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How to Get a Pennsylvania Real Estate License: Career Guide

How to Get a Pennsylvania Real Estate License: Career Guide

Wondering how to get a real estate license in Pennsylvania?

Our complete guide covers pre-license requirements, the real estate exam, and things to consider. Read on to learn more.

Basic Pennsylvania Real Estate License Requirements

Pennsylvania is located midway between New York City and Washington, D.C. It boasts the Northeast’s lowest cost of living. Both of those facts make Pennsylvania a promising place to start a real estate career.

Would-be real estate agents have to fulfill six conditions to get a Pennsylvania license:

Pennsylvania Real Estate License Requirements
  1. Be at least 18 years old
  2. Take 75 hours of approved education
  3. Complete a background check
  4. Pass state and national real estate license tests
  5. Get a licensed broker to sponsor you
  6. Fill out and submit the application and supporting documents and pay the fee

Of course, just because you meet the requirements does not mean you’ll automatically get your license. Doing so is a time-consuming process, so make sure to take it seriously.

To cut down on time, make sure to check out Real Estate Express. Their affordable, web-based platform allows users to study on their own time.

Pennsylvania State Real Estate Commission

In Pennsylvania, the Real Estate Commission grants and renews licenses for real estate salespeople and brokers.

It also oversees licenses for people who sell cemetery plots, campground memberships, and timeshares.

You can contact the commission at:

Mailing address
State Real Estate Commission
P.O. Box 2649
Harrisburg PA 17105-2649

Physical Address
State Real Estate Commission
One Penn Center, 2601 N. 3rd Street
Harrisburg PA 17110 

Required Education

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The 75 hours of pre-licensing education include 40 hours on real estate practices and 35 hours on real estate fundamentals. You can get education from several sources:

  • a Pennsylvania real estate education program that has the Commission’s approval
  • a real estate education provider in another state that has received approval from that state’s real estate licensing authority
  • An accredited college

Another way to fulfill the education requirements is with a bachelor’s degree with a real estate major or equivalent. A law degree from an accredited law school will also substitute. 

You can find a state-approved school at Pennsylvania’s PALS licensing website at this link. Select “State Real Estate Commission” from the drop-down list of boards and commissions. On the drop-down list of license types, choose “Real Estate Course.”

You can search for real estate schools by city, county, and ZIP code. The state lists approximately 50 approved real estate education providers. Classes can be taken online or in person.

When you’ve completed the course, you’ll get a certificate of completion. Hang onto this certificate. You’ll need it to apply to take the state exam. The certificate of completion is good for five years.

Background Check

After you’ve passed your class, it’s time to do the background check. You can do this online at the Pennsylvania Access to Criminal History (PATCH) website. The background check costs $22. You can pay by credit card.

If you’ve lived, worked, or studied outside Pennsylvania during the past five years, you have to provide background checks for each state.

Alternatively, you can provide both a background check from the state where you currently live and an FBI Identity History Summary Check. Get the FBI check at here.

Your background check has to be completed within 90 days of submitting your application. So make sure you are ready to proceed before taking this step.

Take the State and National Exams

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When you have your background checked, you’re ready to take the state exam. Register at the PALS website by filling out the registration form.

On the PALS website, you can download the Candidate Information Bulletin. This is a lengthy document that explains the testing process in detail.

Certificate of Completion

Submit your certificate of completion for the real estate course along with the registration form to the examination firm, PSI. You can fax it or email it to [email protected].

When you are approved, PSI will mail you a confirmation notice. This will tell you how to schedule an appointment to take the examination.

The scheduling is done online via PSI’s online portal. However, to take the computer-assisted test, you must appear in person.

Schedule Your Test

PSI gives the tests at a dozen testing facilities scattered across the state. Tests are given daily, five or six times a week, at various locations.

If you aren’t in the state, you can take the Pennsylvania real estate test at out-of-state locations. Contact PSI at (800) 733-9267 to learn about these.

It’s a good idea to take the online practice test through PSI. The company will also send you email reminders of the time and place of your appointment.

Bring Identification

When you show up for the test, bring two forms of identification. One must have a government-issued photo ID, such as a driver’s license, state ID, passport, or military ID. The second just needs your signature and a preprinted legal name.

You can also bring a non-printing calculator. However, plan to leave a cellphone, laptop, and other personal items outside the test room.

You may be able to skip the national part of the test. To do this, you must have completed the Pennsylvania pre-licensing education and have a license from another state.

For Current Licensees

You’ll have to submit a letter from the other licensing authority showing you have been actively licensed within the past 5 years.

PSI charges $49 to take the exam. The price is the same whether you take just the state exam or both the state and national portions.

The national portion of Pennsylvania’s exam has 80 questions. You have two hours to do this portion and need 60 correct answers.

Exam Taking Tips

The state portion has 30 questions. You have an hour to complete this part, and you need to get 23 right answers to pass.

As soon as you’ve finished the test or the time runs out, your score will immediately appear on the computer screen. You’ll also be notified if you pass or fail.

If you failed, you’ll get a report indicating where you were weakest. You’ll also get an official printed score report at the exam site.

If you need another try, the fee is the same to retake the test. Once you’ve paid the fee, you have a year to take the test.

Find a Broker Sponsor

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After you’ve received your passing exam score, it’s time to choose a real estate brokerage to work for. If you don’t have someone in mind, call or visit some brokerages. Check into training, commissions, and the work atmosphere.

Here are some of the top real estate companies operating in Pennsylvania:

  •       Keller Williams
  •       RE/MAX
  •       Sotheby’s International
  •       Coldwell Banker
  •       Berkshire Hathaway

In addition to these well-established names, agents in Pennsylvania and other states are trying out cloud-based brokerages.

One example is real. This app-based brokerage charges no sign-up fees, no monthly fees, and pays an 85 percent commission.

You’ll need a sworn statement from your sponsoring broker stating that they’ve agreed to sponsor you. This statement will need to be uploaded with your application.

The broker isn’t the only factor to consider. You also want to work out of an office in a healthy and active real estate market.

Pennsylvania’s most developed real estate markets tend to be in or near major metropolitan areas. Here are the state’s biggest metro areas, ranked by population:

  •     Philadelphia: 1,576,596
  •     Pittsburgh: 302,908
  •     Allentown: 120,890
  •     Erie: 95,956
  •     Reading: 86,864

But smaller towns and communities also offer good prospects. The Realtor’s Hotness Index measures listing views and days on market. It identified these niche markets as Pennsylvania’s most active:

  •     Johnsonburg
  •     Clymer
  •     Hyndman
  •     Shippenville
  •     Pitcairn

Except for Pitcairn, which is a suburb of Pittsburgh, all these hot markets are small towns far from major metros. Which goes to show that there is plenty of opportunity throughout the state.

Submit the Application

Applying for a Pennsylvania real estate license is done online through the PALS system. There are four major parts to the application process.

  • Download, print, complete, sign and upload the application
  • Pay the $107 application fee
  • Upload the sworn statement from your sponsoring broker
  • Upload the score sheet from exam

Once your application has been processed, you’ll receive your license and be able to practice real estate. The entire process, from the first day of class to getting your license, should require no more than four months.

If you’re licensed in another state, you might be able to reduce that time. Pennsylvania has reciprocity agreements with real estate regulators in six states:

  • Arkansas
  • Georgia
  • Louisiana
  • Maryland
  • Massachusetts
  • New York

You may qualify to get a reciprocal Pennsylvania license if you’ve passed the equivalent licensing exam in one of these states.

How to Get a Real Estate License in Pennsylvania

Getting a Pennsylvania real estate license requires an investment of time, money, and effort.

But once you’ve completed the process, it can open the door to a rewarding career in Keystone State real estate.