Real Estate License For Property Management? (Laws By State)

Written by Apartment Management Magazine on . Posted in Blog

Licensure is an complicated issue in property management and real estate. Requirements change from state to state, and reciprocity laws make multi-state management even trickier. Regardless of where you live, it never hurts to get a real estate license and property management license (even if your state doesn’t require one or the other). A real estate license for property management enhances your resume, expands your knowledge of the industry and increases your earning potential.

First, this article covers the benefits of a real estate license for property managers. Then we’ll look at licensing requirements and reciprocity laws in each state.

1. Enhance your resume

Education looks good on a resume. In a competitive job market (or any job market), you want to be able to show your future owner(s) that you’re the most qualified for the job. You understand industry terminology, sales techniques, applicable laws and regulations, etc.

A real estate license for property management isn’t that difficult to obtain, but it does take a bit of time and dedication. In California, a state that requires licensure, you’re looking at about 15-16 weeks to complete a semester of coursework. Plan for about three hours of work per week.

2. Expand your knowledge of real estate & property management

In most states, a real estate broker license or property management license is required before you manage properties. But even in states where licensure is optional, extra education is never a bad thing. These certificates aren’t just pieces of paper with your name on them. That part is just for the state. The actual reason you attend is to expand your knowledge of the industry.

The more you know, the better equipped you are to deal with complex housing regulations, taxes and processes for buying, selling and renting. In short, you’ll get a better understanding of rental business processes.

Related read:A real estate license might be required, but what about a college degree?

3. Gain potential for additional income

With a real estate broker license, you’re free to buy and sell real estate in your spare time. It’s a great part-time job because it can take up as little or as much of your time as you like. Even doing a few deals a year can be a healthy bonus to your property management salary.

4. Command higher wages in property management

Professional certification makes you more marketable to employers. A real estate broker license gives you negotiating power because property owners will benefit from your skillset. If you’re lucky, your employer may even offer to pay for certification. (It’s up to you whether you feel comfortable asking them to pay for it.)

Should you collect all three real estate certificates?

There are three ways to get certified in real estate:

  • Real estate license: You’re fully licensed to work at a brokerage to sell real estate.
  • Real estate broker license: This allows you to work as your own real estate broker.
  • Property management license: A form of licensure that allows you to manage properties but not buy and sell real estate as an agent. Property management associations including NAA, NAR, NARPM, IREM and BOMA provide ongoing education, advocacy and networking opportunities.

Real estate license & property management license requirements by state

Obtaining licensure is easier in some states than others. A few states allow you to manage properties with neither a real estate license nor a property management license:

  • Idaho
  • Kansas (applies to residential only)
  • Maine
  • Maryland
  • Massachusetts
  • Vermont

Others require only a property management license:

  • District of Columbia
  • Montana
  • Oregon (also accepts real estate broker license)
  • South Carolina
  • South Dakota

All states not listed above require a real estate license. If you live in any of those states and want to be a property manager, there isn’t much of a choice. You need to be licensed.

Know the reciprocity laws in your state

Reciprocity laws exist in some states to allow out-of-state real estate agents and property managers to work in both locations. These laws vary greatly by state, and each state falls into one of three categories.

  1. Cooperative state: The state allows out-of-state agents to practice, providing they work out a co-brokerage agreement with an in-state firm.
  2. Physical location state: The state allows out-of-state representation but does not let the out-of-state agent physically enter the state. They must work remotely.
  3. Turf state: No out-of-state real estate licenses are accepted (zero reciprocity).

There are only five states that offer full reciprocity:

  • Alabama
  • Colorado
  • Maine
  • Mississippi
  • Virginia

There are 17 states that offer no reciprocal real estate license agreements:

  • Alaska
  • Arizona
  • California
  • Delaware
  • Hawaii
  • Kansas
  • Kentucky
  • Michigan
  • Missouri
  • Montana
  • New Jersey
  • New Mexico
  • South Dakota
  • Texas
  • Vermont
  • Washington
  • Wyoming

All other states offer partial reciprocity. Generally speaking, that means they have reciprocal agreements with some states and not others.

Real estate laws can be tricky, but they’re navigable with the right information. Hopefully, this guide helped you begin to understand whether you need a real estate license for your future in property management.


This article was prepared for general information purposes only, does not constitute legal advice, must not be acted upon as such and is subject to change without notice. Always consult a lawyer or qualified housing expert for legal advice regarding your practice.