Should You Get Your Real Estate License in Multiple States?

How to Sell Real Estate in Multiple States

Jacqueline Kyo Thomas

Jacqueline Kyo Thomas

You're able to sell real estate in Massachusetts, but what about in Rhode Island or Connecticut? What if you decide to move to another state? Or what if you have a long-term client who suddenly wants to buy their dream home in Colorado? Are you out of luck because you’re only licensed to sell in Massachusetts? Do you just have to pass the baton to an agent there? Or are you able to carry your license and real estate know-how to a different state and close the deal?

In this article, we discuss whether you can work outside of Massachusetts with your real estate license. Let's get started.


Understanding License Reciprocity

Let's start with the not-so-good news. Unfortunately, you're not able to use your Massachusetts real estate license in all 50 states. But the good news is that, through the power of license reciprocity, your active license in Massachusetts is recognized in many other states around the country.

A quick disclaimer before we begin: Every state has its own laws regarding license reciprocity, so the following information is only valid for Massachusetts.

So what is real estate license reciprocity?

In a nutshell, real estate license reciprocity is the ability to use the real estate license you earned in one state in another state. And you can do this without taking a new set of pre-licensing classes or sitting for a state licensing exam.

Real estate license reciprocity is also known as mutual recognition. If you're hoping to get a second real estate license in a different state, this agreement may allow you to skip ahead to the front of the line. That said, you may still need to take a few extra steps before you can legally work as a real estate salesperson in a second state. Let's discuss what you need to know about real estate reciprocity agreements.

4 Types of Real Estate Reciprocity

There are multiple types of reciprocity agreements between the states. Here's a look at the three different real estate reciprocity classifications:

1. Full Real Estate Reciprocity

In this type of agreement, a full license reciprocity state allows real estate salespeople to transfer their license from a different state. You can successfully apply for the new state's license after only completing the state section of the real estate exam. This cuts down on the amount of studying that you need to do, especially since you only need to focus on the state-specific real estate laws.

In order to qualify, your real estate license must be current and active. You cannot apply with an expired license.

In addition to having a current and active real estate license, your license must also be in good standing. You should not be under any disciplinary action in your current state of holding.

The following states offer full license reciprocity:

2. Partial Real Estate Reciprocity

Some states only recognize real estate licenses from a specific list of states. This agreement may be extended to neighboring states or states with similar real estate laws. Out of the 50 states in the union, 28 states offer partial license reciprocity. However, each state maintains a unique list of others to which it offers license reciprocity.

But let’s narrow that number down. For those who already have their license in Massachusetts, we’ll focus specifically on states that offer license reciprocity to agents moving from Massachusetts. However, if you’d like to transfer your license from another state to Massachusetts, check out this 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.

If you're curious, Massachusetts also extends license reciprocity to agents moving from Alabama, Arizona, California, Connecticut, Louisiana, Maine, Missouri, New Hampshire, New York, Ohio, Oregon, Rhode Island, and Washington.

However, all state license agreements are subject to change at any time, so always check with the state’s licensing agency to verify the current agreement.


3. Limited Real Estate Reciprocity

This is a one-way type of arrangement. Some states may recognize the real estate license from another state while that other state may not offer the same agreement. So don't automatically assume that your state has a two-way agreement with the other state.

4. No Real Estate Reciprocity

Some states do not offer real estate reciprocity with any other states. These states will not recognize your real estate license, which means you'll have to take pre-licensure classes and sit for your real estate licensing exam all over again. Some of these states may allow you to bypass certain requirements if you hold a current and active license in a different state, so be sure to check ahead.

The following states do not honor license reciprocity with any state:

Understanding Real Estate License Portability

What if you don't want to move or get a permanent license in another state? This may apply to you if, for example, you only want to provide temporary assistance to a former client who's needing services in another area.

This is where real estate license portability comes in handy.

What is real estate license portability?

Real estate license portability is the ability to work in a different state while using your current and active real estate license. If you're licensed to work in the state of Massachusetts, you can use your license in a state that recognizes our license. This allows you to operate in multiple states without sitting for an exam. However, real estate license portability is not meant to be permanent. It's for one-off transactions. If you intend to move permanently to the state, you should obtain a real estate license in that state.

There are three types of real estate license portability laws:

1. Cooperative

In a cooperative state, out-of-state agents can freely practice real estate. This means you can help with the sale, purchase, lease, management, valuation, and other activities associated with real estate.

A cooperative state will require you to have a co-brokerage agreement with a brokerage in the state where you want to temporarily do business. This is because you'll still need to work under a broker when operating in a different state as a real estate salesperson.

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. You can even submit offers or negotiate on behalf of your client, but you must do so remotely. You also cannot attend showings or closings.

3. Turf State

In a turf state, you cannot conduct any real estate related activity, even remotely. This means that you cannot share listings with a client or assist with negotiations or any other activity. Instead, you can only refer clients to others who are licensed to work in that state.

The following are turf states:

Should You Get a Real Estate License in Multiple States?

If you have the desire to grow your business and spread your wings beyond current boundaries, go for it.

One major benefit of operating in more than one state is flexibility. You're not stuck within the borders of your current state. Plus, you can increase your client base simply because you can offer your services to a wider range of people.

However, there are drawbacks to operating in a different state. You may not know the area as well, and you'll likely need to spend more time 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 broker who is licensed in the target area. This isn't difficult, but it is an extra step.

All things considered, working in multiple states as a real estate agent may be the right career move if you’re motivated and willing to immerse yourself in research on your new target area.

Final Thoughts

You can work as a licensed real estate agent in different states, either through a reciprocity or a portability agreement. While we will attempt to keep this list updated, always check with the target state to know their current agreement status.

If you’re transferring your license from another state to Massachusetts, check out this comprehensive guide to Massachusetts real estate license reciprocity agreements.

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