Renew that Precious License by December 14

Don’t let your eligibility to practice lapse!

 Debbi Conrad  |    November 11, 2018
Renew That Precious License

Completed real estate license renewal applications and fees must be received by the Department of Safety and Professional Services (DSPS) no later than midnight on Friday, December 14, 2018, for all licensees who wish to practice real estate on Saturday, December 15 and thereafter. You need your license to list a property, write an offer and collect a commission, so don’t let this crucial date slide by! It is your lifeline to legal real estate practice!

Licensees who do not meet the December 14 deadline will be unlicensed as of December 15
and cannot practice real estate per Wis. Stat. § 452.12(5)(b) until the license is renewed. Your license will disappear at the stroke of midnight, and you will no longer be a licensed real estate broker or agent.

But I didn't get a renewal postcard!

The DSPS has indicated it sends out an email blast to all credential holders when the window for license renewal opens. This year, that date was October 22, 2018. If a credential holder does not have an email address on file, the DSPS sends out a postcard instead. In other words, a licensee will receive either an email or a postcard announcing that the DSPS is ready to receive real estate license renewals.

However, not receiving a renewal notice by email or postcard does not excuse you from the renewal requirement! It will not save you if a disciplinary proceeding is brought against you for practicing real estate without a current license. In addition, if you realize after December 14 that you need to renew your license, the fact that you didn’t receive an email or a postcard will not give you a pass when it comes to paying the $25 late fee. No excuses! 

Online renewal

Licensees may renew their real estate licenses online at Licensees need their credential number, PIN number and a credit card to pay the $82 renewal fee. This fee applies to real estate salespersons, real estate brokers, and real estate business entities such as corporations, partnerships and LLCs. The PIN number is on the postcard or can be found online using the credential number and other licensee information. If you cannot renew online, you must contact the DSPS at least 15 days before your license expiration date to request a paper renewal form. You can contact the DSPS via email at or by calling the general helpline at 608-266-2112.

The DSPS site advises to allow two business days for the processing of online renewals. Waiting until the last day to renew may also be unwise because there can be computer issues or other reasons for an outage of the online service. If a renewal application and payment is received by the DSPS on time and the continuing education (CE) has been completed, the credential holder is eligible to practice while the license is being processed. The DSPS website at indicates: ‚ÄúATTENTION: If a renewal payment is received on time, the credential/license holder is eligible to practice while the credential/license is being processed.‚ÄĚ The DSPS considers a license renewed as soon as the department website shows that the renewal requirements have been completed. Emails are sent to confirm completion of renewal.¬†

Renewal status may be checked online using the licensee lookup feature at This database generally is updated daily. As long as the license appears on the DSPS website as active, the licensee may practice. The reverse also is true ‚ÄĒ if the license shows as expired, then the salesperson, broker or business entity, as the case may be, is not authorized to practice real estate in Wisconsin. In other words, what appears on the DSPS database controls your ability to legally practice.¬†

The WRA is not the DSPS

Please don’t be confused! This article is about renewing your real estate license with the state, which needs to be done every two years. Your license authorizes you to practice real estate in Wisconsin. 

The Wisconsin REALTORS¬ģ Association, on the other hand, is a trade organization. REALTOR¬ģ membership is renewed every year and requires a current license, an application and payment of annual REALTOR¬ģ dues. These two are not the same! You must renew your real estate license to be eligible for REALTOR¬ģ membership unless you are an affiliate or appraiser member.

CE requirement: six courses, 18 hours 

The Real Estate Examining Board (REEB) requires all individual real estate licensees to complete 18 hours of CE per biennium and pass the respective course examinations; 70 percent correct is passing. The 18 hours are comprised of six three-hour modules with specific course content approved by the REEB.

Licensees must take courses 1, 2, 3 and 4 and two elective courses. 

The four mandatory courses are:

  • Course 1: Wisconsin Listing Contracts¬†
  • Course 2: Wisconsin Offers to Purchase¬†
  • Course 3: Wisconsin New Developments¬†
  • Course 4: Ethics and Best Practices (includes the NAR ethics requirements)

The electives (two required) include:

  • Elective A: New Construction¬†
  • Elective B: Wisconsin Investment Property and Property Management¬†
  • Elective C: Financing¬†
  • Elective D: Other Wisconsin-approved Forms¬†

As part of the renewal process, individual licensees must list the date, course title, course sponsor and the number of hours for each course completed to satisfy the CE requirements.

To complete these courses, an individual licensee may attend live classes, watch classes on DVD, work through self-study courses and/or use the On Demand internet-based education format. Visit for the WRA 2017-18 CE live classroom course schedules or to order distance learning materials. Individuals who complete their CE with the WRA can see all of their completed WRA CE courses by visiting and using the myWRA login. This is a handy way to track the CE course information required on the renewal application. 

Licensees need not submit course certificates with their renewals, but these may later be requested by the REEB. Making a false statement to the REEB in connection with a license application is grounds for revocation, suspension or denial of the license. If a complaint is made against a licensee, the DSPS now requires the licensee to submit proof of CE completion along with the response to the complaint that is due within 10 days. Failure to do so will result in an investigation being opened against the licensee regarding completion of CE, whether or not the underlying complaint goes forward.

All licensees are required to complete the 18 credit hours of CE including for the biennium during which they are licensed. Most newly licensed individuals are no longer exempt from the CE requirement during the biennium when they first receive their license. However, one group of individuals is exempt: salespersons who received their initial license after October 1 of the even year of the biennium will not be required to complete CE for that biennium. There is no exemption for broker licensees, as stated in Wis. Admin. Code § REEB 25.065(5). Thus, every individual with a real estate license must complete CE as part of the December 14, 2018, renewal except for those who received an original salesperson’s license after October 1, 2018.

Reporting criminal convictions 

Wis. Stat. § 452.12(5)(d) requires that a person applying for renewal of a broker’s or salesperson’s license complete a form asking whether the renewal applicant has been convicted of a crime since he or she last renewed the license or, for the first renewal, since he or she initially applied for the license. If the answer is yes, the renewal applicant will be asked for the date of conviction and a description of the nature and circumstances of the crime. The applicant must sign his or her name to attest to the accuracy and truthfulness of the information provided and acknowledge that the DSPS has the authority to investigate the applicant’s criminal convictions, assess forfeitures up to $1,000 against an applicant who is not truthful, and revoke the license of a person who fails to pay such forfeitures. 

Truth be told, a licensee is required to report any criminal convictions to the REEB within 48 hours after the judgment of conviction, pursuant to Wis. Admin. Code § REEB 24.17(1). The REEB determines whether the circumstances of the crime are substantially related to the practice of real estate and makes a case-by-case decision upon consideration of the factors listed in Wis. Stat. § 425.25(1)(c). The REEB may revoke the license or impose other discipline if the licensee was convicted of a felony. 

Failing to immediately report a criminal conviction that later comes to the attention of the REEB will not put the licensee in good favor and may result in discipline.

Late renewals 

Licensees who do not renew their licenses by December 14 may file a late renewal application. Applications received after December 14 must include the $82 renewal fee plus the $25 late fee for a total of $107. 

The REEB may grant an extension of time for completing CE and renewing a license if it receives a written request from the licensee and a physician’s statement that verifies that a licensee’s health prevented him or her from attending CE. An extension may also be granted to a licensee on active military duty outside Wisconsin or for other compelling reasons beyond the control of the licensee.

Business entity renewals 

Along with individual licenses, it is also necessary to renew any broker business entity license for any business entity involved in or related to a licensee‚Äôs practice. If an individual licensee is the ‚Äúbusiness representative‚ÄĚ for a business entity, that means that the individual, as the director, manager, member, officer, owner or partner of the business entity, must make sure that his or her broker‚Äôs license is renewed and that the license for the business entity also is renewed if that company will continue to act as a broker entity during the upcoming biennium.¬†

Under Wis. Stat. § 452.12(5)(bm), if the firm or business entity broker’s license is not renewed, the firm cannot engage in the brokerage activities until the license is renewed. Furthermore, licensees associated with the firm may not provide brokerage services on behalf of the firm until the firm’s license is renewed. 

The business representative for the firm must notify each licensee associated with the firm if the firm’s license was not renewed and file a Form #766 Notice of Termination of Employment of Broker or Salesperson with the REEB for each licensee associated with the firm within 10 days after providing the notice. The form is available at

Sometimes the individual broker may receive an email or postcard for the individual‚Äôs license but does not receive an email or postcard for the business entity. Once again, that is not a valid defense for failure to renew the business entity license ‚ÄĒ be sure to also submit the renewal form and fee for the business entity if the brokerage firm is going to continue to practice.

As part of the entity license renewal process, you may be asked to name the ‚Äúresponsible broker.‚ÄĚ That refers to Wis. Stat. ¬ß 452.132(5)(a): ‚ÄúA firm that is a licensed broker business entity shall delegate the performance of the duty to supervise licensees associated with the firm to a supervising broker who is a licensed individual broker.‚ÄĚ This is not necessarily the same person as the ‚Äúbusiness representative‚ÄĚ for the licensed broker entity.¬†

Firm supervision oversight

Wis. Stat. § 452.132(2)(c) requires each firm to confirm that each agent associated with the firm has renewed his or her real estate license at the beginning of each biennium and is properly licensed. If an individual’s renewal application has not been timely filed, a firm may not permit the person to engage in real estate practice after December 14 until the license is renewed. If there are any agents who do not renew their licenses or who are no longer with the company, the firm should file a Form #766 Notice of Termination of Employment of Broker or Salesperson with the DSPS within 10 days. Firms that allow unlicensed persons to practice real estate on behalf of the firm can be subject to REEB discipline.

Renewal obstacles: delinquent tax and support obligations

As part of the renewal process, the DSPS uses a licensee’s Social Security number or a business entity’s FEIN to check for any delinquent state tax or family support obligations or delinquent unemployment insurance contributions and to see if a licensee has failed to comply with a warrant or subpoena related to paternity or support proceedings. If left unresolved, these issues are grounds for the denial or restriction of a license as laid out in Wis. Stat. §§ 440.12-440.13.

The Department of Revenue (DOR) is willing to enter into reasonable arrangements for payment of delinquent taxes. You can contact the DOR’s nearest office; call the Madison Central Collection Unit at 608-266-7879 or phone the Occupational License Specialist at 608-267-0833 and choose option 1 to discuss the available options. See the DOR credential renewal information at and the Department of Children and Families information regarding Denying, Restricting, Suspending, or Not Renewing a License at 

Privacy concerns 

  • All licensees should be aware that the name and address information submitted during renewal is available to the public, so consider substituting a business address in place of a home address.¬†
  • Individuals and sole proprietors have the opportunity to opt out of the disclosure of your address on lists of 10 or more credential holders furnished to third parties.¬†
  • As part of the renewal application, each individual applicant must certify that the applicant is a U.S. citizen or a legal alien qualified to receive a credential. If a licensee‚Äôs legal status as a qualified alien or nonimmigrant lawfully present in the United States has chpanged since the issuance of the original license, the licensee should contact the DSPS at 608-266-2112 or¬†

Debbi Conrad is Senior Attorney and Director of Legal Affairs for the WRA. 

WRA Resources 

License Renewal Video 

Renewal instruction video: 

CE Frequently Asked Questions  

WRA FAQ page about CE and license renewal: 



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