Startup Fees for a Real Estate Agent – No Matter Which Company you Join


Whether you are considering joining Keller Williams or even Re/Max or Coldwell Banker, Berkshire Hathaway, Century 21, Sotheby’s, Windemere, Weichert, ERA, Realty One or a local or regional real estate company – you are going to have the same associated start up cost.

Startup Fees for a Real Estate Agent

Most discussion of this topic regarding agent startup and monthly fees focus on the initial cost of business cards and signs, etc.

Again, in the spirit of this site, I wanted to have a conversation with you that I wish that someone would have had with me when I first got into real estate. The fees that I will outline are the ones that are usually not mentioned & frankly they are fees that fall upon every agent no matter the company that ultimately work with. – Robert Earl

The Initial Cost of the Real Estate Class

The first expense / startup agent fee that you will encounter before you even join the a real estate office is the investment into the real estate class. Each real estate school charges their own amount for the courses and the amount varies depending on if you select an online course or a classroom course. The Real Estate Classes run in the range of $129 to $600+ depending on the package, the setting (classroom will be more but of the fee for the instructor in class) and the add on modules that the real estate school includes.

A word of warning on the add on modules. Make sure that you include a Exam Prep or Sample Test Module or Exam Prep Review Session. Beyond this, make sure your read the fine print as to what is included.

For the pre-licensing real estate class you need to satisfy the hours and pass the test. Initially, everything else is just a distraction. I will talk about Post Licensing and Continuing Education just down this page.

Testing Fee

The private testing center that independently administers that state/national final exam will have a testing fee to register. This amount ranges from $40 to $100 depending on the provider and the state. Once you complete the real estate class, the real estate school will provide you with a certificate of completion to present to the testing provider. This certificate will allow you to schedule a test with the testing center in your state.

Real Estate Office Initial Fee

The office may have a nominal fee to assist you with getting your state and local paperwork in order, as well as activating your license and getting you into the office System.

Some companies charge a larger amount at this point to discourage new agents from joining their company. This is not the case at Keller Williams

The State Real Estate Commission Application Fee

The State Real Estate Commission – as part of the licensing requirement for the states will require an initial fee and an annual fee to active the real estate license with the state and to keep the license in good standing.

This application fee runs in the range of $150 to $300+ depending on the state.

Local / State / National Association of REALTORS Dues

This is by and far the largest initial start up fee that you will incur, and it is not a fee administered by Keller Williams Realty or any real estate company for that matter.

It is a fee to join the Local / State / National Association of REALTORS. This amount can range from $400 to $1,200+ depending on the time of year that you join and activate, with an annual renewal fee due at the beginning of the following year.

The Amount due is pro-rated depending on the time of year that you join and then it is billed and due on an annual basis.

Just consider it as an ongoing business expense and set aside a portion of each commission check that you earn for these dues and you will be just fine.

The Association of REALTORS is the keepers of the CODE. The Code of Ethics that is. Per the REALTOR Website – “The term REALTOR® is a registered collective membership mark that identifies a real estate professional who is a member of the National Association of REALTORS® and subscribes to its strict Code of Ethics.” The Code ensures that agents from different brokerages are operating on a fairly level playing field.

In a number of areas, being a member of the Local Association of REALTORS is a prerequisite to being a member and having access to the Multiple Listing System.

Some agents make the personal business decision to work in multiple states or services areas covered by different REALTOR Associations. If this is the case, one Association is named as the primary and you pay that Association for the State and Nation Dues, while just paying the 2nd Association for the local and state dues (if applicable)

Multiple Listing System (MLS)

The MLS is a tool to help listing brokers find cooperative brokers working with buyers to help sell their clients’ homes. Being a member will allow you as an agent to post properties for sale and search for properties listed for sale by their Brokerage as well as other companies that participate in the area MLS.

With over 800 MLSs existing, many areas are covered by a main MLS, yet traveling into another county or area may require a secondary MLS membership. Fees can range from $200 to $500 to be a member of a single MLS for the year. Again,

Lock Box Fees

You have to be able to get into the properties… and there are outside companies that administer and manage the lock box systems. Membership can range from $150 to $300+ per year.

Post Licensing Classes

Factor in that during your 1st Year of being a licensed agent, you will need to complete some level of Post Licensing or Educational Requirements from the state. These classes vary in length and cost depending on the delivery method of the course and the number of hours credit.

Required Ongoing Continuing Education

Over the past few years I have kidded that REALTORS should be required buy and sell a home and to move every 2 to 3 years so that we remember what our clients go through as part of our continuing education. 🙂

The State requires agents to complete Continuing Education Classes on a Regular Basis. The Association of REALTORS requires an update to the Code of Ethics Education as well.

A number of the vendors associated with the Keller Williams offices or that work in the area will also offer various classes and sessions that will provide Continuing Education credits as well. This is one way to network and obtain the credits in an informative manner, sometimes at a reduced rate.

I trust this helps you to understand the initial cost and startup fees that you will be facing when looking to become a real estate agent.