From its wide expanses of farmland, to the bustle of Chicago, to the waters of Lake Michigan, Illinois has plenty of great real estate to offer consumers and businesses alike.
The Illinois housing market is currently strong: the median home value has increased to $181,000, compared to just $134,000 in 2010.
Every day, more Illinois real estate brokers are deciding to take the next step in their career by earning a managing broker license. Becoming a managing broker enables you to start your own firm, hire a team of agents and supporting staff, and ultimately earn more money.
If you’re looking to become an Illinois real estate broker, you’re in luck: with the state’s relatively simple requirements, it’s possible for an existing licensee to upgrade to a managing broker license in less than a year. In this guide, you’ll learn exactly what it takes to get your Illinois real estate broker license.
- How Much Money Can a Real Estate Broker Make in Illinois?
- 5 Steps to Become a Licensed Real Estate Broker in Illinois
- Reciprocity and Portability for Illinois Brokers
- Resources to Start (and Run) a Successful Brokerage
How Much Money Can a Real Estate Broker Make in Illinois?
Like in other states, the vast majority of real estate brokers in Illinois their salaries via commission, taking a portion of each real estate sale that they and their agents close.
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Illinois brokers are the highest paid in the country, with a mean annual salary of $103,430. That’s well above the national broker average salary of $78,940.
Additionally, the greater Chicago area employs the second most real estate brokers of any metropolitan area in the nation. Only Los Angeles has more brokers.
Unlike many states, Illinois does not offer a real estate agent or salesperson license, and instead uses the term “broker” to refer to any professional who represents a consumer in a real estate transaction. There are two types of Illinois broker licenses:
- Standard Broker License: This replaces an agent or salesperson license, authorizing representation of buyers and sellers.
- Managing Broker License: This allows the bearer to run their own real estate firm and/or manage other real estate licensees.
In this guide, we’ll be focusing on the “Managing Broker” license requirements.
To qualify for a managing broker license in Illinois, you must:
- Be at least 21 years old;
- Have a high school diploma or GED;
- Pass a fingerprinting and background check;
- Meet Illinois’ minimum experience requirements; and
- Successfully complete Illinois’ managing broker education requirements.
5 Steps to Become a Licensed Real Estate Broker in Illinois
Illinois broker licensing is governed by the Illinois Department of Financial & Professional Regulation (IDFPR). The state’s process for qualifying and certifying brokers in Illinois boils involves # key steps:
How Long Does it Take to Become an Illinois Broker?
How long it will take to earn your Illinois managing broker license depends on how much experience you have in real estate to begin with. If, for instance, you’re already an experienced broker from one of several approved states, you may be able to waive certain requirements and get your broker license in a matter of months.
However, if you have a standard broker license, or if you’re new to the real estate industry, it may take as many as three years to meet the Illinois real estate broker requirements.
Step #1. Satisfy the Illinois managing broker experience requirements
Like many states, Illinois requires that managing broker applicants have a certain amount of prior real estate experience before they can upgrade their license. Specifically, applicants must have had an active real estate license in Illinois (or a handful of other states) for 2 of the past 3 years to be eligible for a managing broker license.
Step #2. Complete the Illinois managing broker education requirements
Next, applicants must complete Illinois’ required curriculum of 45 classroom hours of managing broker courses at a real estate school approved by the IDFPR. That coursework is divided into two main sections:
- Managing Broker Pre-License Topics (30 hours): This may be taken in person or via a self-guided online course.
- Managing Broker Pre-License Applied Management & Supervision (15 hours): This interactive course must be taken either in a classroom, or via live webinar.
Step #3. Register for the Licensing Exam
Once you’ve completed the Illinois broker pre-licensing courses, you can register to take the licensing exam through PSI/AMP, a private company that writes and administers the exam. To register, visit the PSI/AMP website and fill out the form provided. Once that’s done, you’ll be able to schedule your exam. You must sign up at least two days before your desired exam date.
Step #4. Pass the Licensing Exam
The Illinois real estate managing broker exam is administered via computer at several testing sites around the state. The exam is split into 2 parts:
- National: The national managing broker exam tests examinees on national real estate laws and practices through “simulation problems.” These problems present the examinee with a real estate scenario or dilemma. The examinee must then use their knowledge to gather relevant information and recommend a course of action or solution. The exam contains a total of 10 simulation problems, 9 of which are scored.
- State: The state managing broker portion deals with Illinois-specific real estate laws and practices, and includes 40 multiple-choice questions.
You must achieve a combined score of 75 to pass the exam. If you fail one section of the exam, you must retake that section within one year. If you fail the broker exam more than four times, additional education may be required.
For more information on the Illinois real estate broker exam, check out PSI/AMP’s Illinois broker candidate handbook.
Step #5. Complete Your License Application
Once you pass the Illinois managing broker examination, you will receive a score report with instructions for applying for a license through the IDFPR’s Online Services Portal.
Reciprocity and Portability for Illinois Brokers
If you’re a licensed real estate broker from another state, you’ll face some restrictions when it comes to practicing real estate in Illinois. For instance, Illinois only allows out-of-state brokers to conduct business remotely. This means you can send clients to view listings, submit offers, and negotiate transactions in Illinois, so long as you remain in your licensing state.
Some states have reciprocity or mutual recognition agreements, which allow real estate brokers from other states to more easily earn their in-state license by using their out-of-state broker license as proof. Illinois has mutual recognition agreements with 8 states: Colorado, Connecticut, Florida, Georgia, Indiana, Iowa, Nebraska, and Wisconsin.
Applicants from these states can have the Illinois broker education requirements waived by presenting documentation of their existing out-of-state license. They must, however, pass a special examination that covers Illinois real estate law and practice.
Resources to Start (and Run) a Successful Brokerage
Once you’ve received your Illinois real estate broker license, you can begin building your own brokerage. Here are some essential tools and resources to help you start your new firm on the right path.
Real Estate Broker Website
As a new broker in Illinois, one of your first steps should be creating a real estate broker website that promotes your personality and expertise to the world. A great real estate website offers a modern, mobile-friendly design, includes up-to-date MLS listings for your visitors to search, and makes it easy for leads to contact you about your services. Your broker website should also include information about your team and approach, as well as educational content that demonstrates your value to visitors.
Resources for Real Estate Broker Websites:
- 49 of the Best Real Estate Websites
- The Right Way to Build a Real Estate Website: 10 Simple Optimization Steps
From iCloud, to Dropbox, to Google Drive, cloud services are quickly becoming the most important way to store photos and documents. Cloud storage is especially important for real estate professionals, who spend their days on the go and frequently need to access paperwork and client information while away from their computers. Cloud services also provide added security for sensitive data, ensuring your clients’ financial records and personal information stays safe.
Resources for Cloud Storage:
Graphic Design & Image Services
As you get your new brokerage on the ground, you’ll likely be producing a variety of branding and marketing materials, including logos, website images, and flyers. Instead of paying thousands of dollars to a professional designer or photographer, invest in online tools and services that can help you build your brand affordably.
Some examples include Canva, an online graphic design tool that makes creating your own visuals simple, and stock image services like Bigstock, which allow you to license professional photography for business use.
Resources for Graphic Design:
- How to Create Logos Without a Designer
- How to Use Canva to Create Beautiful Graphic Images, Infographics, and Presentations