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February 8, 2024

How to Become a Real Estate Agent in Illinois?

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Understanding the Real Estate Profession in Illinois

In Illinois, embarking on a real estate career involves a deep understanding of the roles within the industry and the various career pathways available. While the journey requires dedication and compliance with state-specific regulations, it promises diverse opportunities for growth and specialization.

Roles and Responsibilities of a Real Estate Agent

In Illinois, a real estate agent is a licensed professional authorized to conduct real estate transactions, typically under the supervision of a managing broker. Agents’ responsibilities include representing clients in buying and selling properties, negotiating deals, and ensuring honest and ethical conduct in all transactions. Key amongst their duties is marketing property listings, advising clients on market conditions, and mediating the interests of buyers and sellers.

Real estate agents work on a commission basis, earning a percentage of the property sale price. As such, it's crucial for agents to develop strong marketing strategies to attract clients and close deals effectively. They are also expected to stay current with industry trends and changes in real estate laws.

Real Estate Career Pathways

Following initial licensure, Illinois real estate professionals often begin as agents but may aspire to become a real estate broker. Brokers have additional licensing and, unlike agents, can operate their own real estate businesses. Pursuing a path in property management or specializing in areas such as commercial or residential real estate are other common routes that seasoned agents may take within the real estate industry.

The most advanced real estate profession in Illinois is being a managing broker, which requires further education and experience. Managing brokers oversee other agents and brokers, manage real estate offices, and handle more complex transactions and operations. Each role in the real estate career hierarchy offers increased autonomy and the potential for higher earnings.

Eligibility Criteria for Real Estate Licensure in Illinois

The process of becoming a real estate agent in Illinois is governed by specific eligibility criteria. Prospective agents must meet educational requirements and provide valid identification for verification purposes.

Educational Requirements

To be eligible for a real estate license in Illinois, one must have a high school diploma or equivalent, such as a GED. Following that, candidates are required to complete pre-licensing education from an accredited real estate school. It consists of 75 hours of coursework, which covers various topics essential to the practice of real estate.

Age and Identification Verification

Candidates must be at least 18 years old to become licensed real estate agents in Illinois. They must provide a valid Social Security number and present acceptable forms of identification. This typically includes a government-issued identification number found on documents such as a driver's license or state ID, which serves to verify the candidate's identity.

Prelicensing Education and Training in Illinois


To become a real estate agent in Illinois, candidates must complete the required prelicensing education from an approved provider. This education is foundational, equipping prospective agents with knowledge on real estate principles, practices, and the Illinois-specific laws.

Approved Real Estate Prelicensing Courses

The Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation (IDFPR) mandates real estate prelicensing courses for all aspiring agents. These courses cover essential topics, such as real estate laws, brokerage, contracts, and property management. Specifically, a broker license in Illinois requires completion of 75 hours of prelicensing education. This comprises a 60-hour Broker Pre-License Topics course and a 15-hour Interactive Broker Pre-License Applied Principles course. Prospective students can find more detailed information through resources like Illinois REALTORS, which provides a free Pre-License Handbook outlining the steps to licensure.

Choosing the Right Real Estate School

When selecting a real estate school for prelicensing courses, it's essential to ensure the school is accredited by the IDFPR. A variety of online courses and in-person classes are available, allowing flexibility for those managing other commitments. The Illinois Real Estate Educational Foundation also offers convenient online real estate courses. Consider factors such as course format, availability, instructor qualification, and student support services when choosing the educational provider to ensure a conducive learning experience.

The Licensing Process in Illinois

To embark on a career as a real estate agent in Illinois, one must navigate through a licensing process that includes fulfilling educational requirements, finding a sponsoring broker, successfully passing the state's broker license exam, and submitting an application to obtain the broker license. Each step of the process is vital in securing a real estate agent's position within the industry.

Application and Sponsorship

The journey to becoming a licensed real estate agent begins with the completion of an application and obtaining sponsorship from a licensed Illinois sponsoring broker. Aspiring agents are required to be associated with a sponsoring broker, who mentors them and oversees their professional conduct. The applicant must fill out the sponsor card, which is a tangible affirmation of the sponsorship arrangement.

Taking the Illinois Broker License Exam

Prospective agents must then register for and take the Illinois Real Estate Broker Examination. A score of 75% or higher is necessary to pass the exam, which assesses one's knowledge and readiness to practice as a real estate agent in Illinois. Prior to this, applicants must have completed 75 hours of approved pre-licensing courses, comprising two sections: 60 hours of Real Estate Broker Topics and 15 hours of Broker Pre-License Applied Real Estate Principles - Interactive.

After the Exam: Application for the Broker License

Upon achieving a passing score on the Illinois broker license exam, candidates must undergo a background check and submit their final application for the broker license to the Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation (IDFPR). This is the last step before one can officially operate as a licensed real estate agent in Illinois, granted that all the stipulated pre-license educational requirements and examinations have been successfully fulfilled.

Post-License Education and Business Setup in Illinois

After acquiring their real estate license, agents in Illinois must complete post-license education and establish their business by choosing a brokerage and understanding the dynamics of starting their real estate career, including commission structures and advertising.

Completing Post-License Education

New Illinois real estate agents must fulfill a 45-hour Broker Post-License requirement: this includes three separate 15-hour courses that culminate in exams. They must pass these exams with a minimum score of 75% to satisfy state law requirements. These courses deepen an agent's knowledge and are essential for the first license renewal process.

Choosing a Brokerage and Sponsor

Agents must choose a sponsoring broker or a brokerage to start practicing. While selecting a brokerage, it's crucial to consider the commission structure offered, how it aligns with the agent's financial goals, and the managing broker's support and experience level. A brokerage's reputation and resources for marketing and advertising can significantly influence an agent's success.

Starting Your Real Estate Career

Upon joining a brokerage, agents kickstart their careers, focusing on building a client base and closing deals. While the average real estate agent salary is variable, diligent networking and effective advertising can boost earnings. License renewal involves a fee and is an ongoing professional requirement, and agents must be prepared for this periodic expense to continue practicing legally.

Continuing Your Education and Career Growth in Illinois


The path to maintaining and advancing in one's real estate career in Illinois involves fulfilling continuing education requirements and potentially advancing to a managing broker position.

Continuing Education Requirements

After obtaining their real estate license, agents must complete continuous education to ensure they stay current with industry practices and regulations. In Illinois, licensed agents must complete 12 hours of continuing education every two years to renew their license. This education includes a variety of courses that can be taken in different formats such as online distance learning, webinars, or classroom settings.

Advancing to a Managing Broker Position

For those aiming to take their real estate career to the next level, pursuing a managing broker license can be a considerable advancement. To be eligible for this, one must have practiced as a licensed real estate agent for at least two years and complete additional education, including a 45-hour managing broker pre-license course. Once a real estate professional becomes a managing broker, they gain the opportunity to manage a team of agents or even own their own real estate office, thus taking on greater responsibility and potential for career growth.

Financial Considerations of Becoming a Real Estate Agent in Illinois

When considering a career as a real estate agent in Illinois, one must be mindful of the various financial obligations involved, including the costs for licensing and training as well as potential income from salary and commissions.

Costs Associated with Licensing and Training

To embark on a career as a real estate agent in Illinois, one initially faces expenses related to obtaining the necessary education and licensure. Pre-licensing courses are a requirement, with prices varying depending on the provider but one should expect to invest several hundred dollars for this education. The Illinois state exam fee and subsequent licensing fees are additional costs that candidates need to account for.

  • Pre-licensing education: $400-$600 (approximate range)
  • State exam fee: $55
  • License application fee: $125

These expenses do not include additional costs that may arise, such as study materials or preparatory classes that can further impact the total upfront investment.

Expectations for Real Estate Agent Salary and Commissions

Earnings for real estate agents in Illinois come predominantly through commissions on the sale of properties. Commissions are typically a percentage of the sale price and can vary substantially based on market conditions, property values, and individual performance. While salary bases are less common, some agencies might offer a base pay that usually comes with expectations of sales performance.

  • Average Real Estate Agent Salary in Illinois: $48,000-$52,000
  • Average Commission Rate: 5-6% of the property's sale price

It should be noted that these figures can be greatly affected by the number of transactions a real estate agent completes, the agent's network and marketing efforts, the local real estate market, and the split percentage with their managing broker. Prospective agents may use a commission calculator to estimate their potential earnings.

Navigating the Real Estate Market in Major Illinois Cities

In Illinois, the real estate market varies significantly across major cities, with Chicago presenting vast opportunities, while Rockford, Naperville, Aurora, and Joliet have their distinct market trends and potential. Understanding the local specifics is crucial for agents aiming to advise clients accurately and manage property effectively.

Real Estate Opportunities in Chicago

Chicago, the largest city in Illinois, offers a dynamic real estate landscape. Real property agents in the Windy City are often met with a wide spectrum of properties, from high-end luxury condos to more affordable family homes. A career in Chicago's real estate demands a keen eye for market trends and a solid understanding of leasing and property management, catering to a diverse client base.

Market Trends in Rockford and Naperville

As contrasting as their sizes, Rockford and Naperville also differ in their real estate market trends. Rockford, while smaller, is seeing a slow yet steady demand in single-family homes, which provides a solid environment for both sales and leasing agents. In contrast, Naperville features a more competitive market with a higher demand for properties, driven by its proximity to Chicago and top-rated public amenities.

Exploring the Markets in Aurora and Joliet

The real estate markets in Aurora and Joliet complement each other, with both cities providing unique opportunities for real estate professionals. Aurora, known for its historic architecture and community-centric neighborhoods, is a haven for property managers looking to cater to long-term residents. Meanwhile, Joliet's affordable housing market attracts first-time home buyers and investors, making it a strategic spot for optimistic real estate agents ready to guide clients through buying or selling real property.

Ethics, Legalities, and Professionalism in Illinois

In Illinois, aspiring real estate agents are expected to uphold a strict code of ethics and adhere to detailed legal guidelines. These standards ensure the protection of consumers and the integrity of the real estate profession.

Adhering to Illinois Real Estate Commission Standards

The Illinois Real Estate Commission sets forth standards of practice that all agents must follow. This includes mandating agents to complete 75 hours of Broker Pre-License coursework as part of their education. These courses not only cover the principles and practices of real estate but also emphasize ethical conduct to guide agents in their professional endeavors. Abiding by these standards is crucial for maintaining licensure and the trust of clients.

Understanding Legal Responsibilities

Legal responsibilities in the real estate industry include a range of obligations, from fair housing laws to contractual duties. Real estate agents in Illinois must be familiar with the state's licensing laws, which serve as the legal framework within which they operate. They are expected to act with honesty and integrity, ensuring that all transactions are conducted legally and ethically. A well-defined understanding of legal responsibilities protects both the agent and their clients, fortifying the reputation of the real estate profession as a whole.

Frequently Asked Questions

Becoming a real estate agent in Illinois is a process that involves education, examination, and understanding of associated costs. Here are some of the most frequently asked questions about the process.

What are the steps to obtain a real estate license in Illinois?

To become a real estate agent in Illinois, an individual must successfully complete 75 hours of approved pre-licensing courses, pass the state licensing exam, and be sponsored by a managing broker.

What is the duration of the pre-licensing process for Illinois real estate agents?

The duration of the pre-licensing process depends on the individual's pace of study. The required 75 hours of pre-licensing education can be completed at different speeds depending on the mode of learning, whether online or in-person.

What fees are associated with acquiring a real estate license in Illinois?

There are various fees involved in obtaining an Illinois real estate license, including costs for pre-licensing education, the licensing examination, and application fees for the license itself.

Can you take the Illinois real estate license examination online?

The Illinois real estate license examination is administered by a third-party testing service, and as of the knowledge cutoff date, may require in-person attendance. For the most current information, individuals should verify with official Illinois real estate resources.

Are there any reciprocity agreements for real estate licenses with other states?

Illinois may have reciprocity agreements with certain states, allowing real estate professionals to skip some of the licensing steps. Prospective agents should contact the Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation for the latest reciprocity agreements.

What income can a realtor expect to earn in Illinois?

The income of a realtor in Illinois varies widely based on several factors, including market conditions, individual effort, and brokerage affiliation. Realtors work largely on commission and their earning potential is often reflective of their sales success.


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Understanding the Real Estate Profession in Illinois

In Illinois, embarking on a real estate career involves a deep understanding of the roles within the industry and the various career pathways available. While the journey requires dedication and compliance with state-specific regulations, it promises diverse opportunities for growth and specialization.

Roles and Responsibilities of a Real Estate Agent

In Illinois, a real estate agent is a licensed professional authorized to conduct real estate transactions, typically under the supervision of a managing broker. Agents’ responsibilities include representing clients in buying and selling properties, negotiating deals, and ensuring honest and ethical conduct in all transactions. Key amongst their duties is marketing property listings, advising clients on market conditions, and mediating the interests of buyers and sellers.

Real estate agents work on a commission basis, earning a percentage of the property sale price. As such, it's crucial for agents to develop strong marketing strategies to attract clients and close deals effectively. They are also expected to stay current with industry trends and changes in real estate laws.

Real Estate Career Pathways

Following initial licensure, Illinois real estate professionals often begin as agents but may aspire to become a real estate broker. Brokers have additional licensing and, unlike agents, can operate their own real estate businesses. Pursuing a path in property management or specializing in areas such as commercial or residential real estate are other common routes that seasoned agents may take within the real estate industry.

The most advanced real estate profession in Illinois is being a managing broker, which requires further education and experience. Managing brokers oversee other agents and brokers, manage real estate offices, and handle more complex transactions and operations. Each role in the real estate career hierarchy offers increased autonomy and the potential for higher earnings.

Eligibility Criteria for Real Estate Licensure in Illinois

The process of becoming a real estate agent in Illinois is governed by specific eligibility criteria. Prospective agents must meet educational requirements and provide valid identification for verification purposes.

Educational Requirements

To be eligible for a real estate license in Illinois, one must have a high school diploma or equivalent, such as a GED. Following that, candidates are required to complete pre-licensing education from an accredited real estate school. It consists of 75 hours of coursework, which covers various topics essential to the practice of real estate.

Age and Identification Verification

Candidates must be at least 18 years old to become licensed real estate agents in Illinois. They must provide a valid Social Security number and present acceptable forms of identification. This typically includes a government-issued identification number found on documents such as a driver's license or state ID, which serves to verify the candidate's identity.

Prelicensing Education and Training in Illinois


To become a real estate agent in Illinois, candidates must complete the required prelicensing education from an approved provider. This education is foundational, equipping prospective agents with knowledge on real estate principles, practices, and the Illinois-specific laws.

Approved Real Estate Prelicensing Courses

The Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation (IDFPR) mandates real estate prelicensing courses for all aspiring agents. These courses cover essential topics, such as real estate laws, brokerage, contracts, and property management. Specifically, a broker license in Illinois requires completion of 75 hours of prelicensing education. This comprises a 60-hour Broker Pre-License Topics course and a 15-hour Interactive Broker Pre-License Applied Principles course. Prospective students can find more detailed information through resources like Illinois REALTORS, which provides a free Pre-License Handbook outlining the steps to licensure.

Choosing the Right Real Estate School

When selecting a real estate school for prelicensing courses, it's essential to ensure the school is accredited by the IDFPR. A variety of online courses and in-person classes are available, allowing flexibility for those managing other commitments. The Illinois Real Estate Educational Foundation also offers convenient online real estate courses. Consider factors such as course format, availability, instructor qualification, and student support services when choosing the educational provider to ensure a conducive learning experience.

The Licensing Process in Illinois

To embark on a career as a real estate agent in Illinois, one must navigate through a licensing process that includes fulfilling educational requirements, finding a sponsoring broker, successfully passing the state's broker license exam, and submitting an application to obtain the broker license. Each step of the process is vital in securing a real estate agent's position within the industry.

Application and Sponsorship

The journey to becoming a licensed real estate agent begins with the completion of an application and obtaining sponsorship from a licensed Illinois sponsoring broker. Aspiring agents are required to be associated with a sponsoring broker, who mentors them and oversees their professional conduct. The applicant must fill out the sponsor card, which is a tangible affirmation of the sponsorship arrangement.

Taking the Illinois Broker License Exam

Prospective agents must then register for and take the Illinois Real Estate Broker Examination. A score of 75% or higher is necessary to pass the exam, which assesses one's knowledge and readiness to practice as a real estate agent in Illinois. Prior to this, applicants must have completed 75 hours of approved pre-licensing courses, comprising two sections: 60 hours of Real Estate Broker Topics and 15 hours of Broker Pre-License Applied Real Estate Principles - Interactive.

After the Exam: Application for the Broker License

Upon achieving a passing score on the Illinois broker license exam, candidates must undergo a background check and submit their final application for the broker license to the Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation (IDFPR). This is the last step before one can officially operate as a licensed real estate agent in Illinois, granted that all the stipulated pre-license educational requirements and examinations have been successfully fulfilled.

Post-License Education and Business Setup in Illinois

After acquiring their real estate license, agents in Illinois must complete post-license education and establish their business by choosing a brokerage and understanding the dynamics of starting their real estate career, including commission structures and advertising.

Completing Post-License Education

New Illinois real estate agents must fulfill a 45-hour Broker Post-License requirement: this includes three separate 15-hour courses that culminate in exams. They must pass these exams with a minimum score of 75% to satisfy state law requirements. These courses deepen an agent's knowledge and are essential for the first license renewal process.

Choosing a Brokerage and Sponsor

Agents must choose a sponsoring broker or a brokerage to start practicing. While selecting a brokerage, it's crucial to consider the commission structure offered, how it aligns with the agent's financial goals, and the managing broker's support and experience level. A brokerage's reputation and resources for marketing and advertising can significantly influence an agent's success.

Starting Your Real Estate Career

Upon joining a brokerage, agents kickstart their careers, focusing on building a client base and closing deals. While the average real estate agent salary is variable, diligent networking and effective advertising can boost earnings. License renewal involves a fee and is an ongoing professional requirement, and agents must be prepared for this periodic expense to continue practicing legally.

Continuing Your Education and Career Growth in Illinois


The path to maintaining and advancing in one's real estate career in Illinois involves fulfilling continuing education requirements and potentially advancing to a managing broker position.

Continuing Education Requirements

After obtaining their real estate license, agents must complete continuous education to ensure they stay current with industry practices and regulations. In Illinois, licensed agents must complete 12 hours of continuing education every two years to renew their license. This education includes a variety of courses that can be taken in different formats such as online distance learning, webinars, or classroom settings.

Advancing to a Managing Broker Position

For those aiming to take their real estate career to the next level, pursuing a managing broker license can be a considerable advancement. To be eligible for this, one must have practiced as a licensed real estate agent for at least two years and complete additional education, including a 45-hour managing broker pre-license course. Once a real estate professional becomes a managing broker, they gain the opportunity to manage a team of agents or even own their own real estate office, thus taking on greater responsibility and potential for career growth.

Financial Considerations of Becoming a Real Estate Agent in Illinois

When considering a career as a real estate agent in Illinois, one must be mindful of the various financial obligations involved, including the costs for licensing and training as well as potential income from salary and commissions.

Costs Associated with Licensing and Training

To embark on a career as a real estate agent in Illinois, one initially faces expenses related to obtaining the necessary education and licensure. Pre-licensing courses are a requirement, with prices varying depending on the provider but one should expect to invest several hundred dollars for this education. The Illinois state exam fee and subsequent licensing fees are additional costs that candidates need to account for.

  • Pre-licensing education: $400-$600 (approximate range)
  • State exam fee: $55
  • License application fee: $125

These expenses do not include additional costs that may arise, such as study materials or preparatory classes that can further impact the total upfront investment.

Expectations for Real Estate Agent Salary and Commissions

Earnings for real estate agents in Illinois come predominantly through commissions on the sale of properties. Commissions are typically a percentage of the sale price and can vary substantially based on market conditions, property values, and individual performance. While salary bases are less common, some agencies might offer a base pay that usually comes with expectations of sales performance.

  • Average Real Estate Agent Salary in Illinois: $48,000-$52,000
  • Average Commission Rate: 5-6% of the property's sale price

It should be noted that these figures can be greatly affected by the number of transactions a real estate agent completes, the agent's network and marketing efforts, the local real estate market, and the split percentage with their managing broker. Prospective agents may use a commission calculator to estimate their potential earnings.

Navigating the Real Estate Market in Major Illinois Cities

In Illinois, the real estate market varies significantly across major cities, with Chicago presenting vast opportunities, while Rockford, Naperville, Aurora, and Joliet have their distinct market trends and potential. Understanding the local specifics is crucial for agents aiming to advise clients accurately and manage property effectively.

Real Estate Opportunities in Chicago

Chicago, the largest city in Illinois, offers a dynamic real estate landscape. Real property agents in the Windy City are often met with a wide spectrum of properties, from high-end luxury condos to more affordable family homes. A career in Chicago's real estate demands a keen eye for market trends and a solid understanding of leasing and property management, catering to a diverse client base.

Market Trends in Rockford and Naperville

As contrasting as their sizes, Rockford and Naperville also differ in their real estate market trends. Rockford, while smaller, is seeing a slow yet steady demand in single-family homes, which provides a solid environment for both sales and leasing agents. In contrast, Naperville features a more competitive market with a higher demand for properties, driven by its proximity to Chicago and top-rated public amenities.

Exploring the Markets in Aurora and Joliet

The real estate markets in Aurora and Joliet complement each other, with both cities providing unique opportunities for real estate professionals. Aurora, known for its historic architecture and community-centric neighborhoods, is a haven for property managers looking to cater to long-term residents. Meanwhile, Joliet's affordable housing market attracts first-time home buyers and investors, making it a strategic spot for optimistic real estate agents ready to guide clients through buying or selling real property.

Ethics, Legalities, and Professionalism in Illinois

In Illinois, aspiring real estate agents are expected to uphold a strict code of ethics and adhere to detailed legal guidelines. These standards ensure the protection of consumers and the integrity of the real estate profession.

Adhering to Illinois Real Estate Commission Standards

The Illinois Real Estate Commission sets forth standards of practice that all agents must follow. This includes mandating agents to complete 75 hours of Broker Pre-License coursework as part of their education. These courses not only cover the principles and practices of real estate but also emphasize ethical conduct to guide agents in their professional endeavors. Abiding by these standards is crucial for maintaining licensure and the trust of clients.

Understanding Legal Responsibilities

Legal responsibilities in the real estate industry include a range of obligations, from fair housing laws to contractual duties. Real estate agents in Illinois must be familiar with the state's licensing laws, which serve as the legal framework within which they operate. They are expected to act with honesty and integrity, ensuring that all transactions are conducted legally and ethically. A well-defined understanding of legal responsibilities protects both the agent and their clients, fortifying the reputation of the real estate profession as a whole.

Frequently Asked Questions

Becoming a real estate agent in Illinois is a process that involves education, examination, and understanding of associated costs. Here are some of the most frequently asked questions about the process.

What are the steps to obtain a real estate license in Illinois?

To become a real estate agent in Illinois, an individual must successfully complete 75 hours of approved pre-licensing courses, pass the state licensing exam, and be sponsored by a managing broker.

What is the duration of the pre-licensing process for Illinois real estate agents?

The duration of the pre-licensing process depends on the individual's pace of study. The required 75 hours of pre-licensing education can be completed at different speeds depending on the mode of learning, whether online or in-person.

What fees are associated with acquiring a real estate license in Illinois?

There are various fees involved in obtaining an Illinois real estate license, including costs for pre-licensing education, the licensing examination, and application fees for the license itself.

Can you take the Illinois real estate license examination online?

The Illinois real estate license examination is administered by a third-party testing service, and as of the knowledge cutoff date, may require in-person attendance. For the most current information, individuals should verify with official Illinois real estate resources.

Are there any reciprocity agreements for real estate licenses with other states?

Illinois may have reciprocity agreements with certain states, allowing real estate professionals to skip some of the licensing steps. Prospective agents should contact the Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation for the latest reciprocity agreements.

What income can a realtor expect to earn in Illinois?

The income of a realtor in Illinois varies widely based on several factors, including market conditions, individual effort, and brokerage affiliation. Realtors work largely on commission and their earning potential is often reflective of their sales success.


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