Required criteria and qualifications to work in real estate

Before you can get a licence to undertake real estate agency work, you need to meet certain criteria and obtain either a prescribed qualification or a property degree.

Criteria you must meet to undertake real estate agency work

Criteria you must meet

You need to:
  • be 18 years of age or older
  • be a fit and proper person
  • have the right qualifications and experience.
You cannot get a licence if you:
  • have had a real estate licence cancelled within the last 5 years
  • have any other prohibitions
  • are a lawyer or conveyancer
  • Practicing lawyers or conveyancers are exempt from the requirement to have a licence.

Conviction history check

When you apply for or renew your real estate licence, you must consent to a criminal conviction history check. This lets us ask New Zealand Police Vetting Service for any information about you that could affect your eligibility to work in real estate. We also check to see if you are prohibited from being a director of a company under the Companies Act 1993.

You can’t have a real estate licence if:
  • you’ve been convicted of any crime involving dishonesty in the past 10 years
  • you’re an officer of a company (or other corporate entity or partnership) where someone in management has been disqualified from being licensed because they’ve been convicted of a crime involving dishonesty in the past 10 years
  • you’ve been convicted of an offence under sections 14, 17—22 or 24 of the Fair Trading Act 1986 in the last 5 years.

If you are unsure if a previous conviction would prevent you from holding a licence, contact us.

Be a fit and proper person

The purpose of the ‘fit and proper’ person evaluation is to ensure that real estate licensees can be entrusted to meet the duties and obligations imposed on them in the Act and Code of Conduct. Being a fit and proper person means meeting a certain standard of conduct and character. It's up to you to satisfy the REA Registrar that you are fit and proper.

When applying for a new licence, you should tell us about:

  • any convictions that haven’t been ‘clean slated’ (wiped from your record or legally withheld from us) — this includes driving-related offences
  • any pending criminal charges
  • any unsatisfied judgments in court
  • any adverse findings against you by a court in civil proceedings
  • any significant financial issues, such as bankruptcy
  • any disciplinary action taken against you by another regulatory or professional body.

When applying to renew your licence, you should tell us if any of the above have occurred since the last time your licence was granted.

Any person who will be an officer of a company must also be, a ‘proper’ person to be an officer of a licensee company. The ‘fit and proper’ test for licensees is different to the ‘proper’ person test however there will be some overlap in the criteria considered.

Download the full ‘fit and proper’ guidelines.

Download

Referees

When applying for a licence, you must provide us with the contact details of referees that can explain why they think you are a fit and proper person to be a real estate professional. Referees cannot provide a reference if they are:

  • related to you by blood or marriage
  • connected to you by civil union or defacto relationship
  • live at the same address as you.

 Referees should be people who have known you for some time and are people of good standing in the community.

When you won't be granted a licence

  • If you have some restrictions

    Examples of restrictions:

    • You’ve been subject to an overseas order in the last 5 years that means you can’t act as an agent, branch manager or salesperson (or equivalent) unless we agree that you’re a fit and proper person.
    • You’re prohibited from directing, promoting or managing an incorporated body under the Companies Act 1993, the Securities Markets Act 1988 or the Takeovers Act 1993.
    • Your real estate licence has been cancelled within the last 5 years.
    • Your licence is currently suspended.
    • You’ve been disqualified from holding a licence.
  • You’ve been made bankrupt

    If you’re an undischarged bankrupt or are subject to Part 5 Subpart 4 of the Insolvency Act 2006, you can’t hold an agent’s licence and you may not be able hold a branch manager’s or salesperson’s licence.

    Read the Insolvency Act 2006 here(external link).

Lawyers and conveyancers

Lawyers and conveyancers can carry out real estate work without a real estate licence. However, lawyers cannot hold both a real estate licence and a legal practising certificate.

Refer to section 7 of the Real Estate Agents Act 2008.

Visa holders

REA doesn’t give advice about visa restrictions that apply to training or employment in New Zealand.

If you are in New Zealand on a visa and you want to become licensed, you will need to contact an approved education organisation and ask if you can enrol with them. We recommend you also contact Immigration New Zealand to ensure your visa entitles you to work in New Zealand.

View the education organisations that offer training for real estate qualifications here.

Qualifications to work in real estate

Prescribed qualifications

Different licence classes require different qualifications. You need to apply for a licence within three years of completing the qualifications or within 10 years of completing the recognised property degrees listed below. If you completed your qualification outside of the specified period, the Registrar may grant a licence if they are satisfied that you have demonstrated that you have sufficient knowledge of real estate agency work (see Specified period for prescribed qualifications). 

To become a Salesperson

You need to have completed one of the following:

  • a New Zealand Certificate in Real Estate (Salesperson) (Level 4)
  • a National Certificate in Real Estate (Salesperson) (Level 4).
To become a Branch Manager

You need to have completed one of the following:

  • a New Zealand Certificate in Real Estate (Level 5)
  • a New Zealand Certificate in Real Estate (Branch Manager) (Level 5)
  • a National Certificate in Real Estate (Branch Manager) (Level 5) (version 3 or later)
  • a Graduate Diploma in Business Studies (Real Estate) conferred by Massey University.

You also need three years' licensed real estate agency work experience, which you can gain while you’re studying (provided you hold a Salesperson’s licence when carrying out that work).

To become an Agent

You need to have completed one of the following:

  • a New Zealand Certificate in Real Estate (Level 6)
  • a National Diploma in Real Estate (Agent) (Level 5) awarded after 1 July 2010
  • a Graduate Diploma in Business Studies (Real Estate) conferred by Massey University.

You also need three years' licensed real estate agency work experience, which you can gain while you’re studying (provided you hold a Salesperson’s or Branch Manager’s licence when carrying out that work).

Recognised property degrees

If you have a property degree (see list below), you can use this to apply for any class of real estate licence.  If you have a property degree from the list below and want to apply for a Branch Manager or Agent licence, you will also need three years' licensed real estate agency work experience.

  • Bachelor of Business (Property) conferred by Massey University
  • Bachelor of Business Studies (Real Estate) conferred by Massey University
  • Bachelor of Business Studies (Valuation and Property Management) conferred by Massey University
  • Bachelor of Commerce (Valuation and Property Management) conferred by Lincoln University
  • Bachelor of Land and Property Management conferred by Lincoln University
  • Bachelor of Property conferred by University of Auckland
  • Bachelor of Property Administration conferred by University of Auckland
  • Membership of the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors as a member or fellow with chartered designation in general practice, commercial property, residential property, or valuation.

You must apply for a licence within 10 years of completing your property degree. If you completed your qualification outside of the specified period, from 1 February 2022 the Registrar may grant your licence if they are satisfied that you have demonstrated that you have sufficient knowledge of real estate agency work (see Specified period for prescribed qualifications).

You also need to complete an assessment against unit standard 23137, which covers sale and purchase agreements with Skills, unless you’re already licensed and are applying for a licence of a higher class.

Education organisations

Salesperson qualification- New Zealand Certificate in Real Estate Level 4

These education organisations currently offer training for the salesperson qualification. Contact them directly for information about study options and course fees.

Branch Manager qualification- New Zealand Certificate in Real Estate Level 5 (Version 2)

You can enrol today in the currently available Level 5 (Branch Manager) programme offered by Open Polytechnic.  Enrolments for the new Level 5 (Branch Manager) (Version 2) will be available later in 2022, and anyone studying the current programme will be offered the chance to complete their current course of study or transfer to the new (Version 2) programme.

Skills offer the new Level 5 (Branch Manager) (Version 2) as a Recognition of Current Competency (RCC) programme. RCC is an assessment process that enables people to gain formal qualifications for the skills and knowledge they already have. Information about the Level 5 RCC is available on the Skills website.

Agent qualification - New Zealand Certificate in Real Estate Level 6

We are expecting enrolments to open in 2022 for the New Zealand Certificate in Real Estate (Level 6) Agents’ qualification.

Please note there is a qualification pre-requisite for the New Zealand Certificate in Real Estate (Level 6). Learners are required to have completed a New Zealand Certificate in Real Estate (Level 5) Branch Manager qualification (or equivalent) before being eligible to enrol.

We encourage all salespersons that are interested in becoming an agent licensee to first complete the branch manager qualification.

Specified period for prescribed qualifications

Amendments to the Real Estate Agents (Licensing) Regulations 2009 came into force on 1 February 2022. These changes give the Registrar the discretion to accept a prescribed qualification that has been completed by an applicant outside a period specified in regulation 12(2), if the Registrar is satisfied the applicant can demonstrate sufficient knowledge of real estate agency work. 

Please note that the changes to the regulations only relate to the education requirements for a licensing application. All other eligibility criteria in the Act must still be satisfied before a licence can be granted. For instance, to be licensed as an Agent or Branch Manager an applicant must have three years’ experience in licensed real estate agency work, within the 10 years preceding the application.

Applicants will need to provide additional information and evidence at the time of applying for their licence. Below are the types of information the Registrar is likely to ask for to consider an application:

  • References (Employer or previous employer/s)
    • Written references from previous and/or current employer(s) that corroborates the applicant’s licensed real estate agency work experience
  • Required training completion certificate
    • Evidence that the applicant has completed any training including any REA-approved required training
  • Evidence of verifiable CPD completion or other training
    • Including training from REA accredited trainers or other professional bodies such as the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors, Property Institute of New Zealand, New Zealand Institute of Valuers
    • Certificates, portfolios etc
  • Overseas real estate agency work experience and related industry experience
    • Details of overseas work experience and how it compares to New Zealand real estate environment
    • Details of work experience in a related industry and how it relates to real estate agency work.
    • Details of licensed real estate agency work

If you have any difficulty in uploading additional information and evidence through the application process in the licensing portal, please send your information to licensing@rea.govt.nz.

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