As a realtor, at least in the U.S., you need a real estate license issued by the respective state where you are operating to be able to do business as a real estate agent or broker.
You will have to pass a licensing exam by your state to get this license.
If you don’t want to end up in an endless loop of failing the same exam (sure, some don’t study anything and pass the first time), you can take an online pre-license real estate course.
This will increase your chances of passing.
But how do you find the best online real estate courses for that?
The criteria you want to remember to find the best online real estate course are a money-back guarantee, additional exam prep courses, live Q&A sessions, post-license courses, and a longer than average time to access the course.
In the remaining part of this article, I will cover why you want to take an online real estate course in the first place, the steps involved, how you can find the best online real estate courses and an overview of 7 nationwide online real estate course providers.
Why Take an Online Real Estate Course?
My comparison to answer this question might be a bit flawed.
The reason to take an online real estate course is a bit like taking a course to get a license to sell lemonade on the street.
In such a hypothetical lemonade stand licensing course, you would learn much about what you should not do with a lemonade stand, such as not using it to sell drugs, driving on the street, or using it as a stroller.
But you will not learn much about making great lemonade, finding the right place to position yourself, finding the right clients, and attracting customers.
In some cases, a tiny percentage of the knowledge might be helpful.
Still, more often than not, you won’t need it in your day-to-day business because you may use a lawyer specialized in the lemonade stand business industry to clarify legal questions.
Nevertheless, you are obligated to take such a course because some lawmakers in the past decided that you need a license to operate the business because they assumed that law might protect people from certain neighborhoods from the bad apples of the lemonade stand industry.
The case with licenses for real estate agents and brokers is similar.
Usually, you need to take a course to apply for the real estate license exam to attain a real estate license so that you can operate as a real estate agent or broker.
By getting this license, you will also be safer as an active real estate investor (e.g., wholesaling).
Of course, there are other types of online real estate courses.
But these courses focus more on the practical side of real estate, such as investment strategies, marketing, and more.
But they have nothing to do with getting a real estate license.
For example, I analyzed several wholesale real estate courses in this article.
But most of the time, people search for online real estate courses because they need to get their real estate license and not learn how to get real estate leads (at least at first).
How Do Online Real Estate Courses Fit into the Steps Until You Get Your Real Estate License?
The online real estate courses you find are usually pre-licensing ones.
Depending on the state where you want to operate as a realtor, these courses can take between 19 and 180 hours.
Oh, and the provider offering the online real estate course doesn’t have complete freedom when creating the curriculum.
The curriculum is always handed down from the state.
Their only freedom is how they present the knowledge and some extra optional information, materials, flexible terms, and additional support they may include.
After you take the course, you will have to take the class final, which you will need to pass.
Because without it, you will not get the green light to apply for the exam at the state level, and some providers also link this to your ability to get a money-back guarantee.
After passing this class final, the next step is applying for the state exam.
During this application phase, your class hours and final are validated.
After these are validated, scheduling your testing date is the next step. Since these dates can fill up quickly, you want to anticipate this and plan well.
For each state exam you take (some may need more than one try), you must pay a fee.
So, if you are on a budget, you may want to make sure that you pass it on the first try.
To give you a short overview, you will find below a table where I collected the hours you will have to invest for a pre-license online real estate course, depending on the state you want to operate in, and online schools that offer courses for the respective state.
I also included the hours you will need to invest regularly (mostly annually) to renew your real estate license.
|State||Hours||RE License Renewal||Online School 1||Online School 2|
|Alabama||60||15 hours every 2 years||Real Estate Express||The CE Shop|
|Alaska||40||20 hours every 2 years||Real Estate Express||360 Training|
|Arizona||90||24 hours every 2 years||The CE Shop||American Realty Academy|
|Arkansas||60||30 hours 6 month after receiving the license (once)||Real Estate Express||The CE Shop|
|California||135||45 hours every 4 years||Real Estate Express||Kaplan|
|Colorado||168||24 hours every 3 years||Real Estate Express||Kaplan|
|Connecticut||60||12 hours annually||Boston Real Estate Class||The CE Shop|
|Delaware||99||12 hours every 2 years||360 Training||The CE Shop|
|Florida||63||14 hours every 2 years||Real Estate Express||Aceable Agent|
|Georgia||75||36 hours every 4 years||Real Estate Express||The CE Shop|
|Hawaii||60||20 hours every 2 years||Real Estate Express||360 Training|
|Idaho||19||19 hours every 2 years||Idaho Real Estate School||The CE Shop|
|Illinois||75||8 hours every 2 years||Real Estate Express||The CE Shop|
|Indiana||90||36 hours every 3 years||Real Estate Express||The CE Shop|
|Iowa||60||36 hours every 3 years||Real Estate Express||Kaplan|
|Kansas||30||12 hours every 2 years||Real Estate Express||The CE Shop|
|Kentucky||96||6 hours every 2 years||Real Estate Express||The CE Shop|
|Louisiana||90||12 hours annually||Real Estate Express||The CE Shop|
|Maine||55||21 hours every 2 years||360 Training||The CE Shop|
|Maryland||60||15 hours every 2 years||Real Estate Express||The CE Shop|
|Massachusetts||40||12 hours every 2 years||Real Estate Express||The CE Shop|
|Michigan||40||18 hours every 3 years||Real Estate Express||Kaplan|
|Minnesota||90||15 hours every 2 years||Kaplan||The CE Shop|
|Mississippi||60||16 hours every 2 years||Real Estate Express||The CE Shop|
|Missouri||48||12 hours every 2 years||Real Estate Express||The CE Shop|
|Montana||70||4 hours annually||360 Training||The CE Shop|
|Nebraska||30||18 hours every 2 years||Real Estate Express||Vaned|
|Nevada||90||24 hours every 2 years||Real Estate Express||The CE Shop|
|New Hampshire||40||15 hours every 2 years||The CE Shop||Kaplan|
|New Jersey||75||12 hours every 2 years||Real Estate Express||Kaplan|
|New Mexico||90||18 hours every 3 years||The CE Shop||Kaplan|
|New York||75||22.5 hours every 2 years||Real Estate Express||The CE Shop|
|North Carolina||75||8 hours annually||The CE Shop||Kaplan|
|North Dakota||90||9 hours annually||The CE Shop||Vaned|
|Ohio||120||30 hours every 3 years||The CE Shop||Kaplan|
|Oklahoma||90||21 hours every 3 years||Real Estate Express||Vaned|
|Oregon||150||30 hours every 2 years||360 Training||Kaplan|
|Pennsylvania||30||14 hours every 2 years||Real Estate Express||The CE Shop|
|Rhode Island||45||24 hours every 2 years||The CE Shop||Kaplan|
|South Carolina||60||10 hours every 2 years||Real Estate Express||The CE Shop|
|South Dakota||116||24 hours every 2 years||The CE Shop||Vaned|
|Tennessee||60||16 hours every 2 years||Real Estate Express||The CE Shop|
|Texas||180||18 hours every 2 years||Real Estate Express||The CE Shop|
|Utah||120||18 hours every 2 years||The CE Shop||Vaned|
|Vermont||40||16 hours every 2 years||Real Estate Express||The CE Shop|
|Virginia||60||16 hours every 2 years||Real Estate Express||Kaplan|
|Washington||60||30 hours every 2 years||Real Estate Express||Kaplan|
|Washington DC||60||15 hours every 2 years||Real Estate Express||The CE Shop|
|West Virginia||90||7 hours annually||The CE Shop||Vaned|
|Wisconsin||72||18 hours every 2 years||Real Estate Express||The CE Shop|
|Wyoming||68||53 hours every 3 years||Real Estate Express||The CE Shop|
How You Can Find the Best Online Real Estate Course for You
As you may have learned, the pre-license real estate courses are not about improving your key marketing performance indicators and helping you generate more real estate leads, but about complying with state regulations.
Since the respective state dictates the curriculum, it differs slightly from state to state.
But some topics are covered in almost all of the pre-license online real estate course curriculums, such as:
- Real Property
- Home Ownership
- Modern Real Estate Practice (e.g., current market information, and legislation, newest web resources, and forms)
- Fair Housing Laws
- Real Estate Brokerage and Law of Agency
- Legal Descriptions
- Listing Agreements
- Ethics of Practice as a Sales Agent or Broker
So, since we can’t really expect to learn some nice up-to-date and performance-based marketing and sales knowledge, the criteria to find the best online real estate courses will need to be slightly different compared to other articles of mine.
So, which criteria can you consider if it’s not related to improving your marketing key performance indicators?
These will be more in the context of the course providers’ flexible terms, support, and money-back guarantees.
With this in mind, these are the criteria you may want to take into consideration:
- Some sort of money-back guarantee should you not pass the pre-license exam
- An exam prep course
- Available live Q&A sessions
- Are post-license courses offered (to maintain or renew your license)?
- For how long does the course last (access time limit to the course)?
Based on the above criteria, I identified seven online real estate course providers that more or less cover all the states.
Below I added a nice overview table showing how each provider compares to the criteria.
|Course Provider/School||Money Back Guarantee||Exam Prep Course||Live Q&A Support||Post License Courses Offered?||Time Limit to Take the Course?|
|Real Estate Express||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||6 months|
|The CE Shop||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||12 months|
|American Realty Academy||No||No||Yes||No||6 months|
|Kaplan||No||Yes||Yes||Yes||up to 6 months|
|360 Training||No||Yes||No||Yes||12 months|
|Aceable Agent||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||12 months|
The 7 Nationwide Online Real Estate Course Providers to Consider
In the first table, I already added each state’s respective online real estate course providers or schools.
For this section, I will look closer at the larger ones that operate nationwide and cover more than one state for pre-license and post-license exams.
I have yet to find A provider that covers all the states for pre- and post-license exams. Please let me know if you know one that does, and I will update this article accordingly.
1) Real Estate Express
Real Estate Express is a well-known online school for pre- and post-license real estate online courses.
They offer pre-license online courses in most states and also include a money-back guarantee.
According to their promise, you either pass the real estate exam or don’t pay.
To ensure the likelihood of your passing, they also provide you with the so-called “Exam Prep Master.”
This real estate test prep solution prepares you for the specific topics of the license exam in your respective state.
This is separate from the real estate course.
Real Estate Express also offers live question-and-answer sessions so students can have their questions answered and avoid getting stuck.
The company offers four pricing plans. If you need all the mentioned benefits, you will need to select one of the plans other than the basic one.
There is a time limit in which you need to take the course, which is six months.
You will have to complete their online course within this time frame.
After that, you won’t have further access unless you pay an additional fee.
You can find out more about Real Estate Express by using this link.
2) The CE Shop
The CE Shop is another online real estate school covering most of the states of the U.S.
While the website still looks old-school (early 2000s), they also offer a money-back guarantee.
They also provide you with an exam prep course which they call the “Exam Prep Edge.”
All pricing plans include webinar sessions where you can ask questions to clarify certain topics.
Regarding post-license courses to renew your license, the CE Shop also has you covered, at least for the course you need in some states for your first license renewal.
According to their terms and conditions, you have more time than with Real Estate Express to take the real estate online courses – 12 months.
After that, you won’t be able to access the course anymore and may have to pay again.
You can find out more about the CE Shop by using this link.
3) American Realty Academy
While researching Arizona, I found the American Realty Academy, where only the CE Shop is the only one of the larger ones that offer real estate courses.
It’s a smaller online school covering 28 states for pre-license courses.
Unfortunately, they don’t offer a money-back guarantee should you not pass the exam.
While researching, I couldn’t find an explicit state exam prep course, which usually differs from the main pre-license course in the other schools already mentioned.
Live virtual tutoring sessions are included if you select the pricing plans with a higher price tag.
As a student, you will get six months of access to the course.
Regarding post-license courses, I couldn’t identify a package offering this.
You can find out more about American Realty Academy by using this link.
Kaplan is a big player not limited to real estate state exam preparation.
They also offer exam preparation courses in other fields, such as medicine.
My girlfriend, for example, is preparing for an MD residency in the U.S. and is taking prep courses with them, too.
So, they cover a wider field of disciplines and are not exactly specialized in real estate.
They offer no money-back guarantee as other competitors do, but do also offer specialized exam prep courses that need to be paid extra.
In terms of live Q&A sessions should you stumble upon sticking points, they also include interactive study groups in the context of webinars.
Post-licensing courses are also offered in different states.
Regarding the limited time you can access the course, Kaplan is not too concrete on their page.
In general, you can access the course for up to 6 months from the date of purchase.
But regarding online courses, this time frame may be less, according to them.
You can find out more about Kaplan by using this link.
VanEd is another highly rated online real estate school providing pre-license courses across 11 states.
When you buy a course with them, at least regarding the pre-license exams in Colorado, a money-back guarantee is included.
If this is also true for other states, I couldn’t confirm using the information on their website.
VanEd also offers an exam prep course in their premium package and, as an extra product, post-license courses for license renewals.
Unfortunately, I couldn’t find a mention of live question-and-answer sessions where students could clarify certain questions and sticking points.
If you choose to take a course with VanEd, you will have access to it for one year from the moment you purchase it.
You can learn more about VanEd and get a course discount using this link.
6) 360 Training
360 Training is a bit like the little brother of Kaplan.
They offer pre-licensing courses in real estate, food and beverage, and environmental health and safety industries.
The pre-license real estate online courses they offer cover 11 states, and according to their refund policy, no money-back guarantee is offered should you not pass an exam.
In their premium pre-license course packages, an exam prep course is included.
On their website, I couldn’t find an indication for the pre-license courses to include live question-and-answer sessions to clarify student questions.
On the other hand, post-license courses are available.
After purchasing a course with 360 Training, you will have access for one year, after which time the license for the course expires.
You can find out more about 360 Training by using this link.
AceableAgent can provide you with pre-license real estate online courses for seven states, and they also have a money-back guarantee should you not pass and fulfill their requirements.
All their pricing packages include an exam prep course in different variations.
The most expensive course package includes live question-and-answer sessions and webinars to clarify student questions.
According to the offer page on AceableAgent’s website, at the moment of this writing, they offer post-license courses in only two states – Texas and New York.
Like competing course providers, the real estate online course expires after one year of purchase (source).
You can find out more about AceableAgent by using this link.
Conclusion – How to Find the Best Online Real Estate Courses
What we can learn from the above is that the real estate online course providers don’t really compete in terms of course materials.
Instead, they compete in terms of the way they present the course materials, more or less flexible terms for their students, and additional services such as, for example, live question and answer sessions and specific exam prep courses.
Because, again, the course material or curriculum is dictated at the state level.
So, to find the best one for you, you must first check if the respective provider offers a pre- and, ideally, a post-license online course in your state.
Next, you want to check if a money-back guarantee is offered (not just a simple refund policy).
Then, you want to also check if additional benefits such as an exam prep course and live question and answer sessions are included.
And finally, the winner for you should be the one that gives you access for the longest amount of time.
This article has been reviewed by our editorial team. It has been approved for publication in accordance with our editorial policy.