By Joseph Autilio
Executive Director, Board of Registration
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.
Renewing as Inactive:
Q. Can I make my license inactive?
A. Not if it is already active. The active versus inactive license designation all takes place within a current license. Those completing all 12 hours of continuing education renew as active, and those who do not must be renewed as inactive. Inactive licensees cannot work, and, in fact, the relevant law treats the licensees as if they are not licensed. Notwithstanding, the law permits the inactive licensees to be paid referral fees for the referrals that they make to current active licensed real estate brokers.
Many agents, particularly salespeople, believe that they can do referral work as inactive licensees and fulfill the requisite one-year work experience requirement to become brokers. While inactive licensees can certainly do referrals, any such work does not count toward fulfilling the one-year work affiliation requirement. To fulfill this requirement, inactive licensees must have an active license, meaning they have to complete the 12-hour continuing education requirement. Then, the only way salespeople can satisfy the one-year work affiliation requirement is to have an active license and affiliate with a broker.
Changing Status to Inactive:
Q. What if I want to make my license inactive to do referrals?
A. Neither you nor the Board can do this unless your license is up for renewal and you decide not to complete the 12-hour continuing education requirement. If you have completed the continuing education requirement and have renewed as active, that status cannot be changed by either yourself or the Board during the two-year term of the license. Of course, you are free to limit your actual practice. In other words, a current active license permits you to offer the full range of brokering in accordance with the licensing law, but if you wish to do just referrals, you can. Only inactive licensees are limited to just referral work. Some licensees intentionally let their licenses expire to an inactive status so that they can limit their work to just referrals. Unfortunately, allowing your license to expire means that you have no license at all. The active versus inactive designation has to do with the completion of continuing education, and that only occurs within a current license. If your license expires, you have no license, and any discussion of active verse inactive is irrelevant. Consequently, working with an expired license is a violation of the law, even if you are only doing referrals.
The Board of Registration of Real Estate Brokers & Salespersons office in Boston can be reached at 617-727-2373.