Education’s usually not a problem. Experience may be.
An increasing number of attorneys-at-law who practice in Pennsylvania inquire about obtaining a license to sell real estate. Some simply want to expand their skills, talents and abilities. Some want to prepare for a client’s future needs. Some intend to sell real estate as an adjunct to their law practice. Their questions generally fall into three categories:
- Which license to choose?
- What are the education and experience requirements?
- How do I prepare for the Broker Examination?
Which license to choose?
Attorneys may choose to obtain either a real estate salesperson’s license or a real estate broker’s license. Both licenses are issued by the state Department of State, and administered by the Pennsylvania State Real Estate Commission.
Salesperson licensees must transact business as agents for, and under the supervision of, a broker. PA real estate brokers are held legally responsible for real estate transactions that occur on their watch, whether conducted by themselves or by agents acting on their behalf.
Broker licensees can transact business either as associate brokers under another broker, or as the broker for their own firms. As brokers for their own firms they can employ, or establish independent contractor relationships with, other salesperson licensees.
Practicing attorneys (members of the Pennsylvania Bar) exceed the educational requirements for salesperson licensees, and meet the educational requirements for broker licensees. In addition, Pennsylvania law gives broker licensees expanded abilities. For both reasons, attorneys usually prefer to obtain a broker’s license rather than a salesperson’s license. The remainder of this FAQ assumes a broker’s license will be sought.
What are the education and experience requirements
To become a licensed broker in Pennsylvania one must:
- Be 21 years of age or older;
- Complete 240 hours of specialized education, equivalent to 16 Pennsylvania broker education credits;
- Complete a Broker Examination Approval Application form and submit it to the state with an appropriate fee, education transcripts, and a summary of experience;
- Await notification of application approval and authorization to sit for the Broker Examination; and
- Pass the Broker’s Examination.
The Pennsylvania State Real Estate Commission has declared that any person who holds a valid Juris Doctor degree has fulfilled all educational requirements needed to obtain a broker’s license. A transcript from the degree-issuing institution is required as proof.
In their summaries of experience, all applicants must document a minimum of three years of real estate experience. Moreover, Pennsylvania has created a point system under which certain types of real estate transactions are credited with specific numbers of points. Candidates for the Broker Examination must also accumulate a minimum of 200 points.
For commercial or industrial properties, 1) a sale, 2) an exclusive listing that sold, or 3) completion of a lease agreement all are worth 5 points per transaction. 4) An exclusive listing that is not sold is worth 1 point. For residential properties, 1) a sale, or 2) an exclusive listing that sold both are worth 5 points per transaction. 3) Completion of a lease agreement, and 4) an exclusive listing that is not sold both are worth 1 point.
Practicing attorneys (members of the Pennsylvania Bar) who have worked on real estate matters as part of their legal duties often meet or exceed the state’s time-and-points experience requirements for the Broker Examination. However, according to Form SPOA 2103, said experience must be … “beyond such typical real estate-related legal services as preparing deeds, contracts and leases; performing title searches; representing principals at settlement; and conducting settlements. Relevant experience would include, but not be limited to, counseling in real estate issues or areas where the advice is not primarily legal in scope; selling, purchasing or managing real estate, whether for personal use or not; and actively participating in negotiations — other than for legal issues — regarding the sale, purchase, or lease of real estate.”
Documentation of activities described above is required, as is written testimony supplied by third parties (usually a partner in the same firm, or a cooperating attorney, or a client) who either supervised and/or authorized the activity.” The documentation and letter(s) of testimony are submitted to the state as a supplement to the summary of experience.
Attorneys who therefore have been in practice in Pennsylvania for more than three years; who document their relevant real estate experience; who obtain both certification of their J.D. degrees and letter(s) of testimony regarding their experience; and who submit it all to the state Real Estate Commission packaged with the proper form and fee, usually are judged by the Commission to be ready to sit for the Broker Examination. Commission determinations of qualification are made on a case-by-case basis. Attorneys interested in specifics are urged to contact the Commission.
Once the submitted information has been reviewed and approved, the state will send a confirmation letter outlining the process for scheduling an examination date, time, and location, and paying for the test. The state also will send notice if an application is not approved.
The state uses a third-party contractor, PSI Exams, for Broker Examination testing. Its services are offered Monday through Saturday by appointment only at many designated sites across the state. A testing location usually is available within an hour’s drive.
How do I prepare for the Broker Examination?
Attending an exam prep course is an excellent way to ensure you are prepared to take and pass the Broker Examination.
Polley Associates offers Broker Exam Prep Courses on a bi-monthly basis in January, March, May, July, September, and November at our Newtown Square location. The course lasts 6 hours and usually is held on the third Friday of each designated month. See broker courses offered in Newtown Square for current dates, costs, and how to enroll; or call us toll-free at (800) 220-2789.
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