California Real Estate License courses

Compare the Best Real Estate Courses in California

California is an economic powerhouse that’s home to some of the largest and most expensive real estate markets in the country. If that sounds like a career opportunity to you, you’ll need to start by getting your California real estate salesperson license—and part of that process is choosing a school to help you master the required subjects and practice for your state exam. We’re ready to help by sharing the information we’ve collected on top California real estate courses and presenting it in a way that makes it easy to choose the option that works best for you.
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Real Estate Pre-License Course Reviews

California is home to dozens of specialized real estate schools, colleges, and even public education districts that offer state-approved pre-license classes and course packages. Whether you take an online class or go to a campus for your instruction, the general content is the same. What sets the best courses apart is the quality of the instructors, the detail in each lesson, the level of support, and the amount of post-course support for students as they launch their new career.

Classroom or Online Real Estate Courses?

You can choose between classroom and online instruction to get your pre-license education, and there plenty of schools and companies providing both options around the state. The biggest factors to think about when you’re deciding whether to attend classes or study online are your schedule, the distance to the nearest well-regarded real estate school, and whether you learn best in a group setting or on your own with remote support.

California Real Estate License Requirements

The Golden State requires more pre-license education than many states, in addition to some basic requirements. Before you commit to the coursework, make sure you’re qualified to apply for a real estate license in California. You’ll need to:

  • be 18 years old or older.
  • pass a background check.
  • find a licensed broker to sponsor you once you pass the state exam.
  • pass the California real estate salesperson exam.
  • complete 135 hours of pre-license education with a state-approved school.

You have two options for your pre-license education. If you’re a member of the California State Bar, you may submit documentation of your eligibility to practice law to get an exemption from the pre-license course requirement. If you’re not a practicing attorney in California, you’ll need to take a pre-license course. The 135-hour requirement consists of three 45 credit-hour college-level courses. Real Estate Principles and Real Estate Practice are the two courses everyone must take. When it comes to the third course, California is a bit different from most other states. Rather than having one mandatory course, students get to choose the topic of their third course from the state’s list of approved topics:

  • business law
  • common interest developments
  • computer applications in real estate
  • escrows
  • general accounting
  • legal aspects of real estate
  • mortgage loan brokering and lending
  • property management
  • real estate appraisal
  • real estate economics
  • real estate finance
  • real estate office administration

Students can choose their courses a la carte or register for a package that includes one of the elective courses. Not all course packages include the same electives, so be sure to check the offerings before you sign up to make sure they meet your interests. What if you’ve already taken classes in another state or country? California doesn’t have reciprocal agreements with other states to waive licensing requirements, but residents of other states can earn a California real-estate salesperson license if they meet all in-state criteria, including education. Some out-of-state and international coursework may be applied to your California pre-license education requirement, if your transcript is approved by the Department of Real Estate. After you earn your license, start looking into continuing education courses. Real estate is a lifelong-learning career, and all salespeople are required to complete at least 45 hours of state-approved continuing education classes before their first license renewal.

Fast Facts on the California Real Estate Market

  • The Golden State has long been one of the most desirable places to live in the US. It also has some of the country’s most expensive housing, with costs rising dramatically from 1970 to today, according to a report by the California Legislature’s Legislative Analyst’s Office. California can be a challenging place for home buyers, especially first-time buyers, and a skilled real estate agent is a must for finding properties for sale, crafting appealing bids, and closing purchases.
  • California has the world’s 6th largest economy, with a gross state product in 2017 of $2.5 billion. (Source: Forbes)
  • The total value of all the homes in the Greater Los Angeles area was $2.5 trillion at the end of 2016. (Source: LA Weekly)
  • The median home value in the greater LA area in 2017 topped $533,000. (Source: Forbes)
  • The most expensive home ever sold in LA County was a Malibu mansion that went for $110 million in early 2018. (Source: Business Insider)
  • The median home value in San Francisco in 2017 was more than $1.1 million. (Source: Forbes)
  • Average home prices in California were 2.5 times the national average in 2015. (Source: California Legislature LAO)
  • Monthly rents in California were 50% higher than the national average in 2015. (Source: California Legislature LAO)
  • The California Association of Realtors has more than 170,000 members. (Source: CAR)
  • There are more than 100 local-level Realtor associations across the state. (Source: CAR)

More on the Top Schools in California

The CE Shop

California real estate students can choose from three online CE Shop pre-license packages that include all 135 hours of required classes, plus optional extras like business-building courses and a continuing-education license renewal class package. Each of the 45-hour state-required course modules is available to purchase individually, too, for students who only need principles, practice, or finance. The CE Shop’s national average pass rate is 91%. Pass rate survey data for California students is still pending.

(4.1 / 5)

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Brightwood College

Brightwood gives California real estate students several ways to complete their pre-license education, including home study with textbooks or PDF materials, online video, and live classes. A variety of course packages provide the state-required curriculum plus extras like interactive group study and state exam prep. Brightwood also offers individual California pre-license courses for students who have already finished part of their coursework. Brightwood Real Estate Education is run by Kaplan, a leader in test-prep and continuing education nationwide.

(3.6 / 5)

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Real Estate Express

Real Estate Express started delivering online training in 1996, and now its California pre-license options include a basic 135-hour class package as well as more extensive packages that include exam prep classes, a pass-or-don’t-pay guarantee, and live course Q&As. For students who only need selected pre-license courses, or who want to pace their study to fit their schedules and budget, Real Estate Express offers individual finance, practices, and principles courses as well as an exam prep course.

(3.1 / 5)

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Allied Real Estate School

Since 1992, Allied has been teaching real estate courses online, and the school gives a money-back guarantee to students: Pass the California state license exam the first time or get a refund plus an extra 10% back. Students can choose from three pre-license course packages—all of them include 135 hours of instruction plus exam prep questions. Allied’s premium packages add an exam prep DVD, flash cards, and a dictionary; the premium plus package includes designations students can choose for career development.

(3 / 5)

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360training has been providing real estate education online since 1999. In California today, 360training offers a full menu of mix-and-match pre-license and test-prep courses as well as three different pre-license packages. All three packages include the required 135 hours of coursework covering real estate principles and practice plus California Business Law. The premium package adds on state exam prep, and the Ultimate Success package adds instructor-connect access and tips on serving clients online.

(2.6 / 5)

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How We Rate the Courses

We rate the top California real estate courses in five main areas: quality, convenience, comprehensiveness, student engagement, and value.

  1. Quality. How user-friendly is the course? Are the classroom locations and times convenient? Is the online platform easy to log on to and use? Do the lessons feature the kinds of examples that licensed real estate agents in California often deal with? Are the lessons and examples tailored to California law and customs, to help prepare for your exam and career? Does the course use current textbooks and up to date technology?
  2. Convenience. How easy is it for students to work at their own pace, on their own schedule? What types of review sessions, spot quizzes, and study groups does the course include to help students prepare to pass their exam? Can students access the material on their smartphones as easily as on their computers? What kind of tech support and customer service help are available, and what hours do they keep?
  3. Comprehensiveness. Does the course cover the state-mandated curriculum in enough detail, and with enough reinforcement and review, to help students succeed in passing the state exam? Does the course cover everything that will appear on the exam so there are no nerve-rattling surprises in the exam room?
  4. Student engagement. Are instructors available to answer students’ questions in class, during office hours, or online? Is the curriculum varied enough to appeal to different types of learners with media like videos, charts, quizzes, and practice problems as well as text? Are there tools students can use to track their progress and concept mastery as they move through the course?
  5. Value. Does the course deliver a level of quality instruction and support that corresponds to its price? How do the price and quality compare to similar courses from other schools?