Real Estate Broker Licensing Compliance

Before you buy or sell, make compliance a part of your real estate strategy.
Real Estate Broker Licensing Compliance
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Like any professional industry, real estate is regulated and has requirements for licensing. Staying compliant with these requirements is essential to legally practicing as a real estate agent. In fact, you cannot carry out real estate agent work without proper and up-to-date licensing. A proactive approach to license management can save your real estate brokerage significant time and hassle. Stay in good standing and avoid lapsed licenses with our full-service real estate compliance services. For a free evaluation, contact us to speak with an Account Manager.

Below, we outline the important role that brokerage licensing plays in regards to real estate. In most cases, real estate brokers can work as agents, but agents cannot work as real estate brokers without a broker’s license. With few exceptions, any person or business entity that engages in brokerage must have a real estate license. Real estate brokerage firm licensing requirements vary state-by-state, so it’s important to stay up-to-date regarding your location’s specifications.

The good news? An experienced, dedicated compliance partner can help you take a proactive approach to maintaining real estate licensure and certification. Contact Harbor Compliance today to help you simplify the professional licensing process.

The following guide contains an overview of real estate practice licensing and specific board requirements in each state.

Overview of Real Estate Industry Licensing

Industry-specific licensing covers a wide range of activities. In general, an individual or company engaged in selling, exchanging, purchasing, renting, leasing, negotiating, listing, auctioning, or advising others on real estate is subject to oversight. Licenses are frequently required for:

  • Offices of Real Estate Agents and Brokers
  • Residential & Commercial Property Managers
  • Other Real Estate Asset Management Services
  • Other Real Estate Lessors (e.g. self-storage units)
  • Real Estate Appraisal Services
  • Real Estate Escrow Agencies
  • Real Estate Listing Services
  • Real Estate Fiduciaries' Offices
  • Auctioning Real Estate for others
  • Selling time-share condominiums for others
  • Real Estate Schools

The real estate industry is primarily regulated at the state-level. Each of the 50 states and the District of Columbia has a board or commission dedicated to administering regulation of the real estate profession.

Real Estate Brokerage Firm Licensing

A business entity offering real estate brokerage services to the public typically must register with the real estate commission before conducting business activity. Firm registration is currently required in 41 states. Real estate firms should become properly licensed prior to practicing to ensure compliance and avoid state fines or penalties.

Licensure for brokerage firms usually follows incorporation or foreign qualification of the business entity with the secretary of state. Some states do, however, require real estate brokerages to have their name approved by the real estate commission before filing with the secretary of state.

After registration with the secretary of state, firms must apply for a real estate brokerage license through the real estate commission. Every state that issues firm licenses requires the appointment of an individually licensed real estate broker to oversee the firm’s activities. Depending on the state, the appointed broker is often called either a qualifying broker, designated broker, or principal broker.

In addition to the firm license, companies with branch offices will often need to apply for separate branch office licenses. Branch offices generally appoint the same designated broker as the main office, but they must also appoint a broker or salesperson as the on-site manager of the new branch.

Although brokerage firm licenses are similar across many states, there are some unique requirements to be aware of. For instance, Massachusetts based firms must send a letter of legal existence and a $52 fee to the real estate board in order to receive an initial license application. Brokerages in Hawaii are only required to license one branch office per island.

Initial Registration Fees

Fees for initial licensure range from $10 to $705, with an average license fee of $185. Pennsylvania charges only $10, while Connecticut filing fees total to $705.

Renewal Requirements

Brokerage firm license renewal varies by state. Slightly over half of the states that require firm licensure call for licenses to be renewed every two years. Almost all other state licenses renew annually. Tennessee is one exception to this rule, as they do not require a renewal filing.

Like initial application fees, renewal fees also vary by state. There is no fee in Arizona, while Connecticut charges $383 to renew a license. Firms can expect to pay closer to the national average of $150 when applying for a license, however, the most commonly applied fee is $170.

Table of Company Licenses

Looking for real estate broker certification requirements in a particular jurisdiction? The following table summarizes firm licensing requirements across the United States. Click on any state for the licensing information specific to that state.

Alabama

Our Resources:

More Info

Agency

Alabama Real Estate Commission

Initial Application

Fee:

Depends on when you register: $170 for registering in the first year of the biennium or $85 for registering in the second year.

Form:

Company License Application

License Renewal

Fee:

$85

Form:

Online

Due:

By September 30 of even-numbered years.

Alaska

Our Resources:

More Info

Agency

Alaska Real Estate Commission

Initial Application

License Renewal

Not required

Only required when company information changes.

Arizona

Our Resources:

More Info

Agency

Arizona Department of Real Estate

License Renewal

Fee:

No fee for renewing a corporation, llc, or partnership. There is a $60 fee for each branch office renewal.

Form:

Renewal Application

Due:

Biennially

Arkansas

Our Resources:

More Info

Agency

Arkansas Real Estate Commission

Initial Application

Fee:

$30

Form:

There is no form, follow the instructions instead.

License Renewal

Not required

Renewal is not required, but firms must update information whenever it changes.

California

Our Resources:

More Info

Agency

California Department of Consumer Affairs - Bureau of Real Estate

Initial Application

License Renewal

Fee:

$300

Form:

Online

Due:

Biennially

Colorado

Our Resources:

More Info

Agency

Colorado Division of Real Estate

Initial Application

Fee:

$695

Form:

Online

License Renewal

Fee:

$128

Form:

Online

Due:

Triennially

Connecticut

Our Resources:

More Info

Agency

Connecticut Department of Consumer Protection

Initial Application

Fee:

$705 or $825 for reciprocal firm registration.

Form:

New Legal Entity Applicant

License Renewal

Fee:

$375 for odd-numbered years and $383 for even-numbered years.

Due:

Annually by March 31.

Delaware

Our Resources:

More Info

Agency

Delaware Division of Professional Regulation - Real Estate Commission

Initial Application

License Renewal

Fee:

Specified at the time of renewal.

Form:

Online

Due:

By April 30 of even-numbered years.

District of Columbia

Our Resources:

More Info

Agency

District of Columbia Occupational and Professional Licensing Administration - Real Estate Commission

Initial Application

Fee:

$150

Form:

Online

License Renewal

Fee:

$110

Form:

Online

Due:

Biennially

Florida

Our Resources:

More Info

Agency

Florida Division of Real Estate

License Renewal

Fee:

$72

Form:

Online

Due:

Biennially

Georgia

Our Resources:

More Info

Agency

Georgia Real Estate Commission & Appraisers Board

Initial Application

License Renewal

Fee:

$125

Form:

Mail-in Firm Renewal

Due:

Every 4 years.

Hawaii

Our Resources:

More Info

Agency

Hawaii Real Estate Branch

Initial Application

Fee:

Depends on when you register: $486 for registering in the first year of the biennium or $349 for registering in the second year.

Form:

Application for License: Corp., Partnership, LLC, LLP

License Renewal

Fee:

$343

Form:

Online

Due:

By November 30 of even-numbered years.

Idaho

Our Resources:

More Info

Agency

Idaho Real Estate Commission

License Renewal

Fee:

$50

Form:

Online

Due:

Biennially

Illinois

Our Resources:

More Info

Agency

Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation - Division of Professional Regulation - Division of Real Estate

Initial Application

License Renewal

Fee:

$75

Form:

Online

Due:

By October 31 of even-numbered years.

Indiana

Our Resources:

More Info

Agency

Indiana Professional Licensing Agency - Real Estate Commission

Initial Application

Fee:

$50 for broker company or $25 for professional corporation.

Form:

Broker Company Application or Professional Corporation Application

License Renewal

Fee:

$50 for broker company or $20 for professional corporation.

Form:

Online

Iowa

Our Resources:

More Info

Agency

Iowa Professional Licensing Bureau - Real Estate Commission

Initial Application

Fee:

$170

Form:

Firm Application

License Renewal

Fee:

$170

Form:

Online

Due:

Triennially

Kansas

Our Resources:

More Info

Agency

Kansas Real Estate Commission

Initial Application

License Renewal

Not required

Renewal is not required, but firms must update information whenever it changes.

Kentucky

Our Resources:

More Info

Agency

Kentucky Board of Real Estate Professionals

Initial Application

License Renewal

Not required

Renewal is not required, but firms must update information whenever it changes.

Louisiana

Our Resources:

More Info

Agency

Louisiana Real Estate Commission

License Renewal

Maine

Our Resources:

More Info

Agency

Maine Office of Professional and Financial Regulation - Real Estate Commission

Initial Application

Fee:

$100

Form:

Agency Application

License Renewal

Fee:

$100

Form:

Online

Due:

Biennially by the initial registration date.

Maryland

Our Resources:

More Info

Not required

Maryland does not issue firm licenses in general, but brokers wanting to open a branch office will need to apply for a branch office license.

Massachusetts

Our Resources:

More Info

Agency

Massachusetts Office of Consumer Affairs and Business Regulation - Board of Registration of Real Estate Brokers and Salespersons

Initial Application

Fee:

$221

License Renewal

Fee:

$221

Form:

Online

Due:

Biennially by the initial registration date.

Michigan

Our Resources:

More Info

Agency

Michigan Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs (LARA) - Bureau of Professional Licensing

Initial Application

Fee:

Depends on when you register: $71 minimum and $143 maximum.

Form:

Application for a Broker Company or Branch Office License

License Renewal

Fee:

Depends on when you register: $91 minimum and $163 maximum.

Due:

Triennially

Minnesota

Our Resources:

More Info

Agency

Minnesota Department of Commerce - Licensing Unit

Initial Application

Fee:

$180

Form:

Online

License Renewal

Fee:

$120

Form:

Online

Due:

Biennially by June 30.

Mississippi

Our Resources:

More Info

Agency

Mississippi Real Estate Commission

Initial Application

License Renewal

Fee:

$75 for one year renewal or $150 for two year renewal.

Form:

Online

Due:

Either annually or biennially depending on which option is chosen.

Missouri

Our Resources:

More Info

Agency

Missouri Division of Professional Registration - Real Estate Commission

Initial Application

Fee:

$80 for Missouri domestic companies and $150 for foreign companies.

Form:

Application for a Real Estate Corporation, Partnership, or LLC License or Professional Corporation Application.

License Renewal

Fee:

$50 for Missouri domestic companies and $150 for foreign companies.

Form:

Online

Due:

By June 30 of even-numbered years.

Montana

Our Resources:

More Info

Not required

Montana does not issue firm specific licenses, instead, individual brokers are asked to supply firm information.

Nebraska

Our Resources:

More Info

Agency

Nebraska Real Estate Commission

License Renewal

Fee:

$25

Due:

Annually

Nevada

Our Resources:

More Info

Not required

Nevada does not issue separate firm licenses, but individual brokers must include business information as a part of their application.

New Hampshire

Our Resources:

More Info

Agency

New Hampshire Office of Professional Licensure and Certification

Initial Application

License Renewal

Fee:

$110

Form:

Due:

Biennially

New Jersey

Our Resources:

More Info

Agency

New Jersey Department of Banking and Finance - Real Estate Commission

Initial Application

License Renewal

Fee:

$200

Form:

Online

Due:

Biennially

New Mexico

Our Resources:

More Info

Not required

New Mexico does not issue separate firm licenses, but individual brokers must include business information as a part of their application.

New York

Our Resources:

More Info

Not required

New York does not have a separate firm application, but the corporate information is required on the individual broker license.

North Carolina

Our Resources:

More Info

Agency

North Carolina Real Estate Commission

Initial Application

License Renewal

Fee:

$45

Form:

Online

Due:

Annually by June 30.

North Dakota

Our Resources:

More Info

Agency

North Dakota Real Estate Commission

Initial Application

License Renewal

Fee:

$150

Due:

Annually

Ohio

Our Resources:

More Info

Agency

Ohio Department of Commerce - Division of Real Estate and Professional Licensing

Initial Application

Fee:

$100 for domestic firms and $225 for foreign.

Form:

Real Estate Business Forms

License Renewal

Fee:

Determined during renewal.

Form:

Online

Due:

Annually by June 30.

Oklahoma

Our Resources:

More Info

Not required

Oklahoma does not have a separate firm application, but the corporate information is required on the individual broker license.

Oregon

Our Resources:

More Info

Not required

Oregon does not have a separate firm application, but the corporate information is required on the principal broker license.

Pennsylvania

Our Resources:

More Info

Agency

Pennsylvania Department of State - Real Estate Commission

Initial Application

License Renewal

Fee:

$126

Form:

Online

Due:

By May 31 of even-numbered years.

Rhode Island

Our Resources:

More Info

Agency

Rhode Island Department of Business Regulation - Real Estate Section

License Renewal

Fee:

$170

Form:

Renewal Broker Corporate Application

Due:

By April 30 of even-numbered years.

South Carolina

Our Resources:

More Info

Not required

South Carolina does not have a separate firm application, but the corporate information is required on the broker in charge license.

South Dakota

Our Resources:

More Info

Agency

South Dakota Real Estate Commission

Initial Application

License Renewal

Fee:

$125

Form:

Online

Due:

Biennially

Tennessee

Our Resources:

More Info

Agency

Tennessee Department of Commerce and Insurance - Real Estate Commission

Initial Application

License Renewal

Fee:

$80

Form:

Online

Due:

Biennially

Texas

Our Resources:

More Info

Agency

Texas Real Estate Commission

License Renewal

Utah

Our Resources:

More Info

Agency

Utah Department of Commerce - Division of Real Estate

Initial Application

License Renewal

Not required

Utah does not require renewal of the registration unless information changes.

Vermont

Our Resources:

More Info

Agency

Vermont Secretary of State - Real Estate Commission

Initial Application

License Renewal

Fee:

$200

Form:

Real Estate Brokerage Firm Renewal

Due:

Biennially

Virginia

Our Resources:

More Info

Agency

Virginia Department of Professional and Occupational Regulation - Real Estate Board

Initial Application

License Renewal

Fee:

$160

Form:

Online

Due:

Biennially by the last day of the month of initial registration.

Washington

Our Resources:

More Info

Agency

Washington State Department of Licensing - Real Estate Section

Initial Application

License Renewal

Fee:

$200

Form:

Online

Due:

Biennially

West Virginia

Our Resources:

More Info

Not required

West Virginia does not have a separate firm application, but the corporate information is required on the broker license. However, there is a license for branch offices.

Wisconsin

Our Resources:

More Info

Agency

Wisconsin Department of Safety and Professional Services

Initial Application

License Renewal

Fee:

$82

Form:

Online

Due:

By December 14th of even-numbered years.

Wyoming

Our Resources:

More Info

Agency

Wyoming Real Estate Commission

License Renewal

Fee:

$350

Form:

Online

Due:

Triennially by December 31.

Associate Broker - Associate brokers are qualified to work independently as a broker, but choose to work under the authority of a designated broker.

On-Site Manager - A broker or salesperson who oversees the operations of a branch office under the authority of the designated broker.

Qualifying Broker/Designated Broker - An experienced and licensed real estate broker responsible for management and operation of a real estate firm.

Real Estate - Land, buildings, and their permanent improvements and fixtures. Also called "real property" in contrast to personal property.

Real Estate Agent - This term refers generally to any licensed real estate professional.

Reciprocity - Reciprocity makes it easier for out-of-state real estate firms to gain approval to operate in a foreign state by streamlining some licensing requirements.

Association of Real Estate License Law Officials (ARELLO)
Offers a license verification database accross 43 jurisdictions.

NAIOP Commercial Real Estate Development Association Agencies
Aid education, research, and advocacy efforts in the real estate industry.

National Association of Realtors
Real estate trade organization that provides information and resources for development of the real estate industry.

Urban Land Institute
Research and education association concerned with responsible land use and creating sustainable communities.

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