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Is it time to raise the bar for Bay State real estate agents?

Posted by Scott Van Voorhis May 11, 2010 11:15 AM

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We may have some of the highest home prices around. But when it comes to licensing aspiring real estate agents, Massachusetts has some of the lowest standards.

Want to start selling real estate? Just sit through a weekend of classes - 24 hours - and then take a relatively easy test and you are in.

Maybe it is old news, but it certainly took me by surprise when I learned Massachusetts has the third lowest real estate licensing standards of any state in the country. Only Alaska and Rhode Island require fewer classroom hours.

I just teed off on this in my weekly column for Banker & Tradesman. (Here's the link, but fair warning the article is behind a pay wall.)

The Legislature is now weighing a proposal, backed by the Massachusetts Association of Realtors, which would require aspiring real estate agents and brokers to log in 40 hours of classroom. That is up from 24 hours now for agents and 30 hours for brokers.

Still, it's not clear this really goes far enough. Massachusetts would still be well below the national average, which is more than 60 hours of classroom time.

In Texas, greenhorn agents have to put in 210 hours, while in California, the minimum required is 135 hours.

There are two pretty big reasons to root for more hours here.

If you are in the business of selling real estate, this could help wash out all the fair weather agents who are often used by the bigger brokerages simply to drum up more business from family and friends.

And if you are trying to sell or buy a house, the last thing you want on the other side of the table is an agent with a flimsy grasp of a very complicated - and easy to mess up - transaction.

There's my pitch anyway. What's your take?


This blog is not written or edited by Boston.com or the Boston Globe.
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About boston real estate now
Scott Van Voorhis is a freelance writer who specializes in real estate and business issues.

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