What Can an Unlicensed Real Estate Agent do in New York


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Want to work in the New York real estate industry but don’t have a license? It’s possible to work in real estate without a license, but it can put some serious limitations on what you can legally do to earn a living. 

Anyone who earns commission or compensation acting as a real estate broker, agent or property manager has to have a license. New York real estate license law states a license is needed to:

  • Facilitate the purchase and sale of property on behalf of customers.

  • Obtain lists of property for sale with your employing broker.

  • Help buyers locate and purchase property that’s listed with a broker. 

  • List real property for sale, lease, exchange or rent.

  • Negotiate the sale, lease, exchange or rental of real property. 

  • Collect, offer or attempt to collect rent for the use of real property.

  • Negotiate a loan for real property outside of a mortgage loan.

  • Work as a tenant relocator.

The first point is the broadest and can be problematic for unlicensed professionals that work in real estate because many things could contribute to the purchase or sale of a property. Some brokerages may be willing to hire you on but only if you plan to get a real estate license in the near future or you’re already in the process of getting one. 

For the brokerage, it’s a safeguard that protects them from an unlicensed employee accidentally doing something they legally aren’t supposed to do. Failing to conform with the real estate licensing law can result in a misdemeanor charge, investigation by the Department of State or even revocation of the broker’s license.

Unlicensed Professionals Are Dependent on Licensed Brokers, Agents and Property Managers for Jobs

Without a real estate license in New York, it’s hard to control your own career. Because your capabilities are so limited, it’s almost impossible to serve clients on your own. The few real estate jobs you could get include:

  • Being a real estate agent’s assistant. 

  • Becoming an assistant property manager.

  • Working as a part of a brokerage’s marketing team.

The tough thing about getting one of the gigs above is that a license is still preferred. Other job seekers that have a real estate license will be ideal candidates.

A Note About Office Managers: Taking on the role of office manager for a New York real estate brokerage requires a license. New York real estate licensing law defines an office manager as, “a licensed associate real estate broker who shall by choice elect to work as an office manager under the name and supervision of another individual broker or another broker who is licensed under a partnership, trade name, limited liability company or corporation.” 

No Path to Promotion

Another problem you may run into without a real estate license is lack of promotion opportunities. Many of the tasks and responsibilities for jobs higher up the ladder require a license by law. Forgoing a license could mean you’re stuck in your current position for the foreseeable future.

If you’re serious about making a career in real estate, it’s best to get a New York salesperson license. All it takes is completing the 75-hour New York real estate prelicensing course, sending in an application and passing the licensing exam. In a matter of weeks or a few months, you can become a licensed real estate agent and start a long-term career with substantial promotion and income potential. 

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