Residential Real Estate Developer (Regulated Business) License

A City of Chicago regulated business license for the activity of residential real estate developer is required before the issuance of a building permit for any person who either acquires vacant land and constructs a new residential building upon it or acquires land with an existing building and improves it as a residential building, excluding some small owner-occupied properties.

Regulated business licenses are issued by the Department of Business Affairs and Consumer Protection (BACP).

Frequently Asked Questions

When is a residential real estate developer license required?

A regulated business license for the activity of residential real estate developer is required before either:

  • Acquiring vacant land and improving it with a new residential building.
  • Acquiring land improved with a building and:
    • Renovating more than 50% of the existing floor area of a residential building
    • Increasing the floor area or height of a residential building
    • Substantially altering the plumbing or electrical service of a residential building
    • Changing the occupancy to residential for more than 50% of existing floor area
    • Converting a residential building to condominium ownership

A license is not required for an individual if the residential building is the individual’s primary residence and the property contains no more than 6 dwelling units. An individual cannot claim the owner-occupant exception for more than one property per calendar year. 

Are there different types of residential real estate developer licenses?


Who may obtain a residential real estate developer license?

Residential real estate developer licenses are issued to businesses, including sole proprietorships.

For more information, contact the Department of Business Affairs and Consumer Protection (BACP).

What is required to obtain a residential real estate developer license?

Contact the Department of Business Affairs and Consumer Protection (BACP) for application requirements.

How do I apply for a new residential real estate developer license?

To apply for a residential real estate developer license you may use Chicago Business Direct, or meet in-person with a BACP Business Consultant at the Small Business Center. Appointments are recommended for in-person license applicants and may be made by calling 312-74-GOBIZ (744-6249).

How do I renew an existing residential real estate developer license?

To renew a residential real estate developer license use Chicago Business Direct.

How much does a residential real estate developer license cost?

License Classification License Fee Renewal Fee
Regulated Business (Residential Real Estate Developer) $250.00 $250.00

How long is a residential real estate developer license valid?

A residential real estate developer license is valid for two years from issuance.

What are the legal duties of a residential real estate developer?

A licensed residential real estate developer must:

  • Post a photocopy of its license certificate in a conspicuous place at each residential real estate development site it maintains.
  • Post a photocopy of its license certificate in a conspicuous place at each office it maintains.
  • Print its license number:
    • On the front page of every estimate, contract, and subcontract for residential real estate development
    • In any advertisement placed by it or on its behalf
    • On every application for a building permit
    • On every contract of sale
  • Display a sign in a conspicuous location at any place where sales information about a residential building is made available for distribution to prospective purchasers informing the prospective purchasers of their right to request and immediately receive a written disclosure statement containing the information required under the residential real estate developer licensing ordinance.
  • Provide every purchaser, at the closing of the sale, with a written disclosure statement including the identity and contact information of the general contractor who constructed or improved the residential building and the identity and contact information of every person owning twenty-five percent or more of the residential real estate developer.

A licensed residential real estate developer may not use predatory tactics to persuade, convince, cajole, pressure, force, harass or otherwise coerce any homeowner to sell their property.

Ordinances and Rules 

Municipal Code of Chicago, Chapter 4-6, Article V: Residential Real Estate Developer

This information is provided to help you better understand licensing requirements in the City of Chicago. It may not reflect all conditions, limitations, or exceptions that may apply to a particular situation and is not intended as a substitute for legal advice. To the extent the information on this page differs from the Municipal Code of Chicago or applicable rules, the ordinance or rule controls.