By Joseph Autilio
Below, the Massachusetts Board of Registration of Real Estate Brokers and Salespersons answers queries by agents in the field regarding real estate licensing in Massachusetts.
Brokers Working for Brokers
Q. As a broker, can I work both for myself and for a real estate firm of another broker?
A. The relevant state licensing law is silent on this subject and, as such, nothing in it prevents you from doing so. Sometimes brokers confuse the salesperson affiliation requirement as being applicable to them. Salespeople must be affiliated with a broker and work for that broker for at least one year before they can become brokers. The prohibition on salespeople affiliating with more than one broker,
however, has no application to licensed real estate brokers in the Commonwealth. Therefore, brokers may work for themselves and other brokers. Situations in which brokers cannot affiliate with more than one broker are not a function of the relevant licensing law; rather, many firms have entered into contractual arrangements, typically referred to as “covenants not to compete,” with their affiliated brokers. These agreements usually prohibit brokers from working on their own or with other brokers while affiliated with the firm and in some cases even after they leave that firm. While the Board has no real expertise with regard to such agreements, it is generally the law that so long as they are not “unconscionable” as to the geographic area that they cover and time period involved, then they are permissible.
Terminating Before Expiration
Q. Can I simply give up my real estate license as an agent to avoid a complaint?
A. No. While you can mail your license to the Board, doing so does not foreclose the Board’s inquiry into a complaint made against you, nor does it terminate the license. In fact, the license can only be
terminated in one of several ways. First, the license expires on its scheduled expiration date without renewal by the licensee. Secondly, the Board suspends or revokes a license after it initiates a formal complaint (Order to Show Cause) with an opportunity for a hearing; and thirdly, the licensee enters into a consent agreement with the Board suspending or revoking the license. Outside of these situations, the license will run for its full term, and returning it to the Board does not terminate it, nor does it defeat the jurisdiction of the Board over the licensee.
The Board’s jurisdiction extends to licensees even after a license expires, since the licensee has a statutory right to renew such expired license, provided that the conditions for renewal are satisfied. ollowing the opportunity for a hearing or through a consent agreement, the Board can suspend or revoke the licensee’s right to renew an expired license.