How Do I Become a North Carolina Real Estate Broker?


Become a Real Estate AgentIf you’re here, you already know that the real estate business isn’t an easy one. There’s a lot involved in becoming a real estate agent, even after you pass your exam. Summers, especially, can be a real test of your ingenuity and endurance. But there’s also a lot of work you’ll have to do behind the scenes to make sure your clients have the smoothest, easiest transactions possible.

Becoming a Realtor may not be the road to riches, but it can be a fulfilling career for people who really like helping others and don’t mind being a good friend when buyers or sellers start to get emotional about their end of the deal. Sometimes sellers cry a lot because they’re selling a home where they made so many memories; sometimes buyers have anxiety attacks because they’re taking a giant leap into the unknown.

Types of Broker Licenses in North Carolina

In North Carolina, all real estate agents hold broker licenses. Because this is a “broker license only” state, the requirements are tougher than in states where real estate agents can practice with only a salesperson license. However, the more thorough education will serve you well in your career and ensure you have the tools you need to be successful.

There are four principal types of broker licensing for individuals in North Carolina Those are:

Provisional Broker

When you meet all the requirements for licensure, including passing your exam, you’ll be issued a provisional broker license. You will have to place your license with a broker-in-charge in order to activate it. After completing a 90-hour post-licensing education program, you’ll be able to shed your provisional status.


Most practicing Realtors in this state hold a standard broker license. With a broker license, you can work under a broker-in-charge or open your own real estate office as a sole proprietor or other legal entity.


Each real estate firm must have a broker-in-charge, though the owner doesn’t necessarily have to have this designation. The broker-in-charge ensures that the company is adhering to the letter of the real estate law, including in areas like maintaining escrow accounts and checking that all advertising meets the legal requirements.

Limited Nonresident Commercial Broker

If you live in a neighboring state and want to occasionally sell commercial property in North Carolina, you’ll need a limited non-resident commercial broker license. Note: if you obtain a home, business or delivery address in North Carolina, you’ll have to apply for a regular broker license to continue to work in the state. Additionally, you must be affiliated with a resident North Carolina broker who will be responsible for ensuring you properly fulfill all legal requirements.

Other Broker License Types

In addition to the four principal license levels above, there are two other license categories: Broker-in-Charge eligible, which is for brokers who have fulfilled all the requirements of Broker-In-Charge, but do not currently serve as the Broker-In-Charge at their agency; and Firm, which deals specifically with business entities which are not sole proprietorships, such as corporations, LLCs, partnerships, associations or joint business ventures.

Getting Started: What You Need to Do First

You’ll have to meet some basic requirements [ Real Estate Licensing in North Carolina ] before you can secure a broker license. First, you must be a legal resident of the United States, 18 years or older, with a Social Security Number. Second, you need to either attend or have already achieved the education necessary to apply for the two-part real estate licensing exam.

Finally, you must prove that you have the character to be a license holder. What that basically means is that your criminal record is clean, you’ve not been professionally disciplined and that you have no outstanding liens or judgments. Although you can appeal a license denial due to any of those three areas, the Commission takes them very seriously, so you’ll need a really good defense and must allow plenty of time for a final decision.

Meeting the Requirements

There are a few different ways you can satisfy the educational requirements for your license application. Those include:

Finishing the 75-Hour North Carolina Broker PreLicensing Course – Commission-approved real estate schools offer this course for future North Carolina brokers. You must take it within three years of applying for your license. You don’t need to worry about documentation because these schools transmit your information electronically as soon as you pass or fail.

Passing an Equivalent Real Estate Salesperson PreLicensing Course Out of State – You may be able to get a waiver to the 75–hour course requirement if you passed the course in another state. The course you completed must have consisted of at least 75 hours of education, parallel the topics in the course you’re asking to be waved and was passed during the previous year, while you were a resident of that state.

Completing Substantial Real Estate Education – If you have a baccalaureate or higher degree in real estate or a law degree, you may be able to skip the 75-hour course. You’ll need documentation to show what your degree covered and the level of education you’ve obtained to apply for an exemption.

Holding a Real Estate License in Another State – If you hold a license that’s equivalent to the North Carolina Provisional Broker License that has been in active status within the last three years, you can apply for a license, provided you can pass the state portion of the real estate exam. You have the option to opt-out of the state exam, but you’ll be required to complete the provisional broker post-licensing education instead.

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The Application Process

The application process is fairly comprehensive and can be completed either online or via paper application[link to p. 9, Paper Application Form]. The required documentation is somewhat different, so it pays to pay attention to details, to avoid having your application rejected.

Particular attention is paid to the applicant’s character, so in either case, a background investigation will be conducted, to determine if the applicant has any prior criminal offenses, professional license disciplinary actions or any liens or judgments. Any history deemed to present a character issue doesn’t necessarily preclude the grant of licensure, but it does call for a deeper review, which can cause delays.

Taking the Exam

Once you’ve met the above requirements, the tough part of obtaining a real estate license in North Carolina starts. You’ll have to pass a two-part exam that’s been unkind to a huge number of applicants. The two sections cover national real estate law and the real estate laws of North Carolina. The test is broken into two different parts, so if you fail one section (usually the state part), you can retake just that portion instead of starting all over again.

The national section consists of 100 scored questions and is divided like this:

  • Agency Relationships and Contracts (28 questions)
  • Real Property Ownership / Interest (13 questions)
  • Finance (14 questions)
  • Real Property (14 questions)
  • Marketing Regulations (Purchase and Rental) (10 questions)
  • Property Management (8 questions)
  • Real Estate Calculations (13 questions)


The North Carolina state exam consists of 40 scored questions with a comprehensive review of state-specific laws and regulations. It uses a much more general approach within these sub-sections:

  • NC Real Estate License Law and Commission Rules (24 questions)
  • Other NC Laws and Practices (11 questions)
  • General Real Estate Topics (5 questions)


Each section is timed separately, but they both have limits on how long you can work at them. The National section allows 2.5 hours, the State section 1.5 hours. You can take a break between the two to clear your head and it won’t be counted against you. Just let the test administrator know when you want to start your second exam.

Further details on the make-up of the exam sections can be seen here [ Real Estate Licensing in North Carolina ].

Being a real estate broker isn’t for everyone, but for those who enjoy helping people buy or sell property, it can be both challenging and rewarding. As you embark on your quest for your broker license, be prepared to learn that this career entails much more than simply sticking signs in yards and showing properties – there are many legal requirements to be complied with and responsibilities to be fulfilled.

Sea Coast Real Estate Academy can help you prepare for your licensing exam process. Our Broker Prelicensing Course will walk you through all the prerequisites, provide you with the required 75 hours of instruction in basic real estate principles and practices and administer a test at the end of the course to ensure you achieved a thorough grasp of the different sections of the broker licensing examination. You’ll also received a free Cram Course when you sign up for our Broker Prelicensing Course. Are you ready to pick your course date?