How to Get a Real Estate License in Illinois
In this article, we’ve collected all the qualifying and preparatory information you need about getting your real estate license in Illinois.
From what classes to take to the cost of your application, we have all the details right here to prepare you for a career in real estate in the state.
Keep reading to learn everything you need to know when obtaining a real estate license in Illinois.
Illinois Real Estate License Requirements for Brokers
Getting an Illinois real estate license starts with some very basic requirements. You must be at least 18 years old and you must have a high school diploma or GED.
Next, IL real estate license requirements move on to pre-licensing education. For brokers, you’re required to complete 75 total class hours.
All classes must be taken through one of the accredited local real estate schools in Illinois according to the Department of Financial and Professional Regulation (IDFPR).
You’ll also need to submit fingerprints for a background check.
The next step is registering with PSI as a student.
PSI proctors the real estate license exam, and having an account allows them to receive your pre-licensing coursework certificate.
Once that’s in, you’ll also need to schedule the exam. When you pass the real estate license test, you can then submit your application.
You’ll also need a sponsoring broker to complete the process of how to obtain a real estate license in Illinois.
Find one through our directory of top-rated real estate brokers in Illinois.
If you want to know how to pick one, use our guide on choosing a real estate brokerage firm to work for.
Illinois Real Estate License Requirements for Managing Brokers
The requirements that align with getting an Illinois real estate license are slightly different for managing brokers.
To get this license, you must be at least 20 years old.
You’ll need to have your high school diploma or GED, and hold an active broker license, either in Illinois or in another state.
You must have had an active broker license for two of the three years prior to applying for a managing broker license.
Educational requirements vary based on where your active license is from. Those in Illinois must complete 45 hours of pre-licensing coursework.
Those with a license outside the state are required to take 165 pre-licensing hours to become eligible for the managing broker exam.
You’ll also need to submit fingerprints for a background check.
The exam itself is also different. Although both have the same two sections, the questions are configured slightly differently on the national portion.
Once you pass the exam, you’re able to submit your license application.
What Is Real Estate License Reciprocity?
How do you get your real estate license in Illinois when you’re licensed from another state? Some of you may be able to benefit from reciprocity.
This is where one state has similar requirements to another for issuing a real estate license.
If a person moves between reciprocal states, you may easily transfer your license.
At the very least, you’ll most likely have to do less to get your real estate license in your new state.
For the specifics of how your current real estate license transfers over to Illinois, you’ll need to complete a reciprocity application.
What States Have Reciprocity with Illinois Real Estate License?
Currently, Illinois has reciprocal agreements with:
- Indiana (for brokers only)
The same way those coming into Illinois may have reciprocity, certain other states will offer IL real estate license reciprocity for those moving away.
These states include:
Certain states offer full reciprocity, but others, like Illinois real estate license reciprocity with Florida, is only a partial transfer.
How to Study for a Real Estate License Exam in Illinois
Pre-Licensing Classroom Courses
You must complete your pre-licensing requirement from an approved school. Each set of hours is broken down into specific classes.
The 75-hour broker pre-licensing coursework consists of:
- 60 hours of real estate broker topics
- 15 hours of broker pre-license applied real estate principles
The 45-hour managing broker coursework, for those with an Illinois broker license, is broken down into:
- 30 hours of managing broker pre-license topics
- 15 hours of managing broker pre-license applied management and supervision
For those with an active real estate license from another state, pre-license coursework consists of 165 hours, broken into multiple courses:
- Real Estate Broker Topics (60 hours)
- Broker Pre-License Applied Real Estate Principles (15 hours)
- Broker Post License Transactional Issues (15 hours)
- Broker Post License Risk Management/Discipline (15 hours)
- Broker Post License Applied Broker Principles (15 hours)
- Managing Broker Pre-License Topics (30 hours)
- Managing Broker Pre-License Applied Management and Supervision (15 hours)
Most schools today offer classes in both in-person and virtual formats. Deciding to take your pre-licensing classes in person has a few unique benefits.
The first is it offers you a consistent schedule.
You’ll meet for class at the same time each day or week, making it much easier to plan other activities around your real estate sessions.
This often helps those with other commitments, like a job or family, requiring a firm, set schedule well in advance.
Being in a classroom also puts you closer to your future colleagues as well as current industry experts. This provides a great opportunity to network.
Pre-Licensing Online Courses
Learning virtually allows you to get your coursework done faster if you’re able to work independently.
If you could treat your pre-licensing coursework like a 40-hour-per-week job, you could be done with your classes in less than 14 days.
This ability to work at your own pace can make it easier and faster for you to get one step closer to your real estate license.
You can also choose where to work. Instead of being in a noisy classroom, you can pick a place without any distractions.
Either way, the pre-licensing coursework must be completed first. Picking between an in-person and online course format, though, is totally up to you.
To help with the decision, check out our article comparing real estate classes online vs. classroom courses.
Where to Take the Illinois Real Estate Exam
PSI has testing centers in the following locations:
- Carol Stream
- East Peoria
- Glen Ellyn
- Park Ridge
You can sign up online or call PSI at 855-340-3893 to register. The exam fee is $58, regardless of license type.
You’ll have three-and-a-half hours to complete your exam. The broker exam consists of 140 questions broken out into two sections.
The national section of the broker exam has 100 questions in the following topic areas:
- Property Ownership
- Land Use Controls and Regulations
- Valuation and Market Analysis
- General Principles of Agency
- Property Disclosures
- Leasing and Property Management
- Transfer of Title
- Practice of Real Estate
- Real Estate Calculations
The state section of the broker exam has 40 questions in the following topic areas:
- Licensing Requirements
- Laws and Rules Regulating Real Estate Practice
The managing broker exam is different, with 10 national questions and 40 state questions. The national questions are in a simulation format, with multiple parts.
Primary issues covered in the national section include:
- Agency Relationships and Property Representations
- Fair Housing and Other Governmental Regulations
- Handling Money
- Training and Supervision of Licensees
There’s also one additional primary issue that varies.
Property types covered in the national section include:
- Property Management
There’s also two more types that vary.
Section topics, within the national potion of the test, can include:
- Freehold and leasehold
- Property management
- Government Regulations and Private Restrictions
- Description and Measurement
- Ethical Behavior
The state section of the managing broker exam touches on the following topics:
- Licensing Requirements
- Laws and Rules Regulating Real Estate Practice
- Managing Broker Topics
Regardless of exam type, you need a minimum score of 75 percent to pass each section.
How to File for Your License After the Exam in Illinois
Once you pass both sections of the real estate license exam in Illinois, your score is automatically sent to the IDFPR.
You’ll then need to complete your application, secure a managing broker, and ensure your fingerprints have been submitted.
Application fees are $125, and fingerprinting costs hover around $15.
As you wait for your license approval, make sure to read our article discussing the pros and cons of being a real estate agent as a career.
This will help you prepare for what’s ahead when establishing your real estate career in the state.
How to Receive Your Real Estate License in Illinois
After you complete your exam, you’ll report to the testing supervisor to receive your score report. This report shows your results.
You’ll only receive diagnostic information if you don’t pass the national portion of the exam.
If you pass both sections, you’ll receive a score report with additional instructions on how to complete the licensing process through the IDFPR online portal.
The IDFPR does not issue paper licenses, but it will be available electronically through the portal.
However, you have the ability to practice under the supervision of your managing broker for 45 days while your application is processed.
How long does it take to get an Illinois real estate license when studying in the class?
To complete the entire real estate licensing process depends both on the length of your pre-licensing course requirement and the type of license you’re getting.
For the broker license, with 75 hours of classwork to complete, plus studying, taking the exam, and receiving your license, it should take around 4.5-5 months.
For the managing broker license, if you already have an IL real estate license, total time should average out to around 2.5-3 months.
Out-of-state licensees getting a managing broker license have a lot of class hours to complete, so hands-on time should be around 8-9 months.
How long does it take to get an Illinois real estate license online?
Opting for an online format for your pre-licensing coursework can change everything when it comes to the total time to get your Illinois real estate license.
If you can commit 40 hours per week to your coursework, you could significantly speed up the time you’ll need to get through the whole process.
At this rate, you could get your broker license in as little as three weeks, and your managing broker license in 2-2.5 weeks.
For those coming in from out-of-state for a managing broker license, the timeline speeds up to a little under two months.
Read our guide providing a complete timeline of acquiring an Illinois real estate license — How Long Does It Take to Get a Real Estate License in Illinois?
Is there a background check for an Illinois real estate license?
A background check is required for the Illinois real estate license, activated with the submission of fingerprints.
The cost is around $15, and you can set up an appointment with anyone on the approved vendor list.
How much does an Illinois real estate license cost?
Your total investment for your Illinois real estate license will vary based on where you take your pre-licensing classes.
On average though, expect to pay a few hundred for this portion.
When added to the other known costs:
- Fingerprinting: $15
- Exam: $58
- Application fee: $125
You’re looking at the total cost being somewhere around $550.
How long do you have to wait to retake the real estate exam in Illinois?
You must wait 24 hours before calling to schedule your next test. From there, you could potentially get an appointment as soon as the following day.
How many times can you retake the Illinois real estate exam?
When you fail the exam, you have four attempts to pass before having to retake your pre-licensing coursework over again.
Additionally, if you fail one portion of the licensing exam, you have a year to retake and pass.
We have tips on studying for the real estate exam, so you can pass it on your first attempt.
Do you have to pay to retake the real estate exam in Illinois?
Each time you retake the real estate exam, regardless of whether it’s one or both sections, you have to pay the testing fee.
How much does it cost to retake the real estate exam in Illinois?
You have to pay the fee of $58 for each retake.
Can you get a real estate license with a felony in Illinois?
How to get your real estate license in Illinois if convicted of a felony?
You must disclose all the pertinent information to the IDFPR. If your application is granted, you’re then subject to probation for a period of two years.
More than 95 percent of those who apply with a past conviction, who accurately fill out all paperwork and disclose their history, have obtained a license in the past few years.
Can you get a real estate license with a misdemeanor in Illinois?
There are no convictions that result in an automatic ‘no’ when it comes to getting your real estate license in Illinois.
Even misdemeanors involving dishonesty and fraud are considered as long as all relevant information is disclosed at the start of your licensing process.
Will a DUI prevent you from getting a real estate license in Illinois?
Since no convictions lead to an automatic ban, you can get a real estate license if you have a DUI.
You must disclose the charge yourself, and also expect the IDFPR to contact you should they need additional information or want to discuss the conviction with you personally.
Can I get a real estate license without a high school diploma in Illinois?
A high school diploma, or equivalent GED, is required to be eligible to get a real estate license in Illinois.
With this guide, you can apply for your Illinois real estate license with ease.
It’s a competitive field, though, so you have to make necessary preparations to have a successful career.
As a new agent, you should gear up for the next steps after passing the real estate exam.
You can ask experienced agents for advice on how you can build your business in the state.
To make this happen, most Illinois real estate agents ensure they are part of a real estate team.
We have an article to guide you when you want to know how to join a real estate team.
Next, you need to come up with effective strategies to promote your business.
The good news is that our platform is designed to do just that for newbie agents like you.
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.