How to Get a Real Estate License in Tennessee? [Step-by-Step Guide]


Real Estate Agent Using Mobile Phone In New Property

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

Before we jump into the details, I want to let you know that there is no real estate “agent” in Tennessee. The reason is unlike most other states, agents are licensed as “affiliate broker” in Tennessee. Therefore, when I mention real estate agent in this article, I’m really referring to the entry brokers.

To become a real estate agent in Tennessee, you need to complete the 90 hours of pre-licensing real estate courses and pass the real estate affiliate broker exam.

You’ll also need to register at the Tennessee Real Estate Commission. It is part of the TN Department of Commerce & Insurance, which responsible for issuing licenses and regulating the real estate industry.

There are two types of TN real estate brokers.:

  • Affiliate Broker (or what most people would still call agents)
  • Broker (where you could build up your team of agents)

If you are interested in knowing about a real estate career in Tennessee, then this is the guide for you. Not only you’ll learn about the step-by-step process to become a real estate broker, but you will also find helpful information such as the salary, career outlook and a list of top real estate firms in Tennessee.

How to Become a Real Estate Agent (Affiliate Broker) in Tennessee?

Step 1: Meet the Basic Requirement

  • Citizen of the United States or lawfully admitted alien
  • At least 18 years of age
  • Have a valid Social Security Number

Step 2: Complete the Pre-Licensing Education

You are required to take 90 hours of course which covers different real estate concept. Of which at least 60 hours of the curriculum must include the topic of real estate principles/fundamentals.

It can be taken in a classroom setting or online, but it must from an approved education provider.

Study Tip: 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. Here are some helpful details on our education resources page.

Step 3: Pass the TN Real Estate Affiliate Broker Examination

Real estate career studying

The exam is to test your knowledge on the real estate topics that are covered in the pre-licensing education.

The examination consists of two portions, the National portion and State portion. There are 120 items and you’ll be given 240 minutes in writing it. The required passing score is 70%. (I’ll also include more details on what will be covered later in this guide.)

The test is administered by the PSI. To register, you need to complete their online exam registration and provide them with the required documents. There is a $55 examination fee which could be paid by credit card. It is only valid for 6 months.

Also, since the exam is a computerized test, your result will appear immediately on the screen.

(Here’s a Real Estate Study Hacks in helping you to pass the exam on the first try.)

Step 4: Register with the TN Real Estate Commission

Once you pass the exam, you may submit your application in registering for the real estate affiliate broker license. You will do so through the TN Department website. Here’s a short video on how to create an online account.

The application fee is $110. Keep in mind, once you pass the exam, you must apply for the license within six months.

Furthermore, you need to submit fingerprints in fulfilling the background check requirement.

Step 5: Find a Sponsoring Real Estate Broker

Real Estate Office

You are one step closer in becoming a real estate agent. After you pass the exam, you must work with a real estate broker who would sponsor your license.

But don’t rush into working for just any broker. Finding a good trainer is crucial at the initial stage of your real estate career. A thoughtful and experienced trainer could teach you a repeatable and systematic process in running your business profitably.

You will find some of the top producing TN brokerages later in this guide.

How to Become a Real Estate Broker in Tennessee?

real estate broker license requirement California

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.

There are different types of broker license you could apply for. They are the Individual Broker, Associate Broker, Real Estate Broker Company or Branch Office.

So what type of real estate broker license should you obtain? It really depends on what type of business structure you want to set up your business – for example, do you want the business to operate in your personal name or the brand of a company? Will this be a sole proprietorship or limited corporation? You should discuss with your accountant before applying.

[Read: Do Brokers Make More than Real Estate Agents? -Facts Revealed]

This allows you to build a team of real estate 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.

Step 1: Meet the Basic Requirement

You’ll need to be at least 18 years old, completed high school education, have a valid Social Security Number, Citizen of the United States or lawfully admitted alien.

Step 2: Fulfill the Work Experience Requirement

Real Estate Business Sale And Happy Smiling Realtor

The amount of affiliate broke work experience required would depend on which of the following situations you are in.

  • If you have been an affiliate broker before May 12, 1988, then the required work experience is 24 months.
  • If you have been an affiliate broker after May 12, 1988, then the required work experience is 36 months.
  • If you hold a bachelor degree with a major in real estate, then the required work experience is 24 months.

Step 3: Complete the Pre-Licensing Education

You must complete 120 hours of qualifying courses from an approved education provider. Of which, 30 hours must cover the topic “Office/Broker Management”.

Step 4: Pass the TN Real Estate Broker Examination

The exam is to make sure you have adequate real estate knowledge in becoming a broker. 

Similar to the affiliate broker exam, it also consists of two portions, the National portion, and the State portion. There are 125 items, and you’ll be given 240 minutes in writing it. The required passing score is 75%. (You can find more details about the content of the exam later in this post).

Once again, you’ll be submitting the online registration to PSI and provided them with the required documents.

Step 5: Register with the TN Real Estate Commission

Similar to the registration process of being an affiliate broker, once you pass the exam, you may apply for through the TN Department website. The application fee is $110.

Here are the Content of the TN Real Estate Exams

real estate career studying

The affiliate broker and broker exams are two separate tests. However, their nature is so similar so that I’ll talk about them here all at once. These examinations are to test your knowledge and understanding of real estate law, principle and practices, and mathematics.

How many questions are on the TN real estate exam?

Exam# of ItemsTime AllowedRequired Passing Score
Affiliate Broker - National Portion80 (80 points)160 minutes70%
Affiliate Broker - State Portion40 (40 points)80 minutes70%
Broker -National Portion75 (80 points)150 minutes75%
Broker - State Portion50 (50 points)90 minutes75%

What topics will be tested in the TN real estate exam?

When you are studying for the exam, it is wise to spend more time on sections that are more heavily weighted. Keep in mind that you’ll need 70% to 75% to pass the exam.

Here’s the content of the National Portion:

Exam ContentWeighting (Affiliate Broker) Weighting (Broker)
Property ownership8%10%
Land use controls and regulations5%5%
Valuation and market analysis 7%7%
Financing10%8%
General principles of agency 13%11%
Property disclosures 6%7%
Contracts17%18%
Leasing and Property Management 3%5%
Transfer of Title 8%7%
Practice of real estate 13%14%
Real estate calculations10%8%

Here are the ones in the State Portion:

 Affiliate Broker (# of Items)Broker (# of Items)
Duties and Powers of Real Estate Commission46
Licensing Requirements45
Advertising and Marketing77
Broker/Affiliate Relationships56
Handling of Documents and Record Keeping46
Handling of Trust/Escrow Funds47
Other Improper Activities and Consumer Protection 33
Agency and Disclosure Issues67
Special Areas of Practice33

Looking for more ideas in passing the real estate exam? Here you go!

Tennessee real estate exam tips
Source: Tennessee Real Estate Candidate Information Bulletin

Check out these practice questions

SAMPLE AFFILIATE BROKER QUESTIONS

A. Which of the following interests in property is held by a person who is granted a lifetime use of a property that will be transferred to a third party upon the death of the lifetime user?

1. A life estate.

2. A remainder estate.

3. An estate for years.

4. A reversionary estate.

SAMPLE BROKER QUESTIONS (SCENARIO-BASED) Scenario:

You are hosting an open house. Mr. and Mrs. Charles Martin come into the house. You greet them and show them the house. The Martins tell you the house is exactly what they are looking for and they are very interested in purchasing it. You then give them information showing the various types of financing available with down payment options and projected payments.

Mr. Martin tells you they have been working with Mary Hempstead of XX Realty, a competing real estate company. Before leaving, you thank them for coming and give them your business card. A. The first thing on Monday morning, Mrs. Martin calls and indicates they have tried to reach Mary and cannot. They indicate they have a written buyer’s agent agreement with Mary’s broker. They are afraid someone else is going to buy the house.

Which of the following should you do? Select the best answer.

1. Seek advice from your supervising broker.

2. Tell them to come to your office.

3. Ask them to bring the buyer’s agency agreement to you for your interpretation.

4. Tell them to be patient and continue trying to reach Mary.

5. Tell them to call Mary’s supervising broker or branch manager.

6. Tell them you are really sorry, but there is nothing you can do.

Quote from Tennessee Real Estate Candidate Information Bulletin

Tip for Passing the Exam: Doing practice questions is one of the best ways to prepare for the real estate exam. It helps you to familiarize with the questions and exam format. You could find the exam prep providers that we like on our resource page.

Real Estate Career Outlook in Tennessee

real estate career outlook

How Much do Real Estate Agent Make in Tennessee?

Real estate agents in Tennessee earn an average yearly salary of $51,100 typically range between $25,510 and $79,390. (*)

At the beginning phase in your real estate career, you probably would not make a lot, because you have not 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 agent 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 1600 real estate agents in Tennessee, which works out to be 0.541 real estate agents per 1000 of workers. (*)

(*) Source: Bureau of Labour Statistics May 2018

[Read: Real Estate Agent Salary Guide – What Makes a 6 Figures Earner?]

Which Cities has the Most Real Estate Business Opportunities in Tennessee?

Real estate career opportunity

Tennessee has a population of nearly 6.34 million and it is the 20th most densely populated state.

When you are deciding 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. According to Zillow Home Value Index, the median home value in Tennessee is $169,700 with median rent of $1,395.

CitiesPopulationMedian Sales PriceMedian Rent
Nashville679,318$270,100$1,725
Memphis647,506$111,500$965
Knoxville189,368$184,300$1,350
Chattanooga (+)181,624$151,500$1,374
Clarksville (+)154,250$162,700$1,175
Murfreesboro149,605$257,000$1,550
Franklin81,346$475,700$2,395
Johnson City68,729$169,000$895
Jackson67,278$122,300$975
Hendersonville60,308$291,900$1,750

Source: Zillow.com (Jul 31, 2019). I will use the Median Sales Price whenever possible, else the ZHVI (+) will be used.

How to Choose a Real Estate Brokerage in Tennessee?

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 Tennessee based on their sales volume in 2018. The figures are obtained from RealTrends.com.

Top Real Estate BrokeragesCities2018 Sales Volume
Crye-Leike RealtorsMemphis$5,847,518,110
Keller Williams RealtyFranklin$3,610,854,728
PARKSBrentwood$2,254,068,838
Benchmark Realty LLCFranklin$2,160,370,370
Realty Executives AssociatesKnoxville$1,721,364,067
Keller Williams RealtyChattanooga$1,454,732,369
Keller Williams Realty Knoxville-WestKnoxville$1,139,387,375
Reliant Realty ERA PoweredNashville$1,022,914,987
RE/MAX EliteBrentwood$971,651,053
Coldwell Banker Wallace & Wallace, RealtorsKnoxville$674,475,831
Coldwell Banker BarnesFranklin$673,581,376
Zeitlin & Co., RealtorsNashville$591,981,286

FAQ about the TN Real Estate Career

1) How often do I need to renew the TN real estate license?

You are required to renewal the TN real estate license for every two years. You may do so through the online CORE system. The renewal fee is $80.

Although there is a 60 grace period to renew after the expiry date, the agent will accrue $50 late penalty per 30 days.

2) What is the continuing education requirement to renew the TN real estate license?

You must complete 16 hours of CE courses for each renewal period.

3) I have a real estate license in another state. Can I become licensed in Tennessee by applying through reciprocity?

No, Tennessee does not have reciprocity with any states. 

4) Can the TN pre-licensing education requirement be waived?

All candidates are required to complete the pre-licensing education. However, if you hold license in another state, you might be able to waive the national portion of the real estate exam.

Once again, this is on the discretion of the TN Real Estate Commission. You can submit an Educational and Examination Worksheet for a preliminary review.

5) Can a felon be a real estate agent in Tennessee?

The TN Real Estate Commission would put into consideration of the applicant’s honesty, trustworthiness, character and integrity.

… are you at least two years past the end of your PER RULE 1260-01-.01(4) NO PERSON SHALL BE ELIGIBLE FOR EXAMINATION OR BE CONSIDERED FOR LICENSURE UNLESS TWO (2) YEARS HAVE PASSED FROM THE DATE OF EXPIRATION FO PROBATION, PAROLE OR CONVICTION, OR FROM THE DATE OF RELEASE FROM INCARCERATION, WHICHEVER IS LATER IN TIME. THIS RESTRICTION SHALL APPLY TO ALL FELONIES, AND MISDEMEANORS WHICH INVOLVE THE THEFT OF MONEY, SERVICES, OR PROPERTY.

Quote from Tennessee Real Estate Candidate Information Bulletin 

Whether a felon can be a real estate agent is subjected to how the licensing commission evaluates the case. 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.

However, you may want to confirm with the TN Real Estate Commission before you invest too much of your time and money into this career.

6) How to Become a Commercial Real Estate Agent in Tennessee?

To become a commercial real estate agent in Tennessee, you need to complete the 90 hours of pre-licensing real estate courses and pass the real estate affiliate broker exam.

Basically, it is the same requirement as we just went through because TN does not issue separate licenses for residential and commercial agents. However, 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.

We have a “Complete Guide to a Commercial Real Estate Agent Career“, where we cover the career outlook, earning potential, and response from actual CRE agents. Be sure to check it out.

7) I have more questions about the TN real estate license, whom should I contact?

You could contact the TN Real Estate commission:

  • Phone number: 615-741-2241
  • Mailing address: Department of Commerce & Insurance, 500 James Robertson Parkway, Davy Crockett Tower, Nashville, Tennessee 37243-0565
  • Email: [email protected]

You may also contact them through live chat.

In Summary

Becoming a real estate agent could be a rewarding career. Not only in terms of financial sense, but you also get the chance of meeting many people and working on different properties every day.

It is very fulfilling when you can help out your clients in finding their dream home or locate the right buyers for their property. Honesty, hard work, and always putting your client’s interest first are the key components to your long-term success.

[Read: 30 Practical Tips to Become a Successful Real Estate Agent]

If you decide real estate is the career that you want to explore further, your first step is to complete the qualifying courses. However, don’t select just from any school that comes along the way.

You should find one that has an excellent reputation and long-term track record of satisfying students. We prefer schools that provide online-courses so that you could take them anytime and anywhere that is convenient for you. Feel free to check out our education resources page for more info.

On a separate note, if you are looking into property management in Tennessee, then you are still required to obtain a broker or affiliate broker real estate license.

So that’s all I have to share for now. Do you like this guide? If so, please share it.

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. For full and exact details, please contact the Tennessee Real Estate Commission.

Reference:

  • Tennessee Real Estate Commission (Source)
  • Tennessee Real Estate Candidate Information Bulletin (Source)
  • Bureau of Labor Statistics – Real Estate Agents (May 2018) (Source)
  • Real Trends: 2018 Real Trends 500 by Volume (Source)
  • Zillow.com – Tennessee Home Prices & Values (Source)
  • World Population Review- Population of Cities in Tennessee (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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