You have your real estate license in Massachusetts, but what happens if you want to work in Rhode Island or Connecticut? What if you decide to move to another state? Or maybe you have a client who wants to buy a home in Colorado? Are you out of luck because you’re only licensed in Massachusetts? Do you need to pass the baton to another agent? Or can you take your license and expertise to a different state and close the deal yourself?
In this article, we’ll explore whether you can work outside of Massachusetts with your real estate license. So let’s dive in!
Understanding License Reciprocity
Let’s start with the not-so-great news. Unfortunately, you can’t use your Massachusetts real estate license in all 50 states. But don’t worry, there’s good news too! Through the power of license reciprocity, your active license in Massachusetts is recognized in many other states across the country.
Before we proceed, keep in mind that every state has its own laws regarding license reciprocity. So the information we provide here pertains specifically to Massachusetts.
Now, what exactly is real estate license reciprocity?
In simple terms, it’s the ability to use the real estate license you earned in one state in another state. With reciprocity, you can skip the process of taking new pre-licensing classes or sitting for a state licensing exam.
Real estate license reciprocity is also known as mutual recognition. If you’re interested in obtaining a second real estate license in a different state, this agreement can fast-track your application. However, you might still need to complete a few additional steps before you can legally work as a real estate salesperson in another state. Now let’s delve into the details of real estate reciprocity agreements.
4 Types of Real Estate Reciprocity
There are several types of reciprocity agreements between states. Here’s an overview of the three different classifications of real estate reciprocity:
1. Full Real Estate Reciprocity
In a full license reciprocity agreement, real estate salespeople can transfer their license from one state to another. After completing only the state-specific section of the real estate exam, you can successfully apply for a new state’s license. This reduces the amount of studying required, as you only need to focus on the real estate laws specific to that state.
To qualify, your real estate license must be current and active. You cannot apply with an expired license. Additionally, your license must be in good standing. You should not be subject to any disciplinary action in your current state.
States that offer full license reciprocity include:
2. Partial Real Estate Reciprocity
Some states recognize real estate licenses from a specific list of other states. This agreement may extend to neighboring states or those with similar real estate laws. Out of the 50 states, 28 offer partial license reciprocity. However, each state maintains a unique list of states with which it has reciprocity agreements.
For those with a Massachusetts license, let’s focus on states that offer reciprocity to agents moving from Massachusetts. However, if you’re interested in transferring your license from another state to Massachusetts, check out our detailed post that explains how Massachusetts real estate license reciprocity works with each state in the country.
Connecticut – Offers license reciprocity to agents from Alabama, Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Massachusetts, Mississippi, Nebraska, New York, Ohio, Oklahoma, and Rhode Island.
Indiana – Offers license reciprocity to agents from Arkansas, Colorado, Connecticut, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Iowa, Kentucky, Massachusetts, Mississippi, Missouri, Nebraska, Oklahoma, and Wisconsin.
Iowa – Offers license reciprocity to agents from Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia, Louisiana, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Mississippi, North Carolina, North Dakota, Tennessee, and West Virginia.
Nebraska – Offers license reciprocity to agents from Alabama, Arkansas, Connecticut, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Maine, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Montana, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, South Dakota, Washington, West Virginia, and Wyoming.
New Hampshire – Offers license reciprocity to agents from Massachusetts, Maine, Vermont, Tennessee, and Georgia.
New York – Offers license reciprocity to agents from Arkansas, Colorado, Connecticut, Georgia, Massachusetts, Mississippi, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, and West Virginia.
Pennsylvania – Offers license reciprocity to agents from Arkansas, Georgia, Louisiana, Oklahoma, Maryland, Massachusetts, New York, and West Virginia.
Rhode Island – Offers license reciprocity to agents from Connecticut and Massachusetts.
Tennessee – Offers license reciprocity to agents from Arkansas, Connecticut, Georgia, Iowa, Louisiana, Massachusetts, Mississippi, New Mexico, North Carolina, North Dakota, South Dakota, Virginia, and West Virginia.
West Virginia – Offers license reciprocity to agents from Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia, Iowa, Massachusetts, Mississippi, Nebraska, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Tennessee, and Virginia.
Massachusetts also extends license reciprocity to agents transferring from Alabama, Arizona, California, Connecticut, Louisiana, Maine, Missouri, New Hampshire, New York, Ohio, Oregon, Rhode Island, and Washington.
Please note that state license agreements are subject to change at any time, so always verify the current agreement with the state’s licensing agency.
3. Limited Real Estate Reciprocity
This type of arrangement is one-way. Some states recognize real estate licenses from another state, but the other state may not reciprocate the agreement. So, don’t automatically assume that your state has a two-way agreement with another state.
4. No Real Estate Reciprocity
Certain states do not offer real estate reciprocity with any other states. These states will not recognize your real estate license, meaning you’ll have to take pre-licensing classes and sit for a new real estate licensing exam. However, some of these states may waive certain requirements if you hold a current and active license in a different state. It’s always a good idea to check ahead.
States that do not honor license reciprocity with any other state include:
- New Jersey
- New Mexico
- South Dakota
Understanding Real Estate License Portability
But what if you don’t want to permanently move or obtain a license in another state? This situation may apply to you if you only want to provide temporary assistance to a previous client who needs help in a different area.
In such cases, real estate license portability comes in handy.
So what exactly is real estate license portability?
Real estate license portability allows you to work in a different state using your current and active real estate license. If you’re licensed to work in Massachusetts, you can use your license in another state that recognizes it. This enables you to operate in multiple states without having to take another exam. However, keep in mind that real estate license portability is not intended for permanent use. It’s meant for one-off transactions. If you plan to permanently move to another state, you should obtain a real estate license in that state.
There are three types of real estate license portability laws:
In a cooperative state, out-of-state agents can freely practice real estate. This means you can assist with the sale, purchase, lease, management, valuation, and other activities associated with real estate.
To operate in a cooperative state, you’ll need to have a co-brokerage agreement with a brokerage in the state where you want to temporarily conduct business. This is because you must work under a broker when operating as a real estate salesperson in a different state.
2. Physical Location State
In a physical location state, you are prohibited from physically entering the state to conduct real estate business. Instead, you must work remotely. You can send information to clients, such as property listings, and even submit offers or negotiate on behalf of your clients, but you must do so remotely. Attending showings or closings is not allowed.
3. Turf State
In a turf state, you cannot engage in any real estate-related activities, even remotely. This means you cannot share listings with clients, assist with negotiations, or perform any other real estate-related tasks. Your only option is to refer clients to others who are licensed to work in that state.
The following states are considered turf states:
- New Jersey
- New Mexico
Should You Obtain a Real Estate License in Multiple States?
If you dream of expanding your business and spreading your wings beyond your current boundaries, go for it!
Operating in multiple states offers flexibility as you’re not confined to the borders of your current state. It also allows you to expand your client base, as you can offer your services to a wider range of people.
However, there are drawbacks to working in a different state. You might be less familiar with the area, requiring more time for researching the local market. If you plan to port your license in a cooperative state, you’ll also need to enter into a co-brokerage agreement with a licensed broker in the target area. It’s an additional step, but not a difficult one.
All things considered, working in multiple states as a real estate agent can be a great career move if you’re motivated and willing to immerse yourself in research on your new target area.
Yes, you can work as a licensed real estate agent in different states, either through reciprocity or portability agreements. While we strive to keep this list updated, always check the target state’s current agreement status.
If you’re transferring your license from another state to Massachusetts, check out our comprehensive guide on Massachusetts real estate license reciprocity agreements.
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