A 15-minute car ride from Youngstown and surrounding communities takes you to the Ohio-Pennsylvania border. Close proximity to a neighboring state can mean a bigger real estate market to initiate and cultivate new client relationships. And with technology, a real estate agent can further expand their footprint and promote themselves and their properties to a larger audience. But, is it worth it to go through the process of becoming dual-licensed?
It’s a valid question to ask. Before ultimately making a decision, it helps to have all of the information, so that you know what you’re getting into.
Ohio and Pennsylvania By the Numbers
First, let’s examine the numbers. How do Ohio and Pennsylvania compare when it comes to economic and housing opportunities? Well, when we take a look at the data, the results are fairly similar:
|2018 Population||Median Household Income||Housing Units||Owner-Occupied Housing Rate||
Median Home Value
*Data courtesy of U.S. Census Bureau
A booming economy and low unemployment numbers have given way to a rise in home values, as housing inventory shrinks in both states. In Ohio, home prices have increased more than six percent over the past year, while in Pennsylvania, housing prices have gone up nearly four percent. This upward trend is likely to continue through 2019 and beyond.
Housing stock is more than five million in both states with the majority of homes being three-bedroom single-family. This means most of your home buyers are familiar with the process and are looking to expand their current living situation. According to the Zillow Buyer-Seller Index (BSI), which computes three metrics: the list-to-sale price ratio, the prevalence of price cuts on home listings and time-on-market, Ohio and Pennsylvania appear to be very hot seller’s markets for those looking to capitalize on housing inventory that’s reached record lows.
So then, the data stacks up nicely, but what about the time it takes to sell a house? Can it be done faster in one state compared to the other? The average closing time for a new purchase in the U.S. is 46 days, according to Fannie Mae. However, this can be difficult to match as a variety of factors, such as location and the state of the real estate market, can influence how long it will actually take to close on a home. For example, in Akron, Ohio, average closing time is 67.5 days, which is pretty close to the national average. Meanwhile, Erie and Scranton, Pennsylvania represent some of the slowest selling housing markets in the country with an average of 146 days required for closing.
Opportunity Knocks in Western Pennsylvania
If you’re an Ohio Realtor® and considering a real estate license in Pennsylvania, there are opportunities in the Keystone State that should spark your interest. In Western Pennsylvania, Pittsburgh and surrounding communities such as Cranberry, Wexford, Warrendale and Zelienople you will find some of the oldest housing stock in the country, with a majority of houses approaching 60 years of age. A first impression is everything and an older home in need of some serious repairs would perhaps scare away prospective homebuyers. However, with home renovation loan options available, there’s unmatched potential to help homebuyers discover their dream house at an affordable price. Learn more about the Western PA market here.
Real Estate License Reciprocity
After comparing the markets, it helps to also be aware of standing real estate agreements between different states. Have you heard of reciprocity? It’s an agreement between two states that allows a professional licensee in one state to obtain a license in another state through a streamlined process. Reciprocal agreements can vary based on state and industry laws. In real estate, a Realtor® holding an active real estate license in one state can apply for a realtors license in another state without having to take state-required pre-licensing real estate courses. This ensures an agent saves time and saves on the cost of additional fees when acquiring a real estate license in another state.
Real estate license reciprocity differs per state. Some states have reciprocal agreements with bordering states, while others are cross-country and hundreds of miles away. Often, this is due to similar state laws. In Colorado, for example, the state allows a licensee to attain their real estate license in all 50 states. On the other end of the spectrum, Texas does not have reciprocity agreements with any other state. Which states do Ohio and Pennsylvania have real estate license reciprocal agreements with?
In Ohio, it’s: Arkansas, Colorado, Connecticut, Mississippi, Nebraska, Oklahoma, West Virginia and Wyoming. Meanwhile, Pennsylvania has license reciprocal agreements with: Arkansas, Georgia, Louisiana, Maryland, Massachusetts and New York. Did you catch the state(s) missing from either list? Yes, Ohio and Pennsylvania do not have a real estate license reciprocity agreement, despite being adjacent to one another.
Real Estate License Portability
There are also real estate license portability laws. This set of rules and regulations allow Realtors® from out of state to engage in real estate transactions in a desired state. Ohio is recognized as a “cooperative state,” meaning out-of-state agents or brokers can physically enter the state to conduct real estate business. This includes property showings, closings, negotiations and other common actions during a real estate transactions. In order for an agent to work in a cooperative state, though, they must have a co-brokerage agreement with a licensee of that state.
Pennsylvania is one of six states that are turf states. These states offer tight restrictions, in which out-of-state agents or brokers cannot conduct real estate business in the select state, either in-person or remotely. This means that any Ohio agent must also acquire a PA license in order to work in both areas. Thus, real estate agents will need to complete their pre-license courses and appropriate state exams.
Real Estate License Requirements by State
- Complete 120 hours of approved real estate education
- Obtain a sponsoring broker
- Submit application
- Take test to obtain license
- Complete 75 hours of approved real estate education
- Take the Pennsylvania and National Licensing Exam
- Find a sponsoring broker
- Apply for Pennsylvania State License
The amount and cost of coursework will depend, as different schools will charge different fees. Estimates can range from $200 upwards of $1,000. As a courtesy though, some brokers will reimburse the agent for the cost of classes once closing on their first transaction.
Advice from a Dual-Licensed Realtor®
For Lisa Giordano, the opportunity to obtain her dual real estate license was one she could not pass up. A real estate agent and member of the Pennsylvania Association of Realtors®, her roots are intertwined to the Mahoning Valley, having grown up in Canfield, Ohio. After graduating from Youngstown State University, Lisa’s journey included stops in Charlotte, North Carolina, Pleasanton, California and Wexford, Pennsylvania, which happens to be where she discovered her passion for real estate. In recent years, though, Lisa ventured back to the Mahoning Valley area, settling in Poland, Ohio in order to be closer to her family.
Even though she crossed state lines and returned to Ohio, Lisa did not want to give up her love for helping people find the home of their dreams. Since Ohio and Pennsylvania do not recognize licensing reciprocities, she had to retake the real estate courses and testing, which she admits was a bit of a challenge.
“It’s difficult and somewhat costly getting started in real estate. You’re required to complete a certain number of hours of real estate education classes, which are normally paid for up front. However, a majority of brokers will reimburse you the cost once you pass your State and National Real Estate Licensing test and sign with a broker. An agent also needs to budget for MLS fees, Errors and Omissions, membership to the OAR (Ohio Association of Realtors), PAR (Pennsylvania Association of Realtors) as well as the NAR (National Association of Realtors, if your broker requires membership. If an agent wishes to obtain certain designations or certifications, which require additional classes, that expense is the agent’s responsibility. An agent is also responsible for the cost of renewing their license, and the cost for the required Continuing Education (CE) classes. In Ohio, it’s every three years and in Pennsylvania, the renewal is every two years. The cost of doing business is significant.”
Lisa earned her dual license, meaning she works from home in Poland for Berkshire Hathaway Northwood Realty Services while also commuting across Western Pennsylvania and working a few days out of the week from the Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices The Preferred Realty North Hills office in Wexford, located just north of Pittsburgh. Even though she no longer lives in Pennsylvania, she still maintains a sphere of influence in the community and keeps attention to the housing market while also serving Northeast Ohio.
“You do get pulled on time management as there are time constraints, as I find myself driving quite a bit between both states,” says Giordano. “However, if you’re slow in one state, you may be able to pick up business in another state, and so I do not have to rely on all of my business in a single state.”
While selling homes is the same, the way real estate contracts are written up are very different between Ohio in Pennsylvania. For example, in Ohio, each brokerage contains their own set of purchase agreement rules and guidelines, which can differ from agency to agency and offer a level of complexity for Realtors®. Meanwhile, the Pennsylvania Association of Realtors® dictates a realtors’ purchase agreement, meaning everyone works off the same contract. At the end of the day, Lisa greatly relishes the opportunity to sell real estate in both states.
Whether you’re a real state agent working in Ohio or Pennsylvania, the ability to buy and sell commercial and residential properties across state lines is feasible, with the proper licensing. Not to mention, the areas for opportunity in Western PA and the 26% higher median home value (meaning more commission). While the process of becoming a dual-licensed agent may sound cumbersome, the benefits could be huge for your business and career if you’re willing to put in the effort and time.
Another benefit of dual-licensed is that our team can work with you to cultivate new relationships with clients in both states as well. Our branch of AmeriFirst is licensed to handle traditional, renovation, and new construction loans in both Ohio and Pennsylvania, so you can have peace of mind knowing you’ll have a trusted lender to lean on. If you’re interested in learning more about becoming dual-licensed or wondering whether or not it’s the right decision for you, feel free to reach out to Matt Heikkinen at email@example.com.
*Not intended as accounting or investment advice. Contact your financial representative for more information.