fill out a form to explain any criminal history disclosed on your application. Supporting court records are also required.
As soon as the Commission approves your exam application, you’ll receive additional information for the exam and background check requirements.
That info includes instructions for the fingerprint criminal records check and an exam eligibility letter.
The letter gives you the green light to schedule the exam with PSI. You can make a reservation with them online.
You’ll get 200 minutes to take both portions of the exam.
You must get a minimum of 60 of the 75 national-section questions correct and 36 of the 50 state-specific questions to get a passing score on each part.
After you pass the exam, PSI will provide a post-examination application. You need to submit the application along with your score report to obtain your license.
What Is Real Estate License Reciprocity?
Real estate licensing occurs state by state. Therefore, the requirements in one state are not necessarily the same as those in another.
Some states do have comparable standards, though.
When they mutually agree to substitute those for their own when issuing a license, the two states have reciprocity with one another.
If you have a license in a state that South Carolina has a reciprocal agreement with, you may be exempt from taking the pre-licensing course and the state portion of the exam.
You’re eligible for reciprocity as long as your license is active, and you earned it by taking the written exam.
To qualify, you’ll have to undergo the required background check, fill out an application for reciprocity, and provide the following documents:
- Notarized attestation that you’re legally present in the United States
- Copy of your social security card and a state-issued ID
- Certified license history from your current state and other applicable jurisdictions
- Criminal history explanation form, if it applies to you
For all other states, South Carolina offers license recognition. That means you must pass the South Carolina portion of the exam.
You also have to meet the sales experience required if you’re applying for a broker license. Plus, you must:
- Have been actively licensed within six months of the time you apply in South Carolina.
- Submit certification(s) of licensure from any jurisdiction(s) where you held a license in the last five years.
There’s an additional caveat if you’re a South Carolina resident with an out-of-state license.
If you’ve been a resident for more than six months, you must take the specified pre-licensing education.
That’s the Advanced Real Estate Principles course (30 hours) for a salesperson license and the 60-hour pre-licensing education if you’re applying to be a broker.
US States Having a Reciprocal Agreement with South Carolina
South Carolina has an agreement to offer full reciprocity for Georgia residents.
How to Study for a Real Estate License Exam in South Carolina
Pre-Licensing Classroom Courses
Traditional classroom courses are available for sales and broker students who prefer that environment.
You’ll also find other formats that offer classroom-based instruction combined with the flexibility of distance learning.
- Instructor-led classes that are live-streamed
- Pre-recorded videos of in-classroom instruction
Here’s what you can expect to learn in the salesperson pre-licensing courses: Unit I will teach you the fundamentals you need to know to pass the exam.
Unit II reinforces knowledge pertinent to the practice of real estate. It’s made up of five six-hour modules on these topics:
- Agency and property disclosure
- Real estate contracts
- Investments and taxation
- Ethics and real estate
- Measurement and valuation
The pre-licensing courses for brokers have different emphases. One is a practical, real-world course that prepares you to run a real estate company.
It does not have a final exam. The second course is traditional pre-licensing education, covering the content that’s on the exam.
In addition to being engaged in classroom participation, taking your courses in a physical space can provide you with networking opportunities that can lead to beneficial business relationships.
On top of that, you’ll be able to connect with other students to problem-solve.
Pre-Licensing Online Courses
You also have the option to take self-paced courses online whether you’re studying to be a broker or a salesperson.
In-state schools offer online courses, as do internet-based education providers. You can find a list of approved online course providers on the Commission website.
When taking courses online, you’ll have more flexibility. You can customize your study plan to finish the coursework quickly, slowly, or somewhere in-between.
Online classes are easier to fit into a busy schedule. As they have the same content as in-person classes, there’s no loss of curriculum.
One of the trade-offs is the lack of interactivity. You may also be under a more distraction-prone environment than the classroom, depending on your study space.
If you’re debating which format to take your classes in, consult our article Real Estate Classes Online or Classroom Courses?, which tackles the perks and challenges of each method.
Where to Take the Real Estate Exam in South Carolina
The only option for taking the exam is in person at one of the designated PSI examination centers located in the cities listed below.
Register online and select the most convenient location for you.
- Hilton Head/Beaufort
- Myrtle Beach
- Charlotte, NC
Before setting an appointment with the testing center and taking the exam, make sure you are fully prepared. Read our guide on what to study for the South Carolina real estate exam to know the topics covered in the test.
We also have tips that can guide you on how to study for the real estate exam, so you can ace that test on your initial attempt.
How to File for Your License After the Exam in South Carolina
PSI will provide you with an application after you’ve passed the exam. You have one year to apply for your license.
If you will be working under a broker-in-charge, you have that same amount of time to fulfill the requirement of identifying a sponsoring broker.
You’re required to submit your exam score report and pay the applicable license fee when you apply.
Also, applicants for a salesperson’s license who have not submitted a copy of their completion certificate for the Unit II course must do so before applying.
How to Receive Your Real Estate License in South Carolina
The Commission issues a hard copy of your license. It’s mailed to the broker-in-charge once your application is approved.
Not sure what to do next after getting your license? Check out our article walking you through the next steps to take after passing the real estate exam.
Be sure to also join a real estate team to learn from and be guided effectively by experienced real estate agents.
How long does it take to get a South Carolina real estate license when studying in the class?
Day classes usually meet on a more frequent basis. So, completion time is shorter. Night classes typically take longer. That can translate into time frames like the following:
- Sales and broker courses: Two weeks minimum
- Sales courses: Two months or more, on average
- Broker courses: Four weeks of night classes
Then, you’ll have to take the exam. How far out your appointment may be depends on test center availability and the flexibility of your schedule.
Also, you’ll have to build in time to get and go to your fingerprinting appointment and for your background check to be done. Allow at least one to two weeks to complete this.
As for processing time for applications, the Commission asks applicants to allow five to ten days.
Failure to meet any of the requirements, submission of an incomplete application, or any criminal or disciplinary history may result in the need for additional time.
How long does it take to get a South Carolina real estate license online?
When taking a self-paced course, you get to decide the completion date.
For instance, you can finish the salesperson course in 45 days, or the broker course in three weeks, if you study a couple of hours a day.
If you’re eager to start your new real estate role, you can invest more study time.
As you’re determining how quickly you want to finish the course, keep in mind that most online real estate education providers limit the number of daily course segments to 7.5 hours.
You will, of course, also have to consider the time it takes for post-education requirements.
So, add it all up to see where that puts you for timing to be a newly licensed salesperson or broker.
To get an idea of the time commitment involved, read our article on how long it takes to get a real estate license in South Carolina.
Is there a background check for a South Carolina real estate license?
Even if you’ve completed a background check for another purpose, it doesn’t count in this instance. You must undergo a check specifically to obtain your license.
The Commission requires fingerprint-based criminal records checks at the state and national levels. This stipulation applies to all applicants for initial salesperson and broker licensure.
The state check must be done by the South Carolina State Law Enforcement Division (SLED). The FBI has to conduct the federal records check.
How much does a South Carolina real estate license cost?
Applicants for a salesperson’s license can expect to pay at least $550 to take the two required courses.
You may be able to find a lower price, as online providers sometimes offer promotions for a 20- to 30-percent discount.
The average cost for the two-course broker package is $650.
It costs $25 to apply for approval to take the exam. The exam registration fee is $63 if you’re taking the national and state portions. The cost is $55 if you’re only taking one part.
In addition, license fees are as follows:
- Salesperson: $50
- Broker: $125
- Broker-in-charge: $250
You also need to factor in $50 or so for fingerprinting and the criminal background check.
If you need to obtain a license history from another state, that will also cost you around $25 to $50.
Ongoing costs to consider include continuing education and license renewal fees.
- Continuing education: $100
- Salesperson renewal: $45
- Broker renewal: $55
- Broker-in-charge renewal: $75 per office
An additional note about renewals: You must renew on a biennial basis to keep your license active.
You’ll also need to complete 10 hours of continuing education, whether you’re a broker or a salesperson.
The renewal deadline is June 30. Your license expires on July 1. Your license will be canceled if you have not completed the renewal within six months.
Read our guide on the cost of a real estate license in South Carolina for a complete breakdown of licensing fees.
How long do you have to wait to retake the real estate exam in South Carolina?
You can’t make a reservation for a retest the same day you take the exam, but you can reschedule quickly. If you failed on Monday, for instance, you could call as soon as Tuesday.
Then, you could take the test on Wednesday if there’s a time slot available.
How many times can you retake the South Carolina real estate exam?
Once you are approved to take the exam, the clock starts ticking on your eligibility period. You have one year to pass both portions.
If you fail the exam, you can keep trying until you get a passing score. You have an unlimited number of retakes during that time window.
Do you have to pay to retake the real estate exam in South Carolina?
You must register for the exam and pay the applicable fee each time you take it.
How much does it cost to retake the real estate exam in South Carolina?
The fee you pay depends on whether you have to retake one or both parts of the exam.
If you failed both, your retest would cost $63. If you only have to retake one portion, you’ll pay $55.
Can you get a real estate license with a felony in South Carolina?
Having a felony conviction won’t disqualify you outright.
However, certain types of convictions are grounds for denying you a license, and you’ll likely be required to jump through an additional licensing hoop.
This could mean an appearance before the Commission for an Application Hearing to state your case for approval.
Examples of these types of convictions include violent, drug-related, or sex-related felonies.
Financial crimes such as embezzlement, fraud, larceny, or theft are also grounds for license denial.
There isn’t an option for pre-determination.
You must fulfill all the requirements and apply, before the Commission determines whether to approve your license or have you appear for a hearing.
You will need to submit a Criminal History Explanation Form with your application and include any pertinent court records and supporting documentation.
Can you get a real estate license with a misdemeanor in South Carolina?
Your chances of getting a thumbs-up on your license if you have a misdemeanor conviction depend on the type of crime you were convicted of.
For example, crimes involving dishonesty such as forgery, embezzlement, and fraud can be reasons for a denial.
You’ll likely be called before the Commission to determine your fitness for a license.
You’ll have to go through the entire licensing process before knowing whether the Commission will refuse to issue you a license.
That includes thoroughly completing the form for disclosing and explaining any criminal history, along with submitting supporting court documents or records.
Will a DUI prevent you from getting a real estate license in South Carolina?
While there’s nothing that specifically says you can’t get a real estate license if you have a DUI, the conviction is likely to be a point of consideration for the Commission.
If you were charged with felony DUI, they might ask you to appear for a hearing. The decision is in their hands.
For more information on this topic, read our article — Can You Get a South Carolina Real Estate License with Violations such as Felony, DUI or Misdemeanor?
Can I get a real estate license without a high school diploma in South Carolina?
No, you cannot. The Commission requires applicants to have a high school diploma or an equivalent certificate in lieu of a diploma.
Once licensed, there’s so much ahead of you that might make the job overwhelming if you don’t have an inkling of what’s in store.
Industry experts share their experiences on this subject in our article discussing the pros and cons of becoming a real estate agent.
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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.