10 Steps to Become a Property Manager in Iowa

(**) Disclosure: This post may contain affiliate links, meaning our company, JCHQ Publishing will get a commission if you decide to make a purchase through the links, but at no additional cost to you.

Property management can be a rewarding career with great advancement opportunities. If you are thinking to become a property manager in Iowa, this is the perfect guide for you!

To become a property manager in Iowa, an applicant must have a real estate license. The individual can be a “Real Estate Broker” or a “Salesperson” who works under the supervision of a broker. An applicant must be at least 18 years old, complete 60 hours of pre-licensing education, pass the salesperson exam, 36 hours of real estate courses, go through a background check, submit an application and license fee to the Iowa Real Estate Commission (IREC).

But before you decide to pursue further in this profession, it’s important to know what the role of a property manager is. As a property manager, your duties may include finding and screening prospective tenants for a property, negotiating the lease terms. You could also be responsible for rent collection, property inspection, maintenance, repair, providing updates, and communicating with the property owner.

In this guide, I will focus on the steps on getting a “real estate salesperson” license, which is the entry license level. So you may begin your property management career by joining a licensed brokerage firm. I will also cover the income updates and other FAQs about being a property manager in Iowa.

But before we start, I want to give a brief disclaimer. This post is not intended as legal advice or state/federal real estate training. It is for general information only. Please always follow your State laws and best practices.

A Table Summary of Becoming a Property Manager in Iowa


At least 18 years of age

Have a valid Social Security Number

Hold a high school diploma or equivalent

60 hours of pre-licensing courses

36 hours of real estate courses

36 hours of continuing education each license term
120 questions

180 minutes of writing time

Consists of National Portion and State Portion

Required passing score is 70%
Pre-licensing courses – $250 to $400 (approximately)

36 hours of real estate courses- $440

License fee: $125

Background check – $51

E&O premium: $144

Exam fee- $95

10 Steps to Become a Property Manager in Iowa

Step 1: Meet the eligibility requirement

  • At least 18 years old
  • Have a social security number

Step 2: Complete the pre-licensing education

Taking real estate pre-licensing course

You are required to take 60 class hours of pre-licensing course from an approved education provider. The course should cover topics such as real estate law, types of interest and ownership in real estate, home ownership, legal descriptions, titles, liens, taxes, encumbrances, listing advertising, appraisal, finance, closings, and professional code of ethics.

I just checked with an approved education provider. The course fee is around $250 to $400. After you complete the pre-licensing courses, you must write the real estate exam within 12 months.

When choosing a real estate school, I prefer one where you could take the courses online. This way, you could study at your own pace whenever and wherever. The CE Shop is a trustworthy real estate education provider. You may click here to see whether they offer pre-licensing course in your state. (**)

Step 3: Pass the Iowa Real Estate Salesperson Exam

Real estate career studying

The Iowa Real Estate Salesperson Exam has 120 questions with 180 minutes of writing time. It consists of the National Portion and the State Portion. The required passing score is 70% for both sections. It is administered by PSI and the exam fee is $95.

You may schedule an exam by calling 1-800-733-9267 or visit their PSI website.

Here’s an Iowa Real Estate Salesperson Exam Guide, where I cover a lot more in-depth about this test. Be sure to check it out.

Step 4: Complete the remaining licensing education

Within 12 months prior to sending the license application, you must complete the remaining 36 hours of real estate courses:

  • Developing Professionalism and Ethical Practices (12 hours) ($150)
  • Buy Practices (12 hours) ($150)
  • Listing Practices (12 hours) ($140)

I checked with the Iowa Association of REALTORS’s website, and it costs $440 for the courses.

Step 5: Obtain Error & Omissions insurance

The real estate profession indeed has its own set of business risks, and many things can go wrong. These wrongdoings may result in lawsuits that could cost you your career and livelihood if you’re not properly insured. Error and omission insurance protects against those risks so you can focus on what matters most – helping people buy and sell homes!

In Iowa, all licensees must obtain E&O insurance coverage. You will need to provide proof of coverage when submitting an application. The group coverage selected by the Commission is with Rice Insurance Services Company, LLC. 

I just checked their website. Their annual premium is $144, with Limits of Liability: $100,000 per claim / $100,000 aggregate with no deductible. If you apply after January, the premium will be calculated on a prorated basis. 

Step 6: Submit an application to Iowa Division of Real Estate

To register with the Iowa Real Estate Commission, you need to submit a Salesperson Application. You must do so within 6 months of passing the real estate exam. Since IREC no longer accepts paper application, you need to create a login (“My Iowa PLB”) at the Professional Licensing Bureau’s website.

In there, it will ask for your personal details, the pre-licensing course completion certificate, and some background questions. Once all the required fields are completed, a green checkmark will appear. Then you can upload the required documents. (PDF format preferred)

There is a $125 license fee. Generally speaking, the review period takes about 7-10 business days.

Step 7: Go through a background check

Real estate licensee going through background check

The Iowa Real Estate Commission is responsible for issuing real estate licenses and regulate the industry. According to the Iowa Code 543B.15(9), to protect the public interest, all real estate licensees must go through a criminal history background check.

As part of the application process, you will submit a fingerprint packet through the application named “RE – Background Request”. The background check fee is $51 and the average turnaround time is 3 to 6 weeks.

Keep in mind that the results are only valid for 210 calendar days. Also, the Licensing Bureau suggests to use the Chrome browser, and they do not support Internet Explorer v11 and Edge at this time.

If you have any further questions about the background check process, you may contact the IREC Background Manager, Ashley Thompson (ashley.thompson@iowa.gov or 515-725-9035).

Step 8: Join a licensed property management firm

real estate clients meeting

To activate your salesperson license In Iowa, you must be affiliate with a principal broker. This is the firm who would sponsor your real estate license.

Keep in mind that not all brokerage provide property management services to their clients. Most brokerages focus only on the buy-sell side of the business. So make sure you find one that specializes in property management.

At the time that I’m writing this guide, I can see online job postings looking for property managers. You may search through job forums such as ZipRecruiter, Glassdoor, or LinkedIn.

There are many property companies out there, but not all are suitable for you. As you start in this industry, it will help if you work for a company that could provide you with proper training and mentorship. And you would likely start out working as an assistant to a property manager.

Rather than having you reinvent the wheels, an established property management company can show you a standard procedure in working with clients effectively.

Step 9: Maintain the real estate license

All Iowa real estate licensees must renew the salesperson license every 3 year. You may renew it through the same online registration portal.

Furthermore, you need to complete 36 hours of real estate continuing education during each license term. The curriculum must include:

  • Law Update (8 hours)
  • Ethics (4 hours)
  • Commission approved Electives (24 hours)

According to the 193E Iowa Administrative Code § 16.5(1), the IREC will conduct random audits to verify the CE credit. Therefore, it’s better to maintain the CE records and proof of completion documents. You should keep them for at least three years even after the license is renewed.

So know your deadlines and don’t wait until the last minute to complete CE and renew your license. Failure to renew on time not only result in late renewal fee, but it can cause interruption to your business.

Step 10: Keep up with the Iowa real estate laws

In order to be remain competitive in the property management industry, it’s important to keep up with the latest laws and best practices. You may read over the following sections of the Iowa Code:

562A.9Terms and Conditions of Rental Agreement
562A.12Rental Deposits
562A.15Landlord to Maintain Fit Premises
562A.23Wrongful Failure to Supply Heat, Water, Hot Water or Essential Services
562A.27Non-Compliance With Rental Agreement
562BManufactured Home Communities or Mobile Home Parks Residential Landlord and Tenant Law
562A.36Retaliatory Conduct Prohibited
216Civil Rights Commission
648.5Forcible Entry and Detainer
193E-12.2Disclosure of Agency Law
193E-15.1 Property Management

A Video on How to Get a Real Estate License in Iowa

Since you are reading up to this point, I bet you must be interested in becoming a property manager. If that requires you to get a real estate salesperson license in your state, your first step is to complete the pre-license education. You should select one that has an excellent reputation and a long-term track record of satisfying students. The Colibri is exactly that! You may click here to check it out yourself. (**)

Here’s a snippet of what a property manager thinks about this career

Dan Gallagher, Zebra Cares LLC

I have been handling the management of family investments for 5-6 years now (licensed for a year to take our model public!). I am also a broker and investor myself, having done everything from complete gut rehab flips to buy and hold investments. I have been in the industry for over 10 years…

The biggest piece of advice I can give is to not take things personal. If you do your job correctly, which should be overly defined before you start to manage someone’s investment, then you are just dealing with people reacting to their situation (which can become very personal for them, since it is in their home).

But be polite and direct, don’t tell them what they want to hear, tell them what is actually happening. Also, always remember you are there to make the property owner fiscally happy first and foremost.

– Dan Gallagher, Zebra Cares LLC

Here’s another post I wrote. In there, you can read more on Dan’s thoughts about the property management profession. You can also find out what other property managers say about this career path.

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  • How much do property managers make?
  • How to start a property management company?
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  • Practical business practices for your daily operation (i.e. tenant screening, rental listing, property management software.)
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FAQ about being a Property Manager in Iowa

Reading FAQ about the Utah real estate license

How much does it cost to become a property manager in Iowa?

It costs approximately $1,255 to become a property manager in Iowa. Here’s the breakdown:

  • Pre-licensing courses – $250 to $400 (approximately)
  • 36 hours of real estate courses- $440
  • License fee: $125
  • Background check – $51
  • E&O premium: $144
  • Exam fee- $95

The above are the costs of getting the salesperson license. You may also want to invest into exam prep. This can increase your chance in passing the exam on the first try, so that you don’t need to waste time and money in retaking it.

How long does it take to become a property manager in Iowa?

It takes approximately four months to become a property manager in Iowa. But it also depends on the time it takes you to complete the pre-licensing course, exam, application, and get sponsorship by a licensed property management firm.

What states have reciprocity with Iowa real estate license?

Iowa has reciprocity agreements with Arkansas, Georgia, Louisiana, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Mississippi, North Dakota, and West Virginia. You may apply for Iowa real estate license with states that has a reciprocity agreement, but the license history has to be less than 6 months old.

By applying through reciprocity, you need to:

  • Submit to a criminal history background check through the Iowa Real Estate Commission.
  • Provide a certificate of license history and a letter of good standing. You may contact the reciprocity state licensing agency for it. This document need to include the method of licensure (i.e., exam, reciprocity) and which real estate company holds your license.

Then you can submit the online application through your “My Iowa PLB” portal.

Can I apply for an Iowa real estate salesperson license if I’m licensed in a state that does not have a reciprocal agreement?

Yes, a nonresident applicant licensed as a real estate salesperson in another state without a reciprocal agreement may apply for an Iowa license by passing the real estate exam. However, this is given your other state license has not been inactive or expired for more than six months.

Depending on which state you are in, some may require you to write the only Iowa portion of the exam, while some require you to pass both portions.


Can a felon be a property manager in Iowa?

The Iowa Real Estate Commission will consider the applicant’s honesty, trustworthiness, character and integrity. But whether a felon can obtain a real estate license to become a property manager is subjected to case-by-case evaluation.

The IREC has a “List of Criminal Offenses Directly Relating to the Real Estate Profession.” It focuses on crimes of dishonesty, drug offenses, damage and trespass to property, sex offenses, violent offenses, weapons offenses, obstruction charges, animal and waste offenses.

But don’t get discouraged as everyone has a past. The most important is that you can demonstrate that you will serve the public in a fair, honest, and open manner. If your application is declined, you may also request a hearing as according to section 543B.19.

Here’s another post that covers how to apply for a real estate license with a felony record. In there, you’ll find practical ideas which could help your application.

How do I start my own property management company in Iowa?

As you developed the necessary skillset, rather than working for someone else, you may consider getting a real estate broker license and start a property management company. This allows you to hire other property managers, thus, lead to a scalable business model.

To obtain a real estate broker license in Iowa, an applicant must:

  1. Be at least 18 years and have a valid SSN;
  2. Hold a high school diploma or higher;
  3. Have at least 24 months of active real estate salesperson experience;
  4. Complete 60 hours of prescribed broker classes from an approved provider;
  5. Pass the Iowa Real Estate Broker Exam;
  6. Go through a criminal background check;
  7. Submit an application and fees to the Iowa Real Estate Commission

Also, you must have a separate trust account for the property management transactions and for the real estate transactions. 

However, running a company is very different from working as an employed property manager. You need to figure out all the different aspects of the business, such as marketing, branding, prospecting, hiring, training, and accounting.

The expenses will also be a lot higher, you need to account for business insurance, staff’s salary and benefits, office rent, furniture, office supplies, software, many more.

I have more questions about being a property manager in Iowa, whom should I contact?

You may contact the IREC Licensing Specialist at 515-725-9027 or by e-mail to realestatecommission@iowa.gov

If you want to know more about being a property manager in Iowa, I invite you to check out the following articles: 

(**) Affiliate Disclosure: Please note that some of the links above are affiliate links, and at no additional cost to you. Our company, JCHQ Publishing will earn a commission if you decide to make a purchase after clicking on the link. Please understand that we include them based on our experience or the research on these companies or products, and we recommend them because they are helpful and useful, not because of the small commissions we make if you decide to buy something through the links. Please do not spend any money on these products unless you feel you need them or that they will help you achieve your goals.

Disclaimer: The information in this post is for general information only, and not intend to provide any advice. They are subjected to change without any notice, and not guaranteed to be error-free. Some of the posts on this site may contain views and opinions from individual not related to JCHQ Publishing. They do not necessarily reflect our view or position.


  • Iowa Professional Licensing Bureau – Real Estate Commission (source)
    • Criminal History Background (source)
    • Checklist for requirements to obtain Iowa salesperson or broker license (source)
    • E&O Insurance (source)
    • Renewal Instructions & Tips (source)
    • Reciprocity Licensing (source)
  • Iowa Real Estate Commission’s Group Policy (source)
  • Iowa Real Estate Commission Licensing Information Bulletin (source)
  • Iowa Code
    • 543B.15(9) – Qualifications (source)
    • 193E-5.3 License by examination (source)
  • Iowa Association of REALTORS (source)


  • Jacob Coleman

    Jacob is a content writer and a real estate investor. He has experience working with different real estate professionals throughout the years. (i.e., appraisers, real estate agents, property managers, home inspectors.) In order to build a career you love, Jacob believes not only you need a thorough understanding about the profession, but you also have to find out what type of jobs could match your personality, lifestyle and expectation.

Jacob Coleman

Jacob is a content writer and a real estate investor. He has experience working with different real estate professionals throughout the years. (i.e., appraisers, real estate agents, property managers, home inspectors.) In order to build a career you love, Jacob believes not only you need a thorough understanding about the profession, but you also have to find out what type of jobs could match your personality, lifestyle and expectation.

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