How to get a Minnesota Real estate license

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I am going to call this a public service message on how to get a real estate license.  Real estate is local so this won’t be of much use to persons in other states who wish to get a license.

The great state of Minnesota requires that people who sell real estate that does not belong to them to have a license.  You do not have to call a local real estate company to get started, in fact they will just explain how to get a license and work hard to recruit you if you do get one.  Agents are independent contractors so we decide where we want to go and even though brokerages recruit like crazy they don’t have to pay agents and will take almost anyone who can a mirror.

Brokerages make money by taking a percentage of each agents commissions and agents make money by selling real estate but only after a successful closing.  Newer agents will get the smaller share of the commissions they earn,  and the broker will get the bigger share.  There are also various fees that the agent and their clients will pay to the brokerage in addition to the commission split. (I really need to recruit me some agents)

All real estate sales people have to work under a licensed broker and that is what a real estate company provides.  I have a Minnesota brokers license which means I can be my own broker.  We can not start out as brokers but have to have a real estate license for three years and then take a class and a test.  The rules and requirements can be found on the Minnesota Department of Commerce web site because they regulate the real estate industry.

The first step in getting a real real estate license is to take a 30 hour class in preperation for the real estate exam and then take the exam.  After the exam there are two more courses each is 30 hours long.   There are 90 hours of required training, split into three 30 hour courses known as course 1, 2 and 3.  They can be taken in a class room or online and prices vary.   I went to the local real estate school to take mine.  Currently they charge $295 for each course.   I have found the entire ninety hours of classes online for $229.00*

It costs $75 to register for the licensing exam and $135 for the license once the courses have been completed.  Agents have to join a brokerage to get the license and to start selling real estate.  After attending the classes most agents will not be able to fill out a basic purchase or listing agreement but will generally charge as much as a seasoned pro.

The big brokerages offer excellent training programs to get new agents up and running and how to sell real estate the XYZ company way and how to promote the brand.   Did you know that most agents have to pay for those signs with the brokerage logo on them?

Brokerages require that agents join the MLS which means we join the National Association of Realtors (NAR) and can print Realtor after our names on our business cards.  Joining is about signing up and paying yearly dues.  There is more to it than that but I am already over 500 words.

I’ll write another article on what it really takes to succeed as a real estate agent.  What I have to say may surprise you unless you are a regular reader then nothing will surprise you.

* as of the summer of 2012 I have gotten many calls about this.  Right now I can only find one place to take these courses online and that is at but the courses are $199 for each course and there are three pre-licensing course which adds up to $597 .

New Minnesota Laws

Electronic signatures

New state laws often take place on August 1 and since real estate is highly and I do mean highly regulated on the state level we usually end up with new rules and that means new real estate  forms and changes  to existing forms to reflect new laws.   There is a forms class for real estate agents and brokers taught by the Minnesota Association of Realtors that goes over the changes.

I really wish all agents would attend the forms class.  Instead they like to tell us what is “legal” and what is not.  Each brokerage has it’s own unique interpretation of the forms and they like to hold the other party hostage until they get their way.

Several forms have been changed because of electronic signatures.  They are legal in Minnesota and they have been legal for years.  This language was added to some of the contracts: “Electronic signatures:  The parties agree the electronic signature of any party on any document related to this transaction constitute valid, binding signatures.”   I won’t know for sure until I go to the forms class but my guess is some agent told another agent that he/she has to have a written signature because that is how one party signed.  The party who signed electronically was probably in Outer Mongolia and the agent representing the party who signed with a written signature decided it wasn’t “legal” to have one of each type of signature and held all parties hostage until he/she got a written signature.

At any rate being the rebel that I am I use a product called EchoSign for electronic signatures.  My clients love it and I started using it when I discovered that I was not smart enough to figure out how to use the special software they make for real estate.   I will go on record as saying I am a raving fan of Echo Sign.  When I am fortunate enough to have a client sign documents in person I have them signed on my iPad with a real signature right on the screen.   I have had entire transactions where nothing has been printed the documents were either signed electronically or I had them signed on my iPad.   Clients get electronic copies of the files and so does the lender and the all other parties who need copies.  EchoSign was recently acquired by Adobe and so far they have not wrecked it.


Also see:

Real Estate And Paper

Home Prices by Neighborhood

April 2011 St. Paul, MN

The news media is all over the idea of a double dip recession and they are looking at average housing prices.  Home prices in St. Paul are down slightly.  They are down from last year but last April they were slightly inflated because of the home buyer tax credits.  Home prices are higher this April than they were in the April of 2009. 

Home sales remain sluggish and the number of homes on the market is slowly climbing as more foreclosures hit the market.  There is plenty of room for optimism  but not in the housing market.  

The chart above was made from numbers from our local MLS for St. Paul, Minnesota for the month of April 2011. The data is deemed reliable but not guaranteed but there are few guarantees in life.

For more local numbers please see Local Market Conditions and Home Prices and remember that real estate is local. 

Photography for Realtors

It is Friday and Fridays are for fun.  I usually don’t write educational

point and shoot camera

type posts on Fridays but that is what I am going to do today.

I have spent a lot of time this week looking for homes for buyers that I am working with.  I just can’t help but notice that the property photos in the MLS are pretty bad. 

I find photos of room parts, open toilets, crooked rooms, poorly lit rooms, open toilets, did I mention open toilets?  bathroom mirrors and windows with bright lights in them and to be honest with some of the photos I can’t really tell what they are of but I try. 

You may have noticed from my blog that I like to take photos.  Maybe I love taking them and I know my way around a camera and if I try I can take a photo of an entire room and if there is a toilet in the room I put the seat down before taking the picture instead of after. (I think Realtors were taught to put the seat down after)  I decided to write some instructions for my peers in an effort to help them with their property photos. .

The following items are needed and my instructions should be followed to the letter.  You will need:  A camera, a towel, a table or sturdy flat surface a hammer, a phone and a room that needs to be photographed.

  • Remove camera from case
  • Remove battery from camera and put it in your pocket.
  • Place towel on flat surface
  • Place camera on top of towel
  • Fold towel over camera until it is completely covered. (Not the towel the camera)
  • Pick up the hammer and hit the camera at least 10 times. When the camera is flat you have hit it enough times.
  • Use the phone to call a photogrpaher
  • Carefully pick up the towel and keep it folded and toss it in the trash. (this part may take some practice)
  • Take the battery to a recycling center.

If these steps are followed I promise that the end result will be better property photos.