How to Start a Career as a Real Estate Agent in Chicago

Are you thinking about switching careers and becoming a real estate agent in Illinois? There’s no better time than now to get started! Within just six months, you could launch a highly flexible and potentially lucrative career as a real estate salesperson in Illinois. It’s a simple process, and we’re here to guide you through it step by step.

Understanding the Basics

Before we dive into the details of becoming a real estate agent in Illinois, it’s important to note that here, real estate agents are referred to as brokers. However, in many other areas, a broker is someone with additional experience and education who manages agents and real estate deals. In Illinois, these supervisors are called managing brokers.

To become a real estate broker in Illinois, you must meet a few basic requirements. You need to be at least 18 years old, have a Social Security number or an individual taxpayer identification number, and hold a high school diploma or its equivalent. Now, let’s break down the process of obtaining your real estate license in Illinois into manageable steps.

Step 1: Complete a 75-hour Prelicensing Course

Cost: $330-$600
Time Commitment: 1-2 months

As a real estate broker, you’ll be responsible for guiding your clients through one of the most significant financial decisions of their lives. That’s why education is crucial. The state of Illinois requires aspiring brokers to complete a 75-hour prelicensing course to gain an understanding of the complexities and legal aspects of property sales.

During your classes, you’ll cover a wide range of topics, including:

  • License law
  • Buyer relationships and counseling
  • Financing
  • Real property
  • Illinois and federal law
  • Contract knowledge
  • Structure of agency
  • Marketing and advertising
  • Independent contractor status and employee agreements
  • Seller relationships and counseling
  • Real estate transactions
  • Property management
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While your prelicensing classes provide a wealth of information, it’s essential to note that they may not specifically cover test preparation. To ensure you’re fully prepared for your exam, consider investing in quality exam prep materials from an Illinois real estate school. These packages often include helpful tools like flashcards and simulated exams. One highly recommended school to explore is Colibri Real Estate, which offers practice exams, flashcards, and even a pass guarantee.

Step 2: Pass the Illinois Real Estate Exam

Cost: $58
Time Commitment: 4 hours (arrive 30 minutes early)

Congratulations! You’ve completed your prelicensing course, and now it’s time to take the Illinois broker exam. You have up to two years from the completion of your prelicensing courses to schedule and take the exam.

You can easily schedule your broker license exam online through PSI Testing Services. They offer 31 testing locations across Illinois for your convenience.

The broker exam is computer-based and consists of 100 national real estate questions and 40 state-related questions. After completing the exam, the testing supervisor will provide you with your score report. To pass, you must answer at least 75% of the national and state questions correctly.

Remember to bring two valid forms of identification to the testing center. You’re also allowed to bring a non-programmable calculator without an alphabetic keyboard or printing capabilities into the exam room.

Step 3: Join an Illinois Real Estate Brokerage

Cost: No cost
Time Commitment: 2-4 weeks

In Illinois, beginner real estate brokers must be sponsored by a managing broker. You can either seek out a managing broker to sponsor you, or the managing broker can invite licensees to join their firm through the Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation’s website.

When deciding which brokerage to affiliate with, consider factors such as company culture, commission structure, and support systems. You’ll want to ensure it’s a good fit for your goals and aspirations.

If you have leadership aspirations, keep in mind that becoming a managing broker requires an additional 45 hours of training and successfully passing the managing broker’s exam.

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Step 4: Complete the Licensing Process Online

Cost: $125
Time Commitment: 2-6 weeks

Congratulations! You’ve passed the license exam and found a managing broker to work under. Now it’s time to apply for your broker license. You can start the application process on the Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation website.

To complete your application, you’ll need to create an account, fill out the necessary form, and pay the $125 fee. Once your application is approved, you’ll receive a notification via email. During the processing period (which takes around 45 days), you’re allowed to practice real estate under the supervision of a managing broker.

How Much Does It Cost to Become a Real Estate Agent in Illinois?

The cost of obtaining your Illinois real estate broker license is approximately $660. This cost includes fixed fees, such as application and exam fees. However, the tuition fees for your prelicensing course may vary depending on the real estate school you choose.

Here’s an example breakdown of the costs involved:

  • Prelicensing Classes (75 hours): $339 (through Colibri Real Estate)
  • Exam Prep Materials: $135 (through The CE Shop)
  • Illinois Broker Examination Fee: $58
  • Application Fee for Broker License: $125
  • Total Costs: $657 (as of March 2023)

Choosing an Illinois Real Estate School

Whether you’re in Peoria, Springfield, Champaign-Urbana, or the Chicagoland area, you’ll have a variety of class formats to choose from. Many Illinois real estate schools offer self-paced online classes with slides, videos, and interactive content to make learning engaging and convenient. If you prefer in-person instruction, you can also find schools that offer traditional classroom settings or live-streamed classes through platforms like Zoom.

It’s important to consider the advantages and disadvantages of each instructional method. Here’s a breakdown to help you decide:

  • In-person Classes:
    • Pros: Get to know other students, easy access to the instructor
    • Cons: More expensive than online classes, commuting and scheduling challenges
  • Livestream Classes:
    • Pros: No commute, ability to ask instructors questions in real-time
    • Cons: Limited interaction with other students, potential technology issues
  • Online Classes:
    • Pros: Flexibility to work at your own pace anywhere with internet access, generally the most affordable option
    • Cons: Limited interaction with real estate professionals, potential technology issues
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Our top recommendation for the best online real estate school in Illinois is Colibri Real Estate. They have a reputation for providing quality instruction that’s easy to understand. Additionally, Colibri Real Estate offers competitive pricing and comprehensive exam prep materials.

Illinois Real Estate Agent Compensation

The earning potential of a real estate agent in Illinois varies depending on the brokerage they affiliate with. As a new broker, finding the right balance between commissions and desk fees can be challenging. It’s important to remember that most brokerages do not offer a flat-rate payment or salary to their agents, so negotiations with the managing broker are essential.

When reaching out to potential brokerages, inquire about their commission split. Some brokerages may ask for a 50-50 split on commissions, while others may offer a higher percentage, ranging from 70% to 100%. However, these brokerages often charge higher fees. Another option to consider is a brokerage that offers a lower cap, allowing you to keep more of your hard-earned commissions once you reach a certain threshold.

If you’re curious about the average income of agents and brokers in Illinois, Colibri has conducted a comprehensive survey of thousands of real estate professionals. Their report provides valuable insights into the industry and can help you understand your income potential as you embark on your real estate career.

Frequently Asked Questions about Becoming a Real Estate Agent in Illinois

We understand you may have more questions about starting your journey as an Illinois real estate agent. We’ve compiled a list of frequently asked questions below, and we encourage you to ask any additional questions in the comment section.

More Career Resources From Garrity Traina

We hope this comprehensive guide has made the process of obtaining your Illinois real estate license more manageable. We’re here to celebrate every milestone in your real estate career. To receive more actionable strategies and advice directly in your inbox, be sure to subscribe to our newsletter. Additionally, check out our Real Estate Agents Mastermind group, where you can connect with fellow agents and brokers for valuable insights and support.

Ready to kickstart your real estate career in Illinois? Click here to learn more about Garrity Traina and how we can help you achieve your goals.