Real estate licenses, authorizations issued by state governments, give agents and brokers the legal ability to represent a home seller or buyer in the process of buying or selling real estate. Real estate agents and real estate brokers are required to be licensed when conducting real estate transactions in the United States and many other countries.
Through a complicated arrangement, the National Association of Realtors (NAR), a trade and lobbying group for agents and brokers, sets policies for most of the multiple listing services. As the Internet gained widespread use in the late 1990s, NAR created regulations allowing Information Data Exchanges (or Internet Data Exchanges) (IDX) whereby brokers would allow a portion of their data, such as listings of homes for sale, to be seen online via brokers' or agents' websites.
The association attempted to limit online access to some or all of that data, particularly by brokers operating solely on the Internet. In 2005, the Department of Justice brought an antitrust lawsuit against the NAR trade group. The complaint accused the association of unfairly limiting access to the multiple listing service (MLS), which effectively prevented online brokerages from competing with traditional brick-and-mortar offices. The Justice Department accused the NAR of conspiring to restrain trade.
License reciprocity agreements
Some U.S. states have reciprocity agreements in place allowing licensees from other states to become licensed in that state. Details of each reciprocal agreement vary from state to state. Some states have education requirements that must be met by the agent while others require only that the agent fill out a reciprocal license application with the State.