You're trying to get your Massachusetts real estate license, and all you want to know is: how do real estate classes in MA work? The State doesn't really explain the process, so let's go over the exactly how the classes work, what they cover, and the process to get your real estate license in Massachusetts.
First off, you should know that there are two types of real estate licenses in Massachusetts: real estate salesperson licenses, and real estate broker licenses. Salesperson licenses are for new agents. Every real estate agent in Massachusetts starts out as a salesperson. Broker licenses are for real estate salespersons with 3 or more years of experience. Both of these licenses let you help clients buy, sell, and rent real estate. The only real difference between the two licenses is that brokers can work for themselves and own a real estate brokerage, while salespersons always have to work for a broker.
If you'd like more information on the difference between salespersons and brokers, this post goes into depth about the difference between the two licenses.
The Licensing Process
Now let's talk about the actual process to get one of these licenses. Getting your real estate license in Massachusetts can be broken down into three steps:
- Take the 40 hour real estate class at a licensed MA real estate school (like ours!). The State of Massachusetts requires that all real estate license candidates take a 40 hour class before sitting for the real estate license exam. The salespersons' class and the brokers' class are both 40 hours long. These classes cover everything you need to know to become a salesperson or broker. Oh, and before you ask: yes, you can take your class online. The Massachusetts Real Estate Board has allowed us to offer pre-license classes online since October 2016. We were actually the first ever real estate school approved to offer online classes in all of Massachusetts! And if you prefer in person classes, those are available too, usually nights or weekends over a couple of weeks or months.
- Apply to take the real estate test using your course completion certificate. The 40 hour class entitles you to sit for the license test (without the class, you can't sit for the test - Massachusetts doesn't allow self study). After finishing the course, you'll get some paperwork that shows that you have finished all of the required coursework. You will email or mail that paperwork to PSI Exams, the company that administers the license test for Massachusetts. They will review all of your paperwork, run a background check, and approve you to take the exam. Once you're approved, you'll sign up for the test either online with a live online proctor, or at one of PSI's in person testing centers. PSI has locations all over the state (Boston, Auburn, Worcester, West Springfield, Fall River, and Lawrence, to be exact), and the test is available on most weekdays and weekends both online and in person.
- Pass the real estate test. The real estate salesperson exam is 120 questions, and the real estate broker exam is 115 questions. Both exams are broken down into two sections: general real estate knowledge, and Massachusetts law. The general (or national) section covers knowledge that is the same in every state, and the Massachusetts law (or state) section covers any Massachusetts specific material, like the state licensing laws. You'll need to score at least 70% on each section to pass the test. That 70% is on each section separately, rather than an average score, so think of the two sections almost like two separate tests that you take on the same day.
- Get your real estate license. Seriously, that's it. After you pass the exam, you'll either receive your license on the spot if you took the test in person, or go to a testing center to have your photo taken and pick up the license if you took the test online. Tada! You're a real estate agent, and can go sell real estate that same day!
Simple, right? So what's the deal with the class?
Real Estate Classes in MA
You have to take a 40 hour real estate class as your first step in the licensing process. You can take the class in any number of formats (for instance, we offer everything from 4 day crash courses, to weekend classes and night classes), but you have to take the full curriculum. Just what the heck is covered during those forty hours? A bunch of different things:
- Property rights. You need to know about what you're selling, after all!
- Title transfers. An overview of how title to real estate is actually transferred, and what to watch out for.
- Basic contract law. You're not studying for the bar exam, so this section doesn't get too in depth, but do you need to know a little about contract law since almost every part of a real estate sale involves contracts and agreements.
- Agency relationships. What are your responsibilities to your client? What about to the other party? To your broker? This is a really important section for your day to day practice as an agent.
- Brokerage operations and responsibilities. All about how real estate brokerages work.
- Property disclosures. Everything you have to tell (and not tell) potential purchasers of real estate.
- Financing for real estate. Your clients are usually going to get a loan to buy their real estate, so you need to know the ins and outs of real estate financing.
- Property valuation. How is property valued? You'll walk out of class knowing enough to determine a listing price for your clients!
- Fair housing law. The Federal and State anti-discrimination laws and regulations.
- Federal real estate laws. All the rules and regulations you need to be worried about on a Federal level.
- Massachusetts real estate laws. All of the rules and regulations that you need to worry about on the State level.
- Real estate math. The basic math you need to know to sell real estate (don't worry - there isn't a lot!).
- Practical information. Basic information that every new agent should know (for example: what should you look for in a brokerage?).
Phew! There's a lot to cover there. That's why you have to spend 40 hours in class: not only do you have to go over all of that material, but you also have to get prepared for the test. That means practice problems and review. Most schools skip over the test prep, so make sure that the class you choose doesn't. You're not taking the Massachusetts real estate class for your health; you're taking it to pass the exam and get your real estate license.
(Shameless plug: we might be a little biased, but we think that we have the best Massachusetts real estate test prep in the industry. We get our students' statistics every month, and our monthly pass rates are 15-20% higher than the Massachusetts average. And for those students that take their time and study our materials, we see pass rates over 90%. We attribute a lot of that success to the test preperation classes and study materials that we offer, so be sure you focus on test prep when picking a school!)
The last thing to touch on, which I mentioned briefly above, is that you can take your real estate license classes online or in person. The State of Massachusetts approved online real estate license classes starting in October 2016.
(Another shameless plug: we were the very first school in Massachusetts to offer the 40 hour licensing course online!)
What do I do after the class?
After the class you'll apply to take the exam with PSI Exams, study your notes from class, pass the real estate test, and go sell some real estate! Don't fret too much about passing the test, but do be sure to study before taking it. There's a lot of material covered in the 40 hour class, and the State exam likes to ask sneaky questions that are designed to trip up students that haven't studied the material. But don't stress out too much: if you study you'll be fine.
Wondering exactly what's covered by the test? PSI is kind enough to provide a full outline of the real estate test in their real estate license test handbook.
How much does all of this cost?
Good question! Getting your Massachusetts real estate license costs around $500. Here's the breakdown:
- Real estate license classes: $300-$400. This will change depending on the class schedule you choose.
- The real estate test: $85. If you have to retake the test it's a little bit less expensive ($54), but study for the test and you won't have to worry about that!
- Your real estate license: about $150. Ok, this one is a little complicated. Technically your license will cost between $103-$150. Why the variation? Because your first license is good to your 3rd birthday after you get it, so the State pro-rates the cost depending on how long it's good for. Just bank on it being $150, and when it costs less you can take yourself out to dinner with the savings.
There are also expenses that you should plan for when you begin working as a real estate agent, which we go over in this post. Overall not too bad, considering that many professional licenses cost several thousand dollars (nevermind becoming something like a doctor or lawyer)!
Where do I go from here?
If you want to get your real estate license, your next step is to sign up for a real estate class. Not quite sure if real estate is for you yet? Zillow has an excellent article about a day in the life of a real estate agent. It should give you a good feeling for about whether or not getting a real estate license is the right fit for you.
And that's all you need to know about real estate classes in MA. Hopefully this has been helpful (maybe I'll even see you in class!), and good luck with your potential new career!