Profile picture for rwalia99

Get Real Estate License To Sell My Own Home?

I live in Los Angeles. I'd like to not lose too much on my home sale. Is it a good idea to try to get a real estate license and list it myself on MLS? If so, what is the process to get the license? Thanks for any help you can provide.
  • September 26 2011 - Los Angeles
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Answers (21)

Best Answer

From what I understand CA requires three 45 hour courses to be eligible to take the RE exam.
Not sure where the 6-9 month timeframe comes from.

Also, comparing getting an RE license to a medical degree is beyond ludicrous.

All that being said, the time, effort and costs involved to get your license would not be worth it in my opinion.  You not only have all of the costs associated with getting your license which have been described below but you also have to find a broker hang your license with.

You may be better off hiring a flat fee broker to list your house on the mls and do much of the work yourself.  You will still need to offer the buyer's agent a competitive commission but you may be able to save a few bucks on the listing side if you are willing to do the work.  Remember, pricing well (take a look at recent sold comparables) is essential, good pictures, and decluttering, fixing minor repairs, keeping everything neat and sparkling, inside and out.
  • September 26 2011
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Sure...Most people do, why not you ?  I believe one out of five people in LA have or have had their RE license at one time or the other...
 
  • May 04 2014
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Profile picture for gatito2
Please. All realtors up in arms about lay people getting a license after a few hours of a course and a few hundred dollars here and there??. No surprise they are defensive! As said before, real estate fees are ludicrous. Pass a test, do a transaction and collect 60 grand for one sale? The median US salary is lower than that... For a whole year's worth of work. And the whole fear of being sued... That is why you hire a lawyer. For 1000 dollars. I would try listing it on MLS and zillow and selling it myself. Talk to a real estate lawyer before you follow all this biased advice. I am sure it is easily done. With computers now, I think that real estate is a perishing profession.
  • May 04 2014
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There is more to the professional field of Real Estate then "getting your license". What are you going to do after you get your license?
You have to have training and you have to learn contracts and the law as it applies to the field.
This is additional time and study, I would say that will take you months to learn. Normally a "new agent" will not attempt to sell anything until they have worked with an experienced mentor for at least 6 months to a year learning under them before they try to get into selling on their own. A broker will also be going over everything you do in the beginning to protect you from liability.  Unless you are willing to invest a year or two, to the sole purpose of selling your own home. As I stated before it makes no sense.
If you want to become a Realtor that is another story.
  • August 04 2013
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Profile picture for user9897028
OK, so we've heard from a lot of real estate professionals. But my home is worth about $2M, so a 3% commission is worth about $60k. For that I'd be willing to invest about 500 hours if I were working, and about 1000 hours if I had nothing better to do (e.g., retired or semi-retired).  So the question, assuming I could get the same amount for my house as a broker could, is whether spending the "6-9 months" plus whatever time is involved showing the house represents more than 500-1000 hours of work.

I have plenty of friends who are brokers who tell me compared to the profession I'm in (engineering) it's really not that hard to learn. Plus, it could represent a "second" career.
  • August 02 2013
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The likelihood that you will save money by representing yourself in selling your home is highly unlike. Why go through the trouble, time and expense of getting your license just to sell your home. You don't need a license to sell your own home. Just make sure that you don't get caught in legal problems or end up in a law suit if mistakes are made or for non disclosure issues.

 

Good luck,

  • January 05 2012
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Profile picture for SteadyState
The elephant is in the room but none want to see ...

Real estate transaction costs are too high! Are REAs going to do anything about this?

Workers in the private sector have reduced income as a result of - reduced work hours, pay cuts, forced unpaid leave, etc.

Yet in most metro areas RE transaction costs have not reduced. This will change if for no other reason than the buyers/sellers cannot afford the transaction costs.
  • September 27 2011
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Wow!  Thank you for the BA, much honored. 

And the blogs that Sunnyview linked to are well worth the read. 
Sunny, I had no idea that you had a blog!  Excellent, concise read.
  • September 27 2011
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Profile picture for Connie Klemme

already said many times. but one more won't hurt.- you won't save any money that way.  Unless you have REALLY expensive home.

it's not worth the expense of getting your license just to sell your house.
it's not just the cost of the exam and classes, it's the dues and fees and insurance etc.   Unless you have another reason to get your license it will likely cost you more to get it and keep it to sell your home.

you have to factor in the cost of setting up at an office with a broker and whatever the split is and whatever their rules are about personal home sales etc.  and then how long will it take to sell, if it takes a long time, it's more money in dues going out the door that you could have spent advertising as a FSBO or just paying a commission.  and it's upfront money where the commission comes out of the proceeds of the sale. (different hit to the pocket).
it's not terribly difficult get your license (for most people) but it can be expensive.

  • September 26 2011
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Profile picture for sunnyview
' It is very rare that a buyer is going to want to deal with a seller directly.'

I'm not sure I agree. Buyers respond mainly to the house and price, not the person who shows it. I have seen too many buyers deal with pretty icky sellers just because they like the house so much and it is priced right.

If you are not an irritating or icky seller, you have a realistic idea of what it will take to sell yourself , you can distance your self emotionally from the house and you can price it right, you can sell your house successfully.
  • September 26 2011
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Profile picture for AmyBrick
I would echo what most everyone else is saying, it's not worth the time and eeffort to get a license. More importantly,I wouldn't sell my house myself, even if you don't need a license.  It is very rare that a buyer is going to want to deal with a seller directly.  Not only are agents helpful because we ddo this everyday, but we also act as buffers.  Seller to seller deals can get uunnecessarily emotional and complicated. 
  • September 26 2011
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You don't need a real estate license to sell your home and you can pay services to list your home on the MLS for far less money and trouble than getting your own license. Understand that if you do this, you will be marketing and selling your home without any professional assistance or experience. People also represent themselves in court as well and don't use a lawyer and many come to regret it. When it comes to things like your freedom, or getting the right price for the largest asset you own  and making sure you don't get caught in legal problems (or end up getting sued if mistakes are made) an experienced real estate agent or broker may save you money, not cost you. A license is just a piece of paper. It is the knowledge and experience that has value.

If you are thinking of getting the license because you also want to represent the buyers for your home, I would strongly advise against that. The largest reason is that no buyer would give up their own agent (who costs them nothing) and use you as their agent because you have a huge conflict of interest in the transaction. Secondly, you should not consider doing this because, with all due respect, you don't know what you are doing when it comes to the legal aspects of transactions, and it is a perfect way to end up getting sued if things go wrong.

If cutting your transaction costs is the most important thing for you, then do a FSBO, pay for an MLS listing and deal with potential buyers agents. I don't recommend this path, but it is better than others you could do. You don't need the license to do that.
  • September 26 2011
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I would suggest talking with different agents in your area and negotiating with those agents for the best deal. If you don't feel comfortable doing that you won't be comfortable negotiating as an agent owner if you got your license. Also the cost and time involved of obtaining your license is more than you might save on hiring a professional. however as has been said above you can always list as a for sale by owner and pay a broker to put it into the MLS for you, there are many firms that will do this. But even the owner of For Sale By Owner recently hired a realtor to sell his pad in New York recently.
  • September 26 2011
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Profile picture for sunnyview
You don't need to go go to medical school to give yourself a flu shot. They're pretty darn easy especially if you are giving them to people. People don't usually kick.

You do not need a license to sell your own house and I would venture to guess that paying a flat fee MLS company would be less expensive than getting your own RE license. If you plan to sell FSBO, you need to be prepared to market it like a professional would though. There are tips to help you do that in this blog here and this one here.

Your house is a big investment. You need to make sure that you feel that you can represent and market it well. If you are unsure about your ability to do that as an owner, you are better off hiring a professional to help you than getting your license and trying to sell as a green RE agent.
  • September 26 2011
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Profile picture for wetdawgs
Medical school - four years after a bachelor's degree plus 3 years intern/residency (before any specialty training). Amount saved by providing self a flu shot $15 (plus or minus).  Costs - hundreds of thousands.

The person who cuts your hair in my state must have 1600 hours of training before they are eligible to cut your hair.



  • September 26 2011
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Dear Rwalia99,
Well it's a bit extreme and time consuming to consider working in Real
Estate just to sell your home.
I would not go to Medical School, just to get a flu shot.
Why not let the Pro's handle your sale?
  • September 26 2011
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Profile picture for Jeff Giordano

The process will take you at least 6-9 months.  You will need to take several courses to study and pass the test.  Once you do that you would have to join a realty company because you can't practice real estate under a realty license you must have a brokers license... another major test and studying.  To join a realty company you would have to pay a couple of thousand dollars to start, Errors & Omissions insurance, etc... Understanding the sales process and forms takes a lot of time and experince.  It would be much more cost effective enlisting the help of an experience Realtor, numerous studies have shown the financial benefit of utilizing an experience Realtor.  If you are interested, I would love to have the opportunity to earn your business... please call me at [phone deleted by Zillow moderator]

  • September 26 2011
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Profile picture for sunnyview
Most people do not get their real estate license just to sell their house, but if you are interested for other reasons, you can look at courses online like this here or others that will help you pass the exam.

Passing the exam is not the whole story. You have other things that you need to be aware of and do as a licensed agent. I would suggest talking to a broker in your area and having them give you some advice before you pay for a licensing course. They can tell you what is actually involved in getting into the real estate business.
  • September 26 2011
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rwalia99,

Sharon and Carol are correct. In the State of California they recently raised the education criteria so those who are not committed to be of service as a real estate pro will hopefully be weeded out. On top of that, it takes years to learn the proper skill-set of a successful agent. If you hope to be a Realtor® and have MLS access, that costs even more money.  If this is really only about saving a few dollars, I would leave it to the motivated professionals. An experienced Realtor® should be able to negotiate a higher price and better terms than a lay-person. It takes talent to help get a client the highest price the market will bear but it will be worth it. And finally, emotions should be left out of the home selling process whenever possible. I hope I've provided more food for thought. Good luck!
  • September 26 2011
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Profile picture for Sharon Lewis
Getting your license is not a 'breeze' for everyone and it costs more than a few hundred dollars. It does take months to complete, in North Carolina, where I practice, it is considered a grueling course. Our of approximately 20 in my class, only two of us passed and got our license! 
Find yourself a great Realtor. I can refer you to one, she is not with  my firm, she is with another company and a very good realtor who will make sure you get top dollar.
You can email any of us for a referral or go to the Professionals tab and search on your own.
Best of luck to you, whatever your choice is.
  • September 26 2011
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The likelihood that you will save money by representing yourself is highly unlikely. Unless you have a strong interest in pursuing real estate as a career, I would not bother going to the trouble, time and expense of getting your license.

Contact agents that know your area and select the one that has a track record of getting the price you have in mind. Ask them if your price is realistic in today's market. The market has been highly volatile lately and can change in a day depending on competition from other homes on the market and comparables of ones that have recently sold.

Statistics have shown (and my experience bears this out) that agents will get more for you, than you can negotiate for yourself. Real estate looks way easier than it actually is. Hire the best person you can find!

You don't mention your time frame, but getting your license can take around 6 months. If you have the time and the interest to go ahead and get your license, I took my classes online and through books from Kaplan and breezed through the exam at the State. I highly recommend them. (www.kaplan.com)

To find out the entire process, see www.dre.ca.gov for the state requirements. 

Good selling, either way! 
  • September 26 2011
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