Obtaining a Real Estate License in District of Columbia


As an unofficial state but a major metropolitan area, the District of Columbia offers potential realtors a great market. Its center as not only the nation’s capital but the hub of several large and populous states like Virginia and Maryland positions it as a very lucrative city for real estate. Those wondering how to get a real estate license in this area may think that they should simply obtain a license in one of the adjacent states. However, the District of Columbia, like the 50 United States, has its own governing authority for realty and other professional industries. They might adhere to the codes of ethics and regulations established by the Association of Real Estate License Law Officials (ARELLO) and the National Association of Realtors, but like the individual states, the District of Columbia maintains its own qualifications for obtaining a real estate license and practicing the profession. The following information should help potential realtors in the District of Columbia learn how to get a real estate license.

Basic Prerequisites

The District of Columbia Board of Real Estate, under the larger governing body of the Department of Consumer & Regulatory Affairs, maintains the requirements for becoming a realtor in the district. Applicants for a real estate salesperson license must:

  • Be at least 18 years old
  • Be able to read, write and understand English
  • Have graduated high school or obtained an equivalent degree
  • Not have had a real estate license in the district revoked for any reason within the 3 years prior to applying for a license
  • Not have had an application rejected within 1 year of applying for a license
  • Complete 60 hours of prelicensing courses
  • Pass the district licensing exam

As of April 2012, all applications for a real estate license in the District of Columbia must be submitted online. In fact, the commission has gone widely paperless, meaning that anything submitted on behalf of a candidate should adhere to online submission guidelines. 

Training & Education

Before taking the final exam, applicants for a real estate license in the District of Columbia must complete 60 hours of prelicensure courses by an accredited institution. The commission maintains a list of qualifying schools that applicants may attend for their prelicensing coursework.

The district licensing exam is administered by Pearson VUE. An exam fee of $61.50 will be charged to applicants prior to taking the exam, and the final exam must be taken and passed with a 75% score or higher in order for someone to receive a real estate license.

Real estate licenses are renewed biennially on the odd years by August 31st. The district requires 15 hours of continuing education in order for a real estate agent to renew his or her license. As of the time of this writing, the breakdown of those 15 hours is as follows:

  • DC Legislative Update (3 hours)
  • Fair Housing (3 hours)
  • Financing Issues/Update (3 hours)
  • General electives (6 hours)

Additional Information

The initial licensing fee for a salesperson real estate license in the District of Columbia is $240, which covers the Guaranty Fund as well.

The District of Columbia has an expansive reciprocal licensing procedure, meaning that realtors from other states may practice real estate in the district provided that they fill out the appropriate applications and pay the corresponding fees. Realtors in Virginia and Maryland must also complete 3 hours of coursework on Fair Housing in order to practice real estate in the district.

The rules mentioned above apply specifically to a real estate salesperson license, which is someone who works independently to sell real estate. By contrast, a broker must follow different guidelines for obtaining and maintaining his or her license. Those wishing to learn more about broker or other real estate professions should check out the District of Columbia’s commission website for more information.


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