About 1.5 million Americans hold real estate licenses, but the paths those license-holders took were all different due to different state requirements.

Colleen Freihoff, VP for sales and business development, real estate, at OnCourse Learning, said, “Every state is a different flavor, a different barrier to entry.”   

Despite those differences, there are some things all students should do when pursuing their state real estate licenses. The Real Estate Blog asked Freihoff and Sherry Steele, education manager for OnCourse Learning, to provide several tips for prospective real estate students.

Save up for fees and the cost of real estate school, but before registering for any classes, prepare yourself. Steele suggested asking these questions. Do you know how to prepare a business plan? Are you comfortable talking to strangers? A little introspection goes a long way.

Colleen Freihoff

“Do you have that get up and go every day when you need to just get up and go?” Steele said.

Deciding to get a license is easy. It’s what happens afterward that requires much more tenacity.

“It’s growing your business that’s hard,” Steele continued. “The most successful students come to real estate school knowing what they’re doing is creating a business for themselves.”

Talk to and interview real estate brokerage firms, especially those you’re interested in working for. Pre-licensing training starts here, and having some face-to-face exposure with an agent can pay big dividends down the road. Find out if they’re hiring.

“After school, you’ll have everything ready,” Steele said.

Contacting a brokerage firm develops a network and could lead to a mentor. Most often the student will have to give up part of the commission for a mentorship, Steele said, but that’s a necessary expense to grow a business.

“The money should be the last question,” Steele said. “The first questions should be: What kind of education do you have, what kind of support or mentoring do you have? And how — once I get my license — am I going to grow this business?”

Once students follow the steps above, enrolling in real estate school is next. Schools should train students on what makes a contract or deed valid and ways to find buyers and sellers.

“You’ll have to get the basic core learning, based on state regulations — the underlying knowledge — to not break the law, to keep your license,” Steele said.

Passing the state exam is important, Freihoff noted, but a program should prepare the student for more than a test. Teaching students how to apply what they learn in real-world applications is critical, she said.

Although online courses aren’t in the classroom, that doesn’t mean students should take the lessons less seriously. Keep the intensity up and complete the course.

“The students that are most successful with distance learning are the students who treat it like a classroom, who sit down on Sunday night and schedule their schoolwork, just as if they were going to school,” Steele said.

Online programs should not rush students, Freihoff added. School should be meaningful and help students master topics.

“It just produces a highly educated student, someone who can go out and actually practice real estate and know what they’re talking about,” she said.

Don’t compartmentalize real estate school. Engage friends and family, enlist their help. Parents should ask their children to quiz them and make flashcards.

“If I can explain to them the essential elements of a deed, then I understand well enough to pass any exam,” Steele said.

OnCourse Learning offers a free webinar that provides information on becoming a real estate agent.