As you may know, a license is required to participate in most real estate transactions. Most states require future real estate industry personnel to apply for licensure, demonstrate aptitude by passing an exam, and show that they are of good character in order to earn a real estate license.
What you may not know, however, is that a real estate license is by no means permanent. Real estate departments in every state insist that licensees continuously renew their licenses, and impose additional requirements – namely, continuing education courses – in order for professionals to stay licensed. Those who do not complete these courses, or otherwise fail to complete the renewal process, risk having their licenses declared inactive or forfeited altogether.
Many real estate agents and brokers grew wary of the industry after the market turned sour several years ago. Now that the market has shown recent signs of a rebound, some of these professionals are looking to get back into the swing of things, only to find out that their licenses are no longer valid. So how does one get his or her license back, if this is the case?
Each state has its own unique requirements for maintaining a real estate license. While the specific requirements vary, they are all imposed for the same reasons. State real estate commissions have a duty to ensure that industry professionals are maintaining the knowledge of real estate they demonstrated when originally applying for licensure, as well as continuously learning more about industry practices in order to serve their customers ethically and responsibly. Imposing license maintenance requirements is the best way for state commissions to live up to their own responsibilities.
For example, in Florida, a real estate license lasts for two years. During this time period, a licensee must complete a minimum of 14 credit hours of continuing education in classroom setting, as prescribed by the Florida Real Estate Commission (FREC). Those who fail to meet this continuing education requirement are ineligible to renew their licenses, and any license which is not renewed at the end of a license period is deemed involuntarily inactive.
If your Florida real estate license is inactive, you face one of three possible scenarios:
• Those with a license deemed involuntarily inactive for 12 months or less can reactive it by completing at least 14 continuing education credit hours.
• Those with a license deemed involuntarily inactive for more than 12 months, but less than 24 months can reactive it by completing at least 28 continuing education credit hours.
• Any license deemed involuntarily inactive for more than 24 months is considered expired, and cannot be reactivated. Those looking to regain licensure will have to begin the process again anew, or request a hearing before FREC.
Another example, California, has laws that differ from Florida’s, but are unique in spirit. While a California real estate license lasts for four years (compared to only two years in Florida), it also cannot be renewed without completing continuing education courses. California requires that 45 hours of continuing education be completed within a four-year licensure period, as follows:
• 18 hours must be devoted to consumer protection courses
• 15 hours must be devoted to separate three-hour courses detailing the following subjects: Ethics, Agency, Trust Fund Handling, Fair Housing, and Risk Management (Note: professionals who have already successfully renewed a license at least once can instead take an 8-hour survey course detailing these five subjects)
• The remaining hours can be related to either consumer service or consumer protection courses.
Licensees who fail to complete these education requirements during the four-year licensure period will see their licenses expire. However, they have up to two years following the license expiration date to complete their education requirements and earn reinstatement; however, those that do so during this late renewal period will have to pay an extra reinstatement fee. And much like Florida, a license that is not reinstated during the late renewal period becomes null and void, and licensees will have to start all over if they want to become licensed again.
As you can see, requirements for reinstating an inactive license can vary greatly from state to state. Those hoping to regain licensure should visit the website of their home state’s real estate department to learn more about the exact requirements for reinstatement.
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About Tom Davidson — Tom Davidson is Vice President of Express Schools, LLC. which operates online education providers Real Estate Express, Insurance License Express and License Tutor. Follow him on Twitter.