How to Obtain Your Iowa Real Estate License

There are ten basic steps you need to take to get your Iowa Real Estate license. We are here to help you navigate the process.

Please note that the state doesn’t care if you do step 1 (the 60-hour course) or step 8 (the additional 12-hour classes) first. We suggest that you first take the 60-hour course; however, this can be difficult due to timing. You may take the state exam after completion of the 60 hours or wait until completion of the entire 96 hours. Once you decide to pursue your license, we will assist you in developing a timeline for licensure.

Call Darcy Holle at 563-441-5102 with any questions, concerns or to get started!

Step 1: Apply for the 60-hour pre-license course

You can either take the course online or in the classroom. Depending on the class you select, the cost can vary between $395 (for the online course) to $485.

Online classes: Visit the portal to register. Once you get there, click on “Browse Courses.” Cost: $395.

Classroom: You can contact us for more information on our classes (Darcy Holle at 563.441.5102 or Jessica Lopez at 563.441.5094). You can also sign up for classes in Iowa City or Des Moines.

Step 2: Request a fingerprint packet from the Iowa Real Estate Commission for the state-required background check.

To obtain a fingerprint card, instructions and an information sheet, submit a request directly to the Iowa Real Estate Commission. To do so, you need to first create a login with the Iowa Real Estate Commission.  This will become your member portal throughout your licensure with Iowa.

Click “Login to my Iowa PLB” at the top of the page and select “New User.”  Once created, choose the Application: “General- Background Packet Request.”

This is a required step for all Iowa real estate professionals, so you want to start this process as early as possible to avoid processing delays. THe cost is $51 and could include any cost for fingerprinting (which ranges from free to $20).

Step 3: Complete fingerprinting asap as background check processing can take three to six weeks to complete – sometimes longer. The report is good for 210 days.

Once the fingerprint cards have been delivered to the DCI and the FBI, Commission staff cannot check on the status of an individual’s background check.  Applicants will be notified via e-mail when their background check results have been received.  

Step 4: Complete the 60-hour pre-license course (either classroom or online).

Step 5: Apply to take the Salesperson Real Estate Licensing Examination.

Congratulations! It’s time to take your exam. The exam is given in Cedar Rapids (often the closest location), West Des Moines and Council Bluff. It costs $95. Register here or call 800.733.9267 to sign up for your time.

Step 6: It’s time to take the exam.

The Cedar Rapids exam is held at Erbs Business Center, 4935 Bowling Street SW, #400, Cedar Rapids, IA. Here are some tips for exam day:

  • Be there 30 minutes before your scheduled test time [2 hours allowed for national test (80 questions); 1 hour allowed for state test (40 questions)].
  • Don’t forget to bring the following with you:
    • Your Pre-license Education Completion Certificate. You will NOT be allowed to test without this certificate.
    • If you have been granted a waiver of pre-license, present your letter of authorization from the commission.    
    • Must present 2 valid forms of ID (one must be government issued with current photo; second can be social security card, credit card, etc.).
    • No books or notes allowed – (only battery operated calculators are allowed with no alphabet keyboard).

Step 7: You will receive the computerized results immediately following the exam.

Pass notices and license application instructions to apply online will be given to you at the testing center if you receive a passing score.  If you do not pass both portions of the exam (State and National), you only need to retake the portion you did not pass. Cost to re-test is $95.   

Step 8 (can be done sooner if needed): Take the 36-hour basic transactions post-license courses.

These courses include Buying Practices (12 hours), Listing Practices (12 hours) and Ethical Practices (12 hours). The state doesn’t are the order in which you take them. Ruhl&Ruhl Realtors hosts in-house classes to help you meet your requirement. Contact Darcy Holle at 563-441-5102 to learn more.

Step 9: Complete and submit your online application to the Iowa Real Estate Commission.

Congratulations! You are almost there.  Once you complete the 60 hours, the 36 hours and pass your exam, apply ONLINE via your IREC Member Portal and click on “Login to my Iowa PLB”.  

If you have not yet created a login, you will need to do so at this time by accessing Click on “Login to my Iowa PLB” at the top of the page and select “New User”.  

Once you are in, upload your pass notices, certificates and proof of errors and omissions insurance (obtain this proof from Darcy, Jessica or your manager).  Application can be submitted to the Commission prior to the background check being completed, however, it will not process until the background check is completed.  Applicants must apply for license within 6 months of passing exam.

Step 10: Sponsoring broker electronically signs. Once your application has been reviewed, Ruhl&Ruhl Realtors is notified that your application is ready for sponsorship signature.

Broker electronically signs and you are then notified that payment is due.  You will pay a fee of $125, and the broker pays a fee $170. Your application will finish processing immediately upon your payment successfully processing and an e-mail is sent to you and Ruhl&Ruhl with your license number.

Allow three to five days for your license to process, and then, congratulations! You are a licensed Realtor!

Learn more about the Ruhl&Ruhl Realtors experience.