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Can I still get my unemployment checks if I'm a Realtor and just closed a transaction and got paid?


Hello there,

I have searched the internet everywhere but can't find the answer to my question. I'd really appreciate your help. I have been on unemployment since Feb. 2009. I couldn't find a job anywhere so I got my real estate license and just closed my first deal. I got a check that is considered self-employed income. Do I have to claim this to the unemployment office? Can I still receive my benefits? What do I need to do in order to play by the rules?

Thank you!!!


The rules may not be on your side. Real estate commission are considered excluded employment. In other words, even if you work as an agent for a company (I think this might be required for new agents) the boss doesn't have to pay UI taxes.

The issue, at least what I think the issue will be for the EDD would be that you are collecting unemployment and that your work as an independent, self-employed real estate agent makes you not able and available for "covered" employment any longer .. that is the problem.

You can't not report the commission .. because I'm certain that unemployment departments cross check with the IRS ..

So they will find out eventually, and the issue will be "are you able and available and seeking covered work? .. when did you start working in real estate? How many hours a week do you devote to this self-employment? Are you still looking for regular full-time employment? Can you provide us with proof that you are applying for job? Faxing your resume?

No? Look forward to a determination which
says you have been overpaid. The issue varies by state.

Frankly, it's ridiculous. The system is not meant to encourage people to take initiative to earn their own living .. only to tide you over for the short term until you can return to being the wage slave of someone else.

This is interpreted differently from state to state.

My suggestion is always the same. Everyone should have a business while they have a job even if they only work on it in their spare time.

What's the difference between starting a business while employed or after you become unemployed?

Starting a business takes time and energy .. and they only believe that you can be able and available while simultaneously working and running a business .. because you can prove you did it concurrently.

If you start it after you become unemployed .. they think you spent all your time starting it and took advantage of UI benefits to subsidize starting a business.

How's that for stupid government reasoning.

Of course I'm sure someone will throw all the bad apples in my face who would take advantage.

Punish those with initiative to protect yourself from those who are sitting at home cracking six pack after six pack and think monster is something that makes your kid cry.

Sorry for the rant California .. but it sure felt good for a change.

This issue is near and dear to my heart because I think more unemployed people should be trying to find alternative ways to earn a living .. other than faxing resumes.

What a wast of 99 weeks that would be.

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Feb 19, 2017
Great Answers!! California!
by: Anonymous

Thank you all for your help. I am the exact same situation & there are few resources that address this situation.

In California:
You CAN receive unemployment if you previously worked as an employee "regular job", and are now working as an independent contractor (realtor). Just make sure that the week you receive your commission check you report that to unemployment as XE (excess wages) and DON'T receive unemployment for that particular week. You can go back to receiving unemployment the week after.

Thanks for the info everyone!

Thank you!

You give good advice Anon .. about always reporting XE earnings since if those earning do eliminate the possibility of a partial benefit amount in one week .. it still doesn't reduce one's remaining benefit balance.

However if you want to be a stickler about how rules work to bite one .. in the you know what, a claimant is expected to report in the week earned, which is seldom the same as the week paid even something like a real estate commission.

Just meant to be heads up there's more than one avenue for an unemployment department to find and then assert you did something wrong in a determination saying there was an overpayment of unemployment benefits and in some states, long after our memory of what happened, still serves us well.

My apologies, the OP page I linked to above is one I've designated as a "no follow" until I get it ready to host questions about, or more often, just draw in questions about potential unemployment overpayment issues.

Aug 18, 2012
Filling out the claim form
by: Anonymous

I am a part-part-part-time realtor and actor. My actor income pays into unemployment, so I do have "interviews" to discuss how I could possibly do both! How can I take a full-time actor job if I am selling houses?
First of all, I haven't sold anything this year. I did a lease this month and my commission $550.
So for the week I received the $550, on the claim form I write the day I received the check, three hours worked; Realtor, Coldwell Banker, NRT; then Independent Contractor.

It actually took me over a month of phone calls, a few showings, and two trips to the office to earn the commission. But there is no way of showing this. In other words, in Item 6: Did you work or earn any money, whether you were paid or not? I would have to say "yes" based on the HOPE OF CLOSING A TRANSACTION FOR EACH WEEK THAT I ANSWERED ONE PHONE CALL OR SHOWED ONE PROPERTY.
I suppose the same could go for every time I buy a lottery ticket.


I never miss an acting job to show a property to a lookie loo!
And if Stephen Speilberg wants to offer me a full-time job on his next movie, I'm there!

K in Hollywood

Dec 18, 2011
by: Anonymous

I also have a question, I am from California.
I've been working for a general contractor full time paying my unemployments benefits for several years. At the same time I've worked on my free time as a "part time" real estate agent. Lately I've been laid off from my full time job but I am still working as a real estate agent working strictly on commission.

Am I entitled to ask for unemployment benefits based on my full time job?? I am waiting to re-start again but If there's no more work there for me I will be looking for another full time job.....

Please advise

Since you're in California, I'd say yes .. because you did both types of work concurrently and being a realtor doesn't necessarily mean you aren't able, available and ready to accept another full-time job.

However, would still suggest you understand the issue in CA about self-employment and how it can affect unemployment benefits.

Jun 26, 2010
by: Anonymous

XE simply means excessive excessive they mean in a given week of your unemployment, after taking out $25 or 25% whichever is greater... The leftover amount of money that you made as an independent contractor is greater than your weekly unemployment benefit.

So if your approved weekly benefit is $200 and you made more than $200 still after they did the whole $25/25% calculation, then you are in excess and do not qualify for full benefits for that particular week. Yes you are absolutely correct! California punishes you for getting out there and trying to make money!

My wordage is not exact but you can go to the EDD website to find the definition of XE. It's in the "Benefit Determination Guide" somewhere on the first few's the ONLY place where it is defined..then they abbreviate it as XE for the next thousand pages or so without explanation. The guide is like Greek for most people to read and full of abbreviations like it.

Thank you, I appreciate you letting me know what XE means .. because not in a thousands years would I have guessed .. that's what it stands for.

By the way, if you think the CA benefits determination guide is like reading greek .. you might be able to empathize with people in almost all the other states who have absolutely nothing which attempts to explain how unemployment works in practice.

It is entirely on purpose in my opinion. If you want to help someone screw themselves out of unemployment benefits .. don't tell them anything .. just lull them into thinking you're there to help them through this difficult time.

I try to avoid spouting my personal opinions .. because it takes the focus off what I think is important to understand about "getting benefits", but sometimes ...


Jun 21, 2010
Thank you!
by: Anonymous

Thank you so much for your response. Although it wasn't what I was praying to hear... I greatly appreciate your time. So the next step is to cancel my benefits. How do I go about doing this? I just want to suspend them from continuing. I'm trying to figure out how to fill-out this most recent form they sent me. I didn't get a job. Thank you!!!!

I'm certain I owe you an apology. I broke one of my own rules when answering your question .. I didn't verify what I told you and I have no excuse because California provides a very good resource for answering these types of questions.

Before you make a move .. please read this

And definitely this so you can apply this information to your own situation .. You know your situation .. so you'll be able to recognize what you should do.

And if you know what XE stands for .. let me know.

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