How to Get a Massachusetts Real Estate License

Chris Heller HeadshotChris Heller, Licensed Agent10/19/2022
Massachusetts state seal
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Step 1: Take a MA Real Estate License Course

In Massachusetts, you must take 40-hours of a pre-licensing course. Don't worry though, there are lots of options, including many that are online.
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Step 2: Pass the Massachusetts Real Estate License Exam

There are 100 multiple choice questions on the exam. You have to score at least a 75% to pass.
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Step 3: Apply for Your MA Real Estate License

Now that you’ve passed, you’ll use your exam score to apply to the government department that will grant you a license. This is also where you need to pass a background check.
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Step 4: Look For A Sponsoring Broker

You have total freedom to choose your sponsoring broker. Here’s some things agents look at when choosing a brokerage: commission rate and structure, company culture, and the opportunity for growth.
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4 Steps to Get Real Estate License in Massachusetts

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Step-By-Step Guide to Becoming a Real Estate Agent in Massachusetts

Are you interested in becoming a real estate agent in the great state of Massachusetts? Of course you are, real estate is booming here! Well, hold on tight  cause we’re gonna fire off the four steps you need to get your hands on a Massachusetts real estate license.

You ready? Let’s break it down, step by step.

Step 1: Complete a Pre-Licensing Massachusetts Real Estate Course

School’s Back in Session

You’re required to take a “pre-licensing” education class where you’ll study the principles of real estate, contracts, and finance. Not a fan of school? Well, these classes just might change how you feel about school. You have so many options! Some of them are even entirely online which has huge advantages! Online classes means you can do them at your own pace and work them in around your own schedule even if you have a full-time job. Also, you will only need to attend 40 hours of real estate classes in Massachusetts! That may seem like a big number, but to get started in a new career, that number is just a speck in time.

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But what’s included in those 40 hours? Take a look at the curriculum and see for yourself:

  • Licensing laws and regulations
  • Ethical standards
  • Basic principles of real estate
  • Real estate agency and contracts
  • Real estate financing principles and practices
  • Real estate valuation

“That sounds scary and hard!”

Don’t be scared off by the vocabulary. This is what the real estate license classes in MA are designed for. They’ll defang any confusing topics by breaking them down. Still scared? Trust me, you can do this. The pass rates after taking these classes are sky-high, typically over a 91% pass rate and the support these classes offer is amazing. 

Students are always surprised how affordable these classes are. Take a look at the best real estate schools in Massachusetts and see for yourself. If you’re still looking for a way to save some dough, AgentAdvice offers a way to get yours for free.

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Step 2: Pass the Massachusetts Real Estate Exam

Group,Of,Brokers,Working,Together,At,The,Modern,Office,Space.You’re done with the 40 hour course. The natural next step is to pass the exam. You apply to take the real estate license test using your course completion certificate.

There are 100 multiple choice questions on the exam. You have to score at least a 75% to pass.

This is one of the strictest real estate exams around.

The real estate license exam in MA may be tough, but you’re smart so you’ll be just fine. All exams have a pattern. We offer prep courses that use past questions to show how you can pass.

Remember to bring a valid photo ID and exam admittance form to your exam location.

Make sure you’re prepared to pay for the license on the day of the exam (after passing the test) as you can get your license at the exam site immediately after passing the exam for a fee of $103 to $150.

Step 3: Apply for Your Real Estate License in MA

Now that you’ve passed, you’ll use your exam score to apply to the government department that will grant you a license.  This is also where you need to pass a background check.

Some of the things you will need to apply are:

  • A Surety Bond in your name as an applicant, issued by a Board-approved Real Estate Bond Company is needed. You are required to obtain this prior to submitting the application.
  • A notarized Criminal Offender Record Information (CORI) Authorization Form completed and signed by the applicant.
  • A recent, color photograph (passport-style headshot).
  • If applicable, an explanatory document detailing all prior or pending professional disciplinary actions.
  • If applicable, an explanatory document detailing all prior felony or misdemeanor convictions

You will have to be fingerprinted here 👍 especially if you are a first-timer. Don’t worry too much about this, especially if you don’t have any convictions. If you do, quickly pay your outstanding parking tickets or fees. The fingerprints will help confirm the accuracy of your records.

Step 4: Look For A Sponsoring Broker

Happy,Property,Owners,Shaking,Hands,With,Real,Estate,Broker,AfterNow a word from our sponsor

Finally, you’ll need to find a sponsoring broker. 🙋 Uhhh … should I know what a  ‘sponsoring broker’ is? Nope, we’ll tell you! So you’ve passed the exam but it doesn’t mean you’re ready just yet. When you first start out you’ll want an experienced organization to show you the ropes. Sponsoring brokers have been-there-done-that and they’re ready to show you how. Not only will they give you all the tools you need to start making sales but they’ll help you market yourself as an agent. 

You’ll get to choose a brokerage you like, that focuses on a niche you love, that has a company culture you love, and most importantly … has a good commission rate, so your paycheck is XL. Worried about finding a brokerage yourself? AgentAdvice helps with warm introductions to hiring brokerages if you sign-up for a class through us. Phew!

You have total freedom to choose your sponsoring broker. Here’s some things agents look at when choosing a brokerage:

  • Commission Rate
    • Look at each brokerage’s commission rate when you’re shopping around. If they’ve got a good rate, your commission checks will be larger than life. 💸
  • Niche
    • Maybe you want a brokerage that focuses on a niche on a location or a specific category of real estate like commercial retail, single family homes, or fixer-uppers. So if you have a specific interest you can find a broker who shares that interest.
  • Culture
    • Maybe the company’s culture is important to you. If so, get to know what they’re all about, how they work, and what’s important to them.

That’s all just to say that you have the freedom to choose a brokerage that fits you.

Mission Complete

sold signThose are the steps you need to get your Massachusetts real estate license. Yes, you might have to trudge through paperwork, check boxes, file forms, burn the midnight oil, chug coffee … but after all that … you’ll have your license. We recommend printing it out on super-gloss and framing it. Leave some room next to it for your first commission check; A LOT of room!  

That’s all folks! Once you make it through these steps you’ll have a brand new career ahead of you. If there’s anything we can do to help you make it through these steps please let us know. We’ve got pre-licensing classes, cram courses, and all sorts of resources to help.

What are the Massachusetts real estate license requirements?

Hello criteria, pleasure to meet you!

The Massachusetts Board of Real Estate Brokers and Salespersons has a list of prerequisites you must check off before you can begin the process of getting your license. It’s their job to make sure all agents in Massachusetts are capable, qualified, and can lawfully work in the state. To do so, they have some basic criteria you must meet. Luckily, most of the MA real estate license requirements are pretty straightforward.

Let’s meet the criteria:

  1. You must be at least 18 years old.
  2. You must be a U.S. citizen or a lawfully admitted alien.
  3. You must meet their integrity, trustworthiness, and honesty standards. 🙋 ( Yes, we’ll answer your questions about this one in a moment. )

The first two are pretty cut and dry but the last one, not so much. The good news is that most of our visitors/users don’t need to worry about it. The only time you’d need to be concerned is if you have any criminal offenses, unpaid judgments, disciplinary actions taken against a professional or occupational license, or have performed unlicensed real estate activity.

Reciprocity 

Massachusetts offers reciprocal licensure with states like Rhode Island and Connecticut.

 

What is the cost of a real estate license in MA?


coins stackedThe basic fees associated with obtaining a real estate license in Massachusetts are:

  • The initial examination fee is $54 
  • The processing fee is $31
  • License fees will be calculated and paid at the test center and can range between $103 and $150
  • A $12 PSI licensing fee 

All fees need to be paid by a credit card, personal checks, cashier’s checks, or money orders made directly to PSI. Cash payments are not accepted.

In addition to these fees required by The Board of Registration of Real Estate Brokers and Salespersons or PSI, you should also plan for prelicensing classes. Typically, these costs can range anywhere from $200 to $700, depending on the course provider.

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How long does it take to get a real estate license in Massachusetts?


classroom setting with studentsIt takes every applicant a different amount of time to finish the whole process, but in general, the time needed in Massachusetts is shorter than some other states. This is because the prelicensing education classes can be taken online, last shorter (40 hours), and the license is issued to you immediately after passing the exam. 

The prelicensing education course can be finished within a month if you take two hours per day, five days per week. 

Getting your Application for Examination checked and approved by The Board of Registration of Real Estate Brokers and Salespersons can take up to two weeks. The exam date will be scheduled, depending on the seating availability.

 

How much do real estate agents make in Massachusetts?


classroom setting with studentsIt takes every applicant a different amount of time to finish the whole process, but in general, the time needed in Massachusetts is shorter than some other states. This is because the prelicensing education classes can be taken online, last shorter (40 hours), and the license is issued to you immediately after passing the exam. 

The prelicensing education course can be finished within a month if you take two hours per day, five days per week. 

Getting your Application for Examination checked and approved by The Board of Registration of Real Estate Brokers and Salespersons can take up to two weeks. The exam date will be scheduled, depending on the seating availability.

Massachusetts Real Estate License FAQs

Brokers react as Compass gobbles up GlideThe process of becoming a real estate agent in Massachusetts is simple as the requirements are straightforward, clear, and less complicated than other states. 

You are required to complete 40 hours of prelicensing education, less than other states where this requirement can be four times higher. Besides, in a classroom, you can also take Massachusetts real estate license classes online, which facilitates the whole process of becoming a real estate agent. 

Once you receive a Real Estate Educational Certificate form to be completed by a Board-approved Real Estate School, you can take the real estate licensing exam. You can receive your license on the spot after passing the exam, which is an additional facilitating condition.

In general, if you pay attention to classes, solve the prep questions, and study hard before taking the exam, you will manage to pass on the first try.

Massachusetts state sealThe Real Estate Board is in charge of licensing those who have completed a real estate license course and have passed the final exam.

The Board also oversees real estate schools and agent curriculum and contracts with a testing vendor to provide licensing exams. The Board also protects consumers by investigating and disciplining agents who violate licensing laws and regulations.

The board is basically the one stop shop for all things licensing, discipline, and education in the real estate industry across Massachusetts.

The Board may issue a Massachusetts real estate salesperson license to agents licensed in other states or without requiring any education and examination requirements. This applies to states where the laws are similar to the Commonwealth governing the practice of real estate brokering of licensed Massachusetts real estate salespersons. 

US map

shaking handsCurrently, the Board of Registration of Real Estate Brokers and Salespersons doesn’t require a college degree to become a real estate agent. Only a high school diploma or a GED will suffice as a requirement.

However, The Board of Registration of Real Estate Brokers and Salespersons can issue a real estate broker license to any Massachusetts-licensed attorneys holding a current law license in good standing with the Supreme Judicial Court. All applicants for an Attorney-Broker license are exempt from the Board’s examination requirements.

counting on a chalkboardYou can retake the real estate licensing exam as many times as needed until you pass both portions. If you fail one portion of the exam, you’re allowed to retake only the portion you’ve failed.

Keep in mind that the results you get on the exam the first time are valid for one year, so you have to pass both portions of the exam within one year.

The real estate license exam in Massachusetts consists of 120 questions in total. Applicants should pass both portions of the exam with 70% correct answers, or 56 from the national portion and 28 from the state portion. 

The national portion has 80 questions covering the following areas:

  • Property ownership
  • Land use controls and regulations
  • Valuation and market analysis
  • Financing
  • General principles of agency
  • Property disclosures
  • Contracts
  • Leasing and property management
  • Transfer of Title
  • Practice of real estate
  • Real estate calculations

The state portion has 40 questions covering the following areas:

  • Duties and powers of the board of registration of real estate brokers and salespersons
  • Licensing requirements
  • Requirements governing licensees
  • Contracts
  • Consumer protection laws
  • Environmental issues and hazardous materials
  • Massachusetts fair housing law
  • Landlord-tenant law
  • Additional topics

The Board of Registration of Real Estate Brokers and Salespersons doesn’t release official pass rates. Each real estate school reports its pass rates individually, which can range from 50% to as high as 95%, but the Real Estate Board doesn’t officially confirm these. 

shaking handsThere are two types of real estate licenses in Massachusetts: a real estate salesperson and a real estate broker. There are several differences between the two, mainly the following: 

  • A salesperson has to be overseen by a qualifying broker and receive commission directly through them, while the broker gets their agent fee directly from the clients. 
  • A broker is someone who has been a salesperson previously, but a salesperson can never be a broker without being a salesperson first. So, a broker can do all the real estate work a salesperson can, but not vice versa. 
  • Because the responsibilities of a real estate broker are greater than those for a salesperson, a real estate broker also has to pass additional tests to get their broker’s license. 
  • Every broker (not a salesperson) is required to file a surety bond of $5,000, with the Board for the benefit of any person harmed by the loss of funds held by the broker.

studying at coffee shopThe real estate licensing exam is split into 80 national portion questions that should be answered within 150 minutes and 40 state portion questions that should be answered within 90 minutes. 

Each section is designed to test your knowledge from different areas. The national portion tests your knowledge of the general real estate laws and principles that apply in all of the U.S., while the state portion goes into the laws and regulations that apply in Massachusetts. 

You should display knowledge of both areas of the real estate industry to be eligible for a license in Massachusetts. Accordingly, you’re required to answer 70% of the questions correctly, or 56 from the national portion and 28 from the state portion. 

small group of students studyingAccording to the Massachusetts License Law, “Whoever, without being licensed, acts as a broker or salesperson or advertises as such, shall be punished by a fine of not more than $500 by a court of law.” If the act is more severe, criminal charges may apply. 

There are, however, some real estate actions that can be done without a real estate license in MA, such as: 

  • People doing real estate transactions for themselves (not helping others), including the sale of multiple developments or renting in large complexes (residential or commercial).
  • Purely salaried employees of the property owner, such as apartment managers.
  • Attorneys, auctioneers, appraisers, home inspectors, mortgage brokers, insurance agents, and other licensed professionals practicing their profession in a real estate transaction.
  • Public officers or employees performing official duties, trustees, or someone acting under a court order, such as executors, administrators, or guardians.

The Board of Registration of Real Estate Brokers and Salespersons requires real estate salespersons to complete 12 hours of continuing education every two years to keep their license active.  

Candidates are required to bring two forms of valid identification to the test site.

Accepted primary forms of identification documents are: 

  • Government-issued driver’s U.S. Department of State Driver’s License
  • U.S. Learner’s Permit (plastic card only with photo and signature)
  • National/State/Country Identification Card
  • US Government Issued Passport or Passport Card
  • US Government Issued Military Identification Card
  • US Government Issued Military Identification Card for spouses and dependents
  • U.S. Government Issued Alien Registration Card (Green Card, Permanent Resident Visa)

*The primary I.D. must contain the candidate’s photo, be valid, and unexpired.

Accepted secondary forms of identification are the following documents: 

  • Credit/Debit Card (must be signed)
  • Social Security Card
  • Any form of I.D. on the Primary list

*Student ID and employment I.D. are NOT acceptable forms of identification.

No record is an automatic disqualifier from getting a real estate license in Massachusetts. Each candidate that has a criminal record will be given an opportunity for a limited appearance before The Board of Registration of Real Estate Brokers and Salespersons.

Chris Heller Headshot

About the Author

Chris Heller brings 27 years of experience in real estate. Chris serves on the AgentAdvice Editorial Board and is the Chief Real Estate Officer at OJO Labs. Chris brings deep expertise having held influential industry positions including CEO of mellohome and former CEO of Keller Williams Realty International.

Last Updated: 10/19/2022

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