License Prep State Coverage
CE State Coverage
The CE Shop Best Overall and for Continuing Education
Real Estate Express Best Overall Runnerup
ARELLO & IDECC
Aceable Best Value
Varies by state
Kaplan Best Interactive Courses
RealEstateU Best on a Budget
Guide to Choosing the Best Online Real Estate Schools
Determine Your Need for Online Real Estate Classes
If you’re interested in becoming a licensed real estate agent, there are two powerful reasons to take classes online:
Online real estate classes tend to cost less than in-person classes, often by hundreds of dollars; this is generally true for online vs. in-person education. You’re not paying for the use of a classroom, only the digital components and the teacher’s time. In-person classes may require expensive textbooks, which could be replaced by inexpensive or free ebooks when learning online. Plus, you’ll save more money by avoiding the time and cost of traveling to and from classes.
Online classes are more convenient, too—you can work on your lessons anywhere you have an internet connection, anytime (although, depending on the course, there may be scheduled live online events as well). You can typically go at your own pace, which is good if you like to take your time or you end up flying through the material.
In general, you don’t have to worry about sacrificing quality by going with an online real estate school. The Texas Real Estate Commission (TREC) publishes a list of real estate schools and pass rates, and you can see that many online schools have excellent pass rates (a high pass rate doesn’t necessarily guarantee a high-quality school, but you shouldn’t pick a school with a low pass rate). Online schools typically offer many of the same features as in-person classes, like the ability to speak with industry experts, plus more in some cases. See the schools listed above for some high-quality options.
In-person classes have some merits, as well. You’ll likely have more opportunities to interact with the instructor and other classmates. If you have trouble self-motivating to sit down at a computer on your own time, it may also be better to have scheduled weekly meeting times in an actual classroom. Some people learn better face-to-face rather than staring at a screen. So, although online classes are usually cheaper and more convenient, in-person classes could be right for some aspiring real estate agents.
Comparing Online Real Estate Schools
Think about the following when looking for the right online real estate school; the main points to consider are availability, accreditation, courses offered, and fees.
- Availability: Are the courses you need available in your state? Do you need any preliminary certifications or licenses?
- Accreditation: Look for schools with accreditations relevant to your state, particularly ARELLO and IDECC. These certifications ensure the school meets certain standards for presentation of content, student assessments, and student/instructor interaction methods.
- Salesperson pre-licensing courses: These are the basic courses you must take to meet the hourly requirements set out by your state.
- Broker pre-licensing courses: To become a real estate broker, you’ll need to take additional classes; depending on your state, you may need specific certifications or on-the-job experience.
- Exam prep courses: Pre-licensing courses may not adequately prepare you for the test. That’s what exam prep is for; the more questions in the question bank and the more similar to the actual test, the better.
- Continuing education (CE) courses: Real estate agents must periodically complete a certain amount of CE course time to maintain their licenses, as defined by their state. Many schools offer these courses, which may include topics like contract law and fair housing.
- Course fees: Different companies offer courses with different features, like video supplements or access to experts, which significantly affect their prices. Compare schools to find affordable courses with the features you like.
- Money-back guarantee/cancellation policy: Some schools offer a money-back guarantee, which allows you to get a refund if you prove that you failed the exam after taking prep courses. Many provide refunds if you cancel within a certain time period, with some giving you as long as a month.
- Time in business/pass rates: Is the school an established, well-known name in the industry, or did it just show up on the scene? Schools with long track records and high pass rates are best.
- Website usability: Not all real estate school websites are created equal. Some provide a much better user experience than others, even if the content of the lessons is similar.
- Teacher/expert/student interaction: Are you able to ask the teacher or industry expert questions, or do you have to be a passive learner? Can you chat with your classmates?
- Coursework support options: If you need help, how can you contact the teacher? Does the school offer live chat or phone support, or only email?
- Mobile app: Learning on the go can be convenient, but only a few real estate schools currently offer mobile apps.
- Third-party reviews: What do actual students say about the school on sites like Trustpilot and Better Business Bureau?
Signing Up for an Online Real Estate School
Signing up for an online real estate school is easy. Register a new account, providing your personal details and email address. Then you’ll be able to select the course(s) you want and submit payment information.
After that, simply follow the instructions on the website, which will be unique to each school. You’ll likely have access to course materials through an online dashboard, and certain resources (like ebooks) may be sent by email as well.
Frequently Asked Questions
Can You Get a Real Estate License Online?
To become a realtor, pre-licensing hours are required in order to obtain your real estate license, all of which can be completed by an online school. Depending on your state, you’ll need to complete a pre-license education course—you’ll need to meet a certain number of hours from schools that are approved by the state. For example, real estate agents and brokers in California need to complete a pre-licensing course that’s a minimum of 135 hours and is approved by the Department of Real Estate.
To meet the credentials of pre-licensing, real estate schools must go through an accreditation process (your state should have a list of schools that are approved). Keep in mind that online schools often have state limitations. That means you’ll need to do some research to see what’s available in your state and familiarize yourself with any requirements you need to meet before enrolling. It’s also probably a good idea to check your state’s licensing requirements before signing up.
How Much Does It Cost To Go to School for Real Estate?
Online real estate schools have a range of prices that vary based on whether you sign up for the pre-licensure class only or tack on an exam prep course. Depending on where you reside and whether you opt for test prep, online classes can range from $69 to $900. This is in comparison to, generally, at least several hundred dollars to attend a live, in-person class—not including exam prep.
How Long Does It Take To Get a Real Estate License Online?
Each state has different requirements, but the time to complete pre-licensing work can range from as little as 24 hours to as much as 180 hours. Remember, you’ll go through the course at your own pace, but that doesn’t change the required pre-licensing hours. You may exceed the minimum required hours to get a better handle on the material, as necessary.
Depending on state requirements where you live, it can take anywhere from four to six months to become a real estate agent. The timeline also depends on how long you take to pass the real estate exam and the number of courses needed to meet your state’s licensing requirements
For instance, those who want to be licensed in Florida will need to complete 63 hours of state-approved pre-license education classes before sitting for the exam. Compare this to the state of California, where you’re required to complete 135 hours.
What Is Online Test Prep for a Real Estate License?
Online test prep for a real estate license is a review course in preparation for the real estate license test. Every state requires some kind of pre-licensing education to get your real estate license. Online real estate schools may also offer online test prep services, which are different than classes for pre-licensing hours.
Test prep is typically voluntary and an additional charge on top of the pre-licensing course. Some real estate schools offer more personalized approaches to test prep by having you go through the course with an instructor. Test prep courses are usually much shorter than pre-licensing courses because they focus on reviewing the material to pass the test.
What Do You Learn in Real Estate School?
Although course names and state requirements will differ, you’ll find that real estate classes teach topics like the principles of real estate, real estate practice, law and ethics, and the legalities such as the types of contracts needed in a transaction.
For instance, students will learn about the Fair Housing Act, which prohibits sales discrimination based on gender, race, ethnicity, religion, familial status, sexual orientation, gender identity, and nationality. Classes will also cover the practical skills necessary to conduct a successful closing, such as the realtor’s responsibilities when it comes to the contract, writing listings, showing properties, and writing an offer.
Andy Smith, a Certified Financial Planner (CFP) and licensed realtor, said in an Investopedia interview that “The overall course curriculum has to conform to the individual state requirements for licensing. Each course in the curriculum should have a well-defined structure laid out in a course syllabus or similar document and include overarching course objectives; topic learning objectives; instructional methods used; materials the student must obtain, including software and hardware; along with contact information for technical support and the instructor’s name and contact info.”
How We Chose the Best Online Real Estate Schools
To make sure that our findings offered the best opportunities for pre-licensing classes in as many states as possible, we used a methodology that involved examining 14 online real estate schools on factors such as price, support, availability, post-licensing opportunities, strong pass rates, and length of the program so that you can find the course that’s right for you.
As a team of experienced writers and editors, we make sure to assess all products, including online real estate schools, from the consumer’s point of view. That’s so we can point out features and potential drawbacks in order to help you make the best decision when you embark or continue on your real estate career.