How to Get a South Carolina Real Estate License

Chris Heller HeadshotChris Heller, Licensed Agent9/28/2023
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Step 1: Take a South Carolina Real Estate Course

In South Carolina, you must take 90-hours of a pre-licensing course. Don't worry though, there are lots of options, including many that are online.

Step 2: Pass The Course Proctored Exam

After completing the course, you are required to take a final exam for each course in the presence of a proctor. You need to score at least 70% to pass.

Step 3: Pass The South Carolina Licensing Exam

You’ll have 200 minutes to complete 120 questions that are split into 2 portions: the state and national portion. The national portion takes 120 minutes for 80 questions.

Step 4: Complete Background Check Requirement

Since 2020, SCREC has required you to get background clearance from both the State Law Enforcement Division (SLED) and the Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI).

Step 5: Find a Sponsoring Broker

Consider the commission split and fee structure, the company's culture, and their reputation in your community before joining a brokerage.
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5 Steps to Get Your South Carolina Real Estate License

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

In addition to the beautiful touristy waterfronts and lush golf ⛳ courses, the Palmetto State is also home to companies like Michelin and BMW. The high number of universities, colleges, and other institutions of higher learning provide a high influx of students and a lot of them choose to permanently reside in the state. From Charleston, Myrtle Beach, Columbia, to Greenville, there are a lot of homes waiting to be listed. That all sounds nice, but do you know how to get started? Well, rest easy we are going to walk you through the process of getting your license quickly and easily.

You ready? Let’s break it down, step by step.

Step 1: Complete Required Pre-Licensing Education

SCREC requires you to complete two courses that give you the basics of real estate knowledge:

  • Unit I – Salesperson Pre-licensing Course (60 hours)
  • Unit II – Advanced Real Estate Sales Principles (30 hours)

The courses in Unit I include topics like:

  • Contract law,
  • Listing agreements,
  • Real estate finance,
  • Closings,
  • South Carolina laws, etc.

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After completing the 60-hour Unit I course, you can take the proctored licensing exam. You must take the Unit II before applying for the actual license.

The  30-hour Unit II (Advanced Principles Course) covers more hands-on parts of real estate. Everyone applying for a salesperson license in South Carolina must take it, although, you can choose to take it before or after the state exam.

Not a fan of school? Well, these classes just might change how you feel about school. You have so many options! Some of them are even entirely online which has huge advantages! 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 90 hours! That may seem like a big number, but to get started in a new career, that number is just a speck in time. 

Students are always surprised how affordable these classes are. Take a look at the best real estate schools in South Carolina 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 2: Pass The Course Proctored Exam 

man studying for licensing examAfter completing the course, you are required to take a final exam for each course in the presence of a proctor. You need to score at least 70% to pass. You can take the exam again if you don’t pass, so there’s no need to psych yourself out.

Upon passing the course final exam, you’ll be given a certificate of completion for the Unit II course. This certificate will let you apply for the real estate license, so be sure to hold on to it.

Step 3: Pass The South Carolina Licensing Exam 

It’s time to unleash your brainpower

After completing your Unit I course and doing your proctored exam, you can apply for the actual licensing exam. After the approval of your exam application, you will receive an examination eligibility letter. Examination eligibility is valid for ONLY one year, so don’t waste any time scheduling your test time.

You’ll have 200 minutes to complete 120 questions that are split into 2 portions: the state and national portion. The national portion takes 120 minutes for 80 questions. While the state portion gives you 80 minutes to answer 40 South Carolina related questions.

This sounds like a lot of testing, but it will fly by before you know it. Don’t know what you need to study? Your exam eligibility letter will have a Candidate Handbook which has study material that will help you prep for the exam. There’s also plenty of cram courses that will help you brush up right before the exam. Rest assured that you don’t have to pass this on the first try. Remember that you have a full year from when you get your exam eligibility to pass this exam. We think you’ll pass it on your first go because we know you, you’re motivated.

Remember to bring a valid photo ID and exam admittance form to your exam location.

Step 4: Complete Background Check Requirement

After you’ve applied for the exams, you must send in your fingerprints for a background check. You will receive instructions on obtaining the fingerprint checks after SCREC  has received the application. Since 2020, SCREC has required you to get background clearance from both the State Law Enforcement Division (SLED) and the Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI).

Step 5: Find Sponsoring Broker

sold sign

Finally, you’ll need to find a sponsoring broker. 🙋 Uhhh … should I know what a  ‘sponsoring broker’ is? Nope, we’ll tell you! So you’ve passed the exam but it doesn’t mean you’re ready just yet. When you first start out you’ll want an experienced organization to show you the ropes. Sponsoring brokers have been-there-done-that and they’re ready to show you how. Not only will they give you all the tools you need to start making sales but they’ll help you market yourself as an agent. 

You’ll get to choose a brokerage you like, that focuses on a niche you love, that has a company culture you love, and most importantly … has a good commission rate, so your paycheck is XL. Worried about finding a brokerage yourself? AgentAdvice helps with warm introductions to hiring brokerages if you sign-up for a class through us. Phew!

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.

That’s all just to say that you have the freedom to choose a brokerage that fits you.

South Carolina wants you to be sponsored by a broker-in-charge and apply for a license within one year of passing the exam. Once you have a sponsoring Broker and provide proof to SCREC, you can wait for your license in the mail.

SCREC Criteria to get a real estate license

Let’s answer the most obvious question straight out of the gate. “What the heck is SCREC and why do I need to impress them?!” Well, SCREC is short for the South Carolina Real Estate Commission and it’s their job to make sure all agents in South Carolina 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.

To qualify for a real estate salesperson’s license in South Carolina, you need to meet this criteria:

  • Be at least 18 years old
  • Must hold a high school diploma or equivalent
  • Be lawfully eligible to work in the United States

Easy enough, right? Most of you will just blaze right by this step without even thinking about it.


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

counting moneyThe current fees that you will be required to pay to obtain a South Carolina real estate license are: 

  • Exam Application Fee: $25
  • Examination administration fee: $63 for both portions and $55 for one.
  • New Salesperson License: $50
  • Renewal of a Salesperson License: $45

In addition to these fees, the Unit II course developer must submit two – 20 item examinations with each course. There is a fee of $100.00 to evaluate each Unit II Module. 

Prelicensing courses prices go from $200 and up depending on the provider you choose. Keep in mind that each education provider offers different services and features, so make sure you do your research before you settle for a specific school. 

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Besides the costs we’ve just mentioned, you should also consider tutoring costs, any prep courses you may enroll to, study materials, and other costs to obtain your documentation and pass your licensing exam. 


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

small group of students studyingThe most time-consuming part of the real estate licensing process in South Carolina is the licensing courses. The first part, Unit I lasts for 60 hours and is usually finished in about two months, depending on your availability and concentration. 

After you submit your fingerprints for a background check, they will be processed in 3 days. 

The exam applications are processed as they are received, with the usual processing time being around 5-7 business days.

Once your application has been approved, you can schedule the exam, which is done on a first-come, first-serve basis. You will be scheduled based on the seating availability at the center of your choice.

After this, the remaining is up to you. You need to pass the exam within one year, the period of time for which your eligibility is valid.

How much do real estate agents make in South Carolina?

pexels-karolina-grabowska-4968651Agents in South Carolina earn $50,160 per year on average. The annual 90th percentile wage, on the other hand, or the amount the top 10% of agents in South Carolina earn is $83,620. 

The metro area with the highest average annual wage for real estate agents and the one where top agents get paid the most at the same time is the Hilton Head Island-Bluffton-Beaufort metro area. The average annual wage of real estate agents is $59,100, while the best agents in this area can earn $152,650 or more; one of the highest salaries in all US.

South Carolina Real Estate License FAQs

man studying for licensing examPassing the real estate exam in South Carolina requires time and dedication as in any other state, and if you work hard enough in your career, you will earn a good income.

To pass the exam, you will need to study hard and pay attention to what is discussed in the prelicensing courses. Some tips that will help you increase your chances of passing on the first try are: 

  • Review the pre-license course material and focus on the topics listed in the examination content outline.
  • Take notes on what you study. Underline or highlight key ideas that will help with a later review.
  • Study frequently, for periods of about 45 to 60 minutes

The remaining process doesn’t require a lot of effort. You need to submit to a fingerprint scan and fill out the remaining paperwork to obtain a license. 

If needed, you can always take a prep course to guide and help you focus on the things that help applicants pass the exam more easily.

south carolina real estate commission logoThe Real Estate Commission regulates Real Estate Brokers, Salespersons and Property Managers across the State of South Carolina.

SC LLR oversees the Commission and can assist you with exam information and materials, continuing education requirements and opportunities, licensure applications and renewals, board information, and more.

They also focus on course delivery, making sure to prepare and write the state portion of the exam to prepare students for any local real estate laws they may encounter.

SCREC recognizes the qualifications of licensees of other jurisdictions from the US. However, a licensee from another state must still apply for and take the South Carolina portion of the real estate examination. 

With your examination application, you will need to submit your licensure certifications from any jurisdiction in which you have held licensure in the past five years. You must also have been licensed in another state six months before applying for a South Carolina real estate license.

signing contractResident applicants with licenses in other jurisdictions who have been residents of South Carolina for more than six months will need to take the following prelicensing education:

  • Salesperson exam applicants (South Carolina resident for more than six months with a license in another jurisdiction) will have to take Unit II: Advanced Real Estate Principles class (30 hours)
  • Broker exam applicants (South Carolina resident for more than six months) with a broker license in another jurisdiction will have to take Broker Unit IIIA and Broker Unit IIIB classes (60 hours)

The South Carolina Real Estate Salesperson Prelicensing Curriculum, known as “Unit I,” comprises the following Sections:

  • Real Property
  • Governmental Controls and Laws Affecting Real Estate 
  • Pricing of Real Properties 
  • Real Estate Finance
  • Settlement/Closing
  • Agency and other brokerage relationships 
  • Contracts
  • Ethics 

The second part of the course, Advanced Real Estate Principles, or better known as “Unit II,” teaches the following topics:

  • Agency and Property Disclosure
  • Real Estate Contracts
  • Ethics and Real Estate
  • Measurements and Valuation
  • Real Estate Specialty Topics (one of the following):
    • Fair Housing
    • Finance
    • Investments and Taxation
    • Property Management
    • Commercial Real Estate
    • Closing Process and Procedures
    • Elements of Construction
    • Consumer Beneficial Real Estate Technology

Currently, only a high school diploma is required to be eligible to earn a real estate license in South Carolina. There are no college degree requirements. 

However, if you have a law degree or a four-year baccalaureate degree from a higher education institution with a major in real estate, you do not have to take prelicensing courses for any license or meet the experience requirements for Brokers.

sold signThere are 120 questions in total on the South Carolina real estate exam – 80 of the national and 40 of the state section. To pass the exam, you need to answer 75% of the questions correctly – 56 of the national and 28 of the state section. 

If you fail one portion of the exam, you can retake only that portion (the failed one). You can retake the exam as many times as you need, but, keep in mind that your exam eligibility is valid for one year, after which you would have to reapply to the Commission before being able to register to take the exam once again. 

The national portion of the licensure exam is the same in all states and contains the following areas:

  • 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

The state portion covers specific real estate areas applicable in South Carolina, precisely the following: 

  • South Carolina Real Estate Commission and Licensing Requirements 
  • Statutes Governing the Activities of Licensees and Non-Licensees
  • South Carolina Agency and Non-agency Relationships and Issues
  • Additional South Carolina Statutes and Topics
  • Closing Details


South Carolina Real Estate Commission doesn’t release any official pass rates for its real estate examination. However, according to unofficial sources, the current pass rate in 2020 for first-time exam takers is 60%.

Finding a real estate brokerage to sponsor you as a recent licensee isn’t very difficult, as most brokerages are “qualified” to sponsor you. 

It’s best to see this as you interviewing the broker to decide if you want to work there – not the other way around. Using informational resources like those available on will help you make the right decision faster and easier.

Make sure you choose a real estate brokerage who excels in training new agents and will be happy to show you the ropes of real estate sales.

The general or national portion of the exam covers broader real estate questions that are applicable anywhere across the US. The South Carolina – state portion covers more specific real estate areas characteristic for South Carolina.

According to the South Carolina Code of Laws, Section 40: 

  • It is unlawful for a person to act as a real estate broker, real estate salesman, or property manager or to advertise or assume to act as such without first having obtained a license issued by the Real Estate Commission. A person violating this subsection is guilty of a misdemeanor and, upon conviction, must be fined not more than five hundred dollars or imprisoned for not more than six months, or both.
  • A real estate broker, salesman, or property manager who fails to renew or register his license annually and continues to engage in such business is guilty of a misdemeanor and, upon conviction, must be fined not more than five hundred dollars or imprisoned not more than six months, or both.

man with for sale signYou must provide two forms of identification. One must be a valid, active form of government-issued identification such as a Driver’s License, State ID, or Passport, which has your signature and your photograph or complete physical description. 

The second ID must have your signature and legal name, the same name you’ve written in the application documents. 

All identification provided must match the name on the registration form and your Examination Eligibility Form.

A criminal record does not in itself prevent you from being able to be licensed in South Carolina. However, certain convictions are grounds for denial of licensure and require that you appear before the Commission for a hearing. 

Regardless, you must complete prelicensing requirements and apply for examination or licensure before a determination can be made.

Chris Heller Headshot

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: 9/28/2023