Illinois Real Estate License Guide

Quick Facts

Illinois Real Estate Governing Body:

Division of Real Estate (DRE)

PreLicensing Requirements:

90 Hours

СЕ Requirements:

75 Hours

Read more below

How to Get a Illinois Real Estate License

To get a real estate license in Illinois, you first need to meet the eligibility requirements. Those are: 

  • Be at least 21 years old (or 18 years old and attended at least four semesters of post-secondary education, which includes courses in real estate)
  • Have a high school education or GED
  • Be a citizen of the US

If you meet these requirements, you can then start the process of getting a real estate license in Illinois, which includes:

  • Completing the 90-hour pre-licensing course (which can also be taken online). Check out the top of this page to see reviews on top Illinois schools.
  • Taking and passing the Illinois real estate license exam

Once you pass the exam, you need to submit your licensing application to the Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation (IDFPR). You need to do this through a sponsoring (managing) broker.

Compare Illinois Real Estate Schools

We’ve listed the best schools in Illinois based on reader’s reviews here. Looking for our editor’s picks? See the best real estate schools in Illinois.

SchoolReviewsEditor's ScorePricing
Real Estate School of Illinois
  • full star
  • full star
  • full star
  • full star
  • full star

based on 5 reviews

B -
Kaplan Real Estate Education
  • full star
  • full star
  • full star
  • full star
  • full star

based on 29 reviews

A- -
Real Estate Express
  • full star
  • full star
  • full star
  • full star
  • full star

based on 65 reviews

A- $150-$450
The CE Shop
  • full star
  • full star
  • full star
  • full star
  • full star

based on 41 reviews

A -
McKissock Learning
  • full star
  • full star
  • full star
  • half star
  • full star

based on 5 reviews

B -

Illinois Real Estate Licensing FAQs

Getting a real estate license takes a lot less time than it does in other states, but as in any other state, it takes dedication and attention. There are certain eligibility and qualification requirements, such as the 90-hour pre-licensing course, age requirements, and education requirements. These are all in place to help you prepare for the exam better and pass it easier.  Read on for more information. 

According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, the annual mean wage is $42,130. However, there is no need to be discouraged by this fact. Working hard in real estate and sealing deals can bring a lucrative income several times higher than the annual wage. In other words, high producers can make a lot more.  For instance, the annual 90th percentile wage in Illinois gets up to $80,900.  

Higher education is not required to be eligible to take the real estate exam. However, you need a high school education or GED at a minimum. 

The overall cost depends on the pre-licensing course you choose, as this takes up the biggest portion of the costs. A lot of companies offer different packages, so make sure you analyze your options and choose the one most fit for your needs.  Illinois agents have rated and reviewed the best real estate schools here on AgentAdvice.com, in order to make this easy for you.

As for the other costs, you can plan the following ones: 

  • Exam fee of $55
  • License application fee of $125

There will surely be other expenses as well, so when you’re planning the overall cost of your real estate license, make sure you plan for membership fees, operating expenses, and other potential costs that may arise. 

In total, it costs around $1,000 to get your real estate license in Illinois.

The real estate licensing course lasts for 90-hours and should be administered by the Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation. It covers topics from the following areas: 

  • 75 hours covering the following topics: 
    • License Law
    • Real Property
    • Structure of Agency
    • Seller Relationships and Counseling
    • Buyer Relationships and Counseling
    • Illinois Law
    • Federal Laws
    • Marketing and Advertising
    • Real Estate Transactions
    • Financing
    • Contract Knowledge
    • Independent Contractor/Employee Agreements
    • Property Management
  • 15 hours covering applied real estate principles that cover:
    • Listing Preparation
    • Buyer Representation
    • Agency Types
    • Presenting and Negotiating Offers
    • How to Deal With Multiple Offers
    • How to Manage Assistants
    • How to Perform CMS and Pricing
    • How to Minimize Risk
    • How to Handle Escrow Accounts
    • How to Handle Distressed Properties
    • Anti-trust Topics
    • Inspection Repairs

To pass the real estate licensing exam, you need to answer 75% of the questions from both portions correctly. The results of the exam will be given to you immediately after completion. 

The time it takes to become a real estate agent in Illinois depends on the individual. It usually takes people 2 to 6 months to complete everything. If you finish the licensing coursework faster and manage to pass everything on the first try, it will take about two months. However, if you take the course at a slower pace, and fail the exam one or multiple times, it will take longer for you to be licensed as a real estate agent.  That said, if you’re in a hurry, you should probably go with a self-paced class rather than an in-person course that is bound to a specific deadline.

Remember that you have two years to register to take the real estate licensing exam once you pass the real estate licensing exam. 

One of the major advantages Illinois offers that other states don’t is the ability to work under a managing broker for 45 days while your license is being processed. This way, you won’t lose any time building your real estate career and will be able to work as soon as you pass the exam. 

You should bring two valid forms of ID. At least one of these two IDs needs to be government-issued with your photo ID, name, and signature. It could be a state ID card, a driver’s license, a passport, or a military ID. 

While it won’t necessarily disqualify you from obtaining a license, having a criminal record may make it harder for you to get a real estate license. 

When you apply for a real estate license, the Department of Financial and Professional Regulation will go through any conviction you may have in Illinois or any other state. They will not, however, consider the following: 

  • Juvenile arrests and adjudications,
  • Charges that were dismissed (except those related to real estate)
  • Arrests that were not followed by a charge
  • Convictions that have been overturned, or
  • Convictions or arrests that have been sealed or expunged.

You can also apply for a real estate license a certain period after your conviction. When you submit your application, make sure you disclose information about any convictions and charges along with any changes, paroles, and dismissals. 

To pass the real estate licensing exam in Illinois, you need to pass both the national and state-specific portion with at least 75% correct answers. 

If you fail the real estate license exam in Illinois on your first try, you can retake it three more times. If you fail these three additional attempts, you will have to restart the process all over again. This means retaking the full, 90-hour pre-licensing course and reapplying for the licensing exam. 

If you fail only one portion of the exam, you can retake only the one you failed. 

To maximize your chances of passing the licensing exam on your first try, you need to prepare well and study hard. A prep course is always helpful and will give you a hand in passing the exam and getting a higher passing score as well. 

The Illinois real estate license exam will help you get familiar with the basic fundamentals of real estate and prepare you to enter the real estate market in Illinois. There are 140 questions in total, 100 from the national portion, and 40 questions of Illinois-specific real estate areas. 

To be more specific, the real estate license exam in Illinois covers the following areas of the national portion: 

  • Agency Relationships and Contracts 
  • Real Property Ownership/Interest 
  • Finance 
  • Real Property 
  • Marketing Regulations 
  • Property Management 
  • Real Estate Calculations

State-specific questions:

  • Licensing Requirements
  • Laws and Rules Regulating Real Estate Practice
  • Disclosures

You have three and a half hours to complete the exam and answer 75% of each portion correctly. 

Only around 45% of students pass the real estate exam on the first try. This goes to show that it is something you should take seriously and dedicate time to learn and understand. 

However, this percentage shouldn’t discourage you! If you prepare well, pay attention during the pre-licensing course, and study hard, passing the exam won’t be a challenge.  

Taking a prep course before applying to take the licensing exam has proven to be beneficial for students. It not only helps you prepare better and manage your time more efficiently, but it also gives you insights from people who have already taken the exam.

Currently, Illinois has reciprocity with eight other states: Florida, Georgia, Colorado, Connecticut, Iowa, Nebraska, Indiana, and Wisconsin. If you already obtained your real estate license in any of these states, it will also be valid in Illinois and vice versa.

Being a real estate broker in Illinois means taking on more responsibility. A real estate agent is someone who has passed the licensing exam and obtained a real estate license. A broker, on the other hand, is an agent that has worked in the industry for several years and has obtained additional licensing.

The main difference between the two is their responsibilities. Brokers manage agents and can own real estate companies, while agents cannot.

Finding a sponsoring broker in Illinois is not as difficult because most brokerages are qualified to supervise real estate agents. However, picking just any random brokerage won’t do. You should make sure that the sponsoring broker you’re choosing is experienced, reliable, and has shown a pattern of preparing successful real estate agents.

Try to view the process as job recruitment, but with you being on the hiring side. Ask the broker questions to find out what they think, what their experience is, and see if they are passionate about their work and will dedicate enough time to you. 

Every state has a mandatory national portion included in their real estate licensing exam. It’s designed and implemented so that real estate agents are familiar with the basic fundamentals and principles of the US real estate market. In fact, the national part is the largest portion of the exam in every state. This includes:

  • Agency Relationships and Contracts 
  • Real Property Ownership/Interest 
  • Finance 
  • Real Property 
  • Marketing Regulations 
  • Property Management 
  • Real Estate Calculations

The state-specific portion, on the other hand, covers real estate facts and principles relevant to the state of Illinois, such as:

  • Licensing Requirements
  • Laws and Rules Regulating Real Estate Practice
  • Disclosures

No. Offering, attempting to, or practicing real estate actions without holding a valid real estate license as a broker, managing broker, or residential leasing agent is not allowed. Anyone who does this will have to pay a penalty to the Department of Financial and Professional Regulation in addition to any other penalty required by civil law. 

An employing broker in Illinois is a licensed broker under which an agent/salesperson practices real estate. As an agent, you will act on behalf of an employing broker and receive commissions only through them. 

Besides two forms of ID (which are mandatory), you can bring a non-programmable calculator that doesn’t have an alphabetic keyboard or programming features. You can also bring your wallet and your key, but other than that, you cannot bring anything else. This includes your phone and your watch. 

You are not allowed to have anything in your pockets either and will be asked to turn them outwards to ensure that they are empty.

Any violation of these rules and possessions of items outside what is allowed may result in your disqualification from the exam.