Many entrepreneurs that get involved in the real estate industry wonder what activities require a real estate license.  Many others want to get a real estate license to start a new and exciting career.  Let’s take a look at when you need a real estate license, and when you can work in the real estate industry without a license.


When most people think about working in real estate, they imagine being a real estate agent, or a real estate broker.

A real estate agent is someone who becomes an expert in the real estate market, learning about sales trends, what parts of a home contribute value, and how to close transactions.  A real estate agent is representing property owners to sell their properties, and offering expert advice on what their home is worth, and how to present their property to buyers to get the best price in the current market.

A real estate agent is representing others to sell their property.  This activity requires a real estate license.

The Division of Real Estate wants to protect the public from unfair advice from those who would call themselves experts.  That is why they require a license to represent others in the sale of real estate, so that anyone who is hired to represent a homeowner to sell their property can hold their agent to certain fiduciary standards of honesty and integrity, disclosure and confidentiality.  That is why we get licensed, so that the state can hold real estate agents accountable for representing the best interests of their clients.  That is why the state requires that all agents take a minimum of 120 hours of pre-license education, and pass a licensing exam, before they can begin to represent clients.

A real estate broker has a few other requirements.  They are licensed to supervise real estate agents, and in order to be qualified to do that, they must have a minimum of 3 years’ experience as a real estate agent, and have a certain number of transactions completed, in addition to passing a broker license course certified by the state, and passing the broker exam.


A real estate investor may, or may not need to have a real estate license.

If an investor is buying and selling their own properties, they don’t need a real estate license.  Anyone can buy and sell their own property without representation, and without a license. An investor can evaluate market prices, buy properties that they believe they can improve, and sell those improved properties at their higher value.

Some investors choose to get licensed as a real estate agent or broker, in order to become a member of various industry organizations, such as the Association of REALTORS®.  They do this so that they have direct access to the services provided by these organizations, and can participate in multiple listing services directly.  There are advantages to participating in the industry groups, but they also come with a cost.  For many, you must be a licensed real estate agent, which requires education and costs.  There are also membership fees, and sometimes other requirements.

Some investors choose to either work independently on their own properties, or to hire a full time real estate agent to manage their properties, and their sales and purchases for them, so that they can focus on other parts of the business.


There are a few exceptions to the laws that require real estate licensing.

  • If you are living in an apartment building, and you agree to manage the building in exchange for reduced rent, then you do not need a real estate license.
  • Company employees can represent their company to buy and sell property for the company. Public utilities often fall under this exception.
  • You never need a real estate license to buy or sell your own properties.

Real estate is usually the largest purchase a family will make.  Get the best advice by hiring a real estate professional that is licensed by the state, and can guide you in the current market to get the best value for your dollars.

Dan Naylor ProfileDan Naylor