Getting a real estate agent license without a sponsoring broker?

12 Replies


On the BP podcast I've heard several people saying that one person out of a power-couple husband/wife team gets their real estate license so they can have access to the MLS, have better networking capabilities, and potentially save costs. I haven't yet heard of that person actually working as a real estate agent under someone after they get that license. They sound like they get the license and immediately go right back to flipping a house or some other activity that has nothing to do with a broker.

What is going on here? Or is there some kind of broker arrangement that means you don't have to work for a company or report to some broker? How do they get to do their own thing after they get their license?

This comes from the perspective of getting it in Michigan (because the person I'm speaking to about this is in MI).
To be licensed, you must first be associated with a current and active Michigan sponsoring broker. It's important to find the right broker to work with since this person will serve as your mentor as you start your new career in real estate.

I don't know about any other state but in Texas if you're going to work as a realtor you must have a sponsoring broker. I've also included regular access to the MLS. I'm not sure that gives you access to better networking we're saving money but I guess potentially it could depending on the right situation. I think some of that also depends on how active you want to be. If you're just going to sell one or two houses a year I don't think it's worth getting your license. Takes a fair amount of time and money to do it and stay active and have MLS and some brokers want to see you do one or two transactions at minimum with third parties before they let you do a free one. Now if you're going to do 10 or 20 or 100 a year like every investor thinks when they get started, it might be well worth getting your license getting versed in contracts and getting versed in the business... And saving some on commissions when you buy or sell.

You have to be under the license of a Broker, but that doesn't mean you are under their thumb. Many Brokers will allow you to work under them with no expectations, meaning you don't have to show up at the office, attend meetings, answer phones, or anything else. When you conduct business, they'll help you or supervise you or take a cut; otherwise, they leave you alone.

You just have to explain your goals clearly and find a Broker that's willing to accept you.


Everyone in this thread is right. The Designated Broker who accepts the legal responsibility to supervise your licensed activity is fully accountable to the State regulators for your conduct and transactions.Your Errors and Omissions coverage, advertisting, contracts, MLS membership (if the office participates in MLS), the Realtor status, NAR, state and local boardmemberships are all tied into the Designated broker. I have been an Associate Broker in California and am currently a licensed Associate Broker in Idaho. Also in every state I am aware of, the Broker owns the agent listings.

Regarding flipping houses, as a Licensed RE agent you MUST disclose your status as a licensee in accordance with state regulations, usually to all the parties. You can act as principal but must inform your Broker and operate within your Agent agreement with the Broker.

As a principal, you may cross statelines. As an agent you are restricted by the law of the state in which the property is located for any transaction in which you are not a principal.

My answer is not comprehensive, as this is an exhaustive topic of study and education. Like those comments above, If you choose to earn your RE agent license, take that duty and your duty to your Broker seriously. 

Good luck in choosing your path.

Agree with the comments on this post. I'm an agent licensed in Maryland where you must work under a broker who ultimately has responsibility for the actions of licensees and you must belong to a local association and pay dues to have MLS access. While I choose to attend sales meetings and often seek advice from my broker who has been in the business for 30 years, there are a few other agents who do their own thing and it's ok with my broker.

@Brendon C.

I just get my real estate license in NY and I’m pretty sure everyone has to work under a sponsoring broker. BUT- an agent is a sole proprietor and the broker is NOT your employer. So legally they can’t tell you how to work, how much to work, where, or when. They just legally have to oversee you and help you if and when you need help.

I became an agent initially to help me learn the business so I could be an investor. My broker knew that up front and said you do as much or as little as you want. Now I’ve actually been working hard towards my agent duties because I want that to help fund my investing. 😃 hope this helps.

The comment was made about joining MLS. If your Broker is an MLS member, you likely will be required to join. If your Broker is not an MLS member, you probably won't be allowed MLS membership. I do not know of any areas operating MLS differently, but it's a big world.

MLS has public access links, so if this is your only driver to being licensed, maybe evaluate your needs to license.

For real estate practices focused on business opportunity sales, C and I, large units, tract land, and other niche markets, likely MLS will be an un-neccessary tool and expense.