How To Get Your Real Estate License

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Getting my real estate license was as much of a surprise decision to me as it was for the people around me. As I progress in my career and network with likeminded individuals, many of them say the same. Usually, there's a yearning to OWN real estate on the investment side, but naturally the thought is to get your real estate license first. Note: It's not a requirement and you can read about that here.

This article is intended for those looking to get licensed in New York State. So here we go!

Requirements for Licensing 

In order to qualify for the New York State Real Estate Salesperson License, you’ll need to first take a 75-hour pre-licensing course. This can be done in-person at a place like NYREI or online (where I took mine as I worked a 9-to-5) at Real Estate U. I highly recommend the in-person course.

Once you complete the course, you’ll be required to take the school exam. Typically you’re allowed to retake the exam up to 2 or 3 times (depending on the school).

Next, you’ll schedule a date and time to officially take the New York State administered Real Estate Exam. You can learn more about scheduling your exam and the requirements here.

Passing Your Real Estate Exam

While the exam is multiple choice and solely based on the 75-hour pre-licensing course, you do want to study. It’s not uncommon to fail the exam the first time. If you’re 110% confident that you’ll pass the first time around, schedule 2 exam dates for “just in case.” My team and I host jeopardy game nights to help others study for the real estate exam. Most schools offer free study materials and practice exams to get ready.

You Passed! Now What?

Now it’s time to hang your license with the brokerage of your choice! Easier said than done. There are over 54,000+ brokerages in New York State alone. Winding up at the wrong one can cost you your career – let alone thousands of dollars. I explain the top 3 Things to Consider When Choosing a Real Estate Brokerage here.

Once you choose a brokerage, you’ll apply to become an agent at that office via eAccessNY and they should guide you through the rest.

Are you thinking about getting your real estate license? What state are you in?

Real Estate Investor vs. Real Estate Agent

The chicken…or the egg. Have you ever considered owning multiple income properties and earning monthly cash flow that would take you out of the Rat Race? If this sounds brand new to you, then stop immediately pick up a copy of Rich Dad Poor Dad by Robert Kiyosaki and get your feet wet! Assuming we are on the same page, let’s dive in.

What is the Difference Between a Real Estate Investor and a Real Estate Agent?

Great question! Simply put, a real estate investor finds opportunities to profit long-term and/or short-term off of properties that are either selling for below market value, belong to a distressed home owner or could earn them monthly rental income. There are tons of creative strategies involved in real estate investing, and if we’re being honest, some of the wealthiest individuals in the world became so through investing in real estate.

A real estate agent on the other hand helps individuals find properties that suit their particular criteria based on factors such as location, price, amenities and style. Often times, real estate agents work together with real estate investors to create win/win deals.

Do I Need a Real Estate License in Order to Become a Real Estate Investor?

No. You 100% do not. In fact, you don’t even need a high school diploma. ACTUALLY, you don’t even need to have money – yourself. What you do need is some real estate know-how, a great team, and a highly recommend a mentor. Wholesaling and/or utilizing hard-money lenders are a great way to begin your real estate investing career. If you’re still slightly confused with some of these terms, I promise that book I mentioned will blow your mind.

Can I Be a Real Estate Agent and Be a Real Estate Investor at the Same Time?

Yes, but more importantly is whether or not you want to be both. Some real estate investors are anti-real-estate-agent. (I have no clue why, I find us rather helpful!) Also, in certain states you can actually run into some legal grey areas when it comes to certain investor activities that real estate agents shouldn’t really do. Yes, I’m being vague, but I didn’t attend law school and I prefer to stick to what I know. Consult an attorney about this part to be sure about your states rules.

Who Makes More Money? Real Estate Agents or Real Estate Investors?


Now this one is tricky! Both incomes fluctuate, but I will say that the opportunities to create long-term generational wealth weigh heavy in favor of real estate investors. While there are multiple ways to earn as a real estate agent, unless you intend on opening a brokerage, the generational wealth potential just isn’t there. Your “wealth” ends…well…not to be morbid, but when you end. As an investor, you can build up an immense portfolio of real estate across the globe, 1039 Exchange your way to even more wealth and create a legacy.

If Becoming an Investor is Better Than Being An Agent, Why Aren’t You An Investor?

You’re so inquisitive!! Now, I never said being a real estate investor is better, I only said the opportunities to create long-term generational wealth weigh in its favor. As a co-owner of a brokerage, I fall into the category of real estate agents who are creating a legacy within that realm. Do I plan to invest in real estate? HECK YES! One would be crazy not to! My brother, Esteban Alfaro, is a real estate agent and a real estate investor. My very next step is to take the investor plunge and document every minute of it.

Are you an investor or agent? Do you agree or disagree?

3 Things To Consider When Choosing A Real Estate Brokerage

I had been licensed for just a few months and I began to see a pattern I didn’t like. I’ll admit, when I first became a real estate agent I didn’t “shop around” brokerages. My boyfriend, and best-friend of 8 years (at the time), was the Broker/Owner of Ian Alexander Realty Group in Queens, NY and we both just assumed I would hang my license there. Shortly after passing the exam, I started looking into other brokerages.

Many Real Estate Brokerages Are…

Outdated. Poorly operated. Robbing agents blind – the list goes on. There are some amazing brokerages out there that have so much to offer. Sadly, many new real estate agents do not understand the part that a brokerage should play in their business. That’s right…their business! YOU OWN A BUSINESS.

#1 What Tools Do They Offer?

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If all a brokerage is offering you is a desk and a phone in exchange for $1200/m then you’re pretty much being robbed. That would have been valuable back in the 1980’s, but this is 2019…where’s the technology? Are they offering a starter CRM? As a new real estate agent it’s important to consider your options and ask questions. Don’t be afraid to interview the brokerages and ask what tools they offer.

#2 What Support Do They Offer?

Imagine you’re a new real estate agent and you just got your first deal under contract. What happens next? If you don’t know the answer – they really don’t teach it in school – who will you turn to for help? Find out if there are mentorship programs available within the brokerage. Is there an office manager who has transaction know-how that can help? Does the office offer a transaction coordinator? Is there a Knowledge Base with articles and videos to help you when you’re stumped at 1:00am and there’s no one to call?

#3 What Portion of their Agents Are Actually Producing?

Now this might stump some brokers if you ask, but it’s a valid question that you’re entitled to know the answer to. As a new real estate agent, you want to surround yourself with those you want to be like. If you’re surrounded by agents who hang at the water cooler, attend all the networking open bars and have ZERO clients…get out of there. If your plan is to build a rock solid real estate business and be a rock star, well…go find some rock stars!

Why the Commission Split Isn’t On This List…

There are certain brokerages that take 40% of your commission, plus transaction fees, but in return you have access to so many tools and support it would be impossible to fail. Then there are brokerages that offer 100% commission and a small transaction fee, but they only exist online and their is NO support. Most brokerages live in between the spectrum. Your job as a new real estate agent is to identify what level of tools and support you feel you’ll need and what those are worth to you.

Happy Shopping!

Are you a real estate agent in New York? Learn more about Ian Alexander Realty Group