How to Get a Michigan Real Estate License

Chris Heller HeadshotChris Heller, Licensed Agent10/23/2023
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Step 1: Take a Michigan Real Estate Course

In Michigan, you must take 40-hours of a pre-licensing course. Don't worry though, there are lots of options, including many that are online.   The most popular Michigan course is AceableAgent, and here's a discount code worth saving:  

Step 2: Fill Out Michigan Real Estate License Application

You’ll want to go to the Michigan Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs website to apply for your license. Your application and fee are valid for one year.

Step 3: Get Authorization to Take Exam

Upon application approval, LARA will send you authorization that allows you to register for the real estate exam. Once you receive the go-ahead, you will want to schedule your exam.

Step 4: Pass the Michigan Licensing Exam

The salesperson exam has 115 questions, and you must score at least a 70% to pass.

Step 5: Find a Sponsoring Broker

If you have an employing broker, you will need them to confirm at least 48 hours before the exam date so that you will receive your photo-released license upon passing.
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5 Steps to Get Your Michigan Real Estate License

Step-By-Step Guide to Become a Licensed Real Estate AgentNew agent meeting with clients for the first time

Real estate is booming, and getting your real estate license in Michigan might be the perfect path towards career success. You will enjoy impressive income potential, a flexible schedule, and you will help people achieve their dreams of owning or selling a home. Basically, the career is loaded with perks.

Here is a quick breakdown of the requirements needed to become a Michigan real estate agent: 

  • Complete 40 hours of real estate related education (or approved education)
  • Submit a completed exam application
  • Obtain authorization to test
  • Pass the licensing exam for a Michigan salesperson
  • Obtain employment with a Michigan broker

Step 1: Take Michigan Pre-Licensing Course

classroom setting with studentsLARA requires you to complete a 40-hour Michigan Real Estate Fundamentals Course that includes a minimum of four hours of civil rights law and equal opportunity housing course. 

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When looking for a Michigan real estate education class, always take the time to read the testimonials of students who have taken the course. Reviews give you an insight into what to expect. Try to find a course that offers a high satisfaction rate. Check out the best real estate schools in Michigan

Another serious thing to consider is the course’s pass rate. Some educational courses will not publicize how many students pass and go on to obtain their Michigan real estate license, but others will proudly proclaim their successes. You want to go with an educational curriculum that offers impressive success percentages. 

Whatever real estate school you decide to attend will submit a certificate showing that you completed the required hours and courses set forth by the State of Michigan. Also, be sure to file a copy of your completed educational certificates in your own records in case you need them for future reference or proof. 

Brokers react as Compass gobbles up GlideOne thing to note about the real estate education courses is that you can take them in-person or online. Many people opt for virtual classes so they can set their own pace and avoid in-person learning.  

Also, a 40-hour course is not that lengthy. It is like working a full 40-hour workweek. If you tackle the course hard, you can finish it quickly or opt to go slow. Many people like to take a crash course to get their license quickly, but others like to take their time to absorb everything to feel confident when they start their new career. 

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Step 2:  Real Estate License Application

women studying for licensing examOnce you complete your actual real estate education, it is time to apply for your license!   You’ll want to go to the Michigan Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs website to apply for your license. 

Remember, your application and fee are valid for one year, so once you apply, you have a year to take the actual real estate exam. 

Another thing to note is that you will be asked to indicate your employing broker on your application, but this is not a necessity. You can wait until after you take the exam. Let us be honest, sometimes it is hard to find a broker who is willing to take you on before taking your exam, so you might need to take the exam and then secure a broker to list on your form. 

Step 3: Get Authorization to Take Exam

You might think that you can just rush down to take your real estate exam in the state of Michigan, but it is not so simple. You need to receive authorization to move forward with the exam. 

Upon application approval, LARA will send you authorization that allows you to register for the real estate exam. Once you receive the go-ahead, you will want to schedule your exam. 

Step 4: Pass the Michigan Licensing Exam

real estate instructor teaching studentsAfter you receive your authorization, it is time to schedule and take the exam. 

  • The salesperson exam has 115 questions, and you must score at least a 70% to pass. 

You receive your score immediately after you complete the exam. Don’t worry though, we’re sure you’re going to ace it!

When taking the exam, you will be allowed 180 minutes.

You will need to present two forms of ID that match your name and signature to take the test. 

Calculators are also allowed, but they must be silent and battery-operated. They also should not contain any alphabet. 

The exam is always administered on a computer.  It is a multiple-choice exam that is broken down into the following sections: 

  • Financing
  • Property ownership
  • Contracts
  • Land use regulations
  • Market analysis along with valuation
  • Specialty areas
  • Transfer for title
  • Property conditions and disclosures
  • Basic real estate calculations
  • General principals of a real estate agency

Step 5: Find a Sponsoring Broker

sold signYou will need to be sponsored by a licensed Michigan Employing Broker. You can apply with specific sponsoring brokers. If you have an employing broker, you will need them to confirm at least 48 hours before the exam date so that you will receive your photo-released license upon passing. If you do not have a confirmed broker before taking the Michigan real estate exam, you will need to obtain one using the LARA website.

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

  • Commission Rate
    • Look at each brokerage’s commission rate when you’re shopping around. If they’ve got a good rate, your commission checks will be larger than life. 💸
  • Niche
    • Maybe you want a brokerage that focuses on a niche on a location 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.

Mission Complete

Those are the steps you need to get your Michigan real estate license. Yes, you might have to trudge through paperwork, check boxes, file forms, burn the midnight oil, chug coffee … but after all that … you’ll have your license. We recommend printing it out on super-gloss and framing it. Leave some room next to it for your first commission check; A LOT of room!  

That’s all folks! Once you make it through these steps you’ll have a brand new career ahead of you. If there’s anything we can do to help you make it through these steps please let us know. We’ve got pre-licensing classes, cram courses, and all sorts of resources to help.

LARA Requirements to get a real estate license

Hello criteria, pleasure to meet you!

Let’s answer the most obvious question straight out of the gate. “What the heck is LARA and why do I need to impress them?!” Well, LARA is short for Licensing and Regulatory Affairs and it’s their job to make sure all agents in Michigan are capable, qualified, and can lawfully work in the state. To do so, they have some basic criteria you must meet. Luckily, most of the requirements are pretty straightforward.

Let’s meet the criteria:

  1. You must be at least 18 years old.
  2. You must be a U.S. citizen or a lawfully admitted alien.


How much does it cost to get a real estate license in Michigan?

The overall cost of your Michigan real estate is mainly determined by the prelicensing course provider you will choose. The price of prelicensing courses starts at only $29 and can go as high as $900 or more depending on the school of your choice. 

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Other mandatory costs that apply are:

  • An application fee of $88. 
  • An examination fee of $79
  • A license renewal fee is $78

How long does it take to become a real estate agent in Michigan?

shaking handsAs the prelicensing course in Michigan lasts for only 40 hours, it can be completed within 2 or 3 weeks, which allows you to use that extra time you have to study harder or take an additional prep course. Most schools allow you to take the course online, giving you the additional flexibility and opportunity to study at your own speed. To find a list of approved real estate prelicensing courses, look no further than this page!

Once you’ve finished the prelicensing course, you need to register on the official licensing system called iCola or by sending a paper application by mail. Once you register, you will receive an email with your Exam Candidate ID number within two days of registration. After you receive your Candidate ID, you can start your application to take the exam. The exam will be scheduled depending on the seating availability in the testing center of your choice, but it shouldn’t be longer than two weeks. After this final step, it’s all up to you. How fast you will pass both portions of the exam and finalize the process depends on your 

Keep in mind that all fees and results are valid within one year of applying, and you have to pass the examination within that time frame. If you fail to do so, you will be required to reapply all over again. 

How much do real estate agents make in Michigan?

counting moneyA real estate agent in Michigan earns around $57,170 per year on average, but the top 10% of agents earn as high as $95,700 per year. 

Agents and brokers from the South Bend-Mishawaka metro area are among the highest-paying agents in Michigan with a mean annual wage of $66,610 and a sizable $131,130 annual 90th percentile wage, one of the highest among all states. Other areas where agents earn more than the national average are Bay City, with an annual mean wage of $59,400 and Detroit-Warren-Dearborn with $58,520.  

Three metro areas in Michigan have an annual 90th percentile wage higher than $90,000: Ann Arbor, Detroit-Warren-Dearborn, and South Bend-Mishawaka. This goes to show that working in real estate can bring a lucrative income for agents and brokers.

Perspective from a real estate pro:

jason-gelios-headshot-640x480Jason Gelios
Realtor and Top Producer in Detroit, MI
Community Choice Realty

“In order to succeed and become a top producer, you have to be willing to take chances, even when you don’t want to. Eventually, once you’ve got enough experience and sales under your belt, you can build a team to take care of the tasks you don’t enjoy doing. However, that doesn’t happen without a lot of hard work first. 

Something else new agents should know is that they need to focus on their brand first and foremost. I see it all the time where agents just recycle old, used marketing tips to each other, or ignore the digital side of the industry. Big mistake! Build your brand, so that you can become a pillar in the community. That’s how you make money!”

Michigan Real Estate License FAQs

Brokers react as Compass gobbles up GlideMichigan is more lenient when it comes to the requirements to become a real estate agent. Only 40 hours of prelicensing education are required, unlike some other states like Texas, where the requirements are 180 hours. Doing this significantly shortens the time required to obtain a real estate license and makes it easier for those who want to start a new career, but lack time to go through a process that lasts for months, potentially a whole year.

Other than this, the dedication, time, and effort required to pass the exam are similar to most other states. You need to take the licensing exam seriously, pay attention to the classes, and study hard before taking the final exam. 

michigan licensing logoAll real estate agents in Michigan should be familiar with LARA because it will be a big part of your career well after you get your real estate license.

LARA offers services and useful online tools that are easy to use for consumers, businesses, and professionals across the state of Michigan. One of the things the department is tasked with is keeping up with real estate licensees. They make sure licenses are being maintained properly, and that the real estate schools are teaching the right material. LARA also oversees the real estate licensing exam.

In addition to issuing licenses, LARA also has the power to revoke a license. If you fail to follow the laws of your profession LARA can take action by first launching an investigation.

Michigan currently has no real estate reciprocity with another state. However, if you’ve been licensed in another state and provide proof of experience and training equivalent to the one required by the Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs, you may be granted a Michigan real estate license. 

Every six months of work experience and training as a licensed real estate agent in another state can substitute for 100 hours of training hours in Michigan. You will be required to provide proof of your work experience and education, after which the Department will determine whether you’re qualified to receive a Michigan real estate salesperson license. 

US map

There are currently no higher education requirements to become a real estate agent in Michigan. Only a high school diploma (or GED) and proof of completed 40-hours of prelicensing education are currently required. 

The Michigan Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs uses a platform called iCola for all applications and renewals of real estate licenses. The whole process on how to register on the website, get your student ID, file, and renew an application can be found on their website. 

If you fail the exam on the first try, you have two more attempts allowed. Every time you retake the exam, you will be required to pay the examination fee of $79.

A prep course can offer you the help you need and guide you in the right direction so you can pass the exam on your first try. If you believe you need the additional aid while you’re preparing for the final exam, don’t hesitate to take a prep course.

studying at coffee shopAll US states have their licensing exam split into two portions: the national portion and the state portion. Both cover different areas of the real estate industry, specifically the following:

National portion:

  • Property ownership
  • Land use controls and regulations
  • Valuation and market analysis
  • Financing
  • General principles of agency
  • Property disclosures
  • Contracts
  • Leasing and Property management
  • Transfer of title
  • Practice of real estate
  • Real estate calculations

State portion:

  • Duties and powers of the Department and the State Board of Real Estate
  • Licensing requirements
  • Statutory requirements governing the activities of licenses
  • Contractual relationships
  • Additional state topics

To pass the exam, you need to answer 80 of the 115 questions correctly within 3 hours.

Michigan’s salesperson real estate exam has 115 questions, and all scored with 1 point. To pass the exam, you need to have a passing score of 70% or answer 80 questions correctly in a 3-hour time frame.  

The Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs doesn’t release official reports of pass rates. However, according to some unofficial websites, more than half of students fail the exam on their first try. This makes it apparent how important it is to pay attention to the prelicensing education classes and study each part of it regularly. 

The Michigan real estate examination is split into two parts: the national portion and the state portion. Both cover different aspects of real estate. The national portion covers general real estate principles, calculations, and regulations designed to educate and test the knowledge of the candidate for the US real estate market, while the state portion goes more in-depth of Michigan’s real estate laws, regulations, and principles. 

Practicing real estate without a license or an expired license in Michigan, as well as acting as a broker/salesperson without a valid license issued by the Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs will not only impose disciplinary actions but can also result with civil and criminal charges.

women studying for licensing examReal Estate Salesperson licenses are issued for three years. In the expiry year, Michigan’s Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs will send a notification to the licensee 90 days before their license is due for renewal. 

Every real estate licensee in Michigan has to complete 18 hours of continuing education classes to maintain his or her license. The continuing education courses have to revolve around the topics of management, operation, and practice of real estate or any other subject that relates to the professional competence of a licensee. At least 2 of those hours of continuing education should involve law, rules, and court cases regarding real estate. The licensee should keep their proof of continuing education and submit it to Michigan’s Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs for four years after their initial certification. 

There are specific continuing education requirements depending on the period when you’ve been licensed.

When you come to the examination site, you will be required to provide two forms of ID. The first form of ID must meet the following requirements:

  • Be current (not expired) 
  • Be government-issued 
  • Has a photo identification 
  • Show the name on the government-issued photo
  • Have the same name you used to register for the exam
  • Have your current photo and signature

Some examples of IDs that meet these requirements are a driver’s license, a state-issued identification card, or a passport.

The second form of identification must contain your signature that matches the signature on the first ID you provide. Some examples of this include a social security card, a credit card, a bankcard, military, or school identification.

counting on a chalkboardMichigan is one of the strictest states when it comes to licensing with a criminal record, but it’s not impossible to become a real estate salesperson with a felony. First, you would have to disclose any criminal background you may have into your Application.

Michigan’s Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs will look into your case and request any documents related to the conviction. Based on the time when the felony happened, how much time has passed since then, and the severity of the felony, they will decide whether or not to accept your application. 

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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: 10/23/2023