Your Guide to the Iowa Real Estate Pre-Licensing Course

by | Oct 30, 2019 | Getting Licensed | 0 comments


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The process of becoming a licensed REALTOR® in Iowa can seem intimidating. One of the most daunting steps can be the Iowa real estate pre-licensing course. Many people see ‘course’ and ‘exam’ and think they’re back in school. Don’t panic!  

There are several options available to you for taking the 60-hour pre-licensing course. You can take the course in a classroom setting either during the week or on weekends or you can take the course online. There are pros and cons to both types of courses and you’ll want to consider a few key factors before signing up for one. 

This comprehensive guide will outline course content, how to take it, where to take it, the pros and cons of both course styles, what to expect on the exam and how to choose the course option that works best for you.

What is the Iowa Real Estate Pre-Licensing Course?

The 60-hour pre-licensing course is an intensive and immersive class that everyone is required to take before sitting for the real estate licensing exam in Iowa. The curriculum is an extensive overview of everything you need to know before becoming a real estate agent. The following is a list of some of the topics covered:

  • Agency
  • Brokerages
  • Real Estate Law
  • Legal Descriptions and Zoning
  • Trust Accounts and Closing Statements
  • Real Estate Insurance
  • Iowa License Law and Commission Rules
  • Contract Law
  • Titles
  • Fair Housing and Ethics
  • Appraising
  • Real Estate Financing
  • Taxes and Liens
  • Real Estate Mathematics
  • Property Management
  • Leases
  • Land Use and Development
  • Environmental Issues

You should only take courses that are taught by accredited instructors and approved by the Iowa Real Estate Commission (IREC). Courses taught by unapproved or non-accredited instructors are not considered valid by the IREC. You will not be able to sit for the real estate licensing exam without a certificate of completion from a valid course provider. Don’t waste your time and money! 

How do you find an approved course or course provider? You can search on the Iowa Professional Licensing Bureau (IPLB) site to ensure you are taking a valid course:

When you search, select ‘Real Estate Commission’ from the dropdown menu under ‘Licensing Board.’ For course name, type in ‘60 hour.’ This will give you a complete list of upcoming courses from all approved providers in Iowa. You can also find a total list of approved real estate education providers in Iowa- this includes providers of the 60-hour course and continuing education.

How Do You Take the Iowa Real Estate Pre-Licensing Course?

You have two options when it comes to taking the 60-hour pre-licensing course. You can take it either in a traditional classroom setting or take it online from anywhere with a WiFi connection. There are pros and cons to both types of courses and there are several factors that will impact which type works best for you.

  • How flexible is your schedule? Your schedule will determine if an in-person or online course works best for you. 
  • What kind of support network do you have? A strong support system is essential as the course is immersive and can be a full-time endeavor. 
  • Do you know anyone who has taken the course before? Reach out to them for information and insight into what worked for them. 
  • How much are you able to spend? Course costs vary and you should be prepared to invest upfront. 
  • What is your learning style? Do you prefer an in-person instructor who can answer questions in the moment? Or do you prefer to move independently through an online classroom?

These are all variables that will determine which type of pre-licensing course will work best for you. 

How Much Does the Iowa Real Estate Pre-Licensing Course Cost?

Course costs vary based on which type of course you take, who you take your course with and if you purchase any supplemental materials. 

In-person courses range in cost from $300-$500, depending on where you take it and if it takes place during the week or on weekends. In-person courses include learning materials like textbooks, exam information, and workbooks, which is why they typically cost more than online courses.

Online courses range in cost from $299-$574, depending on who you take the course with. It is important to note that most online courses do not include supplementary learning materials like books, worksheets or practice exams. Many online programs offer these at extra cost to you. 

Pre-Licensing Course Option #1: In-Person

The in-person course takes 1-6 weeks to complete in a physical classroom. Instructors may make use of multimedia elements to supplement their teaching and many classrooms provide workbooks to help you learn. These additional learning materials are included in the cost of the course. 

You also have the advantage of an in-person instructor and classmates to provide support. This is especially useful if you learn best in a group or with a partner. If you’re looking to move to real estate with no prior knowledge of the industry, an in-person class may be the best option for you.

In-person courses adhere to set schedules- they are only offered on set dates and at set times. You need to have the availability to commit significant time to attend class. The IREC sets guidelines for course attendance that providers must follow. You will be penalized for leaving early, arriving late or otherwise missing time in the classroom. Your participation will be marked as incomplete- which means you have to restart the entire course, at your expense. 

You have two scheduling options when it comes to taking your in-person course: weekday classes or weekend classes. 

Weekday Pre-Licensing Courses in Iowa

Weekday courses cover material in a block of consecutive days and are optimal for anyone with a flexible or open schedule. 

Iowa Association of REALTORS®

(Highly Recommended)

  • Held in Clive, Iowa
  • Runs for eight business days 
  • Held from 8 a.m.-5 p.m. each day
  • Cost is $460
  • Refund/cancellation policy of three days can be found here
  • Find the class schedule here

Skogman EdgeUcation Center

  • Held in Hiawatha, Iowa
  • Offered by Skogman Realty
  • Runs for five days a week over two weeks
  • Held from 8:30 a.m.-3:30 p.m. each day
  • Cost is $500
  • Refund/cancellation policy of one class day is here
  • Find the class schedule here 

Weekend Pre-Licensing Classes in Iowa

Weekend courses typically take place on Friday evenings and during the day on Saturday and Sunday. However, days and times vary by location. Weekend courses are a good choice for anyone who already has a full-time job or other commitments during the week. 

Weekend In-Person Course Options

Iowa Association of REALTORS®

(Highly Recommended)

  • Held in various locations in Iowa
  • Runs for nine days broken up over three weekends
  • Held from 8 a.m.-5 p.m. on Saturdays and Sundays, times vary by location for Fridays
  • Cost is $485
  • Find the class schedule here 

Skogman EdgeUcation Center

  • Held in Hiawatha, Iowa
  • Offered by Skogman Realty
  • Runs for three days a week for six weeks
  • Held from 6 p.m.-9 p.m. on Mondays and Wednesdays and 8 a.m.-noon on Saturdays
  • Cost is $500
  • Find the class schedule here

Center For Real Estate Excellence

  • Held in West Des Moines, Iowa
  • Offered by Keller Williams Realty
  • Runs for eight days broken up over two weekends (Thursday – Sunday)
  • Held from 8 a.m.-5 p.m. each day 
  • Cost is $475
  • Find the class schedule here

Mid-America SChool of Real Estate

  • Held in Johnston, Iowa
  • Offered by Coldwell Banker
  • Runs for nine days broken up over three weekends
  • Held from 6 p.m.-10 p.m. on Fridays and 8:30 a.m.-4:30 p.m. on Saturdays and Sundays
  • Cost is $300
  • Find the class schedule here

Legacy Training and Education Center

  • Held in Cedar Rapids, Iowa
  • Offered by Keller Williams Realty
  • Runs for 13 days broken up over four weeks
  • Held from 6 p.m.-9:30 p.m. on Tuesdays and Thursdays, from 9 a.m.-5:30 p.m. on Saturdays and noon-5 p.m. on Sundays
  • Cost is $475
  • Find the class schedule here

Ruhl & Ruhl Realtors®

  • Held in Davenport, Iowa
  • Offered by Ruhl & Ruhl REALTORS®
  • Runs for three weekends
  • Held from 5:30 p.m.-9:30 p.m. on Fridays and 8 a.m.-5 p.m. on Saturdays and Sundays
  • Cost is $425
  • Find the class schedule here

Pros and Cons of In-Person Courses

There are pros and cons to taking the pre-licensing course in person. If you are someone who likes to put your nose to the grindstone and knock out a big project, an in-person class might be right for you. However, there is little flexibility so you have to be able to commit most of your time to the course. Check out some of the pros and cons of taking the course in person:

Pros of In-Person Courses

  • Assistance of instructor and classmates
  • Fast-paced so you can finish the course faster and take the licensing exam sooner
  • Learning materials included at no extra cost to you

Cons of In-Person Courses

  • Fixed schedule so no flexibility in learning pace
  • Must have availability in your schedule to commit to all class days and times
  • Higher costs because you are paying for instructor’s time and learning materials

In-Person Pre-Licensing Course Options List and Chart Comparison

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Pre-Licensing Course Option #2: Online

Your other option for taking the pre-licensing course is to take it online. Learning online offers more flexibility and gives you more time to complete the course. Just like the in-person courses, you need to make sure any online courses you research are approved by the IREC. You will not be able to take the licensing exam if your certificate of completion is not issued by an approved course provider!

Online courses are completely self-guided, meaning you do not have the assistance of an instructor and can move at your own pace. However, some online course providers offer instructor support at an additional cost to you. Typically, supplementary learning material is not included unless you upgrade your course package through the provider, which adds to the cost.

The biggest difference between the in-person and online courses? Per Iowa law, you have six months to complete the online pre-licensing course. This gives you much more flexibility to work on it in your own time and at your own pace. The six-month allotment is a hard deadline set by the state- you will not be granted an extension for any reason if you do not complete the course. 

Approved Online Programs for Iowa Pre-Licensing Course

There are currently nine approved providers of the 60-hour pre-licensing course in Iowa. Each program varies by which materials are included, how much it costs and how much support is provided. 

Many providers use the same platform- REcampus- to host their online courses. However, this does not mean each pre-licensing course is the same. Every course provider creates its own content, sets its own prices and is assigned a unique school code by the IPBL. This code is printed on your course certificate of completion. 

The 9 Approved Online Pre-Licensing Courses in Iowa

Iowa Association of REALTORS®

  • Enroll and start at any time
  • No learning materials included
  • Additional materials may be purchased here
  • Refund/cancellation policy of 30 days can be found here
  • Course hosted on REsmarts
  • Cost is $425
  • More info and enrollment is here

*Note that many regional REALTOR® associations in Iowa will refer you to the Iowa Association of REALTORS® for classes.

Real Estate Express - Iowa Real Estate License School

  • Enroll and start at any time
  • Upgraded packages include exam prep, instructor Q&A and a yearlong professional development program
  • Basic course includes ebooks and instructor support
  • ‘Pass or Don’t Pay’ guarantee included with upgraded packages
  • Refund/cancellation policy of seven days can be found here
  • Cost ranges from $359-$574
  • More info and enrollment is here

Concepts Real Estate School

  • Enroll and start at any time
  • Offered by RE/MAX Concepts
  • No supplemental materials included
  • Additional materials available to purchase here
  • Hosted on REcampus
  • Cost is $325
  • More info and enrollment here

Center For Real Estate Excellence

  • Offered by Keller Williams Realty
  • Enroll and start at any time
  • Includes practice exams
  • Free in-person exam prep class offered in a live classroom
  • Includes access to a private Facebook group with other students and instructors for additional assistance
  • Course hosted on REcampus
  • Cost is $395
  • More info and enrollment is here

Mid America School Of Real Estate

  • Enroll and start at any time
  • Offered by Coldwell Banker
  • Includes practice exams
  • Additional learning materials available for purchase here
  • Course hosted on REcampus
  • Cost is $300
  • More info and enrollment is here

Ruhl And Ruhl REALTORS®

  • Enroll and start at any time
  • Offered by Ruhl and Ruhl REALTORS® through the Quad City Area REALTORS®
  • No supplemental materials included
  • Additional study materials available to purchase here
  • Exam prep available at extra cost to you
  • Course is hosted on REcampus
  • Cost is $395
  • More info and enrollment here

OnCourse Learning - Real Estate

  • Enroll and start at any time
  • Upgraded packages include exam prep, study aids, instructor support and a ‘Pass the First Time’ guarantee
  • Once the course is completed, OnCourse Learning will allow you access to it for three months to study material for the licensing exam
  • Refund/cancellation policy of seven days can be found here
  • Cost ranges from $299-$357
  • More info and enrollment is here

Quad City Area Realtors®

  • Enroll and start at any time
  • No supplemental materials included
  • Additional study materials available to purchase here
  • Course is hosted on REcampus
  • Refund/cancellation information is here
  • Cost is $395
  • More info and enrollment here

QC School of Real Estate

  • Enroll and start at any time
  • Offered by EXIT Realty Fireside
  • Practice exams included
  • Additional learning material available to purchase here
  • Hosted on REcampus
  • Cost is $385
  • More info and enrollment here

Pros and Cons of Online Courses

There are also pros and cons to taking the pre-licensing course online. If you are working a full-time job or have other obligations during the week, an online course allows you the flexibility to work on your own time. It also gives you a full six months to complete the course, rather than knocking it out in a week or two. Online courses can cost less than in-person courses, but no additional learning materials are included. 

If you are an independent worker who enjoys the freedom of learning at your own pace, the online course may work for you. However, you have to be a self-starter to work online since there won’t be an instructor to hold you accountable. If you’re a procrastinator, this may not be the right option for you. Check out some of the pros and cons of taking the course online:

Pros of Online Courses

  • Flexible start time
  • More time overall to complete the course
  • Lower cost
  • Easier to do if working a full-time job

Cons of In-Person Courses

  • No instructor to assist
  • Supplemental materials and exam prep cost extra
  • No accountability from an instructor

Online Options Chart Comparison

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What Do You Do After You Take the Pre-Licensing Course?

Once you have completed your course, you will receive a certificate of completion from the IAR and you can schedule your licensing exam. It usually only takes a day or two to receive your certificate electronically. Do not schedule the exam without your certificate! It is highly recommended that you schedule your exam as soon as you receive your certificate of completion. You will want to take the exam while the course information is still fresh in your mind.

The licensing exam costs $95 each time you take it and is administered by PSI Examination Services, an independent testing organization. You must have your certificate of course completion printed out to present at the testing center and you will need it for the license application. 

You can take the test at any of the PSI testing centers in Iowa. PSI currently offers testing locations in Cedar Rapids, Council Bluffs and West Des Moines. 

The exam is broken into two parts: the national section and the state section. The national section is longer with 80 questions and two hours of allotted testing time. The state section is 40 questions with one hour to complete it. Each section requires a score of 70 percent or higher to be considered a passing score. Each question is multiple choice and some do require math- so bring a simple calculator! Your test will be digitally scored and you will receive your results immediately after the exam.

PSI provides an exam bulletin that gives you a complete overview of the exam. Read through it to find out more about what will be on the exam, tips for exam prep, how to schedule your test, what is and is not allowed in the testing room, what to bring with you and other helpful information.

What do I do if I don’t pass the pre-licensing exam?

It happens! If for some reason, you do not pass the pre-licensing exam, you can take it again. You will have to complete a new registration form, schedule a new test time and pay the $95 fee again. You can take the test again as quickly as the testing center’s schedule will allow. Your score report will show you what areas you need to study up on before taking the exam again. 

How Should You Study for the Pre-Licensing Exam?

A lot of us don’t remember how to study for exams once we’ve finished school- and that’s okay! Everyone has a different learning style, which means everyone has a different way of studying. Use whatever methods work best for your learning style. 

There are a few tips that will help anyone study for the exam:

  • Take practice tests. Almost every course provider offers a practice test. Take advantage of this resource! Take as many practice exams as you can find to familiarize yourself with the exam’s content and how questions are phrased.
  • Know your vocabulary. Lingo is everything! You learned a lot of new words and phrases during the pre-licensing course. Make sure you’re familiar with all of them so a question that uses them doesn’t trip you up. Flashcards are the best way to study vocabulary.
  • Study national laws. Your course will cover the important national laws you need to know, like the Fair Housing Act. Make sure you know them inside and out because 13 percent of the exam will explicitly cover real estate law. 
  • Take the test right away. Schedule your exam as soon as you receive your certificate of completion from your course provider. The test covers a wide range of content- take it while all the information is still fresh in your mind.
  • Don’t sweat it! If you paid attention at all during the pre-licensing course (you definitely did to get the completion certificate!), the test shouldn’t be a problem. Don’t psych yourself out by worrying about it. 

Schedule the exam right away and use your time beforehand to take practice exams, run through vocabulary flashcards and study up on the law. Questions are all multiple choice so the process of elimination should help you with any questions you are unsure about.

Is There Any Other Required Education?

Yes! The IREC also requires you to take three additional 12-hour courses. These have to be taken in person and cover buying practices, listing practices, and ethics and professionalism. These courses can be taken before or after the 60-hour course. You are not required to complete them before taking the licensing exam.

Most people take these additional courses after the 60-hour course and exam. You will need certificates of completion from all courses (plus pass your exam!) for your license application.

Which Pre-Licensing Course Option Works for You?

There is no shortage of options when it comes to taking the 60-hour pre-licensing course. It can be daunting just to find the right class for you. Do your research, look into every option available to you and use your support network to help make this decision. No two providers will offer the same pre-licensing course. Take into account your schedule, budget and learning style before enrolling for any classes. Think about what you want out of your learning experience:  

  • Do you want instructor support?
  • How flexible is your schedule? 
  • Do you need extra learning materials?
  • Do you want to take a course offered by a brokerage or an independent institution? 
  • What is your learning style?
  • How much can you spend?

There is no “right way” to take the course- choose the option that works best for you! 

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