- I sent my renewal application and payment but I have not received my wallet license in the mail. What is the status of my renewal?
- I renewed my license but my status states "Inactive" status. How can my status be changed to "Active" status?
- I have a license that expired many years ago. Can I reinstate that license?
- Who can receive a referral fee?
- I received discipline by the Board. How do I request that the Board terminate the Probation, Suspension or Stayed Suspension Period?
- How do I obtain a list of real estate licensees?
- How do I change the broker of record?
- Can I use pre-licensure education for my 12 hours of continuing education?
- My license status is "Inactive". How can I make it an "Active" status?
- MLS terminated or may terminate my MLS account. Can the Board transmit or notify MLS of my licensure status?
- What is the process to obtain a "Letter of Good Standing" or a "Licensee History Record"?
- I lost or misplaced my wallet license. Can the Board send me a new wallet license?
- How do I request a name change?
- Does a Licensee need to report his/her affiliation and/or a termination of an affiliation? If yes, how does a Licensee record an affiliation and/or a termination of an affiliation?
- I am already licensed in another State, can I use that license to get a license in Massachusetts?
- How do I obtain a Corporation Application?
- I have a real estate license but I do not want to continue to practice as a real estate agent. How do I notify the Board?
- I am an Attorney, how do I become licensed?
- What do I need to do to become licensed as a real estate salesperson or broker in Massachusetts?
- I worked as a salesperson several years ago, may I use that experience to obtain my broker license?
- Are brokers and salespersons required to complete continuing education?
- I am an attorney, must I complete the continuing education requirement?
- Who has to do continuing education and are there any exemptions?
- When is my continuing education due?
- Does the 12-hour continuing education requirement consist of different courses?
- If I renew my license as "inactive" (meaning I have not completed the continuing education requirement), must I wait until my next license renewal to renew as "active"?
- May I take correspondence courses either through the mail to complete the Board's continuing education requirement?
- Does my continuing education in another state satisfy my requirement in Massachusetts?
- Does my continuing education count towards any continuing education that I must complete for another license I hold which was issued by Massachusetts or another state?
- What happens if I do not complete the 12 hour continuing education requirement when I renew my license?
- What is the effect of the statutory amendment to Massachusetts General Law (MGL) Chapter 112, Section 87SS?
- I am a licensed salesperson. I completed all of the pre-licensure broker education requirements prior to June 1, 2011, must I still affiliate with a broker for three (3) years?
- I am a licensed salesperson. I passed one portion of the broker examination before June 1, 2011 but failed the other section of the broker examination. It is June 1, 2011, will I need to complete three (3) years of affiliation with a broker?
- If I passed one portion of the examination (broker or salesperson) but I failed the other section of the examination, will the Board invalidate my passing score on or after June 1, 2011?
- I failed the examination (broker or salesperson) but my Candidate Handbook's certification date has yet to expire. It is June 1, 2011. Will I need to take the forty (40) hours of pre-licensure education or take additional pre-licensure education hours?
- What if I passed the examination (broker or salesperson) but have not paid for my license prior to June 1, 2011, can I still obtain my license?
- What impact, if any, occurs to the Board's pre-licensure curriculum?
- As a buyer should I have my own broker to represent me?
- How important is it that I understand the purchase and sale agreement in my purchase of a home and do I have any say in its terms?
- My purchase and sale agreement notes that both I and the seller must act in good faith. What does that mean?
- Do I have to put a certain amount in deposit funds down towards my purchase of a home?
- Is it true that the most important thing in buying a home is liking it?
- Do I need to hire a real estate broker to sell my home?
- How do I know if I should hire a broker to sell my home?
- Can I hire a broker to help me in buying a home?
- Do real estate brokers and salespersons have to tell consumers who they work for?
- Do real estate brokers and salespersons have any duties with respect to any deposit funds that I may pay over to them?
- If I go to a broker to help me find an apartment, do I pay for that service?
Upon the Board receiving the completed renewal application and payment, it takes 4-6 weeks to receive the wallet license in the mail. You may check your status on the Board's website under "Online Services" then click "Check a Professional License."
A license is renewed to "Inactive" status due to either two (2) reasons: licensee checked the "inactive" status box on the renewal application or the licensee did not check the "active" status box on the renewal application. If a licensee does not check the "active" status box on the renewal application then the Board automatically defaults your license status to inactive. If you wish to change the inactive status to active status then you must complete the "Licensee Reactivation" form located on the Board's website under the Applications and Forms link.
For an active license, you must complete 12 hours of continuing education (list on website) before signing and returning the "Licensee Reactivation" form to the Board (except Massachusetts Attorneys in good standing with the Board of Bar Overseers). Upon the Board receiving the completed form, it takes 4-6 weeks to receive the wallet license. You may check your status on the Board's website under "Online Services" then click "Check a Professional License".
Yes. The Licensee must complete the "Request for Reinstatement Application" located under the "Applications and Forms" link on the Board's website.
The Board will calculate the fee and mail the licensee a Reinstatement Application. For an active license, you must complete 12 hours of continuing education (list on website) before signing and returning the application (except Massachusetts Attorneys in good standing with the Board of Bar Overseers). It takes 3-5 business days to process a request and/or a completed, submitted application.
The Board's mailing address is 1000 Washington St, Suite 710, Boston, MA 02118, Attn: Real Estate Board. You may also fax the form to the Real Estate Board at 617-727-0139.
Upon the Board receiving the completed application and payment from you, it takes 4-6 weeks to receive the wallet license. You may check your status on the Board's website under Online Services then click Check a Professional License.
An active Broker or an active Salesperson (affiliated with a Broker) may receive a referral fee. An inactive Broker or an inactive Salesperson may receive a referral fee.
You must remit a written request to the Real Estate Board, 1000 Washington St., Suite 710, Boston, MA 02118 requesting that the Board terminate the discipline. The letter should include your name, current address, phone number, license number and docket or case number (if known). Upon receipt of your request, the Board must obtain your casefile from the Office of Investigations and then review the Consent Agreement or the Board's Final Decision to confirm that you have satisfied all the terms and conditions of the Consent Agreement or Final Decision. If compliant then the Board will send you a letter and shall update its database. Please allow a minimum of two (2) weeks.
You must complete a "Request Licensees Database" form. The form is located on the agency's main website of the Division of Professional Licensure at mass.gov/dpl then scroll down on the right-hand side to "Resources" then click "Request Licensees Databases".
For Corporations, Partnerships, and Limited Liability Partnerships (LLP) to change the broker of record, you must submit to the Board a certified copy of the minutes naming a new broker of record. The broker of record must be an officer of the corporation and you must remit a check/money order for $27.00 made payable to Commonwealth of Massachusetts for new wall certificate.
For Limited Liability Corporations (LLC) to change the broker of record, you must submit to the Board a certified copy of the minutes naming a new broker of record. The broker of record must be an authorized agent, member or manager and you must remit a check/money order for $27.00 made payable to Commonwealth of Massachusetts for new wall certificate.
No, pre-licensure education cannot be used to satisfy continuing education.
To update to "Active" status, you must complete a "License Reactivation Form" located under the Applications and Forms link on the Board's website. It takes a minimum of 2-3 business days to process any request. The Board processes all requests in the order of receipt. It takes 4-6 weeks to receive the wallet license. You may check your license status on the Board's website under Online Services then click Check a Professional License.
The Board does not transmit licensure information to MLS. A licensee must contact MLS directly. MLS utilizes the Board's website to verify a licensee's licensure status. To verify the status of a professional license, visit the Board's website at mass.gov/dpl/boards/re and click on the right hand side under "Online Services" then click "Check a Real Estate Broker's or Salesperson's License".
The requestor (licensee or consumer) must mail the following to the Board: name of licensee, license number (if known), address to mail the Letter of Good Standing or Licensee History Record, and a non-refundable check or money order made payable to the Commonwealth of Massachusetts for $15.00. Please mail your request letter to the Real Estate Board, 1000 Washington Street, Suite 710, Boston, MA 02118.
Yes, you must complete the "Change of Name or Request for Duplicate License" form located on the Board's website under the Applications and Forms link and send the proscribed fee to the Board. Please mail the form and applicable fee to the Real Estate Board, 1000 Washington Street, Suite 710, Boston, MA 02118.
You must complete the "Change of Name or Request for Duplicate License" form located on the Board's website under the Applications and Forms link and if applicable send the proscribed fee. Please mail the form to the Real Estate Board, 1000 Washington Street, Suite 710, Boston, MA 02118.
Yes, a Licensee must report his/her affiliation to the Board and/or a termination of an affiliation. The Broker of Record must complete the form entitled "Affiliation Notice" located under the Applications and Forms link on the Board's website. The Broker of Record can either mail the form to the Real Estate Board, 1000 Washington Street, Suite 710, Boston, MA 02118 or fax to 617-727-0139.
Massachusetts has reciprocity or expedited licensure with most States. Information on your specific state is available on this site under the Applications and Forms link entitled "Reciprocal Licensure, Attorney Licensure and Waivers".
You need to mail to the Board the following: a letter of Legal Existence (contact the Secretary of State's office for this letter), a letter stating the name of the broker of record and an address to mail the corporation application, and a non-refundable check or money order for $52.00 made payable to the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. The Board will review the submitted documentation and then mail the broker of record a Corporation Application. The license fee is $221.00 and must be remitted with the Corporation Application. The mailing address is Real Estate Board, 1000 Washington Street, Suite 710, Boston, MA 02118.
If you hold a valid real estate license and do not wish to continue practicing as a real estate agent then when the Board sends you a Renewal Application do not remit the renewal application to the Board. The license will expire. No further action is required.
If you are a Massachusetts attorney in good standing, Massachusetts law provides that the Board may issue you a Broker license without examination, experience as a Salesperson or pre-license education. You do, however, have to file an application. To obtain an application you must first be qualified. Therefore, to start the process, submit an original certified record of good standing issued by the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court together with a check or money order payable to Commonwealth of Massachusetts in the amount of $52.00 and a cover letter that includes your mailing address and date of birth. After the Board reviews your record of good standing, an application will be sent. Attorneys from other jurisdictions must follow the regular course for licensure.
To become licensed as a salesperson or broker in Massachusetts you must complete the requisite education, complete the appropriate licensing application and pass the relevant examination. At the outset you must become licensed as a salesperson before you can become a broker. To become licensed as a salesperson you must complete forty (40) hours of education at any one of the Board approved real estate schools (the education is in various subject matter areas). For a list of schools, see the list of Authorized Real Estate Schools in Massachusetts on this site. You can also check in your Yellow Pages under real estate schools.
Once your education is complete the school will provide you with a "Candidate Handbook" which will contain verification of your completed education and information to make an appointment to take the salesperson examination with the Board's test administrator. All information to take the examination will be contained in the Candidate Handbook. Upon passing the examination you will be licensed at the test center.
Those salespersons who seek licensure as brokers follow the same practice outlined for salespersons above. There are, however, two differences. First, those seeking licensure as brokers must complete forty (40) hours of education at a Board approved real estate school (that is in addition to the salesperson education). Second, salespeople must work for a broker for at least three (3) years before they can move on to licensure as brokers (the work experience must either be current or completed no more than two (2) years prior to the time of broker examination and licensure). Once your education is complete the school will provide you with a "Candidate Handbook" and you may contact the Board's test administrator to take the examination. Upon passing the examination you will be licensed at the test center.
If you would like more information on licensure, please contact the Massachusetts Board of Registration of Real Estate Brokers and Salespersons at (617) 727-2373.
You may use prior salesperson experience so long as the experience is not over two (2) years old and/or there has not been a two (2) year gap in time between your current and past salesperson experience.
Yes, a broker and/or a salesperson renewing his/her license as "active" must complete twelve (12) hours of continuing education in different subjects that are contained in a curriculum developed by the licensing board. The continuing education MUST be completed BEFORE renewing your real estate license to active, current status (NO EXCEPTIONS). The twelve (12) hour requirement is for each license term (a license is good for two years).
Licensed Real Estate Brokers who are Massachusetts attorneys in good standing with the Board of Bar Overseers are exempt from the continuing education requirement. This exemption is only for Massachusetts attorneys. Massachusetts Real Estate Brokers who are attorneys in another state or jurisdiction must complete the continuing education.
All individuals licensed as real estate agents in the Commonwealth must demonstrate that they have completed the 12-hour continuing education requirement as a prerequisite to renewing their license as "active" (so they can work as agents). An "active" license entitles you to work. If you do not complete the 12-hour continuing education requirement by your scheduled license renewal date then the Board must, by law, renew your license as "inactive". You cannot work as an agent with an "inactive" license, though you may receive referral fees.
The new continuing education statute establishes one exemption from the new requirement. The exemption provides that Massachusetts attorneys who are currently licensed in good standing (not under any disciplinary action) and who are also real estate brokers are exempt from the continuing education requirement. Aside from this, a Massachusetts salesperson or broker who obtained his/her license in Massachusetts without examination based upon his/her licensure in another state (commonly referred to as reciprocity or reciprocal licensure) is exempt from the Massachusetts continuing education requirement, provided such agent completes his/her own state's continuing education requirement (regardless of how may hours the other state requirement contains). If such agent fails to complete their own states requirement or there is no such requirement then they must complete the Massachusetts continuing education requirement to renew their license as "active" in order to work as an agent. A corporate or partnership broker is not considered an individual and, therefore, there is no continuing education requirement for these entities. However, the continuing education requirement does apply to the individual real estate salespeople and brokers affiliated with corporate and partnership brokers unless one of the two exemption noted herein apply to the individual licensee.
Lastly, if you were originally grandfathered into licensure in Massachusetts you still must complete the 12-hour continuing education requirement to renew your license as "active" (so you can work as an agent).
If you wish to renew your license as "active" so that you may work as a real estate agent you must demonstrate that you have completed the twelve (12) hour continuing education requirement anytime during the 24 months PRIOR to renewing your real estate license (license renewals are every two years on your scheduled renewal date). The license renewal application has been modified to obtain such data via a question concerning the completion of continuing education. You either answer "Yes" if you have completed the requirement or "NO" if you have not completed the requirement. If you fail to answer the question your license will be renewed as "inactive", as noted in the instructions that are mailed with the license renewal application. The answer to this question, along with all the other information that you provide on the renewal application, is done so under the pains and penalties of perjury. Providing untruthful information may result in the suspension or revocation of your license pursuant to relevant law. By regulation, the Board also requires the approved real estate schools offering the 12-hour continuing education curriculum to keep records for each individual licensee who attends such school.
Actually it is not a course though sometimes individuals refer to it as such. The 12-hour continuing education requirement consists of 12 hours of instruction in different subject matter areas (subjects) that were developed by the Board as a curriculum pursuant to the law on continuing education. The Board approved real estate schools (providers) agree to use this 12-hour subject matter curriculum to provide the information in such curriculum to licensees. Therefore the Board does not approve any courses. Rather, it has established a 12-hour subject matter curriculum to be used by the Board approved real estate schools. Please see the list of List Of Authorized Real Estate Schools on this site which contains the school names, locations and telephone numbers. A number of schools have multiple locations and you should check with the school to see if there is a location close to you.
No, you need not wait until receipt of your next license renewal application. When you renew as "inactive" you will receive a notice (not a license) which will inform you of your renewal as "inactive". That notice will contain a section at the bottom whereby you can state, under the pains and penalties of perjury, that you have completed the 12-hour continuing education requirement and want to make your license "active". The notice will contain the Board's mailing address so you can complete it and return it to the Board. You may use the notice if you make a mistake in your original license renewal application and inadvertently renew as "inactive" or if you actually renewed as "inactive" but subsequently completed the 12-hour continuing education requirement and wish to make your license "active". When the Board receives the notice your record will be updated to reflect that your real estate license is "active" and a new license will be mailed to you. Obviously there is no fee to do this since you paid for your license when you initially renewed it as "inactive". If you do not have your notice, you may complete a "License Reactivation" form located on the Board website under the Applications and Forms Link.
No, you may not use correspondence courses via the mail to complete the 12-hour continuing education requirement. The Board does not approve such courses. Rather it has established a 12-hour subject matter curriculum pursuant to the continuing education statute. The Board approved schools (providers) agree to use that curriculum in covering the material in such curriculum for licensed real estate agents.
If you obtained licensure as a salesperson or broker in Massachusetts without examination (usually referred to as reciprocity or reciprocal licensure) based upon your license in the other state and you complete the approved continuing education requirement of that other state (regardless of how many hours that state requires) then you have also satisfied the continuing education requirement in Massachusetts and will indicate as much, under the pains and penalties of perjury, on your Massachusetts license renewal application. Obviously, if you do not complete the other state's approved continuing education requirement, if the other state has no such requirement or you did not obtain your Massachusetts license without examination based upon your licensure in the other state you would then have to complete the continuing education requirement in Massachusetts. (You must complete the approved continuing education requirement in the other state -even if you are exempt- in order for it to satisfy the Massachusetts requirement).
Whether or not your Massachusetts continuing education as a real estate agent can be used in part or totally in satisfaction of a continuing education requirement that you must fulfill for another type of license issued by Massachusetts or another state depends upon a determination which must be made by the licensing authority that issued your license in Massachusetts or another state. You should contact that licensing authority to determine whether they will accept all or part of the continuing education that you completed for your real estate agents license here in Massachusetts.
The Board must renew your license as "inactive" (as opposed to "active"). "Inactive" means you cannot work as a real estate agent, though you may receive a referral fee from an "active broker" for those individuals you have referred to such broker who, in turn, ultimately sell or buy real property through such "active broker". If you wish to do more than just receive referral fees then you must complete the 12-hour continuing education requirement by the time you are scheduled to renew your license. It is important to also note that you must complete all twelve (12) hours by the time you are scheduled to renew your license. Doing part or most of the twelve (12) hours does not entitle you to an "active" license. You must complete all 12 hours.
Effective June 1, 2011, the Board shall require the following:
a. Prior to the salesperson examination, a candidate for a salesperson license shall complete forty (40) hours of pre-licensure salesperson education.
b. Prior to the broker examination, a salesperson shall complete forty (40) hours of pre-licensure broker education AND must affiliate with a broker for three (3) years for a broker license.
Yes, all broker candidates taking the broker examination on or after June 1, 2011 must complete three (3) years of affiliation with a broker. There are no exceptions and no grandfathering provisions under the statutory amendment.
I am a licensed salesperson. I passed one portion of the broker examination before June 1, 2011 but failed the other section of the broker examination. It is June 1, 2011, will I need to complete three (3) years of affiliation with a broker?
Yes, any candidate testing for the broker examination on or after June 1, 2011 must complete three (3) years of affiliation with a broker. There are no exceptions and no grandfathering provisions under the statutory amendment.
No, the Board will not automatically invalidate your passing examination score. If a candidate passes one portion of the examination then the passing score remains valid until the expiration date of the education certification. Please be advised that a licensed salesperson taking the broker examination on or after June 1, 2011 must complete three (3) years of affiliation with a broker.
I failed the examination (broker or salesperson) but my Candidate Handbook's certification date has yet to expire. It is June 1, 2011. Will I need to take the forty (40) hours of pre-licensure education or take additional pre-licensure education hours?
No. A candidate's certification date remains valid for the two (2) years following the date on which the pre-licensure education was completed. If a candidate's certification date has yet to expire a candidate will not be required to take the forty (40) hours of pre-licensure education nor will a candidate be required to take additional pre-licensure education hours to make up the difference in the hours. If the candidate does not pass the examination (broker or salesperson) and the education certification expires then the candidate must comply with the new pre-licensure education requirements.
Yes but the candidate must pay the license fee within thirty (30) days of being notified that he/she passed the examination (broker or salesperson). If the candidate does not pay the license fee within the specified time period then the candidate must re-take the examination (broker or salesperson) and must pay the prescribed fees. (254 Code of Massachusetts Regulation 2.00(5).
There is no impact to the Board's pre-licensure curriculum. The increase in pre-licensure education hours only allows Board approved Real Estate Schools with additional instruction time to teach the pre-licensure course.
The answer is really a matter of individual needs and desires. You can certainly submit an offer to the real estate agent representing the seller but if you want assistance in attempting to purchase a home it may be advisable to have a broker who only represents your interests. That broker, like any broker, must give you the written "Mandatory Consumer Disclosure" developed by the Board. The disclosure, among other things, explains the different types of representation (such as a seller's broker, a buyer's broker, and a dual agent) and the broker will disclose his/her representation of you as buyer's broker. You can find the written disclosure at the Boards web site by going to www.mass.gov/dpl/boards/re.
It is very important that you not only understand the agreement but are comfortable with its terms. The agreement, a contract, controls the purchase and sale transaction. While they are printed by the professional organizations representing agents nothing prevents you from attempting to modify or negotiate contractual terms more to your liking. Of course the seller would have to agree to such terms. Also, you may want to pay particular attention to provisions dealing with the escrowing of deposit funds and what happens when both buyer and seller both claim such funds following a dispute. Additionally you may choose to more specifically define what types of things under the agreement can cause a dispute to minimize disagreement over whether there really is a bona fide dispute.
That's a good question and here is where you may want to define more specifically what constitutes good faith or conversely what actions or omissions indicate bad faith. For example, the typical agreement states that a buyer must obtain financing to purchase the home within a certain number of days and failing to do so the buyer usually has to give written notice to the seller within a certain time period. Sometimes buyers and sellers argue over whether a buyer failed to act in good faith, given that the buyer only applied to one lender. A more advisable course would be to state in the agreement, with some specificity, what applying for financing actually means. You might want such a clause to read that the buyer need only make one (or two) applications for financing to a lender for a fixed rate mortgage of thirty years (or fifteen or twenty) not to exceed an interest rate of 7.5%. Doing this strengthens the buyer's argument that in making two such financing applications, though not receiving financing, he or she complied with the agreement and acted in good faith. Naturally make sure you provide timely notice to the seller, in compliance with the agreement, where you are unable to obtain financing.
No you do not. Usually purchase and sale agreements seeks ten or twenty percent of the agreed upon purchase price in deposit funds. If you can negotiate a different amount with the seller put that in your agreement. Naturally as the buyer you want to put as little down as possible towards the deposit just in case a dispute arises with the seller and your deposit funds remain tied up in escrow during the dispute.
Well you could say that and that is an understandable view but keep in mind that many people who want to own a particular house often don't consider how strapped they may be for cash for ordinary expenses. Sometimes people want a particular house so much that they tend to discount the fact that they may have so little cash left over that they have little money for routine expenses, let alone any entertainment. Eventually you will adjust to your new home and may grow to resent the fact that virtually all of your money goes into your house leaving little, if any, money for other things. Think carefully about the cost of home ownership, particularly the mortgage payment, property taxes, maintenance costs (electric and heating bills, water and sewer fees) and other household expenses. You don't want to put yourself in the position of being strapped for cash.
No, you need not hire a broker. A homeowner can choose to sell his or her own home. A real estate broker is employed when the homeowner has decided to utilize the services of a broker in selling the home and that broker becomes your agent representing you. This commonly occurs when the broker enters into a "listing agreement" with the seller to sell the home
This is always an individual choice. You need to assess your own needs and the cost in hiring a broker. Determine whether the services offered by a broker are what you are looking for and if you are satisfied with the fee a broker will charge for such services. Keep in mind that hiring a broker to sell your home for you means you do not need to do so yourself. While you naturally have to pay a broker for his/her services in selling your home there may be advantages to doing this. For example, aside from relieving yourself of the need to sell your home, having a broker advertise it for sale may mean it is reaching a wider audience. In fact, many brokers belong to listing services which means your home is advertised to all those brokers who are members of that listing service. There are many services brokers can offer you so please be sure to ask brokers what services they will offer you in selling your home and what that will cost you.
Absolutely. Some brokers will work for the homeowner in selling the home (often referred to as a seller's broker) while other brokers will work for the buyer in helping to purchase a home (often referred to as a buyer's broker). If you hire a broker to work for you in buying a home that broker then is your agent representing you. You should check with the broker to determine whether the services you want are offered by that broker and what those services will cost you.
Yes and they must do so at the moment they meet with such consumer and discuss a specific property(s). The real estate licensing board has an agency disclosure regulation which requires the broker and salesperson to give a written disclosure (developed by the Board) to a consumer at the first personal meeting they have with that consumer to discuss a specific property. The purpose of this disclosure is to avoid situations where consumers may assume that a broker or salesperson is working for them. Sometimes consumers may tell the broker or salesperson confidential matters assuming that the broker they meet with is working for them. When you deal with a broker ask them who they work for and remember if you meet with a broker to discuss a specific property they must give you the written agency disclosure form.
Yes. Any money that comes into the possession of a broker must be deposited into an escrow account when the broker receives it. Salespersons work for brokers and cannot have control or access to escrow funds. That is the responsibility of the broker. Those funds are held in escrow by the broker and remain there until that time when the purchase and sale transaction is consummated (the closing) or if the transaction terminates with no sale. At such time the broker must account for the money and remit it to the proper party (the buyer or seller). The money is not the brokers and may not be used by the broker for personal or business needs.
If you hire a broker to assist you in finding an apartment you can be charged for that service. Always find out up front if you will be charged for such service since many times the landlord of the apartment is paying a broker to help find a tenant. Also, make sure you get in writing a description of the services the broker will offer in finding you an apartment and if you are charged a fee for such services when it will be due. If the fee is to obtain an apartment for you make sure you are only obligated to pay such fee if you, in fact, have an apartment (e.g. having a lease for the apartment signed by you and the landlord).