Frequently Asked Questions: Real Estate Brokers and Salespersons

A list of answers to common questions about the Board of Real Estate Brokers and Salespersons

Table of Contents

What is the status of my renewal?

I processed my renewal application online with the payment but I have not received my wallet license in the mail. What is the status of my renewal?

Online renewals update on the ePlace account immediately after payment. The public website will update the status of the license the next day.   However, it takes 4-6 weeks to receive the wallet license in the mail. 

If you hold a valid real estate license and do not wish to continue practicing as a real estate agent, then when it is time to renew your license DO NOT renew it. The license will expire. No further action is required.

How to make your "Inactive" license status "Active"

To update to "Active" status, you must complete a "License Reactivation Form" located under the Applications and Forms link on the Board's website.  Complete the form and email it back to the board with the continuing education certificates of completing the mandatory hours. 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. 

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 and processing the completed form, it takes 4-6 weeks to receive the wallet license. 

What do I need to do to become licensed as a real estate salesperson or broker in Massachusetts?

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. For a list of schools, see the list of Authorized Real Estate Schools in Massachusetts on this site.

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). 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 for a minimum of twenty-five (25) hours per week 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" which will contain verification of your completed education and information to apply to take the salesperson examination thru the Board's test administrator. All information to apply and take the examination will be contained in the Candidate Handbook. Upon passing the examination, you will be licensed at the test center after receipt of payment.

If you would like more information on licensure, please contact the Massachusetts Board of Registration of Real Estate Brokers and Salespersons at realestateboard@mass.gov.

Do I need to take the exam if I am licensed in another state?

Massachusetts has reciprocity or expedited licensure with thirteen (13) States. If you were licensed by examination in any of those you will not have to take the exam. Everyone else can apply for an educational waiver. Information on your specific state is available on this site “Apply for Reciprocity for an Out-of-State Real Estate Brokers or Salespersons License."

My license has been expired for more than two years what do I do?

If you wish to practice again you must reinstate an expired license by completing the "Request for Reinstatement Application" located here.

For an active license, you must complete 12 hours of continuing education (list on website) before applying for the reinstatement (except Massachusetts Attorneys in good standing with the Board of Bar Overseers).

All brokers, active or inactive, must obtain a bond prior to submitting the reinstatement application.

Upon the Board receiving the completed payment and attestation from you, it takes 4-6 weeks to receive the wallet license. You may check your status on the Board's website under Check a License.

What do I need to do to become licensed as a real estate salesperson or broker in Massachusetts?

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 realestateboard@mass.gov

Who has to do continuing education and are there any exemptions?

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. Pre-licensure education cannot be used to satisfy continuing education. 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 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).

The continuing education statute establishes one exemption. The exemption provides that Massachusetts attorneys who currently are licensed in good standing (not under any disciplinary action) and who are real estate brokers are exempt from the continuing education requirement.

Do I need to hire a real estate broker to sell my home?

No, you need not hire a broker. 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 also choose to sell your 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

Deciding to hire a real estate broker is 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.

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.

Real estate brokers can also assist you in finding an apartment. But keep in mind that 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).

Do real estate brokers and salespersons have to tell consumers who they work for?

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.

Do real estate brokers and salespersons have any duties regarding deposit funds I have paid into?

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.

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

What are purchase and sale agreements?

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.

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.

Some purchase and sale agreement notes that both the buyer and the seller must act in good faith. 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.

What is the effect of the statutory amendment to MGL Chapter 112, Section 87SS?

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.

Does a Licensee need to report his/her affiliation and/or a termination of an affiliation?

Yes, the Broker of Record must report all his/her affiliations to the Board and/or a termination of an affiliation at the brokerages. The Broker of Record can go the link on the website and follow the instructions..

What is the process to obtain a "Letter of Good Standing" or a "Licensee History Record"?

The requestor (licensee or consumer) must go to this page and follow the instructions for requesting a verification

How do I change the broker of record?

For Corporations, Partnerships, and Limited Liability Partnerships (LLP) to change the broker of record, you complete the amendment on the Board ePlace portal under the linked business license. If the business is not linked to a/the account, please contact the Board for codes. A wall certificate can be requested for $27 at this time as its own amendment but it is not necessary.

MLS terminated or may terminate my MLS account. Can the Board transmit or notify MLS of my status?

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 Check a License.

How do I obtain a list of real estate licensees?

Utilize DOL's Check a License feature.

How do I request that the Board terminate the Probation, Suspension or Stayed Suspension Period?

I received discipline by the Board. How do I request that the Board terminate the Probation, Suspension or Stayed Suspension Period?

You must remit a written request to the Real Estate Board at realestateboard@mass.gov, 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 will 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 update its database. Please allow a minimum of two (2) weeks.

Even though I am licensed and have completed broker education, must I still affiliate with a broker?

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?

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 passed one portion of the broker examination before June 1, 2011 but failed the other section.

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.

If I failed one part of the exam will the Board invalidate my passing score?

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?

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, but my Candidate Handbook's certification date has yet to expire.

I failed the examination (broker or salesperson) but my Candidate Handbook's certification date has yet to expire. 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 retake all education and reapply as a new applicant.

What if I passed the examination but have not paid for my license, can I still obtain my license?

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).

I worked as a salesperson several years ago, may I use that experience to obtain my broker license?

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

What can I do with an "inactive" license?

"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. Doing part or most of the twelve (12) hours does not entitle you to an "active" license. You must complete all 12 hours.

Do I need to take the exam if I am licensed as an attorney?

The Board allows licensed Massachusetts attorneys to be licensed without examination.  Information on what is required to apply can be found under Apply for a Real Estate Attorney-Broker License".

Contact

Online

To receive instructions on conducting common board transactions, email the address below. This is an unmonitored email address. Please do not send any documentation to this email address: realestateboard.info@mass.gov

Address

1000 Washington Street, Suite 710
Boston , MA 02118

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