Should Real Estate Investors Get a Real Estate License?


should_real_estate_investors_get_a_real_estate_license"Should Real Estate Investors Get a Real Estate License?" is a question that comes up quite a bit. You're about to discover where it makes sense as well as where it doesn't make sense to get your real estate license if you are also investing in real estate. The most important fact to start with is that me, as well as most successful real estate investors in this country, are licensed real estate agents. There must be a reason why that is the case. And there is, which we will get into. But you'll also learn when to get it and when to focus just on investing. By the end, hopefully you'll be able to make an informed decision as to what to do if you are trying to make this decision right now.


PROS - Why Real Estate Investors Should Get a Real Estate License


Pro # 1 - More Money:

For active real estate investors, having your real estate license can be a "license to print money." There is a ton of profit in legally being able to collect a commission on the sale of a real property. Although the investor community at large tends to snub their nose at real estate agents, make no mistake, there are some agents in your general area that are bringing in $1M or more per year. Are you taking home that kind of yearly income from your real estate endeavors? Exactly.

Our studies have shown that less than 5% of properties for sale in the marketplace fit for a creative investor. What happens to the other 95%? Almost all will eventually go through a real estate agent. And although most investors don't have the time to also be a traditional listing agent or buyer representation agreement, you can certainly refer the lead to another agent and get a portion of their commission. You can probably negotiate 25% of their 3% commission for bringing them the customer. That referral commission can translate into some serious money overtime, especially if you are generated a significant number of seller leads.

In some cases, you may actually want to be the listing or buyers agent. What's 3% of a $1,000,000 listing? $30,000. That's a pretty good flip profit, isn't it? And that is the beauty of commission income, it's a wholesaling-type transaction. You don't need your own cash or credit to get paid a commission. So one could argue that agents were the originators of no money down real estate!

And what about when one of your friends wants to buy a home? You may want to get paid 3% for helping a friend find their dream home. It may just be some of the easiest real estate money you have ever made. I have helped many friends buy their homes and they trust me more than any other agent they know because they know how many homes I have bought myself. They know that I have been in their shoes hundreds of times. So not only is it good money, but you may also be the most qualified person for the job.

If you are doing short sales, due to some recent, significant changes, it is much more difficult for creative real estate investors to make huge profits in short sales. Although there is still opportunities out there, the vast majority of short sale approvals nowadays do not create enough room to do a back to back flip and still create any profits. The only real money left on the table in the vast majority of short sale deals are the commissions. And now that the banks are no longer approving "short sale negotiation" fees on the HUD, even if there is just a few thousand dollars of extra meat left on the bone, without a license, it can sometimes be extremely difficult to actually collect that money. Those in the short sale game that are licensed though, are cleaning up right now because right now there are more short sale deals available than ever before. But if you are in the short sale game without a license, you are leaving a ton of money on the table.

As you can see, having your license will expose you to more ways to put money in your pocket from real estate. And as crazy as this may sound, I have met plenty of investors who now do a few creative investing deals on the side and for the most part, do real estate agent commission deals. They are making great money, too.


Pro # 2 - MLS Access:

When you have your license, you can get full access to the Multiple Listing Service (MLS). Many investors have blind folds on their eyes and are using non-MLS based comparable sales research, such as free sources like Zillow's Zestimate or paid services like RealQuest. The MLS is the only true way to fully analyze value and competition of a property. When you don't know exactly what a property is worth or what it will sell for, if is very difficult to be able to make a wise investing decision.

You can also list your own properties when you have full MLS access. More than 90% of real estate transactions in this country are sold through the MLS so when trying to sell a property, it is very powerful way to get it moved.


CONS - Why Real Estate Shouldn't Get a Real Estate License


The common reason why some investors avoid getting their license is that they believe it will restrict their ability to do creative deals. It's true that becoming a licensed real estate will hold you to a higher standard in your business practices. But is having that kind of accountability a bad thing? Don't you want to be the most honorable investor you can be? Further, I have been licensed for quite some time now and I cannot point to any situation where having a license precluded me from doing an investor deal. That doesn't mean it isn't possible so if you have a specific example you can point to, please comment below so that we can all benefit from your experience.

Here are some reasons not to get your license:


Con # 1 - If You Aren't Doing Much:

Getting your license is a HUGE expense of time and money. When its all said and done, the cost can be several thousand dollars (fees, Realtor dues, E&O insurance, more fees). The time commitment is going to be at least 150 hours, perhaps more. I recently spoke with a beginner investor that has been chipping away as best he can at his pre-licensing exam preparation course for over 6 months and it will probably take him another 6 months to complete it, pass the test and then get his license hung with a Broker. He has 5-10 hours per week to devote to real estate investing and all of it goes to this quest to get a license. The problem is that he is not making any money in real estate and letting a terrific investing time period (right now), slip away. The advice I give (which I did myself) is to go do some deals first. Make some money. Then, use some of the profits from your first few deals to invest in getting your license, if you can squeeze in the massive time commitment it demands.

Then, make sure you stay active in real estate. The ongoing costs to remain a licensed agent are significant and you are required to attend continuing education courses. You can choose some electives, which can be very helpful classes, but the mandatory continuing ed courses can be absolute drudgery.

Investors that ideally fit for being licensed are those that are full time investors. In fact, if you are a part time, successful investor, making the leap to full time will be much easier if you are licensed because it can bring in good money consistently while you are waiting for bigger deals to close.


Con # 2 - For the Education:

One of the biggest reasons some beginners use to justify why they "need" to get their license is for the education. The person I mentioned above fits into that category. Sadly, they come to find out that the course you take to pass the exam to get your license will teach you almost nothing about making money in real estate. The average real estate agent in this country makes below the poverty level in income and rents their home. They weren't taught to make money when they got their license, they were taught how to answer the questions on the exam. What's a leasehold estate? Who exercises eminent domain? What is functional obsolescence? Who cares! Memorizing the definitions of terms will not help you put any money in your pocket in the real world of real estate investing. Certainly, you will learn something new while going through the process of getting your license. The problem is, it most likely won't help you be successful. It'll just be head knowledge.

Perhaps the more destructive, underlying reason why some beginners jump at the opportunity to dive into a 150 hour pre-licensing course is because education is well within their comfort zone. They are afraid of the real world and far prefer the safe cocoon of Education-ville. If you have no interest in making any money from the education you gather in life, then have at it and enjoy learning about how English feudal law influenced the creation of modern day real estate practice. But if you want to get a return on your time and money educational investments, then avoid viewing getting your license as giving you insight on how to be successful in real estate. Instead, look at it as a right of passage to get the ability to earn a commission.


Con # 3 - For MLS Access Alone:

As powerful and helpful as MLS access is, it alone should not be the reason to get your license. There are several ways to get access to the MLS without having to spend the huge amount of time and money to get your license. This is perhaps better suited for another blog post, but briefly, here are some ways to do it. You can get access through a friendly agent. In some MLS systems, you can go to an all day class and become a non-licensed assistant of a Broker. Many of my mentees have done this. If you have a close friend or family member, they may even give you the taboo (and perhaps against MLS policy) username and password to log into their MLS account. In some areas across the country, much of the most important MLS data is available to the general public due to some anti-trust lawsuits that the Realtor association lost and therefore had to open up their MLS monopoly.

What about the benefit of being able to list your own deals? flat fee listing is usually so cheap that it is practically the same thing.Although t
his isn't as big of a benefit considering how common flat fee listing services are these days. Even when you list your own deals, you will usually have to pay your broker something upon closing, which may be about the same as a flat fee listing service.


Should You Get a License?


In summary, getting your license as an investor will open up new opportunities to make more money in real estate. It is expensive and time consuming to acquire however, so if you are just getting started, go out and make some money investing in real estate first and then proceed to invest some of your profits into getting a license if you have the time to commit to complete it. Did this completely answer the question, "should Real Estate Investors Get a Real Estate License?"


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  1. John Willson says

    Firstly Great Video, and ya they are some great insights. Money yes that’s a perfect reason, also i wouldn’t say that having access to a MLS access. It was a Good read and very much insightful.
    – Images Retouch

  2. Peter Evering says

    I had this question in my mind that should I get a license or not? I was kind of confused but you have helped me figure out what I actually want. Thank you for sharing your kind views with us.

  3. Juan Llivi says

    Where I can go and get the license can you give me a location in Chicago Il 60625 thank you

  4. Phil Pustejovsky,

    I’ve been watching your videos for years. You started out homeless, and now you got a roof over your head. I’m in Los Angeles, CA, not in your home state I know. Like you were before becoming successful, I am homeless and jobless, not married, not kids, I’m staying with family for the time being. Unlike you I got some money saved up. I am grasping at many options to get myself into a home and stable income. I have 8 years experience as an HOA president, worked my ass off doing that for FREE while also paying dues, clean record, good credit. I listen to Bigger Pockets, Robert Kiyosaki, Real Estate Guys, and your material. I need your advice. How do I get a roof over my head and a stable income in a real estate investor related field? I only have some college, and no real estate license. I was considering the following; Residential Property Manager Certificate, Home Inspector, Pest Control certificate, ?. Getting started for me is confusing. How would I even get start wholesaling? Any advice?

  5. Leslie Maguire says

    Phil, I just watched your video “Should A Real Estate Investor Get A Real Estate License” and agree with everything you said about the education. As an online real estate educator, I tell every student that 95% of what you learn in the classes will NOT make you a successful real estate agent. In fact, I tell them they can forget most of what they learn after they pass the exam. It’s just a necessary evil of the licensing procedure. We keep the cost of the mandatory classes as low as possible to make it accessible to more people and give them the tools to get through the classes quickly.

  6. Phil,

    Thank you for the video. Very informative and in many ways validated some thoughts I had as well. I do have a couple of questions. My occupation is an insurance broker, where I have several independent insurance agents, and I also sell insurance as well. Does real estate provide the same type of platform? How should one decide to becoming a broker vs. a real estate agent? What are the differences between the two when it comes to cost, licensing requirements, and other requirements?

    Thank you in advance,

    • Phil Pustejovsky says

      Brokers take on all the risk of what their agents do so I have always avoided becoming a broker. Real Estate Agents create all kinds of liabilities and lawsuits are common. It may not be quite so litigious in the insurance brokerage space. I have always avoided getting my broker’s license. Making a piece of all your agents commissions sounds good on the surface but it is rare that it is a better angel financially than just getting your license hung under a 100% commission broker and building you own business.

  7. Nikki Utley says

    Hi Phil,

    Very good information here. I am a licensed agent and I am now embarking on becoming an investor. I think my situation is a little different in that I am a non-MLS agent, meaning I am only allowed to handle new construction, leasing/renting and commercial transactions. So even though I am licensed, I do not have MLS access because I have not given boatloads of money to the NAR. But I think I will take your advice and do a couple of investment deals, bite the bullet and get access so I can get better prop values. Thank you again.

    • Phil Pustejovsky says

      Nikki, be aware that the way continuing education classes and the real estate agent community at large has defined what an investor is, is in most cases, a description of a traditional investor (please see my article, “Creative Real Estate vs Traditional Investing”). Whereas a Creative Investor is far different, and the single most important feature a real estate agent brings to creative investing is MLS access.

  8. Delia L. Peterson says

    Phil…. mistake with previous message… when I asked a real estate agent from my church about good real estate schools in my area, he says I need to interview with a broker first to place my license..

  9. Delia L. Peterson says

    Phil… I asked an agent from church about a good real estate school in our city &he

  10. Hi Phil enjoy your videos …
    My wife and myself have been investing about 2 1/2 years here in fl. we have done around 35 home’s together.
    We decided(my wife)to go for her real estate license.
    It is not only for mls access but she can also list our properties and find more deals.She going to take her test in about 2 weeks, not an easy test a LOT of studying is required..
    She also speaks spanish as well so might be good for finding clients who speak spanish for another market.

    I’m still working at a job,but i just went part time as of Jan 1st. and plan to go full time this year as full time investor.
    One step at a time, again enjoy your videos watching and learning.
    Thank You..

  11. Jerome jones says

    Hey phil im 20 and i feel college doesnt teach you how to make money, so when i graduated in 2010 i became a wholesaler. I call myself an investor…i took 2 yrs to study realestate and study everything you teach…i have great ideas on building a corporation in the future, i want to know do you have room on your team, where i can be coached, and we help eachother

    • Phil Pustejovsky says

      It depends, There are many factors that go into whether or not you’re a fit for what we’re doing, including your location.
      Apply to be my apprentice and you’ll get a call from my team to go through the details.
      Thanks for your interest and congrats on becoming an entrepreneur early in life. You’ll be glad you did!

      • Hi Phil,
        I live in Toronto, Canada, I hold a BBA from USA and a degree for mortgage underwriter required in Ontario to get licensed as an individual mortgage broker. I am not licensed as a real estate agent and I would like to know if I could start as a real estate investor here in Ontario as well if I could deal in USA.
        Thank you

        • Phil Pustejovsky says

          Real Estate Agents and Investors make a TON more money than loan originators. I was a mortgage broker at one time. You get all the blame when anything goes wrong and you get paid the least. No thanks!

  12. Very informative, Phil. Thanks!

  13. Great video. I’m a beginner investor in Macomb Michigan and I’m taking my pre-licensing 40 hour course online. I decided to get my license early, even though I only have a couple deals under my belt. I agree that this probably not the best use of my time at this point, but don’t want to be doing this when I’m really busy doing deals later. I work full time and Im blessed enough to be able to afford the cost of this investment. Thanks for videos and the information you provide.

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