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.
In order to get this license, you will have to pass a licensing exam carried out by your state.
If you don’t want to end up in an endless loop of failing the same exam (sure, there are those that 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 take into consideration to find the best online real estate course are a money-back guarantee, additional exam prep courses, live Q&A sessions, post-license courses offered 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 a lot about what you should not do with a lemonade stand, such as not using it to sell drugs or driving with it on the street or using it as a stroller.
But you will not learn much about how you make 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, but 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 a 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 to this.
Usually, you need to take a course to apply for the real estate license exam to then 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 a bit more on the safe side as an active real estate investor (e.g. wholesaling).
Of course, there are other types of online real estate courses.
But these courses are more focused on the practical side of real estate such as real estate investing strategies, marketing, and more. But they have nothing to do with getting a real estate license.
In this article, for example, I analyzed several wholesale real estate courses.
But most of the time people are searching for online real estate courses because they need to get their real estate license and not learn how to get 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 your 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 it comes to creating the curriculum.
The curriculum is always handed down from the state.
The only freedom they have is in the way 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 lights to apply for the exam at the state level, and some providers do also link this to your ability to get a money-back guarantee.
After you pass this class final, the next step is applying to take the state exam.
During this application phase, your class hours and your class final are validated.
After these are validated, you schedule your testing date as a next step. Since these dates can fill up quite fast, you want to anticipate this and plan well in advance.
For each state exam you take (some may need more than one try), you will need to 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.
Additionally, I also included the hours you will need to invest on a regular basis (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 already, the pre-license real estate courses are not about improving your key marketing performance indicators helping you to generate more real estate leads, but about complying with state regulations.
Since the curriculum is dictated by the respective state, it differs a bit from state to state.
But there are some topics that 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 take into consideration if it’s not something related to improving your marketing key performance indicators ?
These will be more in the realm of flexible terms, support and money-back guarantees of the course providers.
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 7 online real estate course providers that more or less cover all the states.
Below I added a nice overview table that will show you how each of the providers compares to the different 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 the respective online real estate course providers or schools for each state.
For this section, I will take a closer look 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 quite 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 you don’t pay.
To ensure the likelihood of you passing, they also provide you with the so-called “Exam Prep Master”.
This is a real estate test prep solution that 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 though, which is six months.
This means that 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 a bit 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.
When it comes to 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 a bit 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
I found the American Realty Academy during my research for Arizona, where only the CE Shop is the only one from the larger ones that offers 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.
What I couldn’t find during my research is an explicit state exam prep course, which usually differs from the main pre-license course in the other schools already mentioned.
If you select the pricing plans with a higher price tag, there are also live virtual tutoring sessions included.
As a student, you will get 6 months of access to the course.
When it comes to 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 are big players 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 for different states.
When it comes to the limited period of time in which you can access the course, Kaplan is not too concrete on their page.
In general, you can access the course from up to 6 months from the date of purchase. But with regards to 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 different states.
When you buy a course with them, a money-back guarantee is included, at least when it comes to the pre-license exams in Colorado.
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 find out more about VanEd and get a discount on their courses by using this link.
6) 360 Training
360 Training is a bit like the little brother of Kaplan.
They not only offer pre-licensing courses in real estate but also in the 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, unfortunately, 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.
I couldn’t find on their website an indication for the pre-license courses to also 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, and the most expensive course package also 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.
Similar to the 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 the curriculum of the courses are dictated at the state level.
So, to find the best one for you, you will need to check first 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.