8 Steps to Get Your Kentucky Real Estate License

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

Kentucky, the Bluegrass State, is a land of strong work ethics, deep-rooted traditions, and religious values. This is the land of thoroughbred horse racing and the Kentucky Derby (the most famous horse race in the world). There are also several big industries here, which is why more and more people are choosing to move to Kentucky.

Recently, the average home in Kentucky was priced at $156,926. That’s a 6.6% increase year-over-year, and this figure is expected to increase dramatically in the coming months. How dramatically? Zillow predicts the market will accelerate and rise 10%. Rising prices and continued demand, despite the pandemic’s challenges, are a promising sign that 2022 could be a very profitable year for real estate professionals.

Additionally, home sales across the Bluegrass State grew 12% year-over-year. Thanks to record low-interest rates, continued strong demand, and lower-than-usual inventory, Kentucky will likely be a seller’s market with high prices and the scene of many bidding wars as 2022 continues to unfold.

If you want to get in on that action, don’t worry, we’re going to help you out.  We’ll give you a step-by-step guide showing you how to become a real estate agent in Kentucky.

Meet The Kentucky Real Estate Commission

women studying for licensing examKREC is the organization in Kentucky that is entrusted with real estate regulation and monitoring. They maintain standard practices, and handle issuing licenses to agents and brokers. The commission ensures agents are up to snuff, and they ensure nobody is damaging the market with shady practices. In short, they oversee all aspects of the industry.

Step 1: Know the Requirements 

Let’s clear the basics first. To qualify for a real estate salesperson’s license in Kentucky, you need to check off these boxes:

  • Be at least 18 years old
  • Have a high school diploma or equivalent
  • Be lawfully eligible to work in the US
  • Have a valid social security number


Kentucky only has reciprocity with Ohio real estate license holders. You just need to do the following before you can apply for a reciprocal license:

  • Pay the salesperson license fee
  • Have an active Ohio salesperson license for at least one year immediately preceding the time of application.
  • You must affiliate your Kentucky license with a principal broker who holds a Kentucky broker license.
  • Once licensed in Kentucky, you must adhere to all Kentucky licensing requirements, including completing 48 hours of post-license education courses within the first 2 years of obtaining a license.

Getting a Kentucky license might be tricky, but we are here to help you avoid unnecessary stress.

Step 2: Take Required Pre-Licensing Course

woman studying on computerTo start, you have to successfully complete an approved 96-hour pre-licensing course. This course will teach you the various aspects of the practices and principles of Kentucky Real Estate.

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Most people choose to take their pre-license education courses online. You have so many options! Online classes means you can do them at your own pace and work them in around your own schedule even if you have a full-time job. Also, the classes are only a total of 96 hours! That may seem like a big number, but to get started in a new career, that number is just a speck in time.

The course topics include:

  • Real Property Characteristics and Rights
  • Interests and Estates
  • Liens and Encumbrances
  • Forms of Ownership
  • Title and Title Transfer
  • Foreclosure
  • Real Property Taxation

“But what the heck are ‘Encumbrances’?”

Don’t be scared off by the vocabulary. This is what the classes are designed for. They’ll defang any confusing topics by breaking them down. Still scared? Trust me, you can do this. The pass rates after taking these classes are sky-high, typically over a 82% pass rate and the support these classes offer is amazing.

Students are always surprised how affordable these classes are. Take a look at the best real estate schools in Kentucky and see for yourself. If you’re still looking for a way to save some dough, AgentAdvice offers a way to get yours for free.

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Step 3: Pass the Course Final Exam

man studying for licensing examAfter finishing your course, you have to schedule and take a proctored test. This is a final exam to ensure that you know what you’ve been taught. The minimum passing score is 75%. You also have to sign an affidavit to verify your identity before taking the test.

After passing this course you’ll be issued a certificate of course completion that will permit you to register for the state exam and licensing. Hold on to this, you may need to reference it later.

Step 4: Complete a Background Check

small group of students studyingTo prevent shady behavior, you have to submit a set of fingerprints to the Kentucky branch of the FBI. They will run the prints through a Kentucky and national fingerprint-based criminal history database.

The first move here is to buy a fingerprint packet at a local police station. Once you make your prints, you can now submit the fingerprint pack to the FBI to request an FBI report. It takes about 1-2 weeks to process the background check. After that, the report is mailed in to KREC. The commission will review the background check to confirm your eligibility. Don’t worry if you have one or two misdemeanors on your record, because someone from the commission will reach out to you to clarify and provide additional information or documentation.

The criminal history check only last for 90 days after the report date of issuance. You have to pass your exam and have your application with a valid background check around that time. The state won’t issue a license without a valid report.

Step 5: Take And Pass Real Estate Licensing Exam

studying for licensing examIt’s time to unleash your brainpower.

The next step after finishing your course hours and completing the FBI background check is to take the state exam. You can schedule it online, and the exam is administered by PSI. When you finish the coursework, you can take your exam any time.

The exam is a multiple choice format. It is divided into two portions: a state and a national portion. It has a total of 130 questions (80 national questions and 50 state questions). You will be given 240 minutes (150 minutes for the national section and 90 minutes for the state section) to complete it. Both the general and state sections of the Kentucky Licensing Exam must be passed with a score of 75% or higher.

You will get your results immediately after you finish the exam.  If you don’t pass one portion the first time, you are allowed to retake the failed portion within 4 months of the initial exam. You can retake that portion as many times as needed within those four months. If four months go by without passing both portions, you have to retake the entire exam.

Happy woman studying and smilingThere are testing centers in Bowling Green, Lexington, Louisville, Maysville, Paducah, Somerset, and Williamstown. On exam day, you’ll need to bring at least two forms of photo ID. They must bear your name and signature. At least one must be a government-issued photo ID (passport or driver’s license). You can also bring along a non-programmable calculator to the exam center for any real estate math related questions.

The test is quite tough, it has a pass rate of about 50%. To ensure you pass easily, you might need some extra study materials, close instructors, and a practice test that is based on previous questions.

Step 6: Complete Your Application

Students studying in group settingThis is the last major step in the licensing process.

You have to apply for your Kentucky real estate license with the Kentucky Department of Professional Licensing within 60 days of passing the exam. The exam is void after sixty (60) days. You will be given the application form at the testing center. You will also receive an email from the Kentucky Real Estate Commission soon after passing both portions of the exam. Make sure to read the email carefully and follow up appropriately so you don’t have to start the process over.

Step 7: Purchase E&O Insurance

To avoid paying costly fines for your mistakes while practicing, you have to acquire an Errors and Omissions (E&O) insurance policy before getting a license. E&O can be purchased through KREC or you can purchase a personal policy through a private company. KREC works closely with Rice Insurance Services Company, LLC (RISC) to provide cheap E&O to its agents, but you can choose whichever policy best suits your needs.

Step 8: Find a Sponsoring Broker

You have your certificate, but that doesn’t mean you’re clear to start buying and selling just yet. In Kentucky, you must work for a licensed Brokerage. Brokerages are companies that hire agents, show them the ropes, and oversee their sales.

Here are a few factors to consider before choosing a brokerage:

  • Commission 💰 – Make sure you are getting a good split of money you bring in.
  • Niche – Alongside the reputation, you want the company to specialize in the types of property you want to sell. Yup, it’s that simple.
  • Opportunities For Growth 📈 – You don’t want a company that puts you in a position to stay flat. You want to be moving upwards. If a company doesn’t provide that, run baby, run.
  • Company Culture 📊– You need to know that the brokerage you choose meshes will with your goals and personality. This is also where reputation comes into play. The company’s reputation matters. If a lot of people don’t have positive things to say, that may be based on some tangible rumors. Do your research before you agree to anything.

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

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

Pre-licensing education and training costs:

The estimated cost for this is around $400-$800 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 Kentucky requires you to finish 96 hours of education.

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Real estate licensing and exam fees

  • $18 for FBI criminal background check fee
  • $100 for Kentucky Sales Associate exam fee
  • $120 for sales associate license application fee
  • E&O insurance (dependent on whether group or independent insurance – as low as $126/year for group)

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

Financial,Concept.,Make,Money,On,The,Internet.,Businesswoman,Works,AtMembership dues and feels usually cost around $200 or more each year. And while they can qualify as a tax break in the state of Kentucky, 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 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 your Kentucky real estate license?getting a real estate license

The two most time-consuming factors to getting your license include completing the FBI criminal background check and completing the Pre-Licensing education requirement. The background check takes 12 to 16 weeks to complete. The quickest way to complete the education requirement is to choose the 96 clock hours option and utilize the services of an online education provider, where you control the pace and tempo of your coursework, allowing you to complete the 96 hours as quickly as you want.

How much do real estate agents make in Kentucky?

The average salary for a real estate agent in Kentucky is around $46,162. The bottom 20% of agents make around $21,100 per year, and the top agents make around $100,900 per year.

How much you bring home depends on a few factors, like how many hours you put in, and what your commission structure is like.

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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