Realtors who are looking at getting their agent or broker license will need to complete pre-licensing education requirements—the number of education hours needed before sitting for the exam varies by state. Every state tracks its own data, but the Texas Real Estate Commission cites that the overall pass rate is 60.85% for both agents and brokers. This highlights why online real estate schools can be helpful in terms of the ability to study and receive support for prospects at their own pace.
With so many real estate schools online, it’s hard to determine which one is the best fit. That’s why we compiled a list of the best, looking at factors such as price, support, post-licensing classes and opportunities, availability, strong pass rates, and length of the program.
Best Overall : Real Estate Express
Real Estate Express offers courses that are both affordable and comprehensive, offering exam prep, accredited pre-licensing courses, and career path information. It’s one of the most affordable options for those looking for career guidance pre- and post-exam.
Offers a wide range of real estate courses, including ones to help realtors launch their careers
Certified by both the Association of Real Estate License Law Officials (ARELLO) and the International Distance Education Certification Center (IDECC)
Offers live Q&A hours via chat for certain real estate courses
Access to courses expires after six months
No option for post-licensing study for many states
No hard copies of study materials for most tiers (though you can print them online)
Founded in 1996 and part of the McKissock group of companies, Real Estate Express offers pre- and post-licensing courses throughout the U.S. The company is accredited by the Association of Real Estate License Law Officials (ARELLO) and the International Distance Education Certification Center (IDECC), and the courses adhere to its legal and educational guidelines. It offers pre-licensing courses in 26 states, but only post-licensing courses to renew your brokerage license in 10.
Course offerings include four tiers, from a basic self-study course starting at $119 to the “Ultimate Learning” option, which includes instructor Q&A sessions, professional development membership for a year, and a printed course textbook in addition to the pre-license and exam prep course.
All tiers have expert instructors approved by each state that's available on Real Estate Express. With the exception of the basic package, the company offers a “Pass or Don't Pay Guarantee,” in which the company will refund your purchase price if you don’t pass your exam—Florida and Tennessee are the only exceptions.
Best Interactive Courses : Kaplan
Kaplan offers pre-licensing courses in all 50 states and a wide range of options for how interactive you want the exam prep courses to be. We also like the two-day bootcamp that helps new real estate agents with their first year of licensure. However, it does have a higher price point compared to a few others on our list, and the website is not as user-friendly.
Offers courses with instructors who are practicing real estate agents
Features a wide range of options to access and interact with instructors
Continuing education (CE) hours are competitively priced
Pricing is higher compared to other companies (though those tend to be self-paced courses)
Interface is slightly dated and not as user-friendly
Shipping of learning materials not included in course prices
Founded in 1938, Kaplan is one of the largest online education companies, with a presence in over 30 countries. Their online courses are mostly instructor-led in a mix of live and on-demand formats. It’s a great fit for those who prefer a more traditional approach to studying but also want the flexibility of online learning.
Pricing for Kaplan pre-licensing courses varies depending on your state—for instance, courses for pre-licensing in New York start at $379, whereas pre-licensing in Georgia starts at $299. Online options include home study (their self-study option), on-demand, and live classes.
All courses include an interactive study group feature that covers all national and state content in a live webinar format, in which you can join in on a discussion with members of Kaplan’s instructors. The online live course includes their interactive exam prep module.
Kaplan demonstrates success in the competitive Texas market with an overall pass rate of 76.16%.
Best Value : 360 Training
360 Training offers some of the lowest prices, from $79 for pre-licensing. Customers can also order separate course materials and opt out of exam prep to create a more budget-friendly studying experience.
Full pre-licensing courses at the lowest prices on our list
No need to take an exam prep course
Offers a money-back guarantee if you fail your licensing exam three times
Pre-licensing courses only available in 10 states
Website not very user-friendly
No interactive component with instructors
If you’re an aspiring real estate agent who thrives on studying independently, 360 Training is a great choice since it sells self-study packages and separate pre-licensing courses, plus individual exam prep offerings. Founded in 1997, the company is based in Austin, Texas, and works with over 1,500 e-learning partners worldwide.
360 Training offers pre-licensing, exam prep, post-licensing, and continuing education courses. What’s great is that you can pick and choose from individual courses. Their pre-licensing course offers two tiers—the more premium one offers a money-back guarantee. According to the company, courses are developed by experts in the real estate industry and adhere to state licensing requirements.
Pricing is some of lowest with 360 Training; pre-licensing courses start at $79 for all states, going as high as $375 for states like Texas.
Unfortunately, you won’t get as much interactive training as others on this list, and there are no pre-licensing options for states other than Alabama, California, Florida, Georgia, Missouri, New York, Texas, Virginia, and Washington.
Best for Test Prep : Mbition
The online school's Prep xL feature is specifically designed for test prep and not the licensing hours. With 1,000 questions in the test bank, getting a passing score on the Prep xL gives students the best indication of whether or not they are ready for the exam.
ARELLO and IDECC certified and approved by The Appraisal Foundation
Pre-licensing courses available in all 50 states
Exam prep tool mimics what you might experience during the real exam
Course materials only available for six months (you can pay to extend access for another three months)
Not as wide a variety of CE courses compared to other competitors
Instructor support not as customized as other online real estate schools
As a nationally approved school and created by instructors who have experience as home inspectors, Mbition offers pre-licensing, post-licensing, and some CE courses. The company also offers a list of textbooks you can purchase individually to help you with your real estate training.
Courses start as low as $129, which includes perks like test prep questions and tips to pass your exam. You can add exam prep for an extra $79—higher tiered packages for pre-licensing also include a Pass the First Time Guarantee.
What we like about Mbition’s exam prep, called Prep xL, is that it offers a customized way to prepare for your real exam. There's a training mode where you can access all 1,000 questions in an untimed test. The testing mode mimics a real test, pulling in a certain amount of questions. There's even a timer, and after the test, you'll receive your results with feedback.
Best for Continuing Education : The CE Shop
There’s a reason the company is called CE Shop—it offers one of the highest continuing education courses online. Realtors from all 50 states and DC can access courses for all stages of their careers and their offerings are relevant to what’s happening in the real estate industry.
Offers a free trial for some courses on their website
Features one of the largest number of continuing education courses online
Individual CE course start as low as $9
Exam for pre-licensing not available nationwide
Website not as user-friendly as others
Founded in 2005 and accredited by ARELLO, The CE Shop shines in its CE courses. As for their CE courses, they’re available nationwide—although specifics may differ from state to state.
That’s not to say their pre-licensing courses aren’t great, considering packages start at $119, but there’s not much that really differentiates The CE Shop from other online real estate schools. Individual courses start as low as $9 and there are plenty of options that will help you fulfill your requirements.
For example, realtors can choose from individual courses such as diversity training and mortgage fraud awareness or get their NAR ethics requirement completed quickly.
Instructors are all real estate industry veterans who have been in the business for a number of years.
Best for Niche Practices : Center for Realtor Development
Topics for continuing education include more specialized courses to help with career development compared to other online education companies. On that list are second vacation home sales, solar housing real estate, seniors real estate specialty, and more (will differ by state).
Offers a number of highly specialized continuing education classes
Has credibility since it has close ties with the National Association of Realtors
Licensed realtors can take certifications and designations that reflect trends and in-demand areas, like the National Association of Realtors (NAR) Green Designation and Real Estate Negotiation Expert Certification
No pre-license and exam prep classes
Most classes require an existing NAR membership
Selection of classes may not be relevant to everyone
The Center for Realtor Development (CRD) is an online real estate school for licensed real estate professionals who want to further their careers by taking niche market certifications and designations. Endorsed by the National Association of Realtors, these courses range from ones such as real estate technology and green real estate.
Since you already need to be licensed, certifications and designations are available nationwide. Specially credentialled realtors and professionals will need to maintain their membership with NAR. Many designations fulfill CE credits, but check the fine print before enrolling.
Fees to be a NAR member is $150 per member per year and courses range in price. For instance, the Real Estate Negotiation Expert certification costs $159 and the Short Sales & Foreclosure Resource (SFR®) certification costs $175.
Continuing education classes may differ by state. Most of the courses offer an interactive component where you can participate in an online forum and have the option to contact your instructor.
Can You Take a Real Estate School Online?
To become a realtor, pre-licensing hours are required in order to obtain your real estate license, all of which can be completed by an online school. Depending on your state, you’ll need to complete a pre-license education course—you’ll need to meet a certain number of hours from schools that are approved by the state. For example, real estate agents and brokers in California need to complete a course that’s a minimum of 45 hours and is approved by the Department of Real Estate.
Online real estate schools that meet the credentials of pre-licensing are those that have gone through an accreditation process (your state should have a list of schools that are approved). Keep in mind that online schools are accredited, but not all will work in your state. That means you’ll need to do some research by browsing through the website to see what’s available in your state and familiarize yourself with any requirements you need to meet before enrolling. It’s also probably a good idea to check your state’s licensing requirements before signing up.
What Is Online Test Prep for a Real Estate License?
Online test prep for a real estate license is a review course in preparation for the real estate license test. Every state requires some kind of pre-licensing education to get your real estate license. Online real estate schools may also offer online test prep services, which are different from getting your pre-licensing hours.
Test prep is typically voluntary and an additional charge on top of the pre-licensing course. Some real estate schools offer more personalized approaches to test prep by having you go through the course with an instructor. Test prep courses are usually much shorter than the pre-licensing courses because they are a review and focus on passing the test, not just general knowledge.
How Long Does It Take to Get a Real Estate License Online?
Each state has different requirements, but the time to complete pre-licensing work can range from as little as 24 hours to as high as 180 hours. Remember, you’re also going through the course at your own pace, but that doesn’t change the required pre-licensing hours–though you may exceed the minimum required hours to get a better handle on the material.
How Much Does It Cost to Go to School for Real Estate?
Online real estate schools have a range of prices that vary based on whether you sign up for the pre-licensure class only or tack on an exam prep course. Depending on where you reside and whether you opt for test prep, online classes can range from $119 to $900. This is in comparison to at least $750 that it typically costs to attend a live, in-person class—not including exam prep.
How Many Years Does It Take to Become a Real Estate Agent?
Depending on state requirements where you live, it can take anywhere from four to six months to become a real estate agent. The timeline will also depend on how long you’ll take to pass the real estate exam and the amount of courses you need to meet your state’s licensing requirements
For instance, those who want to be licensed in Florida will need to complete 63 hours of state-approved pre-license education classes before sitting for the exam. Compare this to the state of California, where you're required to complete at least 135 hours, more than twice the amount required by Florida.
What Do You Learn in Real Estate School?
While the specific names of courses and qualifying education requirements will differ between states, you’ll consistently find that classes will teach topics that fall under categories related to the principles of real estate, real estate practice, law and ethics, and the legalities such as the types of contracts needed in a transaction.
For instance, students will learn about the Fair Housing Act, which prohibits sales discrimination based on age, gender, race, ethnicity, religion, marital status, sexual orientation, gender identity, nationality, and veteran status. It’ll also cover the practical skills necessary to conduct a successful closing, such as the realtor's responsibilities when it comes to the contract, writing listings, showing properties, and writing an offer.
How Do I Start a Career in Real Estate?
Carving out a successful path in a real estate career doesn’t end after you take your exam. You’ll need to be able to get clients, both to help with selling and purchasing a home. The best way to start is by networking with others in the real estate business and working in a small area. That means going to as many networking opportunities as you can and asking those you know to see if anyone is interested in listing, purchasing, or renting a property.
It also means that you should focus on one area of real estate to start. That way, it’ll be easier for you to build up expertise and trust with potential clients. For instance, it’s probably a good idea to stick with selling single-family homes instead of branching out into commercial real estate at the same time—both types of properties have vastly different client needs.
How We Chose the Best Online Real Estate Schools
To make sure that our findings offered the best opportunities for pre-licensing classes in as many states as possible, we looked at 14 online real estate schools before making our final selections. We looked at factors such as price, support, availability, post-licensing opportunities, strong pass rates, and length of the program so that you can find the course that's right for you.
As a team of experienced writers and editors, we make sure to assess all products, including online real estate schools, from the consumer’s point of view. That’s so we can point out features and potential drawbacks in order to help you make the best decision when you embark or continue on your real estate career.