Question: Do agents and brokers need to be licensed by a trade union to practice real estate in California?

Answer: California real estate professionals are licensed and regulated solely by the Department of Real Estate (DRE), not their local trade union. If you wish to practice real estate in California, you are free to do so without joining a trade union (or a Multiple Listing Service (MLS) for that matter) as long as you are licensed with the DRE and abide by their rules and regulations – which include California’s real estate law. [For more information regarding agent compliance, see the November 2010 first tuesday Recent Court Decisions.]

A real estate licensee not associated with a trade union is just as professionally qualified and regulated as one who is. Trade union members don’t have to pass any additional courses, have more experience or be more educated than non-members. They do have to pay dues, however. [For more information regarding licensee training, see the November 2008 first tuesday article, How much ethics training does a real estate licensee need?]

Another common fallacy is the belief membership in a trade union is required to give agents access to the MLS. All brokers and agents can access the MLS by simply paying a fee. [For more information regarding MLS and trade unions, see the October 2005 first tuesday article, The MLS environment.]