What is Real Estate License Portability?

By WebCE
Jun 5, 2023

What is Real Estate License Portability

Real estate license portability allows license holders to conduct business in other states without earning an additional license. License portability is ideal for jumping on a timely business opportunity or conducting occasional business without earning an additional license. Because license portability does not grant an additional license, it should not be seen as a long-term solution for expanding into another state.

Those looking to expand their business opportunities into another state should instead consider real estate license reciprocity. License reciprocity makes it easier to earn additional state licenses by reducing licensing requirements. Portability has some limitations, however, since not all states have the same portability laws.


Types of Real Estate License Portability

Different states have different real estate license portability laws. These license portability laws are split into three types: cooperative states, physical location states, and turf states.

Cooperative States

Cooperative states allow all licensed real estate agents to physically conduct business in that state so long as they reach a co-brokerage agreement with a local real estate licensee. This co-brokerage agreement must be filed with the local real estate board to complete the transaction and receive a commission. Of the three license portability types, cooperative states make it easiest to conduct out-of-state real estate business.

For example, if a Kentucky real estate licensee wanted to conduct business in a cooperative state like Colorado, they can. Colorado allows out-of-state real estate licensees to physically enter the state to show a property in person, along with conducting all other business, as long as you reach a co-brokerage agreement with a local real estate licensee.

Physical Location States

Physical location states limit out-of-state real estate licensees to conducting business remotely. In these states, only real estate professionals with a license in that state can physically conduct real estate business in person. If a real estate agent is in another state, that agent can only work remotely and is prohibited from entering the state to conduct real estate business. This means out-of-state licensees are limited to things like sending properties, submitting offers, and negotiating on a client’s behalf. Commissions can only be earned from a local agent’s brokerage.

For example, say you are based out of Arizona and a client is interested in moving to Hawaii (a physical location state). As an Arizona real estate professional, you can only support your client remotely from Arizona. Because Hawaii limits real estate business to only those with a Hawaii real estate license, those from Arizona or anywhere else cannot physically conduct real estate business in that state.

Turf States

Turf states prevent any real estate agent who is not licensed in that state from conducting business. These states do not offer the option to partner with a local brokerage, meaning there is no way to earn commissions. You are then left to refer your client to a local brokerage, earning no compensation.

For example, if a Georgia real estate licensee had a client interested in a property near a ski resort in Utah (a turf state), the Georgia licensee cannot help that client beyond recommending another local brokerage, earning no commission. The only option to conduct business in these states is to earn a state license through real estate reciprocity.

Real Estate License Portability Chart

The real estate license portability chart below lists all 50 states as either Cooperative, Physical Location, or Turf States. 

Cooperative StatesPhysical Location StatesTurf States
ConnecticutDelawareNew Jersey
GeorgiaFloridaNew Mexico
New HampshireMassachusetts 
North CarolinaMichigan 
North DakotaMinnesota 
OregonNew York 
Rhode IslandOklahoma 
South CarolinaTexas 
South DakotaVermont 
WashingtonWest Virginia 

Who Benefits Most from Real Estate Reciprocity?

Real estate license portability offers unique flexibility to real estate professionals who occasionally conduct business out of state. Even if you do not already conduct business out of state, there are several competitive advantages to exploring other markets, including:

  • Geographic Mobility – Take advantage of markets while they’re hot
  • Networking and Referrals – Connecting and collaborating in different markets can further enhance your reputation and business
  • Professional Development – Industry insights, market trends, and an expanded knowledge base lets you stay competitive
  • Market Expansion – Tap into new markets, work with a variety of clients, and take advantage of diverse real estate opportunities
  • Competitive Advantage – Broaden your expertise with experiences your competition simply doesn’t have

Real estate portability is not the only option for conducting business out of state. Real estate license reciprocity offers a long-term approach to conducting business out of state by reducing licensing requirements toward earning an additional state license.

Whichever direction you take, it is worth noting this information can be used to infuse your career and business development with more strategy and competitive insight. For example, when weighing which markets are worth exploring, you might consider a turf state, which might increase your ability to compete for business. Weighing the portability and reciprocity of states, your licenses, and the other licensees within your organization suddenly creates a network of possibilities.

No matter the state, WebCE offers industry leading online real estate continuing education courses. We even offer a multi-credit catalog to earn CE credit for multiple licenses at the same time!

Visit WebCE’s Real Estate CE Course Catalog, or call 877-488-9308 to speak with a member of our award-winning Support Services team.