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Florida is known for its warm climate, white-sand beaches, and bright sunshine. Some of the most popular theme parks (Disney World, Universal Studios and SeaWorld) are based in Florida. The state’s population of approximately 21.3 million people is one of the most diverse populations in the United States. In fact, much of Florida’s growth is attributed to migrants from the Caribbean and Latin America. Americans from northern states also tend to migrate to Florida in their later years to bask in the glorious sunshine.
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Florida’s diversity makes it an interesting and promising real estate market. You can tap into this burgeoning industry by getting a Florida real estate license and becoming a real estate agent.
What’s so special about Florida’s real estate market?
Foreign buyers make Florida’s real estate market interesting as they search for the perfect beachfront vacation property and the best real estate investment opportunities. The Southwest and Southeast areas tend to have the most vibrant beachfront property sales in Florida.
Additionally, Florida offers attractive inland real estate options for those who want the warm climate but don’t necessarily want to live near a beach. Finally, careers are also opening up in the tourism, agriculture and tech industries, which is also increasing demand for rental properties.
Florida is divided into 67 counties which can be grouped into six districts. You will need a Florida real estate license to buy and sell properties in any of these districts.
- Northwest District: Escambia, Santa Rosa, Okaloosa, Walton, Holmes, Washington, Bay, Jackson, Calhoun, Gulf, Liberty, Franklin, Wakulla, Gadsen, Leon and Jefferson counties. Tallahassee and Pensacola are the most popular cities in this area.
- Northeast District: Madison, Taylor, Lafayette, Dixie, Hamilton, Suwannee, Gilchrist, Columbia, Union, Baker, Bradford, Alachua, Clay, Nassau, Duval, Putnam and St. Johns counties. Gainesville and Jacksonville are the most popular cities here.
- Central West District: Levy, Citrus, Marion, Sumter, Hernando, Pasco, Hillsborough, Pinellas, and Polk counties. Clearwater, Tampa, and Saint Petersburg are the most popular cities in this area.
- Central East District: Flagler, Volusia, Lake, Seminole, Orange, Osceola, Brevard, Indian River, St. Lucie, Martin and Okeechobee counties. Orlando, Palm Bay, and Melbourne are the most popular cities located in this region.
- Southwest District: Manatee, Hardee, Sarasota, DeSoto, Charlotte, Lee, Hendry, Glades, Highlands, and Collier counties. Cape Coral and Fort Myers are the two most popular cities here.
- Southeast District: Palm Beach, Broward, Dade, and Monroe counties. Fort Lauderdale, Miami, and West Palm Beach are the most popular cities located in this region.
Pensacola seems to be the most active city in the Northwest district for buying and selling homes. Zillow reports that the median home price in Pensacola is $148,900 with home prices increasing by 10 percent in 2019. These prices are expected to increase by 5.9 percent in 2020.
Florida’s northeast real estate market has remained steady throughout the first 8 months of 2019. For instance, home prices in Jacksonville only increased slightly (by 3 percent) in 2018.
Central West District
Demand has increased for homes in rural and suburban areas of this district. It is quickly growing into a preferred residential area for retirees. Tampa’s real estate market seems to be taking a downturn while there has been a 4 percent rise in the median sales price of homes in Saint Petersburg.
Central East District
Orlando is the best city in this district to purchase real estate. Job opportunities are increasing which means that there will be an increasing number of renters and homebuyers for the foreseeable future. The median home price in Orlando is $183,548.
Florida’s southwest district market is beginning to stagnate. The region experienced strong economic growth over the past 9 years. However, interest rates have been rising and could threaten the growth of the real estate market.
Residential property prices have risen in southeast Florida. However, there are concerns that if house prices continue to increase, there could be a repeat of the 2007 real estate crash. Nevertheless, The Crossings in Miami-Dade has received a livability score of 82 and home prices there are projected to increase by 4 percent.
Overall, Florida’s real estate market is healthy with increasing home prices and opportunities to reach first-time home buyers and retirees. There are also increasing opportunities for real estate agents to facilitate leases and rentals.
Why become a Florida real estate agent?
Florida’s economy continues to rise as unemployment rates decrease. In fact, Florida has the fourth-largest economy in America with tourism and agriculture being the main income generators. Any place with a growing and stable economy will have a thriving real estate industry. Vast opportunities exist for Florida real estate agents to build successful careers. Here are some of the main benefits of being a Florida real estate agent:
- Flexible work hours
- The ability to meet people with a variety of different backgrounds since Florida is such a diverse state
- Your pick of some of the best real estate brokers in the US to start your real estate agent career with
- A real estate market that shows clear indications of growth
Why do I need a Florida real estate license?
A Florida real estate license enables you to legally buy and sell property in Florida. It is a requirement for all Florida real estate agents and brokers. Additionally, a Florida real estate license improves a potential client’s perspective about your capabilities since it:
- Improves your credibility
- Shows that you have completed the necessary educational requirements to be a successful real estate agent
You are also able to earn a commission from your real estate transactions and have access to the multiple listing service (MLS), which hosts real estate listings from all brokerage firms in Florida.
What are the requirements for a Florida real estate license?
The Florida Department of Business and Professional Regulations (FDBPR) approves and grants Florida real estate licenses. They offer real estate licenses for:
- Sales Associates/Broker-Sales Associates
- Real Estate Companies
- Real Estate Schools
- Real Estate Instructors
The focus in this article is on Florida real estate licenses for sales associates and brokers.
Requirements for a Florida Sales Associate/Broker-Sales Associate real estate license
The requirements for a Florida sales associate license depend on whether or not you are a Florida resident. Here are the requirements for Florida residents:
- 18 years or older
- United States Social Security number
- High school diploma or its equivalent
- At least 63 hours of FDPR approved pre-license education requirements. An exemption is offered if you have a tertiary level real estate degree.
- Successful completion of the Pearson Vue state exam
- Payment of the application fee. Military veterans, their spouses and members of the Florida National Guard may be eligible for an exemption for this fee.
- Submission of completed application form
- Background check and fingerprinting
The requirements are the same for non-Florida residents who obtained an equivalent real estate sales associate license from one of the following states:
- Rhode Island
The only exception is that the 63 hours of FDPR approved pre-license education is not required. It is assumed that this would have already been covered if you already have an equivalent real estate sales associate license.
Requirements for a Florida Broker real estate license
The Florida broker’s license is being mentioned because it is the next step in the career path of many Florida real estate agents. Therefore, it is helpful for you to understand what is required from the get-go so that you can appropriately align your plans if becoming a Florida real estate broker is your ultimate ambition.
The requirements for a Florida broker real estate license depend on whether you fall into 1 of the following categories:
- Out of State Experience
- Non-Florida Resident
- Upgrading from Sales Associate to Broker
Here are the requirements for people with out of state experience and people upgrading from sales associate to broker:
- 18 years or older
- United States Social Security number
- Proof of one of the following types of experience:
- 2 years of active sales associate experience within the past 5 years
- A real estate sales associate license that was used within the past 5 years to perform governmental duties as authorized by Chapter 475
- A valid real estate license that has been used for 2 years within the past 5 years of the application. This license can be from a foreign national jurisdiction or another US state or territory.
- Certified license history
- Proof of 72 hours of FDBPR course completion. An exemption is offered if you have a tertiary level real estate degree.
- Proof that the Pearson Vue real estate licensing exam has been completed
- Payment of application fee
- Background check and fingerprinting completed and submitted
- Completed application submitted
Non-Florida residents who have obtained an equivalent real estate license from one of the following states are eligible for 2 exemptions.
- Rhode Island
The exemptions are:
- The 72 hours of Florida real estate courses is not necessary.
- Proof of experience is not necessary.
One thing to note, before proceeding, is that regardless of whether you have a Florida salesperson license or a Florida broker’s license, the only way you can legally call yourself a Realtor is if you join the National Association of Realtors and commit to upholding their code of ethics in how you conduct yourself in any and all real estate transactions.
Considerations for someone with a criminal record
The FDPR reserves the right to reject or accept an application from someone with a criminal record. The application will definitely be rejected if the criminal act was directly related to real estate. The FDPR also reserves the right to release your criminal record to your employer.
How long does it take to get a Florida real estate license?
The time it takes to get either a Florida real estate salesperson license or a Florida real estate broker license depends on how quickly you can complete the pre-license requirements. If you plan to get a real estate degree, it will take you at least 4 years and a few months to get a Florida real estate license. However, if you’re looking to fast-track your real estate career, it can take as little as about 3 months to get your license if you only plan to complete the pre-license courses and the licensing exam.
What’s the best way to prepare for the Florida real estate licensing exam?
The first-time pass rate for the Florida real estate licensing exams is about 55 percent for the sales associate exam and about 60 percent for the broker exam. It costs $36.75 to register for the real estate licensing exam. Since you probably don’t want to pay that fee more than once, here are a few tips to help you pass the exam on your first try:
- Enroll in a pre-licensing course and/or license exam preparation course.
- Know the structure of the exam and take practice exams, if possible. You must score at least 75 percent to pass both the sales associate and broker exams. Results are provided immediately at the end of the exam.
- The real estate sales associate exam has 100 multiple-choice questions arranged as follows:
- 45 questions on real estate principles and practices
- 45 questions on the federal laws of Florida real estate
- 10 math-based questions
- The real estate broker exam has 100 multiple-choice questions that cover the following topics:
- Florida real estate principles and laws
- Brokerage management
- Real estate investment
- Closing Disclosure form
- Property valuation
- Escrow management…
- …and many other topics
- Download and use an app such as FL Real Estate Exam Prep. An app can help you study on the go.
- Practice meditation or relaxation techniques to reduce (or even eliminate) test anxiety so that you can perform optimally on exam day.
Do I need to attend a Florida real estate license school?
There are specific education course requirements for the Florida real estate license exams. Therefore, it is best for you to enroll in a program that can either help you complete the required courses or obtain a real estate degree. You have greater leverage if you do the latter. Some additional benefits of enrolling in a Florida real estate license school include:
- Learning up-to-date material
- Specific assistance with examination prep
- The flexibility of enrolling in either an online or face-to-face program
Fees range from $300 to $1000 per course depending on the course delivery option. You can choose online classes, face-to-face learning or self-paced learning. Depending on how disciplined you are, you can complete a course using self-paced learning within a matter of weeks. Online classes and face-to-face instruction can range from 6 to 12 weeks depending on whether you are enrolled in a full-time degree program. Courses are longer in a full-time degree program.
How do I maintain my Florida real estate license?
Both a Florida real estate salesperson and a Florida real estate broker license must be renewed once every 2 years. The renewal requirements are as follows:
- 45 hours of post-license education for sales associates and 60 hours of post-license courses for brokers. This is applicable for the first renewal.
- 14 hours of Florida real estate continuing education for subsequent renewals
The courses you choose will depend on your chosen niche within the Florida real estate industry.
Putting it all together
A Florida real estate license is your ticket for a ride on the Florida real estate success train. The 2 most important requirements for the Florida real estate salesperson license are:
- Proof that you have completed 63 hours of FDBPR required courses
- Successful completion of the licensing exam
A real estate licensing school can help you successfully complete these requirements on your first attempt.
Florida’s economy is continuing to grow and so is Florida’s real estate market, which is why now is as good a time as any to become a real estate agent in the state of Florida. Just remember that once you’re actually licensed, you need to renew your Florida real estate license every 2 years to ensure that your license remains in good standing!