How to Become a Real Estate Agent in North Carolina? (exam| course| income)

Real Estate Agent Showing New Apartment Property To Client

(**) 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.

First of all, there is no official “real estate agent” in North Carolina because North Carolina is a “broker-only” state.

You’ll start off as a “provisional broker” which is the entry-level license. At this point, you’ll be working under the supervision of a “broker in charge.” When I mention “real estate agent/salesperson/broker” in this article, what I really mean it’s the “provisional broker.”

To become a real estate agent in North Carolina, an applicant must be at least 18 years old, complete 75-hour of pre-license education, pass the real estate broker exam, and work under the supervision of a broker-in-charge. You also need to submit an application and a fee of $100 to the North Carolina Real Estate Commission and go through a background check.

North Carolina Real Estate Commission is the governing body that issue licenses and regulate the real estate industry.

As a real estate agent in North Carolina, your role is to work with clients to buy or sell the right property according to their needs. You would be responsible for showing the property, bringing potential buyers to house tours, and handling the purchase and sale agreement.

Some agents may also help clients in searching for a rental property or lease out their units.

In this guide, you’ll find out the steps to become a real estate agent in North Carolina, income updates, career outlook and FAQ about this profession.

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 Video Summary on Getting a Real Estate License in North Carolina

7 Steps to Become a Real Estate Broker in North Carolina

Step 1: Meet the eligibility requirement

  • Citizen of the United States or lawfully admitted alien
  • At least 18 years of age
  • Have a valid Social Security Number
  • Hold a high school diploma or higher education

Step 2: Complete the pre-licensing education

You are required to take 75 hours of courses from a Commission Approved School.

The curriculum must consists of the major topics below:

  1. Basic construction
  2. Basic real estate concepts and law
  3. Basic real estate investment
  4. Brokerage relationships and practices
  5. Closing a real estate sale transaction
  6. Environmental hazards
  7. Fair housing laws
  8. Federal income taxation of real estate
  9. Landlord and tenant
  10. Land use controls
  11. North Carolina Real Estate Commission Rules and Trust Account Guidelines
  12. North Carolina Real Estate License Law
  13. Property insurance basics
  14. Property management
  15. Property taxation
  16. Real estate contracts
  17. Real estate financing
  18. Real property valuation

Step 3: Submit Application to the North Carolina Real Estate Commission

You can apply online through the Commission website.

NC Real Estate Commission Application Screenshot

In addition to the application, you also need to provide.

  • $100 fee – You could paid by credit card (i.e.: Visa, Mastercard, American Express) or debt card
  • Course Completion Certificate(s)
  • Criminal Record Report
  • Other necessary documents

Step 4: Pass the North Carolina Real Estate Broker Examination

real estate business meeting

The next step is to test your knowledge about the real estate field. You need to pass the exam before registering as a real estate broker.

The North Carolina Real Estate Broker Exam consists of two portions, the National Portion and State Portion. You’ll be given 4 hours to complete the test. The required passing score is 100 points. (71/100 for the national portion; 29/40 for the state portion)

Here are some exam preps info on our resource page, which we believe could be helpful to you.

Step 5: Join with a real estate brokerage

Work under the supervision of broker-in-charge in North Carolina

Although now you have a certificate of licensure, you still need to work under a real estate firm’s supervision. (The broker-in-charge). But don’t rush into working for just any brokerage. Finding a good mentor is crucial at the initial stage of your real estate career.

When choosing a real estate brokerage, many people only focus on the commission split, but there are many other factors you also need to consider.

For example, what type of training will they provide? Will they equip you with the skills in finding qualify prospects and closing a sale? Is there a shared office space you could use? Can the brokerage provide you with adequate administrative and marketing support? Will they provide you with leads to work on? Do they utilize up-to-date technology (i.e.: CRM, software subscription) to streamline the daily workflow.

All these would be extremely important especially at the beginning phase of your career.

Below are the top real estate brokerage in North Carolina based on their sales volume in 2018. The figures are obtained from

Real Estate BrokeragesCities2018 Sales VolumeCompany Websites
Allen Tate CompaniesCharlotte$5,672,150,547
Coldwell Banker Sea Coast AdvantageWilmington$3,401,607,965
Fathom RealtyCary$2,403,726,750
Coldwell Banker Howard Perry & WalstonRaleigh$2,261,814,956
Keller Williams Ballantyne AreaCharlotte$1,945,585,233
Keller Williams - Lake Norman Cornelius NC, LLCMooresville$1,583,584,203
RE/MAX ExecutiveCharlotte$1,512,022,952
Wilkinson ERA Real EstateCharlotte$1,439,903,325
Keller Williams Realty Asheville, NC, Columbia & Columbia NE, SCAsheville$1,306,894,359
Beverly-Hanks & AssociatesAsheville$1,284,459,906
Keller Williams Realty Charlotte - SouthParkCharlotte$1,135,474,267
Intracoastal Realty CorpWilmington$1,085,957,856
RE/MAX UnitedCary$784,287,420
Keller Williams Preferred RealtyRaleigh$752,662,838
Keller Williams RealtyCary$739,591,669
Cottingham Chalk Hayes, REALTORSCharlotte$591,029,677
Dickens MitchenerCharlotte$576,507,616

Step 6: Complete the post-license education

To turn the “provisional” status into an “active” license status, you need to complete 90 hours of post-licensing courses. It will consist of:

  • Broker Relationships and Responsibilities – 30 hours
  • Contracts and Closing – 30 hours
  • License Law, Commission Rules and Legal Concepts – 30 hours

Step 7: Maintain the the NC real estate license

You are required to renew the North Carolina real estate license every year before June 30. It applies even if you just got your license in May or June.

You could renew it online at the NC Real Estate Commission website. The renewal fee is $45. You may pay with VISA, MasterCard, Discover, American Express or even Paypal.

What is the continuing education requirement to renew the NC real estate license?

Completing North Carolina real estate continuing education

Unlike the post-licensing courses, which is an one-time requirement, you must complete the Continuing Education per annual license period. In North Carolina, all real estate licensees need to complete 8 hours of continuing education classes before June 10th. The curriculum must consist of the

  • General Update Course (4 hours)
  • Elective course (4 hours)

Here are more details about the North Carolina Real Estate Broker Exam

Exam Registration

They are computerized exams administered by PSI. To register, you need to do the following:

  • Submit PSI Registration Form
  • Provide exam fee ($64) – payment can be made by credit card or cheque.
  • Official transcripts or completion certificates of the pre-licensing courses

Then you could mail the completed set of documents to: PSI licensure: certification, ATTN: Examination Registration PA RE 3210 E Tropicana, Las Vegas, NV, 89121

At the day of the examination, you need to provide two pieces of ID. (i.e.: driver license, state ID, passport)

If you have any questions about the registration, you could contact the PSI at:

  • Phone (800) 733-9267.
  • Email :
  • Fax (702) 932-2666

Content of the North Carolina Real Estate Exams

The exam will be in multiple choice format. It consists of two portions, which are the national portion and state portion. Each topic weights differently in the exam. It is important to put more emphasis on studying for the parts that count the most.

NC Real Estate Exam Summary

Examination Portion# of Scored QuestionsRequired Passing ScoreTime Allowed
Broker- National10071150 minutes
Broker- State40 2990 minutes

National Portion Exam Content Outline

Exam Content# of Questions
Agency Relationships and Contracts28
Real Property Ownership/Interest13
Real Property 14
Marketing Regulations (Purchase and Rental) 10
Property Management8
Real Estate Calculations 13

State Portion Exam Content Outline

  • N.C. Real Estate License Law and Commission Rules – 24 Questions
  • Other North Carolina Laws and Practices – 11 Questions
  • General Real Estate Topics – 5 Questions

Sample NC Real Estate Broker Exam Question

Sample Question: “All of the following are associated with the cost approach to estimating the value of an improved property EXCEPT

1) Replacement Cost. 2) Depreciation 3) Net Operating Cost 4) Lot Value. “

Sample Question: “A broker with ABC Realty listed an owner’s property at $150,000 and the property was subsequently sold by a provisional broker with XYZ Realty for $140,000. If the total brokerage commission was 5% of the sale price and was to be divided equally between the two firms, and if the selling agent’s share was 60% of her firm’s share, how much did the provisional broker earn on the sale?

1) $1,400 2) $2,100 3) $3,500 4)$4,200

Quoted from North Carolina Real Estate Licensing Booklet

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

Portrait Of Smiling Young Female Realtor Holding Document With Clients In Background

It takes approximately four months to become a licensed real estate agent in North Carolina. But it also depends on the time it takes you to complete the 75 hours pre-licensing course, exam, background check, application, and get sponsorship by a North Carolina real estate brokerage.

You may speed up in getting the real estate license by taking online courses. This way, you’ll have the flexibility to finish the pre-licensing education at a quicker pace.

How much does it cost to become a real estate agent in North Carolina?

It costs approximately $664 to get the real estate license in North Carolina. Here is the breakdown:

  • Pre-licensing courses $500 approximately
  • Application fee $100
  • Exam fee $64

I have a real estate agent license in another state. Can I become licensed in North Carolina by applying through reciprocity?

If you hold an active real estate license within the past three years, then the NC Real Estate Commission can waive the 75 hours pre-licensing course requirement and the national portion of the real estate exam. However, you’ll still need to pass the state portion of the test.

Is there any pre-licensing education exemption for real estate applicant?

Yes, if you meet one of the following conditions:

  • Hold a bachelor’s degree with a major in real estate or law degree at
    an accredited college/university
  • Completed the equivalent coursework at another state (must be within 1 year of application)
  • Have been holding an active real estate license in the past 3 years in another states

Then you could be exempted from taking the real estate broker prerequisite classes.

Can you become a real estate agent with a felony in North Carolina?

An applicant with a felony may not obtain a real estate license if the North Carolina Real Estate Commission determines that the offense is too severe. They would typically be more alarmed on incidents that impact the applicant’s honesty, trustworthiness, character, and integrity.

What is the nature of the crime? Does it have anything to do with the honesty, truthfulness, and reputation of the applicant? Is the applicant currently under probation or parole? All these are factors that may affect a real estate license application.

The Commission will evaluate each case independently. They may also require you to provide further documents and explanation about the incident.

So 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.

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.

Here’s a Snippet of What Lori James Think about Being a Real Estate Agent!

Lori James, Real Estate Agent

I think being a real estate agent is a good career for self motivated people. You can make your own hours, but you have to plan out your week in advance, so you have a work life balance.

– Lori James, Real Estate Agent at Real Living Real Estate.

Here’s the article where you can read more on Lori’s thoughts about the real estate sales profession. In there, you can also find valuable feedback from multiple professional real estate agents. Don’t miss out!

How Much do Real Estate Agents Make in North Carolina?

Pie Chart on North Carolina Real Estate Agent Income

Real Estate Sales Agents in North Carolina makes an average of $50,160/year, typically range between $30,440 and $59,200. High-earning real estate sales agents are making over $83,620 per year. (*)

At the beginning phase in your real estate career, you probably would not make a lot, because you built up the client base and established trust with the prospects.

But as you continue to gain experience and sharpen your business skills, you should be able to notice a significant improvement to your earning.

Your earning potential as a real estate broker would depend on the price range of the properties that you work with, the number of transactions you could complete, the commission splitting schedule with the real estate brokerage and other factors.

There are 6860 real estate sales agents in North Carolina. It works out there are 1.39 real estate broker per 1000 of workers. (*)

Want to know how to become a six-figures income earner? Check out this “Real Estate Agent Salary Guide“. In there, you’ll find what are the important factors which could significantly influence your income.

Which Cities has the Most Real Estate Business Opportunities in North Carolina?

real estate professional standing in front of commercial building

North Carolina has a population of over 12.8 million, which is the 5th most populous state in the U.S.

When you are selecting the regions to conduct your real estate business, you should target areas that have a high population. After all, transactions can only occur when there are people.

Also, consider working on properties that have decent value, as this is one of the major factors when calculating your commission.

CitiesPopulationMedian Sales Price
Wilmington (-)123,432$225,500
High Point113,791$145,400
Concord (-)96,635$199,900

The median home sales price in North Carolina is $192,400, with a listing price per square foot of $131. The median monthly rent in North Carolina is $1,345.

(Source: (Jan 31, 2019); Note: When we cannot find the median sales price, we would use the Zillow Home Value Index (Feb 28, 2019) labeled as (-)

Helpful ideas to build your real estate career in North Carolina

1) Network with other real estate professionals

You may consider joining the NC REALTORS. This allows you to connect with other real estate salespeople and brokers, thus learn from their valuable experience and share ideas with one another. 

In addition, you should build a referral network with other real estate professionals. such as mortgage agents, lenders, notary loan signing agents, and appraisers.

Here’s a list real estate professional groups on our resource page. Hope this will be useful to you.

2) Become a real estate broker-in-charge

Once you have established a solid client base and develop the necessary skills, then you could consider expanding your business to become a real estate broker-in-charge.

This allows you to build a team of sales agents, where your brokerage could be providing training, marketing, administrative support, office space, and a subscription to industry software.

In return, you would get a share of the commission from the transactions that your real estate sales associates handle. Thus, lead to a scalable business model. 

Here’s a guide on becoming a real estate broker in Georgia.

3) Consider the commercial real estate niche

To become a commercial real estate agent in North Carolina, an applicant must be at least 18 years old, complete 75-hour of pre-license education, pass the real estate broker exam, and work under the supervision of a real estate broker-in-charge. You also need to submit an application and a fee to the North Carolina Real Estate Commission and go through a background check.

To my understanding, the Commission does not issue separate licenses for residential and commercial agents. So, the requirement is basically the same one we just went through.

Furthermore, if you are going to pursue a career as a CRE agent, you should look for a brokerage that could give you the right support and resources. After all, not every brokerage specializes in commercial properties.

Here’s the “Complete Guide to a Commercial Real Estate Agent Career“, where I cover the career outlook, earning potential, and valuable feedback from CRE agents. Be sure to check it out.

Here’s a Snippet of what Amie Lenhart thinks about being a Commercial Real Estate Agent!

Amie Lenhart, Commercial Real Estate Agent

“… I work as my clients biggest advocate and work on behalf of their best interest. My job is an agent is to research, match needs, know the market, tour, draft LOI’s and Lease Proposals and successfully negotiate for my client meeting their goals and objectives...

… I think being a real estate agent is a great career. I love the hustle and relationship building aspect of this job and working for myself...”

– Amie Lenhart ,Commercial Real Estate Agent with Donald R. Kenney and Company Realty (DRK)

Here’s the article where you can read more on Amie’s thoughts about the real estate sales profession. In there, you can also find valuable feedback from multiple professional real estate agents. Don’t miss out!

Whom can I contact if I have more questions about the real estate license in North Carolina?

You could use the online form to contact the NC Real Estate Commission

A Table Summary of Becoming a Real Estate Agent in North Carolina

At least 18 years of age

Have a valid Social Security Number

Hold a high school diploma or equivalent
75 hours of pre-license courses

90 hours of post-license courses

8 hours of continuing education every year
4 hours

Required passing score is 100 points. (71/100 for the national portion; 29/40 for the state portion)
Pre-licensing courses $500 approximately

Application fee $100

Exam fee $64

(**) 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 any notice, and not guaranteed to be error-free. For full and exact details, please contact the North Carolina Real Estate Commission.


  • North Carolina Real Estate Commission (source)
  • North Carolina Real Estate Licensing Booklet (source)
  • (*) Bureau of Labor Statistics (May 2019)
    • Occupational Employment and Wages- Real Estate Agents (source)
    • Occupational Employment and Wage Estimates North Carolina (source)
  • Real Trends: 2018 Real Trends 500 by Volume (source)
  • World Population Review- Population of Cities in North Carolina (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.

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