Learn How to Become a Licensed Real Estate Agent in Oregon – 2020 Update

become a licensed realtor oregon

Why should I read your guide to getting licensed?

I run a top 250 real estate team in the U.S. according to Real Trends. Personally I got licensed in Oregon in 2003 as a Broker, then later upgraded to a Principal Broker’s licensed and have also obtained the highest level of license in Washington, Managing Broker. I’ve overseen more than a thousand local sales. In addition to all of that, it would be because I run this website which produces annual, local real estate market research reports on the topics you would want to know before becoming a licensed agent in Oregon, and follow after you are one. I have a genuine passion for the industry, my clients, my fellow agents and team members. While you’re here sign up for our twice a month blog digest, look for the sign up field on this page, it will be below the article on mobile or to the right on desktop.

What are the requirements to become a real estate agent in Oregon?

  • 18 years old.
  • High school diploma, GED, or international equivalent.
  • Complete 150 hours of schooling from an agency approved school (there are online options).
  • You must pass both sections of the Broker exam.
  • You must pass a background check.
  • A Principal Broker must add you under their license.

Steps to getting licensed in order.

  1. Get an eLicense account for free.
  2. Pay $300 non-refundable fee through eLicense.
  3. Receive an application ID by email from eLicense.
  4. Register for the 150 hours of schooling. We recommend OnlineED.com. Cost $359 (price may vary) for standard. They also offer addons. Of all their options we recommend the $150 practice exam and the $60 Oregon Broker Advanced Practices Course. The exam is your next step and this is about the only way to practice. But if you are an incredible test taker go ahead and skip this addon. The $60 Advanced Practices course is required the first time you renew your Oregon Brokers license anyway and completing it now will help you pass the exam, in our opinion. Typically you will have one year to complete the courses you purchase through OnlineEd.com. If you are in a big hurry to get licensed, read step 7.
  5. Once you’re finished with the coursework go to PSI Exams to create an account so you can schedule your in-person proctored test. This final exam cannot be done online. When you’re on this page select: Government/State Licensing Agencies, then Oregon, then OR Real Estate, then OR Broker. You will see the national part of the exam takes 120 minutes and the state part is 75 minutes. The cost to take both is $75 and to retake (if you fail) is $75. You will be taking the test on a computer, it is not open book.
  6. After creating a PSI account go here to look for exam dates and locations. Put in the same selections as step 5, but before you schedule also check out the PSI Finger Printing Schedule. If you can make it easy on yourself, schedule both near the same time and place.
  7. Get fingerprinted at PSI. This can be done before or after you pass the exam. Here again is the PSI Finger Printing Schedule. The cost is $56.25. Your prints will be transmitted to the Oregon State Police and the FBI. If you’re worried about passing the background check, read this from the Oregon Agency first.
  8. Pick a Realty company to join. This is the same step as choosing a Principal Broker, who will put your license under theirs. Keep reading for a recommendation on which Realty company to join.
  9. Once all of these steps are done, the agency will email you when once your licensed is issued. Again, this will only happen after your background check is complete and your placed under a Principal Broker’s license for supervision.

What are the total costs to get my real estate license in Oregon?

  • $300 application fee to Oregon
  • $359 coursework through OnlineED.com (prices vary in other schools, but you’ll find this to be very competitive). Recommended addons up to $210.
  • $75 exam fee (if you pass the first time).
  • $56.25 finger printing fee.
  • Realtor Association Annual Dues. Most Realty companies you would want to join will require you to be a part of three different Realtor Associations. Keep reading for more details, we will use the Portland association for this estimate, $795 a year is your total.
  • Whatever your Realty company charges you to become or stay a part of their organization. Most Realty companies don’t have mandatory start-up fees so we will keep this blank for now. Keep reading for a recommendation on which Realty company to join.
  • MLS Access. In Portland that is RMLS and it is $696 a year. Keep reading for a full explanation on what this gives you and why it isn’t really optional.
  • Assuming you choose the path above your minimum cost total would be $2,281.25, but you should plan for a rough $2,500 in case you need to retake the test or decide to purchase addons to help you do so. You have to also think of small things like ordering business cards (if your Realty company doesn’t give them to you for free). Most Realtors also have to pay for the access to the legal forms they use in Oregon through a program called ZipFormPlus $79, and possibly an online signature system $100 or online CRM – but we can’t get into all the little details yet as each Realty company will provide some or all of these services for free. All costs estimated as of the day of this article and are subject to change, of course. I’ll update this article every year to keep it current.

How much does it cost to maintain my license each year after I have it?

  • $300 every other year to Oregon Agency
  • $119 every other year for continuing education. Again we are using OnlineEd.com’s price as an example but there are many provider options and a few free ones your company or other real estate industry partners may provide along the way. Keep in mind your first renewal (if you didn’t buy it for $60 and complete it already) will require Broker Advanced Practices Course (27 hours) in addition to the regular 30 hours of continuing education required every two years.
  • Every year – Oregon Realtor Association (OAR) renewal dues, Portland Metro Realtor Association (PMAR) dues, and National Association of Realtors (NAR) dues, all paid through PMAR. Yes, most Realty companies that you would join in Oregon will require you to be a member of three associations! NAR and OAR and then whatever local Realtor association serves your immediate area. The NAR / OAR / PMAR bill for 2020 is $795 total.
  • Every year – MLS membership. There are multiple different Multiple Listing Services or MLS systems in Oregon, but nearly every licensed Broker and Principal Broker is a member of at least one. Without MLS access as a real estate agent you won’t be able to see what buyer’s agent commission is offered and you won’t get all the details you need on the homes that are for sale. Also you won’t get lockbox access into any of the homes. You won’t have access to all the other agents in town. It really is essential, in my opinion. The RMLS serves the greater Portland area and charges $696 a year (most agents pay $174 quarterly).
  • Total minimum yearly costs (dividing your bi-annual costs in half) would be $1700. Your first year it would be the $2,281.25 I estimated above, a little more. Again this does not include your personal costs of performing the business and whatever your Realty company charges you.

How long does it take to become a licensed real estate agent?

One hundred and fifty hours of education doesn’t go by fast. The average time I hear it takes folks to get through that first part is six months. If you work really hard at it I suppose you could complete it in two. The background check can take a month to get back, but you can do it before you take the final exam. When you schedule the exam you’ll typically find something close to you where you can take the test within a week of being ready to do so. Once you’ve picked a Realty company (Principal Broker), passed the exam, and gotten your background test in, often the Oregon Agency will approve your license within a week or two. So on average you could be looking at seven months to get licensed, but very few could get licensed as quick as say three months. Plan for somewhere between three and six months total if you’re working hard at it. But if you can only work on it a little at a time because say you already have a different full time job and other responsibilities, it could take up to a year. Keep in mind your online course is good for a year after purchase, so that should be your max. timeline.

How much do real estate agents make in their first two years?

Bad news here. According to the NAR Member Profile Report 2020, agents with less than two years experience made less than $10,000 on average. But keep reading, I’ll give you some strong tips on how to do well at the beginning of your career.

How much do real estate agents make on average?

The median gross income of Realtors in 2020 was $49,700. Realtors with over 16 years experience made $86,500 on average and the top 5% of Realtors sold more homes than the bottom 75% combined. In other words, the money is exponentially higher at the top in this commission based industry. See our full 2020 report on what real estate agents make here.

How many real estate agents are there in Oregon and the U.S.?

Too many, in my opinion. We are sitting at a record high. In NAR’s 2019 report there were 1.39 million agents in the U.S. In Oregon in 2019 there were over 17,000 licensed agents. See our full report here on the number of agents locally and in the U.S. as a whole.

What do real estate agents do?

Four main types:

  • Residential Sales
  • Commercial Sales and Lease
  • Residential Lease
  • Investors themselves

There are perhaps four main categories of real estate agents. You have licensed commercial Brokers (they go through the same exact process in the article, but might pick a more commercially focused Realty company to join) who are both Brokers and Principal Brokers (I’ll explain the difference in a bit) just like your regular Residential agents. Then you have investor agents, those folks who get a license to buy and sell residential or commercial real estate because they’d rather do all aspects of their investing themselves. All three of these types are either licensed as Brokers or Principal Brokers. The fourth type of agent who primarily manages apartment buildings or large numbers of rentals are called Property Managers. If you have a Brokers or Principal Brokers license you can perform Property Manager services. But if you know that Property Management is all that you’re interested in, you can get a Property Manager specific license. The steps are here and they are a little different. You can potentially avoid all the Realtor association dues and MLS dues if you’re entire focus on the business will be managing apartment buildings or large amounts of rental property in general. There are a few Brokers out there that do both residential sales and lease, but I do not recommend it personally. The two are completely different and have different demands on your time and skill sets. I’ve never found someone that does both well. For costs on the Commercial side of things, most of those Brokers have a Costar membership (often instead of a MLS membership) which runs a few hundred a month. Without Costar you won’t be able to see everything for sale or sold commercially. Personally I have a Costar membership because I have done some major commercial deals, though my focus will always remain on residential. Once you’re licensed long enough you will gain clients that want you to represent them in every possible type of transaction.

What is the average real estate commission percentage for seller’s agents?

Okay so now I’m talking about a residential seller’s agent vs. a buyer’s agent. There are some in the industry lucky enough to specialize. For instance, I am a seller’s agent only and have been so for many years. Then on my team I have a buyer’s agent only. This is a huge advantage for myself and our respective clients. When most agents first start out in residential sales, they do both – they represent buyers and sellers. Think about how difficult this is. The majority of buyer traffic is on the weekend so you’ll be in you car showing homes non-stop Friday through Sunday and at the same time, that is when you’re listings, of course, are going to get most of their offers. So somehow you are supposed to have availability to show your buyers whatever homes they want to see – spend all this time on the road – while offers are coming into your phone via email for your seller clients. How can you possibly represent everyone well at that point? But, if you were a buyer’s agent only there would be no problem, or a seller’s agent only. In these cases you are able to specialize on one aspect of the business, and believe me the two require unique sets of skills, availability, and focus.

In 2020 the average seller’s agent commission is 2.5%. See our full commission report here.

What is the average percentage commission buyer’s agents make?

In 2020 the average buyer’s agent commission is 2.5%. See our full buyer’s agent commission report here.

What is the difference between a Broker and a Principal Broker’s license in Oregon?

The Principal Broker’s license is the higher of the two. A Principal Broker in Oregon has to have been an active Broker for at least three years prior and they have to pass additional education requirements, both initially and each time they renew their license (every two years just like Brokers). For our full article on this explaining the difference between Realtor, Real Estate Agent, Broker, and Principal Broker, click here.

How can I be successful right away as a real estate agent?

I’m only able to answer this for residential real estate agents who focus on sales, which is how I’ve built my career and team. Obviously no one wants to make the average of less than $10,000 a year that Realtors make their first two years. I strongly believe there are four primary ways you can be successful right away.

  1. Get a job in the real estate industry.
  2. Join a successful real estate team.
  3. Have a formal mentor agreement.
  4. You are already popular to the point of being near famous.

Get a job in the industry. There are lots of jobs in the real estate industry that pay a normal hourly wage that you could work full or part time while you’re licensed and getting started building a clientele. I don’t recommend working a job in another industry while trying to make a few sales on the side. You need to be fully immersed in the real estate industry to become successful. Here are some examples: transaction coordinator, inside sales agent, office receptionist, sales manager (if you have that background), listing coordinator, and even paid intern. For example, on my real estate team we have about a dozen licensed agents out there selling and usually around a half dozen paid hourly, full or part time.

Join a successful real estate team. Notice I didn’t say a join a “hopeful” real estate team. There are a lot of agents that are performing poorly and join up with other agents that are not doing well, only to create unsuccessful teams. Successful teams out there may not have the capacity or training program in place to take on brand new agents, but some do. Just do yourself a favor and don’t join up with a bunch of agents who all are not making it on their own, it is the blind leading the blind. When considering an offer to join a team pay special attention to the on-boarding and off-boarding terms and when considering commission splits, don’t focus on the split amounts, focus on the total financial earnings made historically by other agents on that team. What is the range of dollars you can expect while on this team? Can they show you what past agents have made given the same opportunity? Is there a history of success you can plug yourself into? Beware the new team position made just for you.

Have a formal mentor agreement. Many if not most Realty companies promise some sort of mentoring when you join up. But in my experience most of those mentorships are bunk. The mentors aren’t that great or if they are that great, the poor mentees never hear from them. Work with a mentor that can show you past proof, proof they have mentored agents who are now successful today. Also, look for mentors who are willing to help you with advertising costs, mentors who will put some of their own money on the line toward your success. Yes, I do know personally one of the most successful real estate agents in the U.S. who is here in Oregon, who is retired from production and now a full time mentor, who does put money toward his mentees success. Just ask me for the connection.

You are already supremely popular and well respected. One out of a hundred new agents is so well locally connected and trusted they can be successful on their own right out of the gate. This is the rare exception and not the norm. Buying and selling a home is the biggest financial decision most Americans will make and unless you already have high levels of trust and respect they are not going to consider working with you. FYI, this wasn’t how I became successful either.

Which Realty Company should I join after getting licensed?

There are tons of small independent shops and huge franchise options available to you. There are hundreds of options even within a single metro area. In my opinion there are five major things to look for.

  1. Reasonable Cost
  2. Tech Forward
  3. Excessive Referral / Networking Opportunities
  4. Excessive Training Opportunities
  5. Data Protection and Flexibility

Reasonable Cost. The days of 6% commission are over (feel free to check out the national numbers) and so I believe the days of over $20,000 a year desk fees are over too. Reasonable to me in 2020 is less than $20,000 a year in split fees combined with reasonable transaction fees. Split fees mean you don’t pay them anything unless you are making something. A common split is 70/30, you get 70% of the commission and the Realty company gets 30% until your desk fee is paid in full. You have to be careful when comparing Realty companies, some have $0 desk fees, but really high transaction fees. Sure, maybe when you’re starting out a high transaction fee sounds fine, but can you stay at the company once you get successful? Probably not. Once you’re doing a good level of business you’ll be looking for Realty company with low per transaction fees and reasonable desk fees.

Tech forward. Many national companies have massive office buildings, still purchase TV ads and radio spots – all equaling a massive overhead. To me, this is wasting money. In general, the consumer picks real estate agents they like with services, rates, and marketing they want for their home. Almost no one is calling a Realty office because they like that brand or believe it will perform for them in a unique way. They call individual agents with individual rates, plans, and services. I believe the traditional franchise Realty national brand is on its way out and is being replaced by cloud based non-franchise national / international brands, companies whose focus is supporting the individual agents to be successful.

Excessive Referral / Networking Opportunities. I say “excessive” because every small Realty company will have good networking and referral opportunities. But don’t settle for good! As a new agent you’re going to need the best. You need to be able to choose potentially from multiple teams to join, multiple possible mentors for you, multiple job for hire opportunities, and more. A cloud based international Realty company with one click access to every licensed agent in its roster around the world (over 30,000 and the fastest growing in the world) – that is an excessive referral and networking opportunity.

Excessive Training Opportunities. Let’s face it, you’re new! You are going to need all sorts of training. In the COVID world we live in how are you going to get into the Realty office for all the training you need? Sure most Realty companies have pivoted to putting their weekly or monthly training online, but I bet most of those companies, maybe even all but one, don’t offer online training from top inspectors nearly every 30 minutes of the day. eXp Realty has a nearly unbelievable online world they created years ago and have perfected since. Their training calendar is incredible. Most days you can choose from different classes nearly every 30 minutes of the day from top producing agents (they designate them as ICON agents). The level of interaction you get is much better than a Zoom call too.

Data Protection and Flexibility. Watch out! Oh, how nice of you Realty company to give me a company email address, a free CRM (database where you can organize your client and business information), and a free home search portal for my buying clients. Everything looks so great and it is all free? Wow. Yeah, there is a huge catch that has hurt and even destroyed a lot of real estate agent careers. Many “free” Realty company tech offerings make you sign a contact that basically gives them all your client’s information and whenever you try to leave that Realty company to join another – oh no – your entire database and even all your emails stay with that Realty company for some other agent to start working on and marketing to. This happened because you didn’t read the many blocks of texts in the contract you signed with the Realty company and couldn’t imagine they would be so heartless when you finally decided to leave.

Notice I didn’t say leads. Realty companies don’t give out leads (typically) and when they do they aren’t any good because they have no connection to you, they are cold as ice leads. Real estate teams give warm leads, mentors help you generate warm leads, they help provide or directly give you leads that are real and you can work right now. Realty companies at best have ice cold leads for you with no connection to you. Don’t look for leads from Realty companies, look for them by joining a team or partnering up with a mentor.

Which Realty company should I join? If you’ve been following our real estate news articles for any amount of time, you’ll know my answer. eXp Realty, in my opinion, provides the most opportunity for any new or experienced real estate agent in the business. This company is the fastest growing Realty company in the world for a reason. It checks all the boxes of what I’m looking for and provides additional financial incentives along the way (basically eXp Realty has found a way to give back nearly half of what it makes, and put it in the pocket of agents within the company). Here is another article I recently wrote on why eXp Realty is your best choice, but not matter how many articles I write the best thing to do if you’re interested, or know someone who should be, is to contact us direct today. We can connect anyone with opportunities at every stage in their real estate career.

August 14, 2020
AUTHOR

Stephen FitzMaurice

Stephen FitzMaurice, Realtor is a top 5% real estate agent in the U.S. and a top 1% agent in the Portland Metro. Principal Broker in Oregon, Managing Broker in Washington he has been licensed since 2003 for residential real estate sales in the Portland Metro area. Call him direct: 503-714-1111.

Pay less (4.5% commission max.) and get more with his top 1% listing team or buy your next home with his excellent top 1% buyer’s team. We work from Salem, Oregon to Vancouver, Washington and beyond. Check out our full services areas on the top menu.