5 Best Online Real Estate Schools in Iowa for 2023 (Updated!)

Chris Heller HeadshotChris Heller(Licensed Agent)8/21/2023

Editorial Note: We sometimes earn a commission from partners listed. This never affects editor opinions or evaluations. More

Need to get your real estate license in Iowa? I’ve spent over 154 hours evaluating the 8 most popular courses approved by the Iowa Real Estate Commission. I’ve checked out each and every course, and there are clear winners and losers – so be sure to read my guide thoroughly!

5 Best Real Estate Schools in Iowa

What did I evaluate?
TX Online Screenshot (1)

I looked at the 5 most important factors for each course, including course value, ease of use, unique features, student satisfaction, and pass rates.

I also took into account thousands of online reviews from other agents who have attended the courses. Each course is different, so I’ve included video walkthroughs so you can really understand what you’re getting. My video reviews include my opinions too (I promise, they’re short and sweet).

How’d I do it? I “secret-shopped” each and every course in Iowa. I got access to the courses, I contacted their support team as if I were an active student, and I took a look at the content. These Iowa real estate schools may appear to be really similar when you’re first taking a look, but trust me – as probably the ONLY person who has actually evaluated all these Iowa courses – they are very, very different!

A bit about Pass Rates:

You’ll see me refer to Pass Rates in my article – these are estimated using a variety of sources – pass rates directly from the providers, estimations from other states where providers operate in multiple states, and user-reported qualitative information.

SchoolEstimated Pass Rate
The CE Shop
Colibri Real Estate

Alright, let’s get to it…After spending hundreds of hours evaluating each course and taking into account all these factors, I have narrowed down the list to the 5 best online real estate schools in Iowa. Here they are!

Best Overall Online Real Estate School in Iowa: The CE Shop

aceable logo
Top Features: Self-scheduling flexibility, highest exam pass rates in the state
Starting at $359 $269

Undoubtedly, The CE Shop’s course is my top choice. When it comes to selecting the right course format for your needs, I highly recommend this one. It provides various packages that cater to different learning styles, allowing you to customize your learning experience.

One standout feature of The CE Shop is its affordability. It offers the most cost-effective option compared to other alternatives. What sets it apart as the best overall choice for an online course in Iowa is their free five-day trial. This exceptional offer lets you firsthand experience the classes before making any commitments, and there are no questions asked.

Plus, this is one of the courses available for our Tuition Reimbursement program, which is a big help. All you have to do is attend at least 1 interview with one of our recruiters (+ provide feedback) after passing the state exam & before joining another brokerage, and we’ll reimburse you for the entire cost of the course that you purchase from us.

Although you have the option to enroll in the more affordable package, I highly recommend considering The CE Shop’s “Premium” package due to its added benefits. The Pass Guarantee makes it well worth the extra cost, as it acts as an insurance policy against financial loss in the event of failing the real estate exam.

See Pricing

Convenience: 4.9 out 5. The CE Shop’s course is one of my favorites simply because of its user interface, which plays a key role in the success of thousands of students in Iowa. The specially designed online learning platform is easily accessible on various devices such as tablets, desktops, and phones, providing the convenience of studying on the go. This flexibility is particularly useful for those with busy schedules, as it allows them to maximize their downtime by squeezing lessons into their day.

Upon logging in, I was particularly impressed by the dashboard that greets you. It offers a comprehensive overview of your course progress, clearly indicating the distance you’ve covered and the remaining lessons. The ability to skip ahead or review previous material at any time adds to the course’s convenience and adaptability. Furthermore, the course content itself presents a well-rounded blend of videos, infographics, and interactive quizzes. This diverse approach not only prevents monotony but also sets it apart from other real estate schools in Iowa that primarily rely on text-based materials.

Pass Rate: 4.8 out 5. The CE Shop boasts an impressive pass rate among Iowa students. Notably, Iowa is one of the states that experiences a significant drop-off between the national and state portions of the exam. However, with The CE Shop’s course, 90% of students go on to pass the national portion, while 74% successfully pass the state portion. These results surpass the state averages, which stand at 66% for the national portion and 48% for the state portion. What sets The CE Shop apart is their transparency in sharing their pass rates each year, unlike other providers who may withhold such information.

Course Duration: 4.6 out of 5. The Iowa real estate course offered by The CE Shop is relatively short, spanning only 60 hours, which is a great news! Many students, however, are eager to know how quickly they can complete the course or want the comfort of having extra time to finish it if they encounter challenges or become busy.

Thankfully, The CE Shop understands these concerns and provides a flexible extension policy to cater to your needs. Initially, the course expiration is set at 6 months from the date of purchase. However, there is a complimentary one-month extension available, granting students extra time at no additional cost. It allows for a more relaxed pace or accommodates unforeseen circumstances.

Beyond this initial extension, The CE Shop implements a fee structure for subsequent reactivations or extensions beyond the seventh month. Each 30-day extension incurs a charge of 20% of the current retail price of the course.

Support: 4.7 out of 5. The support team at The CE Shop deserves high praise for their exceptional service, providing assistance round the clock. While every team has its strengths and weaknesses, The CE Shop’s support team goes above and beyond to ensure customers are satisfied. They are available seven days a week via phone, chat, and email, surpassing the service offered by most other online schools.

During my interactions with them, I found the employees I spoke with over the phone to be really helpful. They provided me with a detailed list of what steps to take next, guiding me through the process quickly.

In instances where they didn’t have an immediate answer, particularly regarding course content, the support team took note of my information and assured me that I would receive a response within a day or two.

Refund Policy: 4.7 out of 5. The most notable advantage of The CE Shop is undoubtedly their 5-day free trial, which is a recent addition. This program allows students to enroll in the course and explore its contents without the need to provide any credit card information upfront. It is a remarkable feature that distinguishes them from other real estate schools in Iowa, as no other course in the region offers a comparable opportunity for trial enrollment.

However, when examining the refund policy alone, The CE Shop’s policy is relatively standard. It does not have any unique or exceptional features. Within the first month of enrollment, students are eligible for a full refund, provided they have not completed more than half of the course. This policy aligns with the industry standard, and other schools like Colibri Real Estate offer similar refund policies.

Overall Value & Recommended Package: Overall, if I could only recommend one course in Iowa, it would be The CE Shop. It’s simple to navigate, and will help to prepare you for the real estate exam. I’d suggest taking a look at the Premium package because the extra perks like the pass guarantee make it a better overall value. It also comes with career resource books written by experts, and business building courses which are a huge help even after you pass the test and begin your new career.

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The CE Shop Pros
  • More students pass the exam than any other real estate school in Iowa
  • Practice tests are unlimited
  • Built to study on the go
  • Comes with 5-day free trial
The CE Shop Cons
  • Must pay extra for exam prep
  • Interface can be glitchy
Starting at $359 $269

Most Flexible Online Real Estate School: Colibri Real Estate

Top Features: Several packages to choose from, lots of practice exams
Starting at $384 $307

Colibri Real Estate’s course has the best refund policy in Iowa, bar none. They offer a Pass or Don’t Pay Guarantee, a course swap option, and a chance to demo the student dashboard before paying. If you are wavering back and forth about whether or not real estate school is the right path for you, then this is the I’d pick. It gives you the best chance of getting your money back if you change your mind.

When it comes to price, it’s definitely on the higher end of the spectrum, but there are four packages ranging in price ($307-$484) to choose from, which means you can add as many features as you want to. There are also almost always discounts and sales going on, which is a huge help.

See Pricing

Convenience: 4.6 out 5. Colibri Real Estate offers interactive course content across all their packages, ensuring an engaging learning experience no matter which one you choose. Each of the four packages includes study guides and coaching videos straight from Buffini & Company. These videos provide real-world examples, showcasing industry situations and addressing common questions. With a standalone value of $150, these videos serve as an excellent complement to the course material.

For those looking for the best test prep experience, access to live Q&A sessions, or simulated exams, upgrading to one of the more premium options is what I’d recommend. While the most affordable course option is enough, the choice ultimately depends on your preferred learning style and needs.

One standout feature of Colibri is the “readiness assessment,” which I personally find to be my favorite part. This assessment evaluates your exam readiness and assigns a score ranging from 1 to 10. It serves as a valuable tool in determining whether you should continue studying or if you are ready to proceed with signing up for the exam.

Pass Rate: 4.2 out 5. Colibri Real Estate boasts a pass rate among Iowa students that exceeds the state average. Approximately 85% of Colibri students successfully pass the state exam, and the school has aided over 520,000 aspiring agents in obtaining their real estate license in Iowa. While this pass rate is commendable, it is important to note that it may not be the highest on our list of schools.

If your primary focus is finding a school that offers a more interactive test preparation experience at a lower price, there are alternative options available. These schools can provide the necessary preparation in a more engaging manner, catering to your specific learning preferences.

Course Duration: 4.5 out of 5. The Iowa pre-licensing course can be completed within 60 hours, which is a relatively short timeline. However, for those who prefer having extra time available due to potential unforeseen circumstances, Colibri offers the option to extend course access. Students can choose from 7, 30, or 60-day extensions, with prices increasing for longer durations. Moreover, Colibri provides a “retake” option, which grants a $25 discount if a student decides to restart the course. This policy is relatively generous compared to other schools, as it allows students the flexibility to manage their course timeline according to their needs. It is important to note that the initial course access provided by Colibri is valid for 6 months. If students require additional time, they can consider extending their course access to continue their studies.

Support: 4.6 out of 5. Colibri has earned a strong reputation as a trustworthy online real estate education provider, and their commitment to customer support reinforces this recognition. They offer multiple channels to connect with real people through various tabs on their platform. Whether you require assistance with enrollment or general support, they provide dedicated phone lines for each purpose. On top of that, their “live education specialist” is readily available for immediate assistance via live chat, responding promptly within seconds and offering a wealth of helpful resources. This commitment to customer support showcases Colibri’s dedication to ensuring a positive learning experience for their students.

Refund Policy: 4.6 out of 5. Colibri is an outstanding option for those who prioritize flexible refund options. They have implemented several safeguards to ensure that students do not risk losing their entire investment. Particularly, for individuals who enroll in their self-paced online courses, which are highly popular, there is an opportunity to receive a 100% refund within one week if they are dissatisfied with the course. Even if a student has not yet started the course, they can request a full refund within one month of enrollment.

Overall Value & Recommended Package: I would recommend Colibri’s Iowa pre-licensing course. For aspiring agents, I’d suggest taking a look at the Ultimate Learning package. The extra perks like the career success tools, the coaching videos, and the CompuCram Exam Prep make it a great value that will help you find success long after you finish your real estate course.

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Colibri Real Estate Pros
  • Very flexible scheduling
  • Can pick and choose from different features
  • Live Q&A chat available
Colibri Real Estate Cons
  • Study resources cost extra
  • Checkout process can be confusing
  • Glitchy interface
Starting at $384 $307

Most Affordable Real Estate School (The CE Shop): Tuition Reimbursement

aceable logo
Top Features: Easy way to get your real estate school paid for by someone else (us!) and know you have a brokerage you can join that’s dedicated to helping new agents build their real estate career.
Starting at $359 $269

We’ve built the most affordable way for you to get your Real Estate License. All you have to do is attend at least 1 interview with one of our recruiters after passing the state exam & before joining another brokerage, and we’ll reimburse you for the entire cost of The CE Shop course that you purchase from us.


That’s right – we’ll reimburse you whether you choose to join our team or not (but we hope you do!).  About 50% of our tuition reimbursement graduates choose to work for our team after interviewing with us.  The other 50% of our tuition reimbursement students that choose to join another brokerage still get their course costs fully reimbursed.

Why are we the only real estate company that reimburses your course costs even if you don’t join our brokerage?  There are a few key reasons that we’ve decided to set our program this way:

  1.   Our 50% join rate is way higher than the industry average for recruiting, and we really want agents to be excited when they join us, which only works if they love what we have to offer.  Most brokerages only want experienced agents, but we specialize in helping new agents build their real estate careers from the ground up.  We have hundreds of agent training courses that range from helping you build out your social media presence to learning the ins and outs of commercial real estate; we have mentors dedicated to new agents to help them through their first sales; we even have a dedicated coach to help with mindset and motivation; and more.  So we don’t need to force new agents to join our team to save a few bucks.
  2.   If you choose to join another team, we also hope you change your mind someday and come back to join us.  Many agents reach out to us months or years after trying another brokerage first, and this gives us a chance to keep the door open for the 50% of new agents who don’t join us immediately.  If we can’t be the right brokerage for you right now, then we still hope to be the right brokerage for you some day in the future.
  3.   Too many real estate organizations fail to live up to their promises.  We’re not perfect, but we really try to follow-through on every promise we make, including our tuition reimbursement promise.

At the end of the day, we’re betting on you becoming a great agent, and if we can make obtaining your real estate license more affordable, then hopefully you’ll return the favor and join us after graduation or come back to us any time you’re ready for a new brokerage.  It’s that simple, and we’re happy to invest in you.

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How does the reimbursement work?

Email us (support@agentadvice.com) once you receive confirmation from the state that you’ve passed the state exam, and one of our recruiters will reach out to you to get to know you and share any and every thing you’ll want to know to decide if our brokerage is the right fit for you.

We’ll schedule the interview at a time that works for you.  All you have to do is attend the interview and provide a little feedback to our support team, and our support team will reimburse your credit card for the amount that you’ve paid us within 2 business days.  All in, it’s about an hour commitment between the interview and feedback.  No other strings attached.

Tip:  If you’ve already started a different course at your own expense, or prefer to pick your own school at your own expense, we’d still love to interview you.  Just reach back out when you’re licensed, and we can connect you with our hiring team, however, we’re unable to reimburse your course costs at this time unless you purchase the course directly from us. 

AgentAdvice.com is not the provider of any courses, and all state certifications, ongoing support questions, etc. will be provided by and fulfilled directly through the school. 

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Think you have what it takes to be a successful real estate agent?

jim gray headshot“When I interview people who have just passed their real estate course, I’m looking for agents that meet a couple of characteristics. If you have these characteristics, it will determine who is successful and who is not in real estate.

It’s not an easy industry. If it was easy, we’d all be rich. First, I’m looking for agents that have a vision for what they want to be, people who want more than what they have. Now, I’m not talking about money, motivated people necessarily. If money motivates you that’s fine, but in most cases, money’s not the motivator.

I am looking for agents that are in touch with their motivations to grow. Is it having a house for your family? Is it providing an education for your children? Is it providing security for your future retirement? It doesn’t matter, I’m looking for agents that have a vision, and are passionate about taking care of present and future concerns, whatever they are. So that’s number one: ambition.

Financial,Concept.,Make,Money,On,The,Internet.,Businesswoman,Works,AtNumber two is looking for people that have a little bit of courage. This business requires courage. In my experience, having now been in conversations with well over a thousand agents over the last 18 months, and recruited more than a hundred, there’s one characteristic successful agents have. They don’t shrink from a challenge. They don’t, they still take action even if they don’t know all of the answers to all of the questions. They know that if they get faced with a question that they don’t really answer to, they know they can find the answer.

I’m looking for people that are ambitious, are courageous, and then finally are ready to grow. I want to help give people the opportunity to be the best version of themselves.

Usually, it’s not easy, and many times there are tears, and sweat, and frustration involved, but you go through that because you are so ambitious and in love with the future you’re trying to create. That passion for your future, it gives you courage to press through the hard times. So if you’re ambitious, courageous, and you’re ready to grow, and you think being in a conversation with a guy like me might be helpful to your future then let’s get you the tuition reimbursement you deserve!”

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Agent Advice Success Stories: 

YouTube video

terricaTerrica C.
New Keller Williams Agent & Tuition Reimbursement Recipient

“I always wanted to become a real estate agent, and finally decided to take the next step. Getting started with my course was easy. Agent Advice just sent me a link, and I did the whole thing online. I finished the class, now I just need to get scheduled for the state test. I would definitely recommend Agent Advice to anyone looking to get their license, especially if they’re wanting to do it for free.”


rachelRachel K.
New Real Estate Agent & Tuition Reimbursement Recipient

“I was moving from Tennessee to Florida, so I was considering a career change. I always thought real estate might be something I’d be good at, so I connected with someone at Agent Advice and decided to take the course. It was easy to follow and understand, and the course I chose kept me interested. It didn’t take long for me to finish the class and I passed my state exam on the first try! I then reached out again to Agent Advice and set up an interview with a tuition reimbursement sponsor, and got my money back that same day. All in all, it was really simple and easy.”


marcusMarcus W.
New Real Estate Agent & Tuition Reimbursement Recipient

“The entire process was seamless, and the communication from the very beginning was great. When I first came across Agent Advice I had lots of questions, but I was able to get in touch with someone right away who helped explain the process from start to finish. Once I completed the course and set up an interview with a brokerage, they stopped the payments immediately. I also enjoyed the subscription payment option that Agent Advice has. It gave me the flexibility and motivated me to finish the course quickly. I’m still deciding on which brokerage is the right fit for me, but I enjoyed getting to interview with someone so that I could ask questions about what the day-to-day would look like at that company.”

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Starting at $359 $269

Not Recommended

We had a high bar in picking the best of the best real estate schools in Iowa. These schools didn’t make the cut (frankly, they’re not as great as our top picks – but were also evaluated).


Top Features: Several packages to choose from, lots of practice exams
Starting at $789 $599

Kaplan’s course is one of the hardest to sit through in Iowa, but it can get the job done if you really need it to. Because it’s so boring and there are few redeeming qualities, so I’d say you’re better off choosing another provider.

It’s also more expensive than other courses out there with few added benefits to make up for the high price point. It is not known for being very interactive, so there are definitely better options that will probably hold your attention more.

See Pricing

Convenience: 2 out 5. The Kaplan courses are built on dated technology. It’s hard to navigate, glitchy, and slow. Even figuring out what courses to purchase gives you a headache.

Pass Rates: 3.8 out of 5: Kaplan’s pass rate amongst Iowa students is pretty lackluster. While it’s not the lowest pass rate by any means, you can certainly find a course that will give you more confidence. About 54% of Kaplan students go on to pass the state exam, which is significantly lower than the 68% average.

Kaplan does offer a PassProtection policy that allows students who enrolled in the Live or Live Online classes to retake their course if they fail the Iowa state exam. That’s great if you happen to fail, but why not choose a course that’s going to give you the knowledge to pass on the first try?

Course Duration: 3.2 out of 5: Although the Iowa real estate course only takes 60 hours to complete, some people want to know they have an extension 0ption upfront in case they need more time. Kaplan’s access policy is pretty limited. You only have 6 months to finish from the date of purchase before it expires.

Another thing to note is that students take a longer time to complete Kaplan courses than any other online real estate school providers. I chalk this up to the monotonous content, and the repetitive lesson plans.

Support: 1 out of 5. In my test purchases, I’ve experienced Kaplan support taking up to 3 business days before responding.  All other schools I’ve tested typically respond within 1-2 hours & never longer than 24 hours during Monday-Friday.

Refund Policy: 0 out of 5. On 3 separate occasions, AgentAdvice students were declined a qualifying refund for Kaplan course purchases, and in each case, we (AgentAdvice) had to step in to personally provide the refund to these students after Kaplan declined to refund the courses or offer a replacement course. We no longer buy courses from Kaplan for this reason, and recommend that any student considering a Kaplan Real Estate course purchase do so expecting not to get a refund if they change their mind.

Overall Value & Recommended Package: Overall, I can’t recommend Kaplan’s Iowa pre-licensing course. For aspiring agents, I’d suggest taking a look at one of The CE Shop packages instead. The interactive capabilities will seem like such a breath of fresh air compared to the monotonous text-based content Kaplan offers. The 96% student satisfaction rate blows Kaplan’s sub par courses out of the water, and their updated test prep is such a great value.

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Kaplan Pros
  • Multiple packages
  • PassProtection Retake Policy
Kaplan Cons
  • Dated content and technology
  • VERY confusing checkout process
  • Glitchy interface
  • Only 6 months of access
Starting at $789 $599

Our Methodology: 

I ranked and rated each school on 8 different factors to come up with the very best real estate schools in Iowa. Our full guide on how we rank courses is available here, but the short version of factors considered are: 

  1. Course value
  2. How easy the courses were to navigate
  3. If there were any technical glitches
  4. Return policies
  5. Overall performance of each school as a whole
  6. Reviews directly from agents who’ve attended the school

There are dozens of options (some of them not so great!), so we’ve taken the work off your plate by narrowing down the list to only the ones that scored high enough. Whether you’re dedicating yourself full time to your new career, are looking to fly through the courses quickly to get them over with, or are busy and looking to work through them when you have downtime, here is a list of the best online real estate schools in Iowa you should consider.

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: 8/21/2023