8 Steps to Get Your Iowa Real Estate License

Step-By-Step Guide to Become a Licensed Real Estate Agent

Much like the rest of the country, the Iowa housing market continues to surge. Home prices are up 6.7% year-over-year, and more people continue to migrate to the state. The growing metros may you surprise you though:

Homes in Iowa spent about 57 days on the market which is about 12 days less than the year prior. For that reason, real estate is becoming a lucrative career and many are hoping to get in on the action.

If you want to become a real estate agent, however, you must obtain a license in the state of Iowa. Below we’ll walk you through the 8 simple steps you must take to become a licensed agent in the Hawkeye State.

Step 1: Meet the IREC Requirements

Young Student Watching Lesson Online And Studying From HomeThe Iowa Real Estate Commission first wants to make sure that you check the following boxes before continuing on with the licensing process:

  1. Must be 18 or older within 6 months of taking the exam
  2. Must be a US citizen
  3. Must have a high school diploma or equivalent
  4. Must not have been convicted of a felony
  5. In past 12 months, must not have had a real estate license application rejected in Iowa

These steps are pretty straightforward, but there will be lots of questions regarding your criminal history. The state wants to ensure that you have not been convicted of any offense involving moral turpitude in the past year (this includes assault, battery, robbery, etc.).

Step 2: Take Required 60-Hour Online Course 

Distant,Studying,By,Video,Conference.,Focused,Young,Man,Student,Getting*Note: Iowa requires 96 hours of coursework to get your real estate license, 60 of which can be taken online in a convenient online format.

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The first 60 hours are easily accessible online with any accredited real estate school or university. Those hours will focus on generic real estate practices and principles. Want to learn more? Check out the best real estate schools in Iowa.

However, the next 36 hours are a little bit more strict. You will need to sign-up for and take the following three courses in person to qualify for a license in Iowa:

    • 12 Hours of Developing Professionalism and Ethical Practices
    • 12 Hours of Buying Practices
    • 12 Hours of Listing Practices

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Step 3: Pass the Course Final Exam

After completing all course materials, you’ll need to pass the real estate school’s version of a final exam. You’ll need to score at least a 70% to pass your school’s pre-licensing exam. This will give you some indication of how ready you are for the state required exam, so study up and pay attention to every question.

Step 4: Pass the Iowa Real Estate Exam

women studying for licensing examPSI will administer this exam. You need to show up with two valid forms of ID on the day of the test.

*Note: The examination fee is $95 and you’ll need to take the exam within 12 months of completing your Pre-Licensing education.

The exam consists of 120 questions and includes two sections covering both state and national requirements. To pass, you’ll need to answer 56 out of 80 questions (70%) correctly on the national portion and 28 out of 40 questions (70%) on the state portion for a total of 84 out of 120 (70%).

Step 5: Purchase E&O Insurance 

man studying for licensing examYou must have proof of an Errors and Omissions insurance policy in place before you can qualify for a real estate license in Iowa.

Only 12 states require that you have this type of insurance in place as an active real estate agent. The Iowa Real Estate Commission takes this step very seriously, and will actively check that there are no gaps in your coverage.

Step 6: Find a Sponsoring Broker

After passing your licensing exam, you must associate with a current and active Iowa Sponsoring Broker. This Broker will be a career and education mentor, providing you with an inside view into the day-to-day operations of a real estate agent.

You have total freedom to choose your sponsoring broker. Here’s some things agents look at when choosing a brokerage:

  • Commission splits
    • Look at each brokerage’s commission rate when you’re shopping around. If they’ve got a good split, your commission checks will be larger than life. 💸
  • Niche
    • Maybe you want a brokerage that focuses on a specific niche or a specific category of real estate like commercial retail, single family homes, or fixer-uppers. So if you have a specific interest you can find a broker who shares that interest.
  • Culture
    • Maybe the company’s culture is important to you. If so, get to know what they’re all about, how they work, and what’s important to them.

That’s all just to say that you have the freedom to choose a brokerage that fits you. There are dozens of options, so shop around before committing to a brokerage to hang your license.

Step 7: Pass a Background Check

small group of students studyingAll applicants will need to pay a $51 fee to submit their fingerprints for a background check.

The Iowa Bureau of Investigation will receive your fingerprints for the purpose of conducting an Iowa and national fingerprint-based, criminal history background check, utilizing records of the IBI and the FBI. These results can take a couple of days depending on if the system is backed up.

Step 8: Complete the Iowa Real Estate Salesperson Application

You must submit your application within 6 months of taking the state-issued exam.

Here’s what you’ll need to complete the process:

  • Pay the $125 application fee
  • Proof that you’ve completed the necessary Pre-Licensing education requirements
  • Documentation that you’ve successfully passed the Iowa licensing exam
  • Proof of E&O insurance coverage (with no gaps on record)
  • The notarized signature of your employing broker on your license application form (the sponsoring broker you choose)
  • Your signature notarized on the license application form

Congratulations! If you follow these simple steps, you’ll be a licensed real estate agent in the state of Iowa in no time. Many students finish this process in about 6 months depending on when they are able to take the 36 hours of required in-person courses.

How much does it cost to get a real estate license in Iowa? counting money

Below is a list of costs associated with getting your Iowa real estate license:

Online Pre-licensing Education Costs:

The estimated cost for this is around $300-$600 or more depending on the school or online program you select. This involves finding an accredited and qualified real estate school to clock your hours. As stated earlier, the state of Iowa requires you to finish 96 hours of education. Only 60 of those hours can be taken online. The remaining hours must be taken in-person.

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Real estate licensing and exam fees

This total fee schedule is estimated to cost about $271. The breakdown of this cost is as follows: The fee for an Iowa real estate salesperson license examination is $95, and the fee for submitting your fingerprints for the background check is an additional $51. The actual license application fee is $125.

E & O Insurance Policy 

You can choose what policy is best for you, but the average cost of insurance is $956 to $2,652 per year. E&O Insurance prices vary depending on the size and type of business you do.

Real estate broker fees

These fees are estimated to cost anything from $30 to $450 per month. The real estate broker fees are the fees that you have to incur when you want to become associated with a recognized and accredited broker. As it is your first year, there are some things that your sponsor broker will provide. These things, such as office supplies, photocopies, internet, and any other business expenses, are usually associated with the daily operation of your business. It is also likely that you will have to pay a desk fee every month to help reimburse some of these costs.

Real estate membership dues

Membership dues and feels usually cost around $200 or more each year. And while they can qualify as a tax break in the state of Iowa, they are still a significant expense for many Realtors. This fee typically depends on how many associations you want to join. For instance, you can become part of your local and state real estate boards.

Every one of these boards comes with a membership fee that has to be paid monthly or yearly for you to be able to enjoy the numerous advantages and networking options they offer. The local MLS or Multiple Listing Service will also have fees associated with them. Depending on where you are in the state, you may have to pay your monthly dues either to your broker or to the association directly.

Continuing Education

Becoming a real estate agent does not mean you stop educating yourself once you have passed your licensing tests.  To stay an active agent, you have to meet SAE and CE requirements. Some CE courses are offered for free through local boards of realty. Additional designations, though optional, may also come with fees.

How long does it take to get a real estate license in Iowa?

Businessmen,Are,Analyzing,The,Residential,Real,Estate,Investment,By,WorkingIt’s best to look at the availability of in-person classes before signing up for the first 60 online hours. If classes are filled up, it can take several weeks before there is an opening. You can knock out the 36 in-person hours if you match up the timing to begin right after your online hours.

Applying for the exam and taking the exam itself can take 1-3 weeks, depending on how many candidates have applied.  

The mandatory fingerprint scan takes up the most time, as it takes around 8 to 10 weeks to get checked. 

After you apply for your license, it can take anywhere between 1 week to 2 months for your application to be processed. Once IREC has checked and approved everything, you will receive your license.

The total time it takes to obtain an Iowa Salesperson’s License depends on the person, but in general, can be completed in a few months.

How much do real estate agents make in Iowa?

Real estate agents in Iowa earn an average yearly income of $54,880, typically ranging between $32,400 and $68,150. Top 10% of high-earning real estate sales agents are making over $96,090 per year or more. This is slightly higher than the national average.

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About the Author

Chris Heller brings 27 years of experience in real estate. Chris serves on the AgentAdvice Editorial Board and is the Chief Real Estate Officer at OJO Labs. Chris brings deep expertise having held influential industry positions including CEO of mellohome and former CEO of Keller Williams Realty International.

Last Updated: 6/14/2022