Whether you want to be a real estate agent or broker, if you want to buy and sell real estate in New York, you’ll need a license. You’ll also have to be at least 18 years old to become an agent and 20 years old to become a broker, complete specific real estate coursework, pass an exam (or two, depending on the license), and undergo a criminal background check.

Which license is right for you? The difference between a real estate agent and a real estate broker is largely based on years of experience and education. For one, an agent must work under a licensed broker, whereas brokers can work for themselves and/or hire agents to work for them. Becoming a broker in New York also requires completing additional coursework and working a minimum of two years as an agent.

Key Takeaways

  • New York real estate agents are among the highest paid in the nation, making an average annual salary of $87,938.
  • First, you’ll need to get the appropriate license as either an agent or a broker.
  • Agents are required to work for licensed brokers, while brokers can work for themselves or hire agents to work for them.
  • It takes 75 hours of real estate coursework to become an agent, while a broker license requires 120 hours and two years of practical experience.
  • Coursework for both licenses is valid for two years after completion, and additional continuing education is mandated prior to renewal.
  • To get either license, you must pass a final exam and undergo a background check.

New York Real Estate License Requirements

There are two types of licenses in New York, so the requirements will vary depending on the license. A New York real estate agent (known as a “salesperson”), for example, is authorized to handle real estate transactions but must work under a licensed broker. On the other hand, a broker is able to own their own company and hire other agents to work for them.

Agent license requirements:

  • Must be at least 18 years old
  • Must complete 75 hours of real estate coursework through an approved provider (good for eight years from date completed) or have a four-year college degree in real estate
  • Must pass a final exam
  • Must be fingerprinted and pass a background check
  • Must be sponsored by a broker

Broker license requirements:

  • Must be at least 20 years old
  • Must have worked for at least two years as an agent or three years in the general real estate field
  • Must complete 120 hours of real estate coursework through an approved provider or have a four-year college degree in real estate 
  • Must pass a final exam
  • Must be fingerprinted and pass a background check

A note on background checks: You must disclose any and all criminal convictions on your application for either agent or broker. Depending on the crime, a conviction may or may not be disqualifying. However, failure to disclose a conviction, even for a minor offense, is grounds for immediate denial of your application.

How Long Does It Take to Get a Real Estate License in New York?

From start to finish, it’s estimated to take roughly four to six months to become a real estate agent at the salesperson level in New York. For a broker, the road may be a little longer due to the additional requirements: completing 120 hours of real estate coursework (instead of the 75 hours required to become an agent), as well as having worked two years as an agent or three years in the general real estate field. New York real estate agents are among the highest paid in the nation, making an average annual salary of $87,938.

How Much Does It Cost to Get a Real Estate License in New York?

Becoming a real estate professional in New York isn’t prohibitively expensive. When all is said and done, an aspiring agent will spend around $500 to $1,000 to get their license, while a broker can expect to pay around $950 to $1,450.

Here is how these costs break down:

  • The cost of pre-licensing exam coursework for agents can run anywhere from $379 to $909.
  • Brokers can expect to pay around $349 for the additional coursework hours, although there are some exceptions for both licenses if you’ve completed qualifying college courses.
  • A broker application fee runs $155, while an agent application costs $55. Renewal fees of the same amounts are levied every two years.
  • Exam fees for both licenses cost $15.
  • Both licenses also require fingerprints, which will set you back $50.

Note that there may be other miscellaneous fees for association memberships, office space, other training, and requesting exceptions from certain requirements.

Real Estate License Reciprocity

New York has reciprocity agreements with nine states: Arkansas (broker only), Colorado (broker and associate broker only), Connecticut, Georgia, Massachusetts (broker only), Mississippi (broker only), Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, and West Virginia. The requirements and eligibility vary slightly among them, but all applicants are required to hold an active license from their home state that has been issued within six months of applying to practice in New York.

Can You Apply for a New York Real Estate License Online?

You can apply for a New York real estate license online or by mail. You can easily access the online option through New York’s eAccessNY License Management System. Regardless of whether you submit a paper application or use the online option, you will still need to create an eAccessNY account to schedule your exam. While most applicants wait until completing their coursework to schedule the exam, you can schedule it anytime. However, even if you do and pass it, you still must finish all the required coursework before you can get your active license.

New York Real Estate License Exam

Through your eAccessNY account, you will have the opportunity to choose from 11 official exam sites throughout New York State. Everything you need to know, including your confirmation and exam results, can be accessed through the online portal.

The agent exam is multiple choice, and test takers are given 90 minutes to complete it. The exam is also offered in four additional languages: Spanish, Korean, Russian, and Chinese. The broker exam, also multiple choice, takes two-and-a-half hours, as it covers more coursework.

Exam results are issued as pass/fail and will be posted to your eAccessNY account as soon as they’re available. If you passed, your test results are valid for two years. If you failed, you can retake the exam (with additional fees).

New York Real Estate License Application

Once you have successfully completed the required coursework and passed the exam, you can officially apply for your license either by mail or online via your eAccessNY account. Note that agents must have a sponsoring broker listed on their application before they can be granted a license.

New York Real Estate License Renewal

All New York real estate licenses are good for two years and must be renewed online. The state will notify you approximately 90 days before your renewal date.

Renewal fees will run $55 for an agent, while a broker license renewal will cost $155. If your license has expired, you have up to two years to renew before having to retake the exam.

Does New York Require Post-Licensing Education?

New York real estate agents who are renewing their licenses must complete 22.5 hours of approved continuing education coursework within the two years prior to renewal, including three hours focused on fair housing and/or discrimination. Brokers face the same requirements.

Special Considerations

New York has a number of statutes and regulations that govern real estate agents and brokers, and aim to protect the public from any nefarious activity, all of which are contained in a 46-page document.

There are also specific property and real estate laws that every agent and broker should know, including homestead laws that protect small property owners, and lease and rental agreement laws that include specific rent control regulations.