If you’re interested in learning how to become a real estate agent in New York, you’ve picked an ideal time to get your New York real estate license. According to recent data, New York real estate agents are among the highest paid in the nation, making an average of nearly $94,000 annually. 
In this article, we’ll look at how to start an exciting new career as a real estate agent in the Empire State. From the state-required courses and how to apply for the licensing examination to how much time and money you should plan to invest (and make!), keep reading to easily discover the steps, tips, and essential information you’ll need to get your real estate license in New York.
SEE ALSO: 6 best online real estate courses in New York (NY) for 2023
Requirements to get your real estate license in New York
Qualifying for your real estate license in New York comes down to completing your prelicensing education required by the New York State Department of State (DOS), Division of Licensing Services, qualifying for and passing New York’s real estate salesperson exam, and signing with a brokerage.
By taking the approved courses of study, you’ll learn the information you’ll need to pass the exam and succeed as a New York real estate agent. To qualify, you’ll need to satisfactorily complete 77 hours of salesperson qualifying education.
Since there is a potential to start as a real estate salesperson in as few as 50 days, New York is a great choice for anyone considering a real estate career. This requirements checklist will help you get started:
The New York real estate license exam
How hard is it to pass the New York real estate exam?
According to several reputable digital resources and news sites, there is a 60% pass rate for those taking the New York real estate salesperson exam for the first time.  There are 75 questions on the salesperson’s license exam and a passing score is 70%.
How long does it take to get a real estate license in New York?
When it comes to the time commitment for getting licensed as a real estate salesperson in New York, remember that the more time you spend studying for the license exam, the more prepared you’ll be to ace it the first time around and be eligible for your license.
Here’s a general idea of how much time to set aside:
- 77 hours for taking the real estate course approved by the New York Department of State, Division of Licensing Services. If you take the course online and you’re ambitious, you can invest about 38.5 hours a week and complete the entire course in under 2 weeks. Time: 2 weeks to 2 months
- 90 minutes for the exam. You’ll also want to arrive at least 30 minutes early to get settled. Time: 2 hours
- Background check including fingerprinting appointment and paperwork. Time: 2 hours
- Time for the DOS to review your exam and notify you of the results. Time: 1 to 3 days
- Time from the day you receive your passing score for the state exam and submit your license application to the day the DOS reviews your application and mails your license. Time: 1 to 2 weeks
Total time it generally takes to get a real estate license in New York: From a little over 3 weeks to 3 months.
Pro Tip: To save you time during the licensing process, you can schedule and take your New York State exam while you are still completing the 77-hour course. You should be able to reserve a seat for the exam within 2 weeks, depending on availability at your nearest state exam proctoring site.
How much does it cost to get a real estate license in New York?
As with any pursuit of education that will enhance your career, there are fees associated with getting your real estate salesperson license. When it comes to getting a real estate license in New York, here’s what you need to budget for:
- Prelicensing exam coursework = $149 to over $709
- Salesperson exam, initial application fee = $65
- Salesperson written exam fee: $15
- License renewal fee after 2 years = $65
- Other miscellaneous fees = $100
Estimated total = Between $394 and $954 
Pro Tip: The cost of your prelicensing exam course and materials can be closer to $100 or over $700, depending on the education provider and package that you choose. State institutes tend to be the most expensive, community colleges are more on the reasonable end, and online real estate courses taken through a New York education provider or online school tend to attract the budget-savvy.
Approved prelicensing courses in New York StateGetting your California real estate license begins with a 135-hour accredited prelicensing course. We recommend The CE Shop for real estate education in New York State.
5 important steps to getting a New York real estate license
Step 1: Complete 77 hours of salesperson qualifying education
If you are applying for a real estate salesperson license in New York, you must meet the Department of State, Division of Licensing Services’ prelicensing education requirement. To be eligible to take the New York real estate exam, be prepared to enroll in and successfully complete both the 75-hour salesperson course and a two-hour continuing education course on fair housing and/or implicit bias training.
Did you know?
The 2-hour continuing education course on fair housing and/or implicit bias training is mandated by DOS.
The 75-hour real estate salesperson course covers Commercial and Investment Properties, Law of Agency, Legal Issues, and everything you need to know to pass the exam and succeed as a New York real estate agent.  According to the DOS, the salesperson course must be completed at an approved real estate qualifying education school. 
Did you know?
75-hour real estate salesperson course + two-hour mandated continuing education course = 77 hours of salesperson qualifying education
Considerations for attorneys in New York
Are you an attorney currently admitted to the New York State Bar? If you are applying for your initial salesperson license based on attorney status, you can submit a paper application to DOS by regular mail. 
Considerations for brokers in New York
If you are a broker, it’s possible you have already completed the 77 hours of coursework when you first became licensed (depending on when you became licensed) and may qualify for a course requirement waiver. To obtain a waiver from the salesperson course requirement, you’ll have to submit a written request to the DOS stating that you are applying for a waiver.
Other special considerations
If you have a Bachelor’s Degree with a concentration in real estate, you may qualify for a course requirement waiver by submitting an official transcript with your waiver request to the DOS. If you completed your education outside of New York State and wish to request a waiver from the salesperson course requirement, you’ll have to submit
- a written request to the DOS stating that you are applying for that waiver
- proof of prelicensing course completion (The prelicensing salesperson’s course must be at least 77 hours of classroom instruction)
- a detailed outline listing topics and hours
- a course description
If you do receive an education waiver, you will still have to take and pass the state exam, and submit your application to the DOS Licensing Office to receive your salesperson license. 
Step 2: Schedule your salesperson exam
When you’re ready to take the New York real estate exam, it’s required by DOS that you schedule your exam online using your eAccessNY account. If you don’t already have an eAccessNY account, it’s easy to create one online.  Once your account is set up, just log on, click on “Apply to Take an Exam,” and follow the instructions. Once you schedule your exam on eAccessNY, you’ll be prompted to print the “Summary of Your Submission” page, which includes your candidate number and all of your exam information. 
Pro Tip: It doesn’t hurt to have an extra copy or two of your “Summary of Your Submission” page. Consider printing an extra copy or saving a PDF of your “Summary of Your Submission” in a folder using cloud-based file storage.
The DOS administers the real estate salesperson written exam at the following exam centers in New York :
- Albany (Alfred E. Smith State Office Building)
- Binghamton (State Office Building)
- Buffalo (State Office Building)
- Franklin Square (VFW Hall)
- Hauppauge (Perry Duryea State Office Building)
- New York City
- Pomona (Rockland Fire Training Center)
- Rochester (Finger Lakes DDSO)
- Syracuse (State Office Building)
- Utica (State Office Building)
Step 3: Take and pass New York’s real estate exam
Once you’ve scheduled your real estate licensing exam date and site, it’s time to prepare. Good luck!
What to bring to the exam: Be prepared
When the day comes for you to take your real estate licensing exam, the two items you must have are your “Summary of Your Submission” page and a form of government-issued signature identification. Your identification must be photo-bearing and current (check that expiration date to be sure). The following are forms of photo ID accepted by New York State:
- Current state-issued driver’s license or DMV identification card
- U.S. passport or passport issued by a foreign government
- U.S. military identification card
- IDNYC Card (NYC identification card)
- U.S. citizenship and immigration services-issued employment authorization card
- United States INS issued ID
- Certificate of U.S. citizenship
- Brazilian, Mexican, Honduran, and Ecuadorian Consular ID
Here are a few items that are not required for the exam, but are permitted (to an extent):
- Calculators that are silent, battery or solar powered, nonprinting, and do not contain an alphabetic keyboard
- Beepers, cell phones, and other electronic devices that are turned off during the entirety of the exam
Here are a few of the items that you cannot bring into the exam room:
- Large bags, briefcases (there is no place to store these items, so don’t even bring these to the exam site)
- Food, beverages (you will be asked to dispose of these before entering the exam site)
- Books, dictionaries, other reference materials
The possession or use of books, notes, or other items that can help with the exam is strictly prohibited, as is removing exam materials or notes from the site. Any prohibited possessions or behavior may result in disciplinary measures, as determined by the Exam Supervisor at the Department of State.
Did you know?
The New York real estate salesperson exam consists of multiple choice questions based on the 77-hour prelicensing curriculum. After instructions are given, you’ll have 90 minutes to complete the exam.
How to get your exam results
By logging into your eAccessNY account, you can see your exam results online as soon as they are received and scored by the exam unit. If you are anxiously awaiting your results and decide to call Licensing Services to get them faster, you’ll be disappointed to find out that results will not be given over the phone under any circumstance.
Your exam results will be issued as either pass or fail, rather than as a numerical score. For those who pass the exam, the results are valid for a 2-year period. If you fail the exam, you can schedule another exam by logging in to your eAccessNY account.
Step 4: Sign with a sponsoring real estate brokerage
According to New York State, a real estate listing can be negotiated by a salesperson, but must be accepted by the representative broker. As such, anyone who plans to practice licensed real estate in New York is required to find a sponsoring brokerage to be eligible.
Ready to find a real estate brokerage?
To select the brokerage that’s best for you, these are four considerations:
1. The size and culture
Bigger brokerages with a national reach may be ideal for one person, while another may feel more comfortable at a local, boutique brokerage. Some real estate professionals prefer brokerages dedicated to helping first-time homebuyers, while others thrive at an ultra-luxury firm. At the end of the day, your decision should be based on your personal preferences and professional goals.
2. The commission split
A fair commission split for a new real estate agent is between 50/50 (the real estate agent and broker get equal sums of money from a commission split) and 70/30 (the real estate agent receives a larger sum of the money than the broker). A firm’s size and the number of real estate salespeople that are overseen by the broker are determining factors in the split.
Pro Tip: Keep looking for a brokerage if the firm offers you a commission split lower than 50/50 simply because you are a new real estate agent.
3. The mentorship opportunities
When selecting a firm, look for a brokerage that will offer mentorship and training programs. With this kind of professional support early on in your real estate career, you’ll have a solid foundation for success in the future.
4. The tools and technology to succeed
Cutting-edge tools, technology, and market insights are more important than ever, so look for a brokerage that provides the marketing prowess you need to maximize reach for your clients and innovative agent services.
Once you have a sponsoring broker, make sure they have associated you with their license through their eAccessNY Account.
Step 5: Submit your New York real estate license application
Once you’ve passed your real estate licensing exam, undergone the background check, and selected a sponsoring brokerage, you’re one step away from being able to sell real estate in one of the most lucrative real estate markets in the world. To complete the final step, apply for your initial salesperson license by mailing your New York real estate salesperson application to the Department of State, Division of Licensing Services. Upon approval, your New York real estate license will be mailed to the office location indicated on your application, typically within 1 to 2 weeks. 
FAQs to help you start your New York real estate career off on the right foot
Still trying to decide if real estate is the best career move for you? Here are some answers to prospective and new real estate agents’ most frequently asked questions.
Can I apply for a New York real estate license online?
Once you have passed the real estate licensing exam, you can apply for a real estate salesperson license online by logging on to your eAccessNY account and choosing “Apply for Initial Salesperson License (qualifying by Exam only).”
Be sure to include the ID number of your sponsoring broker on the application. Your principal broker will be sent a notification to log on to their personal online account and authorize your application. After the broker authorizes your application, DOS will review it to ensure that it is complete and meets the qualifications for a real estate salesperson license.
Salespeople in New York: By the numbers
What is the New York real estate license renewal process?
In the state of New York, a real estate salesperson license is good for 2 years. Once you are associated with a sponsoring broker you can renew your real estate license through your eAccessNY account. If you do not renew your license on or before the expiration date, you will be prohibited from legally practicing real estate in New York until your license has been renewed. 
Your NY real estate license will be valid for two years.
Unfortunately, there are no grace periods that permit you to continue working without a current license. If you aren’t able to renew your license by the expiration date, you do have two years from the date your license expires to renew it. You’ll still be able to log in to your eAccessNY account and renew your license even if it has expired. Just keep in mind that your license will not appear on the New York website until you renew it.
Make sure to renew your license within that period to avoid the headache of having to pass the New York State written exam (and submit a new salesperson application and pay the fee) all over again.
How can I renew my license?
Be aware of your license’s expiration date (you can find it printed on your license) and take the proper steps to renew your license well before that date. The DOS does send an email and postcard three months before the license expiration date as a renewal reminder. Both reminders include written instructions on how to renew your license online through your eAccessNY account.
Checklist for License Renewal
Renewing your license every 2 years is simple with this checklist.
What forms of payment does the DOS accept?
You may pay the $15 fee for your salesperson written exam, as well as the $65 for your two-year license, by check or money order made payable to the Department of State or charge any fee to Mastercard or Visa, using a credit card authorization form. 
Can I renew my license online?
When it comes to renewing your real estate salesperson license, your only option is to renew online, in accordance with New York’s Green Initiative to reduce paper use. 
Ready to renew your license? To renew your real estate license online:
- Log on to your eAccessNY account
- From the Main Menu page, choose “List of Licenses (Access your license here).” All your license(s) and license number(s) (UID#’s) will be listed there
- Click on “Renew License” and then “Next Step” to renew your New York license
How do I know my license was renewed online successfully?
After completing all of the steps on your Checklist for License Renewal (including payment), you will receive a confirmation page indicating that your renewal has been submitted. Before your license is renewed, your application will be reviewed by DOS to make sure it is complete and meets the renewal qualifications.
What are the continuing education requirements for a New York salesperson renewing for the first time?
Before you renew your salesperson license for the first time, the DOS states that you’ll have to successfully complete 22.5 hours of approved continuing education. This must include:
- One cultural competency course (2 hours)
- One implicit bias training course (2 hours)
- One ethical business practices course (2.5 hours)
- One recent legal matters course (1 hour)
- One fair housing and/or discrimination in the sale or rental of real property, or an interest in real property course (3 hours)
- One law of agency course (1 hour) or (2 hours if it’s your first term renewing your license)
- Additional mandatory or elective topics can make up any remaining continuing education hours
Did you know? Any salesperson who successfully completes an approved broker qualifying course and passes the exam within their current term will receive continuing education credit for completion of that course.
Where and when can I take continuing education classes?
When it comes to your continuing education courses, there are several different providers offering the education courses required by New York State. Real estate schools and real estate education course providers typically offer various renewal packages at different price points, allowing you to complete the courses online at a time that’s convenient for you, for a price you can afford. For the most part, these real estate continuing education providers let you personalize course packages by pairing courses required by New York with electives that you select from the provider’s course library.
DOS-approved schools providing continuing education courses can be found here:
Approved Real Estate Continuing Education Schools
Does New York have real estate license reciprocity with any other state?
Currently, the Empire State does not have reciprocity with any other state to waive the requirements for those who want to obtain a license. Requirements include qualifying for and passing the written exam. If you completed your real estate education outside of New York, then you can submit a written waiver request to the DOS to obtain a license.
How much money does a New York real estate agent earn?
According to ZipRecruiter, the average salary of a New York real estate agent is $93,951 per year as of September 22, 2023. This is the equivalent of $45 per hour, $1,806 per week, or $7,829 per month. Compared to the national average of $86,356, an agent in New York makes a whole $7,595 more per year. 
While ZipRecruiter is seeing salaries as low as $31,498 and as high as $161,992, the majority of real estate agents’ salaries is currently between $73,100 and $112,500, with top earners making $140,617 annually in the state of New York.
ZipRecruiter scanned a database of millions of active jobs published locally across the country to determine that New York is ranked number 2 out of 50 states nationwide for real estate agent salaries. ZipRecruiter also reports that the top 5 cities/areas where the typical salary for a real estate agent is above average in New York are:
- #5 Bay Shore, $98,461 annual salary
- #4 Rye, $99,745 annual salary
- #3 Flushing, $100,448 annual salary
- #2 Bay Ridge, $101,646 annual salary
- #1 Kensington, $102,185 annual salary
- What’s the real estate agent commission rate in New York?
NY housing prices: By the numbers
$449,826 is the value of the average New York home
22 days is the average time it takes for a New York home to become pending 
The bottom line
Now that you’ve learned how to become a real estate agent in New York, you’re ready to start selling in one of the most lucrative markets across the globe. From tips on getting your real estate license in New York to news about home values across the country, HousingWire is here to provide you with the most up-to-date information and insights you need.
Article sources & helpful links
- ZipRecruiter.com. “Real Estate Agent Salary in New York”
- New York Department of State. “Real Estate Salesperson, FAQs”
- New York Department of State. “Real Estate Salesperson, Requirements”
- Realty Times. “8 Essential Tips for Passing the NY Real Estate Exam”
- New York Department of State. “Real Estate Salesperson, Fees”
- Real Estate Salesperson 77 Hour Curriculum.
- Real Estate Course Providers. “Approved Real Estate Qualifying Education Schools”
- New York Department of State. “Real Estate Sales Person Application – Instructions,” Pg 2.
- New York Department of State. “Real Estate Salesperson, FAQs”
- eAccessNY. “Create My Account, For New Licensee or Registrant” https://appext20.dos.ny.gov/nydos/registration.do?from=loginPage
- New York Department of State. “Real Estate Salesperson, FAQs”
- New York Department of State. “Real Estate Salesperson Exam Sites”
- New York Division of Licensing Services. “Application – Instructions” https://dos.ny.gov/system/files/documents/2023/02/dos-0022-f-a-real-estate-salesperson-application_02.2023.pdf
- National Association of Realtors. “Monthly Membership Report”
- New York State. “Active Real Estate Salespersons”
- The New York State Senate. “Article 12-A of the Real Property Law”
- New York Division of Licensing Services. “Application – Instructions”
- New York Department of State. “License Renewal, Real Estate”
- ZipRecruiter.com. “Real Estate Agent Salary in New York”
- FastExpert. “2022 Survey Results: Real Estate Agent Commissions by State”
- HomeLight.com. “What’s the Average New York Real Estate Commission Rate?”
- Zillow. “New York Home Values”