North Carolina Real Estate License Categories & Status

Instructor: Ian Lord

Ian is a real estate investor, MBA, former health professions educator, and Air Force veteran.

In this lesson we will identify the multiple categories of North Carolina real estate licenses, and discuss the rules regarding maintaining a real estate license in active status.

North Carolina Real Estate Licenses

Ben is pursuing his real estate license so that he can represent clients in buying and selling their homes in North Carolina. As part of his licensure he needs to understand the different kinds of licenses and statuses so that he can be in compliance with North Carolina law. Let's help Ben review the different categories of licenses and focus on the relationship between him and his broker-in-charge.


The entry level real estate license in North Carolina is a provisional broker. When Ben completes the requirements for this license he will need to work under the supervision of a broker-in-charge since a provisional broker cannot work independently. The broker-in-charge is responsible for supervising the provisional broker as well as handling trust funds and accounts involved in real estate transactions. To be licensed as a broker-in-charge, a real estate professional must have had at least two years of full-time experience or the equivalent as a broker in any state within the last five years.

After he becomes licensed as a provisional broker, Ben must complete a post-licensing education course within a certain amount of time in order to become eligible for a broker license and maintain an active license. A broker is permitted to work independently as a sole-proprietor, or continue working under the supervision of a broker-in-charge.

For Ben to start working as a provisional broker he will need to work under a broker-in-charge associated with a real estate firm. A firm is a business entity that holds a license to engage in real estate business activities and is required to have a broker-in-charge. Any kind of business structure other than an independent broker working as a sole proprietor (such as a corporation or partnership) must have a firm license in additional to its employees' individual licenses.

The final category of licensure in North Carolina is a limited nonresident commercial broker. This will not apply to Ben since he is a North Carolina resident, but he may work with one of these brokers in the future. As a broker, Ben could supervise an out of state real estate license holder who would be involved in commercial, not residential, real estate transactions taking place within North Carolina. The out of state broker fills out a declaration of affiliation and a brokerage cooperation agreement to define Ben's supervisory responsibility and ensure that North Carolina real estate procedures are followed. This paperwork must be completed for each separate real estate transaction.

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