Overview of the Commercial and Residential
Real Estate Market in Rhode Island


Well known for being the smallest state in the country, Rhode Island covers just 1,214 square miles. It is 48 miles from North to South and only 37 miles from West to East. The Ocean State ranks 43rd in the country for population, according to the U.S. Census, with 1,055,173 residents and an average of 1,018 people for each square mile. The median home value of $247,400 is $70,700 more than the national median home value of $176,700. Rhode Island's median household income of $56,361 is only $3,375 above the national median household income of $53,046. Providence is the largest city and has a population of 177,994. The city has a median home value of $196,300, a median household income of $37,632, and 29 percent of its population below the poverty level. With more than 9,676 people per square mile, 72.2 percent of the city's homes are in multi-unit structures and the homeownership rate is just 35.8 percent. The second-largest city of Warwick has a homeownership rate of 72.7 percent, a median home value of $207,700, and a median household income of $62,295. Just slightly more than 7 percent of the population lives below the poverty level.

Overview of the Commercial Real Estate Market in Rhode Island

The second-largest employer in the state is Lifespan Hospital Group, with 11,869 employees. Part of the state's continued economic growth is the 75,000 square foot medical office building planned for 375 Wampanoag Trail in Providence. Also under way in the city, is a commercial development on Highland Avenue. Rhode Island's retail space vacancy rate was between 15 percent and 20 percent in 2007. In the past few years, much of that vacancy has been absorbed by mid-sized and large retailers moving in. Many landlords were willing to accept low rents at the beginning of leases and gradually increase years into the lease terms.

How to Become a Realtor in Rhode Island

All real estate brokers, sales agents, and appraisers are licensed and regulated by Rhode Island's Division of Commercial Licensing and Regulation. They require all applicants be at least 18 years old and successfully complete a 45-hour real estate course before passing the state exam. For applicants who are not residents of Rhode Island, they must file for an irrevocable power of attorney form. All applicants must include a statement asserting that the individual is both honest and competent enough to be a licensed real estate agent. They also need personal references from three property owners that have known the applicant for at least three years, stating that the applicant has a reputation for competency and honesty. Rhode Island has reciprocity with Massachusetts and Connecticut. The non-resident agents from these states must maintain all continuing education requirements for their home state, instead of the continuing education criteria for Rhode Island.