How to Get a South Carolina Real Estate License

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The sunshine in South Carolina hits you differently. Anyone who has been to Myrtle Beach can tell you. In addition to the beautiful touristy waterfronts and lush golf ⛳ courses, the Palmetto State is also home to companies like Michelin. The high number of universities, colleges, and other institutions of higher learning provides a high influx of students and a lot of them choose to permanently reside in the state. As a real estate agent, you want to fill homes, stores, offices, and empty lots with people and thriving businesses. 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 earn a license to get started? Well, rest easy we are going to walk you through the process of getting your license quickly and easily.

Step 1: What Are The Requirements for a Salesperson 

Let’s clear the basics, the Almighty South Carolina Real Estate Commission  (SCREC) wants you to know these before starting out:

First, What Do You Do?

You’re applying to be a real estate salesperson (agent). As a salesperson, you show buyers homes. You’re also helping people to sell other homes, value properties, help clients sort out payment plans, and sign contracts 📜. The South Carolina Real Estate Commission doesn’t permit freelance real estate salespersons. That means you are required to work under a licensed broker. We will better explain what brokers do later.

To qualify for a real estate salesperson’s license in South Carolina, you need to meet these categories.

  • Be at least 18 years or older
  • You must hold a high school diploma or equivalent
  • Be lawfully eligible to work in the United States
  • Pass a background check that involves you submitting your fingerprints.


If you’re already a licensed real estate salesperson in another state and you’d like to expand to South Carolina, the state permits full reciprocity with current North Carolina, Georgia, and West Virginia real estate license holders. You just need to confirm the following before you can apply for a reciprocal license

  • You must pay the salesperson license fee 💸
  • You must provide a copy of your state ID showing proof of residency
  • You must provide a copy of your social security card, notarized verification of lawful presence, a certification of licensure history from the state Real Estate Commission, and any other jurisdiction where you have held a license,
  • You must provide a criminal history explanation form, if applicable.


The three broad ways you can get an exemption and go straight into buying and selling real estate are:

  • If you hold a law degree
  • If you have received a university degree 🎓 with a major course in real estate
  • If you have a current license in another jurisdiction and want to expand to South Carolina

If you are one of these folks with a license in another state, you don’t need to take the national portion of the South Carolina real estate licensing exam, but you must be able to prove the following:

  • You must have a residency in South Carolina.
  • You still have to take Unit II: Advanced Real Estate Principles class (30 hours)
  • You must take the South Carolina portion of the state real estate licensee exam.
  • You must provide your license from other states.
  • The license must be active within six months of making the South Carolina application.

Step 2: Complete the 90 hours of approved Required Pre-Licensing Education

The South Carolina Real Estate Commission (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.

After completing the 60-hour Unit I course, you can take a proctored exam and start applying for the exams. You must take the Unit II before applying for the license.

The  30-hour Unit II (Advanced Principles Course) covers more hands-on parts of real estate. Everyone getting a salesperson license in South Carolina must take it. Although, you can choose to take it before or after the state exam. You’re only required to take it after the 60-hour course. You can sign up for the 30-Hour Unit II – Advanced Principles Course alone.

Step 3: 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 it again if you don’t pass, so there’s no need to psych yourself out.

Upon passing the course, you’ll be given a certificate of completion of the Unit II course. The certificate will let you apply for the licensing.

Step 4: Apply, Take And  Pass The South Carolina State Real Estate Licensing Exams 

It’s time to unleash your brainpower!

After completing your Unit I course and doing your proctored exams, you can apply for the licensing exams. After the approval of your exam application, you will receive an examination eligibility letter. Examination eligibility is valid for ONLY one year.

The exam gives you  200 minutes to complete  120 questions that are split into 2 portions (state and national requirements). The national portion takes 120 minutes for 80 questions. While the state portion gives you 80 minutes for 40  questions.

This is the second exam that you’re required to do 🙄. But we can help you out with exam prep.

We have a South Carolina Exam Prep Course that will provide you with the best practice questions, practice quizzes, and simulated exams. Our prep is based on past questions that will have you staying calm all the way to the exam.

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

Step 5: Complete The 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 and the Federal Bureau of Investigations.

Step 6: Find A Sponsoring Broker, Get Employed In Their Brokerage

sold signThis is the last step, but many people find themselves asking why do I need a broker?

A broker is an experienced real estate salesperson who heads a brokerage. The broker of course has taken higher level courses and has a wider range of experience than the regular agent. A brokerage is a company of real estate salespeople headed by a broker.

In the first years of your career, you are not allowed by the state to work for yourself. You will be in a brokerage and the broker and the senior agents there will show you the ropes. The real estate field is filled with a lot of laws, policies, and business secrets. Your broker will be your mentor, employer, and friend.

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, you can wait for your license in the mail.

Chris Heller Headshot


*This article was updated on 1/3/2022

This information was reviewed and approved by Chris Heller. 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.

South Carolina Real Estate Licensing 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.

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.

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 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 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. 

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. 

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.