North Carolina Real Estate License: The Basics
In this chapter, you will learn about the basics of real estate licensing in North Carolina.
First, you will learn why you need a real estate broker license in North Carolina. You will also understand why it is useful to have one!
Next, you will learn how you can have a successful career in real estate in North Carolina.
Who Needs a Real Estate License in North Carolina?
The state of North Carolina requires you to have a valid license if you want to conduct any real estate business in the state. This includes real estate brokerage, or even timeshare transactions.
Doing any such transaction in North Carolina without having a valid license would make you guilty of a criminal offense!
Who is responsible for licensing and regulating real estate brokers in North Carolina?
That would be the job of an independent government agency called the North Carolina Real Estate Commission.
Are there any benefits to holding a valid real estate license? Yes, there are! A licensed real estate salesperson or broker in North Carolina can access a local system called the Multiple Listing Service (MLS). This service contains information about all past and present sales for different properties in the area. Imagine how much easier your job would be if you had access to such information!
How Much Can a Real Estate Agent in North Carolina Earn?
A licensed real estate broker in North Carolina could earn an average of USD 104,417 per year, including commissions. For updated information on earnings, you could refer to Indeed.com.
How do I do that?
- Using your web browser, access the Indeed.com website.
- In the What box, type “real estate agent”.
- In the Where box type, “North Carolina”.
If you want to know which are the highest paying cities for real estate brokers in North Carolina, you’ll also find that by scrolling down on the page.
Here are a few examples of real estate agent salaries in Charlotte, Raleigh, Greensboro, Winston-Salem, Asheville, Huntersville, Wilmington, Fayetteville and Jacksonville.
If you are even more interested in working as a real estate broker in North Carolina, let’s dive into understanding how you can get your license!
What are the Types of Real Estate Licenses?
The Real Estate Commission in North Carolina offers real estate licenses for individuals and firms. Here’s a quick overview of each license type, and then we’ll get into details.
Licenses for Individuals
1. Provisional Broker Status: Entry-level status for the individual licenses
This is the most popular license type that most people go for. Most likely this is the one you are interested in as well.
Applicants are issued a provisional broker license. You cannot provide brokerage services independently with this license. You must be under the supervision of a Broker-in-Charge (BIC). To remove the provisional status, you need to complete a 90-hour post licensing education program.
What is a Broker-in-Charge (BIC)
A broker-in-charge (also called a sponsoring broker-in-charge) is the broker that is being designated as the primary person whose responsibility is to supervise and manage the real estate office. A BIC’s responsibilities also include ensuring that all brokers who are employed by the firm are maintaining active, current licenses, and up-to-date information in the Commission’s records.
2. Broker Status: Primary status for individual broker license
The Broker license allows you to engage in brokerage activities in either of two ways:
- As part of a larger brokerage firm and working under a BIC, or
- As an independent sole proprietor
An independent broker or sole proprietor must be a BIC before he/she can conduct most brokerage activities.
3. Broker-in-Charge (BIC) Designation: designation assigned only after BIC eligible status is met
If you wish to get a BIC designation, then you must:
- Meet the BIC Eligible qualification requirements
- Submit a request for BIC Eligible Status and/or BIC Designation form
- Successfully complete the 12-hour BIC course within one year before—or 120 days after—submitting for REC 2.25.
Every real estate firm or sole proprietorship must have a BIC for each office.
4. Limited NonResident Commercial License: issued to non-resident brokers
A Limited NonResident Commercial Broker license (LCB) is issued to any person who:
- Does NOT live in North Carolina
- Has an active real estate broker or salesperson license in another state
- Wants to enter North Carolina to do a commercial transaction as an agent of a brokerage company based in another state, and
- Must sign a declaration with a resident North Carolina broker. This resident broker will be responsible for supervising the nonresident broker.
If the LCB obtains a home, business, or delivery address in North Carolina, then they must apply for an unrestricted North Carolina broker license to do any brokerage activities.
Licenses for Firms
Firm License (For Entities): primary license status for entity broker license
This license is issued only to business entities like:
- Limited liability companies
- Limited partnerships
- General partnerships
- Joint business ventures
A sole proprietorship does NOT need a Firm License because no entity has been created.
That being said, let’s focus on how to get your provisional broker license in North Carolina. That is why you are here reading this guide.
North Carolina Real Estate License: Becoming Licensed
To become a licensed real estate broker in North Carolina, you will need to follow five steps.
In this chapter, you will learn exactly what these five steps are.
Let’s dive right in!
In a nutshell here is how to get your real estate license in North Carolina.
- You must be at least 18 years of age.
- You must be a United States citizen, a non-citizen national, or a qualified alien under federal law,
- You must have a lawful presence in the United States and must be authorized to work in the United States in the real estate brokerage field.
- You must have a Social Security Number.
You must complete a 75-Hour Pre-licensing course. This course must be approved by the North Carolina Real Estate Commission.
You have to submit your online application for the North Carolina Real Estate license Exam.
Next, you have to pass the North Carolina Real Estate license Exam.
The State exam is divided into two parts: a national portion and a state portion.
Once you have passed the State Exam, you will have to get your background check verified.
The last step is the issuance of your active real estate license by the North Carolina Real Estate Commission.
Now, let’s get into the details of each step.
Complete the 75-Hour North Carolina Pre-Licensing Course
If you wish to get a real estate license in North Carolina, you will need to first pass a license examination from the state. Before that, you will need to prepare for the state exam by completing some compulsory education. This includes taking a 75-hour course, which will also have an exam at the end of the course.
The 75-hour course is called a pre-licensing course. It is separate from the state level examination. Only schools that are certified by the Real Estate Commission can offer this course. You can find a list of such schools by visiting the Commission’s website.
Once you successfully complete the 75-hour course and pass the exam, your school will electronically inform the Commission about your results. You will then be ready to apply online for the state examination.
Complete the Online Application for the North Carolina State Examination
The online application is available through the North Carolina Real Estate Commission’s website.
A. You can begin applying for your license by clicking ‘Licensing’ and then clicking on ‘Apply for a Broker License’.
B. You will now see the page titled ‘Apply for a License’. On this page, you will be able to watch a short video, which explains the real estate licensing requirements.
C. Scroll down further on the page and you will see information about the process for getting your license. Click the ‘Apply Online’ button that appears below the text.
D. You will then see a Login page.
If this is your first time visiting the Commission’s website, you will need to first create a login for yourself.
Click the ‘create a login’ hyperlink.
E. Next, you will see the New Applicant Registration Information page. On this page, you will need to enter the following information:
- Social Security Number
Then, click the Create button. You will now be able to log into the website with your new Username and Password.
Once you log in to the site, you will be able to access the Application.
F. Selecting Application will let you fill in the online application for the state examination. However, you will not be able to make the payment until:
- you have completed the 75-hour North Carolina Broker Prelicensing Course.
- your school has electronically reported that you successfully completed the course.
- you have obtained the criminal record report from the Commission’s website.
G. Once all the conditions mentioned under point F are met, you will be able to submit your online application.
The Commission will process your application. If the Commission decides that your application has passed eligibility, a Notice of Exam Eligibility will be emailed to you within 2-3 days from the day your online application was submitted.
The Notice of Exam Eligibility is valid for 180 days from the date it is issued.
Pass the North Carolina Real Estate License Examination
The Real Estate Commission offers the North Carolina state examination through a professional test provider called PSI Services. PSI Services offers individuals—and also companies—a lot of different examination programs. Companies sometimes use this service to identify and hire qualified candidates.
Once you receive the Notice of Exam Eligibility from the Commission, go to the PSI Services website and do the following:
- register for an examination
- pay the examination fee,
- schedule your examination,
- take the license examination online
If you don’t already have an account with PSI then this is the time to create your own account. This will allow you to track all of your activities under this login.
Here is how to sign up for PSI for taking your North Carolina Real Estate Exam.
A. On the PSI Services website, click on Test Takers and then click the option Find Your Test.
You will now see the Examination Program Search page.
B. In the ‘Find Your Test’ box, type ‘North Carolina Real Estate’. You will see a list of examination programs that match your search words.
C. Select the ‘North Carolina Real Estate: NC Real Estate Broker’ examination program from the visible options.
In a new window, you will now see the details for the North Carolina Real Estate Broker examination program.
D. The page informs you that you need to complete some actions for pre-approval before you can sit for this examination online. You can also find a link to download a ‘Candidate Information Bulletin’ created by the Real Estate Commission.
E. The page also informs you that the NC Real Estate Broker examination has two portions
- The National portion, which is 150 minutes in duration, and
- The State portion, which is 90 minutes
This means you will need to spend a total duration of 4 hours to complete both portions of this examination.
The National portion is developed by PSI and has 80 scored questions. To pass, you must answer 57 of the 80 questions correctly.
The State portion is developed by the North Carolina Real Estate Commission and has 40 scored questions. To pass, you must answer 29 of the 40 questions correctly.
In your first attempt, you will need to take both exam portions together.
If you pass only one section, then you will need to successfully complete the second portion within 180-day period of the Exam Eligibility Notice.
F. Scroll down lower in the page and you will see information about the Examination fee of $56. The examination fee is the same if you need to retake the exam.
G. If you have already received the Notice of Exam Eligibility from the Real Estate Commission via email, then you are ready to proceed with the next step in scheduling your examination. You will need to create an Account for yourself on the PSI website. Click Sign In or Create An Account.
H. On clicking Sign In or Create An Account, you will be taken to the Login page. Click the Sign Up button under New Users to begin creating an account for yourself.
I. On the Create an Account page, you will be asked to enter specific information, including:
- Your email address
- First and Last Name
- Security Question
Remember to save your password in case you need to retake the test and have to revisit the site!
J. Once you click on Submit, you will be asked to log in with your new account details. After logging in, you will see the PSI Home Page for your Account. From this page you will be able to do any of the following actions:
- Register for a test
- Schedule a test appointment
- Reschedule a test appointment
- Apply for a retest if you have failed your previous attempt
- Pay for a test online
- Apply for a duplicate score report
There are quite a few steps you had to go through so far. We are almost there.
This is the fun part where you will actually get to schedule your NC real estate exam.
K. Let’s see how you can register for and schedule your North Carolina real estate license exam. Click the Register for a test link.
L. You will now see the Register for a Test page. Click the Select Organization drop-down list and then click on Government/State Licensing Agencies.
M. Then, click the ‘Select Jurisdiction’ drop-down list and choose North Carolina.
N. Now, click the ‘Select Account’ drop-down list and choose All NC REAL ESTATE EXAMS.
O. The site will now display a message, redirecting all North Carolina Real Estate Candidates to another site where you can schedule your NC Real Estate exam . Click the red highlighted text message in the center or on the right to go to the new site.
P. You will now see the PSI site for the North Carolina real estate license examination. On this site, you will be able to:
- View exam details, and
- Schedule an exam
Q. Click the Find Exam Details link.
R. You will be taken to the Find an Exam Center page. On this page, click the Select Test drop-down list and choose NC Real Estate Broker.
S. You will now be asked to choose the delivery mode for your examination; i.e. in person or online. Select Remote Online Proctored Exam in the box and then click Continue.
T. You will now be asked to select your Country/Location and your Timezone from the drop-down lists. Choose the options that apply to you.
U. You will now see the available dates on which you can take the online examination. Select a date of your choice. Alongside the calendar, you will see the time slots available for the date you chose. Select a time slot. Then, click Login to Continue.
V. You will now be taken to a Login Page. Since this is your first time on this site, you will need to sign up. Click the Sign Up button.
W. On the Create Account page, enter the following information and click Submit.
- Your Social Security Number
- First name and last name
- Email address
Once you have entered the information in the form, you will be logged in to the site. You will then be able to confirm the date and time for your examination.
The site will also guide you on how to pay the examination fee.
Clear the North Carolina Background Check Verification
Every real estate licensee in North Carolina must be honest, truthful, have good moral character, and mental and emotional fitness. This is important because real estate professionals must protect public interest and customers must trust the real estate brokerage business.
At the time of applying for a license, you must disclose any possible problem that might prevent you from performing your role as per this expectation. You must provide an explanation when filling the application details.
In addition, the background check verification (or criminal record report) also lets the Commission know when a person’s application is ineligible. The background check verification covers all criminal records the applicant may have in the places they lived in the last 7 years.
The Commission only accepts the Criminal Record Report from the agency called the Criminal Record Check (CRC).
The report is valid for 6 months and must be paid for separately.
The time needed for preparing the report can vary. If the applicant has stayed only in North Carolina, it could take 2-4 days.
If the applicant has lived in other countries, it could take up to a month (longer for Canada and Australia).
The cost for preparing the report also varies across states. In North Carolina it is $17.50.
Here’s how you can request a background check verification.
A. Go to https://ncreccheck.com. Click the Fill out an online form button.
B. You will now see the Create An Account page. Fill in the required details in the form (as shown in the image) and then click Register
C. You will now see a form, which will ask you to fill out information across five steps:
- Step 1: Personal Information
- Step 2: Address History
- Step 3: Criminal Disclosure
- Step 4: Disclosure and Authorization
- Step 5: Checkout & Payment
Once you finish entering the required information in all the steps—including payment—you should receive confirmation of your transaction via email.
Issuance of the North Carolina Real Estate Broker License
This is the fun one :)
Applicants who successfully complete the state examination and background check can expect to receive their license from the Commission within 10 days after their examination.
If an applicant’s background check brings up any issues, the Commission would first need to receive all required clarifications. In such cases, it could take up to 45 days to receive the license.
You must NOT engage in any real estate brokerage activities even if you have just passed your license examination.
You must wait until the date your license is issued by the Commission. The issuance date will be displayed on your license certificate
With that, you should be good to go and start a career as a real estate agent in North Carolina.
North Carolina Real Estate License: The Costs
Getting your North Carolina real estate license will cost money. This Chapter will help you understand how much you would be looking to spend.
There are fixed and variable costs. Fixed costs are what you will spend for the application fee, the examination fee, and the fee for background checks.
Variable costs are what you will spend for the education courses you need to take. Online courses are cheaper than in-person classroom courses. Also, the fees you pay will depend on the school you choose.
Ready to learn the details?
What are the Variable Costs Associated with Getting Your Online North Carolina Real Estate Licensing Courses?
Online courses for North Carolina Real Estate License cost between $249 and $539. This cost may vary depending on the education provider that you choose. The advantage of choosing an online course over a physical classroom course is savings in terms of money and time.
We’ve further provided details about the North Carolina Real Estate Broker Online Course from RealEstateU. This will help you study as per your schedule and plan.
For a quick reference we have also included courses from other schools below. They follow the same curriculum provided by the state and, hence, you will find most of these courses similar.
Please do your own research as the prices may change after the publication of this page.
RealEstateU® offers the full 180-hour North Carolina Broker Pre-licensing Course Online for $249. We believe this is the most affordable real estate licensing course in North Carolina.
Aceable offers a North Carolina “75-Hour Real Estate Pre-License Course” for $539
Superior School of Real Estate offers the NC pre licensing course at $529.
Kaplan Real Estate’s online NC broker pre-licensing package starts at $449.
North Carolina Real Estate Physical Classroom Licensing Courses
Apart from the online courses, there are also classes available in-person. Let’s look at what are the options available.
Superior School, North Carolina offers in-person classes for the North Carolina Broker Pre-Licensing Course at $529.
Carolina School Real Estate offers the NC real estate licensing in person classes for $450.
The cost difference between an online and in-person class does not differ largely.
But only an online class provides you the flexibility to work as per your own time and schedule.
Next, let’s look at the fixed costs for a real estate broker from North Carolina.
What are the Fixed Costs Associated With Getting Your North Carolina Real Estate License?
North Carolina Real Estate Commission Fees
Application Fee for North Carolina Real Estate License
To be paid each time the exam is taken
To be paid each time the exam is taken
Background check fees for North Carolina
The report has only 6 months validity.
Now that we have both the variable and the fixed costs, we can calculate the total applicable costs for acquiring a North Carolina Real Estate Broker License.
You would have already observed that the lowest minimum cost would be in taking the North Carolina Real Estate Licensing Online Course from RealEstateU, which would cost you a total of $422.50 ($249 + the fixed cost of $173.50).
North Carolina Real Estate License: Time Needed
The last few pieces of information you’re probably wondering about are:
- How much time would I need to study for the North Carolina license?
- How long would the application process take?
- When can I expect to receive the state exam results?
That’s what this Chapter will focus on.
Let’s jump right in!
Estimated Time for Completing the Education Requirements
25 - 30 Days (depends on you)
As you take the 75-hour course on North Carolina Real Estate licensing online, you must remember that the number of days you will need will depend entirely on you.
It comes down to how much time you are willing or are able to study in a day.
If you study for 3 hours each day you would need 25 days to complete the entire course. The more hours you study in a day, the faster you can complete it.
Application, North Carolina State Exam, and Background Check
1 - 4 Weeks (depends on the background check)
After you successfully complete the 75-hour North Carolina Broker Prelicensing Course, your education provider will electronically report your completion status to the Carolina Real Estate Commission.
The Commission would then process the request and send you a Notice of Exam Eligibility.
When you receive this Notice, you may complete the online application, schedule the state examination, and put in a request for a background check.
If you pass the state examination on the first attempt, and if you have no criminal history, then you could be issued your license in as little as 10 days.
However, the overall duration for being issued a license may increase if any of the following happen:
- you file an incomplete application, or
- you do not not pass the state examination on the first attempt, or
- the Commission finds issues during your background check
Typically we see students complete the entire process in as little as 2-3 months.