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 .

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45 Replies to “How to get a Minnesota Real estate license”

  1. …and when you get done with all that, you need to become a marketing guru, learn how to write good copy, invest everything you make in smart phones, e pads, computers, printers and cameras. Then you get to drive hundreds of miles showing an endless list of properties.You also have to learn how to bite your tongue because you’ll be interacting with Buyers and Sellers who clearly don’t have a clue. If after all that, you still have the drive to show another property then you probably like what you do for a living! LOL

    1. Teresa Boardman says:

      True but it is at least a little better than sitting in a putty colored cubicle with no windows waiting for the dork in the corner office to give an order.

  2. David Epstein says:

    Does anyone know where to take the brokers course other than kaplan? There is a new school at Selby and Snelling that I cannot remember the name of. Have any experience with them?

    1. Teresa Boardman says:

      No experience with them but I met the owner at an event last spring. The name of the school is Minnesota Realty school and they have a web site ate mnrealtyschool(dot)com

  3. I also met them and could not remember the names.

  4. Where online have you found the courses for $229? Can you get the license online or do you go to a testing center Thanks!

    1. Teresa Boardman says:

      I found one place you can take them on line for $199 per class Yes you have to go to a testing center to take the test but if you are reading this a year from now you might want to check other sources.

  5. Thank you so much for the info!!

  6. […] last month or so I have been getting a lot of blog traffic to an article I wrote about getting a real estate license in Minnesota.  One inquiry came from a recent college graduate.   There are fewer dollars to be made […]

  7. Hi! I am looking into starting the online courses in a month or so. Do you think now is a good time to try and get into the business? I work full time during the days and after I get my license I will just be working nights in real estate to try it out without leaping and losing my day job. Any tips? Hints? Thoughts? Anything really!

    1. Teresa Boardman says:

      It is better this year than last. If you work hard at it for five years or so you may have enough income to quit you job.

      1. Thank you! I am going to at least get my license and try it out, if it doesnt work, I can just coninue to renew my license every year and hope the markets future starts looking up soon! :)Cant hurt to try right?
        Thank you again!

        1. Teresa Boardman says:

          actually real estate isn’t something you can kind of try out. Most people who make a living at started full time. It costs money just to keep a license. It would make more sense to save up for awhile, maybe work 2 paying jobs until you have enough money in the bank to live for 9 months to a year without an income and then get your license and start full time.

  8. Thanks for remembering our school name! We are the MN Realty School. We offer pre-license classes for Brokers and Agents. My biz partner and I worked at Kaplan for 11 years each and started our own locally owned company. The total cost for our classes (course 1,2 3) which includes License Exam Tutor is $750. This industry has its ups and downs and after 19 years of owning my own company (no longer licensed pursuant to Statute), I must say that a career in real estate is more than a job. If you send someone to us and they mention this blog, we will give them 10% off Course 1,2 and 3 tuition for a total cost of $675.00!

    1. Teresa Boardman says:

      I usually don’t allow advertising on my blog but I will leave this up for awhile and we will see how it goes.

    2. Yeeah…I’ll take that! Thanks Mike and Teresa!

  9. David Epstein says:

    I did get my broker class done, passed the test, was approved by the DOC, had to move my active listings to another company, now am moving them back, trying to learn Instanet and why it works so well in demos, and never when I am alone in my office, and then there is social media.
    On Craig’s List, someone has been pirating my listings for rentals, undercutting my pricing, and trying to get deposits sent to Africa. And they even had the chutzpah to do a Yahoo email with my 1st name, last name, and middle initial, something I would never do, but we are all public.
    I am using it all but SIMPLIFICATION is the word. Total Freedom Realty is my company. I am free except for all of the other things that regulate us.
    So business is pretty exciting these days once I get past the details. So, I specialize in properties that needs lots of work, have major title issues, or multiple legal problems. Never a dull moment.

  10. […] is easy to get a Minnesota real estate license and it doesn't cost much.  The demand for agents has gone down in recent years and even though […]

  11. Okay…a couple background comments and questions.

    In another state I made business acquisitions and sold businesses. Three acquisitions were outright purchases using the “purchase method” of accounting and on sale was for $2.35-million. It was a merger under the pooling of interests accounting rule. On the several smaller deals I wrote every word of the purchase agreements, and in the larger deal with a publically-traded company I oversaw a 764-page closing document. The total of all exceeded $3-million and the deals all held together for over 14 years (so far).

    1. Why do I need a real estate license to broker business deals in Minnesota? If I do the deal, I have my own team, none of who have real estate licenses of any kind.
    2. Can a licensed Minnesota attorney do a real estate without a DOC license?

    1. Teresa Boardman says:

      Licensing requirements have to do with representing others in real estate transactions. You can represent yourself a many times as you like. As for why you need a license to represent others it is because that is the law in Minnesota. Attorneys can represent others in real estate transactions with out a real estate license.

      1. great exchange – one clarification…an individual is limited to 4 transactions w/out a license – after that, you can apply for a ‘limited broker license’ w/out classes and exams – but only to conduct transactions for self…not another and for a fee.

        Thanks for a great Blog Teresa

  12. Hello, I’m looking to buy (not selling at this point) investment properties for myself and was wondering what would be the easiest way for me to do that. Currently I’m using an agent but it gets difficult to sync up schedules to go look at properties together. I would just like the ability and freedom to look at properties whenever I would like. What do I need a to 1.)Get access to MLS (the REAL MLS, not through type sites) and 2.)Be able to set up appointments to view the properties on my own without an agent present.

    1. Teresa Boardman says:

      As far as I know and I just did a little more research you need a real estate license to join. There are some inspectors who are members and I am not sure how that works. Realtors own the MLS and We all pay quarterly fees. I think it is $140 a quarter and we pay around $10 a month for software to open electronic key boxes. In general sellers hire agents because they do not want to dela directly with buyers. Here is contact info for the MLS In general gets the listings quickly you can also use the sites like mine because local brokerage sites have all of the listings too. Most real estate agents work hard to accomodate buyers schedules but we usually have more than one client at a time and can not accomodate everyones schedule. You can also contact the listing agent for the properties and ask them to let you in.

      1. Thank you Teresa and Mark for the info. Sounds like getting the license is the best way to go. So after I get my license, I understand I would have to have a Broker hold my license. Is this a tough process? My situation would be a little different since I’m just buying a property here and there and wouldn’t be doing this full time/bringing lots of money to the Broker, so I’m not sure this is something they would be that interested in? Any suggestions on how to pursue this?

        1. Teresa Boardman says:

          I don’t know how it works in Michigan but here in Minnesota dome of the big brokerages want agents who are full time. Some of the franchises might work but they require that each agent pay a franchise fee. In general the broker will take a cut of everything you bring in and most will take a bigger cut from agents who bring in less money. Your best bet is to ask around and see if a small brokerage independent brokerage will take you.

    2. Matt,

      I’m not an agent in MN but in MI. Its not much different here when it comes to MLS boards. But more importantly, unless the property was a FSBO, it wouldn’t be practical to arrange for showings without a licensed agent in attendance. As a listing agent, I would not advise my Seller to meet with a Buyer or let them have access to the property unaccompanied. Your most practical approach is to become licensed yourself and pay the dues that all the rest of pay in order to make listing information possible on the internet to begin with.

  13. So…If I want to get a company license, then…get a broker license…and have been and am a Broker in Oklahoma, what courses to I need to take, what fees do I need to pay to (1) create the XYZ company, (2) get a Minnesota Broker License in order to become the responsible Broker for the LLC’s actions as a licensed real estate company and (3) where is a school, in addition to KAPLAN, that can help me do this?

    1. Teresa Boardman says: real estate school. You will need to go to the MN department of commerce site for the fees and paper work.
      You will need to get your MN real estate license and after you have it for 3 years you can take the 30 hour broker course and take the test for a brokers license. Maybe there is a way to get it quicker if you have a license in another state.

  14. Mike here from the MN Realty School! Luckily, Oklahoma is a “reciprocal state”. This means that as long as you have an active OK license, all you need to pay the $210 application fee and BAM! you are a licensed MN Broker! No test, no exam. If you wanted to create a corporation (LLC, S, S, etc.) there is an approx $140 application fee at Sec’y of State So, total costs would be about $350 with no course or test! Yeah!!

    1. Teresa Boardman says:

      Mike thanks for putting that into out there. The department of commerce web site isn’t exactly user friendly which is why I sometimes write about getting a MN license.

  15. Hi I am interested in getting my MN real Estate license but I cannot find where I can take all of the classes online. Can someone help me with this? Thanks!!

  16. Hi:

    Is it mandatory to get 90 hrs of classroom instruction to get MN real estate license. CAn’t I study by myself and take the test and pass it?

    1. Teresa Boardman says:

      you can take 90 hours of class room or 90 hours as an online course . . which my not take 90 hours. No you can’t just study and take the test.

  17. If I go through the process of getting my MN license, will I need to go through the entire process again to get my WI license so that I could do transactions in both states? Thank you!

    1. Teresa Boardman says:

      Yes when you go through the process you get one Minnesota license. if you want to be licensed in Wisconsin you go through the Wisconsin licensing process. Check with the Wisconsin department of commerce for details.

  18. Teresa Boardman says:

    I am sorry I don’t know but I can tell you that in 7 years rules and laws have changed

  19. Has anyone taken a combination of online and classroom courses? I’m wondering whether one or the other provides better training?

    1. Teresa Boardman says:

      I think it depends upon the persons learning style. For licensing there really isn’t any training it is just about passing a test.

  20. I have a question for those of you who have taken a mix of both the online and classroom courses. Would you recommend the classroom courses or the online? I’m open to both but want the best training for the money.

  21. I’ve just finished Course 1 from the online school you mentioned above. I have to say that it’s great. Clear instruction and well paced. You do have to have the entire 30 hours as each section has a timer to ensure you spend the required time (it will even time out after 10 minutes of inactivity.). I use the extra time to use their flash cards. Very helpful. I take my state exam this Friday – wish me luck! 🙂

    Thanks for the great info!

    1. Teresa Boardman says:

      Nice to here and good luck!

  22. Hi

    I am a licensed Realtor in Massachusetts. I will be moving to Minneapolis within 4-6 months. What do I need to do to become licensed in MN? Can I just take the state part of the exam? Or do I have to take the general exam again as well as the stae exam? If just the state exam can you direct me as to how to begin the process? Thank you!

    1. Teresa Boardman says:

      I’ll send a link via email. You need to go to the Minnesota department of commerce web site. They have it all spelled out.

      1. Is there any difference to the testing/coursework/licensing if you want to work on the commercial side of the business? Or is the process you’ve described to this point strictly for residential real estate?

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