Some states set the bar high when it comes to real estate pre-licensing, with a few mandating upwards of 135 hours of training in the classroom. This is unrealistic if you’re a single parent, plan to hold down a job until you get your license, or focus best in a unique learning environment. That begs the question: Can you take online real estate courses in your state?
Real estate online classes are available in 40 states & D.C.—excluding Alaska, Connecticut, Idaho, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, North Dakota, Rhode Island, South Dakota, & West Virginia. Most states that allow online schools accept courses from The CE Shop, MBition, and Real Estate Express.
The short answer is, “That depends on the state you live in.” Keep reading to find out the long answer. We’ll review the benefits of completing your pre-licensing training online, which states permit a strictly online education, and the best online schools to fulfill this requirement.
An Overview of Real Estate Classes
As you may already know, getting your real estate license can take a good deal of time. The first step of many is completing your pre-licensing education at a state-approved real estate school.
Pre-licensing requirements will vary from state to state, with some states requiring fewer than 40 hours of the basics while others require 180 hours or more. This coursework is meant to expose you to the basics of real estate laws and concepts—both state and national—that all successful real estate agents must have a firm grasp of.
That includes everything from types of property ownership and land rights to the different types of mortgages and The Fair Housing Act.
Some states also break down their mandatory pre-licensing hours into several different courses. For example, the State of Texas divides its 180-hour requirement into six different courses, including 30 hours each in courses like “Law of Agency” and “Real Estate Finance.”
Once you complete the coursework, you’ll have to pass a post-course exam to prove you’re a good candidate to move forward with licensing. You can then go on to schedule your state real estate exam, register for fingerprinting and begin applying for your real estate license.
40 States That Allow Online Real Estate Classes
It should come as no surprise that, in 2020, the majority of U.S. states accept online real estate classes in place of the typical instructor-led classroom coursework. In the list below, you’ll see the 40 states—and one U.S. district—that permit online pre-licensing classes.
- District of Columbia
- New York
- North Carolina
- South Carolina
Though each of these states accepts online pre-licensing classes for new real estate agents, you don’t necessarily have to complete your training online. You can always enroll in local classroom-based courses if you prefer the instructor-led experience.
10 States Where In-Person Real Estate Classes Are Mandatory
Unfortunately, there are still a handful of U.S. states that stick to the old-fashioned way of completing your pre-licensing education. In the list below, you’ll find the ten states that require all applicants to fulfill the state’s minimum number of hours in a local instructor-led course.
- New Hampshire
- New Jersey
- New Mexico
- North Dakota
- Rhode Island
- South Dakota
- West Virginia
Unless you’re planning to get your real estate license and practice in a state that accepts online education, there’s no alternative if you live in any of the above-listed jurisdictions. Prepare yourself for weeks of long classroom sessions that eat up your days, nights, or weekends.
The Benefits of Online Courses
If you’re lucky, you live in one of the 41 locations in America that permit online real estate coursework to meet your state’s pre-licensing requirements. Now, you have a choice to make: Should you complete your training online, or are in-person courses a better choice?
In the majority of cases, online courses are the way to go!
Let’s review why.
The major benefit of online real estate coursework is that you can complete your training on your own time. Unlike classroom courses that may consume your Saturdays or weeknights, you can squeeze in a few minutes or hours of classes when there’s an opening in your schedule. This is extremely convenient if you’re a single parent, work a full-time job, or just live a busy lifestyle.
Piggybacking on that previous point, online classes allow you to go at your own pace. Questions or confusion from peers in the classroom can disrupt the flow and focus of a class session, especially if you understand the concepts well. Online courses let you go back and review areas that were confusing or speed through concepts that you have an excellent grasp on.
Lastly, and most importantly, many online courses come with extra features at a low or discounted rate. The standard online program may offer practice exams, insight regarding your strengths and weaknesses, and different modes of education (like videos and diagrams). Not only will you learn the essential topics, but you may perform better on your future exam.
All in all, if your state accepts online real estate schooling, it’d be silly to opt for the traditional classroom course instead.
The Downsides of Online Courses
It’d be inappropriate to highlight all of the benefits of online pre-licensing courses without pinpointing this choice’s potential negatives. After all, we want to make sure that, if you have the choice between traditional coursework and online, you choose the mode that’s best for you!
Here are the possible negatives.
The major downside is that some people thrive best in the classroom setting. Online education might be more convenient for the average person. Yet, this style may be to your detriment if you struggle to focus on your own or if you prefer to ask your questions to an instructor as confusion arises. Waiting up to 24 hours for a response via email may be too long, and you may not receive the answer you’re looking for.
Another point worth noting is that you can’t “speed-run” your online education, which would be a major perk for any applicant short on time. States like Alabama and Arizona have a strict cap on the number of coursework hours you can put in during a single day.
That means you won’t necessarily complete pre-licensing quicker online than you would with traditional courses, especially when some in-person schools can condense coursework into two or three weeks.
If either of these points resonated with you, it may be in your best interest to choose a classroom-style pre-licensing course instead.
Finding a Real Estate School
About 99% of future real estate agents will have to complete their state’s mandatory pre-licensing coursework. But it’s important to note that some states do have an exception—attorneys that have passed the State Bar—that can waive the pre-licensing course and advance to the exam phase of real estate licensure.
Whether you’re opting for an online program or a traditional in-person course, you want to be sure that you’re getting your money’s worth and completing the coursework as your state has lined out. Now, let’s review what your schooling options are and how to know if a school is legit.
The 3 Best Online Real Estate Schools
There’s no shortage of online real estate schools on the web, but there is undoubtedlya shortage of reputable online real estate schools available to prospective agents. Your initial knowledge of the industry will be primarily reliant on what you learn during pre-licensing, which is why we recommend these three online schools:
The CE Shop
As of now, The CE Shop offers pre-licensing classes for the majority of states that allow online courses. In addition to a 100% state-approved education, The CE Shop’s benefits include:
- An impressive 91% exam pass rate (compared to the average 50-60% in many states)
- A 5-day free trial to see if the program is right for you
- Modules that perform well on a computer, tablet, or smartphone
- Progress bars to see what you’ve completed and what still remains
- Practice exams with feedback on the areas you’re struggling with
- Flashcards, glossaries, study schedules, and real estate eBooks
Unlike many online real estate schools, The CE Shop offers an exam prep program in the more affordable “standard” package. There’s no doubt that you’ll get the most bang for your buck when you opt for this pre-licensing program.
Mbition is a smaller online pre-licensing provider, but with over 50 years in education, its size is no issue. The benefits of Mbition that over 750,000 have enjoyed include:
- A unique focus on the mathematical aspect of the exam
- Access to an instructor and technical support
- A guarantee that you’ll pass your exam on the first attempt
- Exam prep through PSI (one of the largest exam agencies)
- Legitimate real estate textbooks available for purchase
Mbition is a great program if you’re looking to complete your pre-licensing requirements without all of the unnecessary bells and whistles that many programs provide. You can fast-track your pre-licensing and feel confident that you’ll ace your exam on the first try.
Real Estate Express
Real Estate Express is one of the most highly-regarded online pre-licensing providers across the nation. The benefits of choosing this pre-licensing program include:
- Access to several real estate eBooks with the basic package (for most states)
- Exam prep programs with practice exams
- “Pass or don’t pay” guarantees to ensure licensure
- An instructor assigned to each course for Q&A and guidance
- Additional boot camp programs to help you develop your new business
Real Estate Express is a solid option for completing your pre-licensing, guaranteeing you pass your exam, and getting your new career off on the right foot. Choose the pre-licensing program that thousands of new agents select every single year.
Here’s a video that will walk you through a demo of Real Estate Express so you can see what the online module is really like:
Don’t Get Scammed: How to Know If a Program Is Legit
The last thing you want to do is dedicate hundreds of dollars and dozens of hours toward your pre-licensing, only to find out that the school you attended wasn’t the real deal in your state. Luckily, there are a few ways to verify that the program you choose is legitimate:
- Check your state’s official website. Many states will have an official list of the real estate schools that are approved or licensed within the state. If a school—online or in-person—isn’t on your state’s list, assume you won’t receive credit.
- Look for a license number. This goes for both in-person and online real estate schools. A specific license number should be visible on the school’s website showing that it’s approved in your state.
- Verify your state’s requirements. If you live in a state that doesn’t accept online real estate classes, but you find an online version of pre-licensing courses, stop right there. There might be a full learning module, but it won’t count toward your state’s hours.
- Read the reviews. Just because a real estate school is “approved” by your state, that doesn’t mean it’s a good program. Read the online reviews about the module or the instructor to ensure you’ll get the most out of the program you choose.
Save yourself the time and money that go into completing your pre-licensing courses by just doing a little bit of research before registering for a course.
Exam Prep: Taking Your Online Education One Step Further
Once you complete your pre-licensing hours and courses, your next step is taking and passing your state’s real estate exam with a 70%+. Though you’ve mastered the content while completing your pre-licensing training, the real estate exam is a completely different animal.
That’s why prospective agents should also invest in some sort of exam prep program online.
Be sure to choose a program that offers unlimited practice exams to get a better feel on the types of questions you might face on the big day. This will get you accustomed to answering multiple-choice questions,the topics states focus most on, and how essential it is to read every word in both questions and answers.
One step further, look into an exam prep program that provides feedback and study tools alongside these practice tests. A great exam prep program will let you know at the end of each exam which topics you’re excelling with and the ones you should study more on. With this type of data, you can center your studying around the concepts you struggle the most with.
What better way to ensure you pass your real estate exam on the first attempt?
Other Types of Online Real Estate Classes
When you think about online real estate classes, you probably think of the basic pre-licensing coursework. Yet, it’s worth pointing out that your time in the classroom (or online module) doesn’t end once you finally get your real estate license. Most states require post-licensing or continuing education coursework to maintain your license throughout the years.
Failure to complete your state’s requirements for post-licensing and/or continuing education may cause your license to lapse and additional fees to reinstate it. Now, let’s review what these concepts are and go over the states that accept online fulfillment for each!
Post-licensing is a concept that many states like Florida, Utah, and Georgia have put in place for newer agents. If you live in a state that mandates post-licensing hours, you’ll have to complete additional coursework during your first six months to two years of licensure to keep your license in your name.
The states that allow online post-licensing fulfillment include:
- North Dakota
- South Dakota
Just like pre-licensing courses, you can also complete your post-licensing coursework in a traditional classroom setting, if that’s what you prefer.
Continuing education is unique to each state, but is a concept that is standard across the board. Between each license renewal period, usually between two and four years, you’ll have to complete a minimum number of state-approved continuing education credits. This is a rule that remains in place, whether this is your first year with your license or twentieth.
The good news is that all U.S states, even the states that require classroom pre-licensing courses, will accept online continuing education credits.
Fortunately, nearly every state in America will accept online pre-licensing training rather than requiring new agents to sit for over 100 hours in a classroom setting. If given the option between in-person and online courses, it’s typically in your best interest to opt for the digital version.
You can complete this type of training on your own time, at your convenience, and far quicker.
It’s also a good idea to pursue your state’s post-licensing or continuing education credits online if permitted. That way, you can save yourself the time of driving to in-person courses nearby, especially in your first few years where you’re trying to get your business off the ground.