CalBRE responds to reader inquiries about licensing and fee changes and technological upgrades.

Thanks to everyone for participating. If you have a CalBRE question or other question you’d like us to address, feel free to email us at editorial@firsttuesday.us.

1. CalBRE licensing and education requirements focus mainly on residential real estate, yet many CalBRE licensees practice exclusively on nonresidential transactions. Has CalBRE considered creating different real estate license types, educational requirements or other licensing protocols to address this dichotomy?

Given the breadth of activities and services one may perform with a real estate license, the question of specialized licensing is a sound one. But it is a question better asked of the legislature. The only way to achieve specialized licensing is through a legislative mandate.

Of course, this is exactly what happened in the mortgage loan origination (MLO) arena. With the passage of SB 36, licensees engaging in residential mortgage origination of 1 – 4 four residential units must now pass highly specialized tests, have specialized education, and obtain an MLO endorsement to their license. In order to renew an MLO, the holder must take annual specialized continuing education. The furcating of licenses by type of activity would likely follow the path that created the MLO [endorsement].

2. In the most recent Real Estate Bulletin, Commissioner Bell mentioned enhancing professionalism among licenses by encouraging the production of practical guides, forms and checklists. Does CalBRE have currently, or have plans to produce, any such materials? Our readers specifically inquired about a checklist designed for 1-to-4 unit residential transactions and a template for a brokerage office policy handbook.

Professionalism is a behavior and a mindset, and is in the hands of the practitioner. It is difficult if not impossible to legislate. While the CalBRE has the responsibility to ensure licensees comply with legislative mandates, it is up to each licensee to seek and develop policies and best practices that not only ensure compliance with the Real Estate Law, but also deliver services to consumers in an ethical and professional manner which are appropriate to the licensee’s chosen field of practice.

For CalBRE’s part, it has developed extensive resources for licensees and applicants alike to assist with ensuring compliance with the law. For example, the following resources can be found at //www.bre.ca.gov/Licensees/BusinessResources.html:

  • Real Estate Law
  • Real Estate Reference Book
  • Broker Compliance Evaluation Manual Broker Self-Evaluation (RE 540)
  • Course Provider Resources (Pre-License & CE)
  • Search for Approved CE Course Offerings
  • Online Access to Public Reports
  • Disclosures in Real Property Transactions
  • Doing Business on the Internet
  • Guidelines for Unlicensed Assistants
  • Licensee Advisories and Alerts
  • Most Common Enforcement Violations
  • Professional Responsibility: An Overview
  • Professional Responsibility: Course Booklet
  • Sample Trust Account Review (TAR) Reports
  • Ten Most Common Violations Found in DRE Audits
  • Trade Associations
  • Trust Funds
  • CalBRE Business Address Lookup
  • Trust Account Reconciliation (Reg. 2831.2) * PowerPoint, 23MB
  • Opening a Real Estate Broker Trust Account
  • A Guide to Understanding Residential Subdivisions in California Residential Subdivision Buyer’s Guide Movement toward Professionalism – What Makes a Real Estate Practitioner a Professional
  • Don’t Be Surprised if You Get a Friendly Visit from a CalBRE Representative – Community Outreach

Editor’s note — Scroll down the page to “Industry/Licensee Resources.” Also, we’ve heard your requests for a checklist! Our in-house brokers are developing a first tuesday Residential Agent Checklist for your use. Stay tuned for a more detailed announcement and information about how you can contribute.

3. Has any progress been made on making licensee qualification for the Broker Exam available online on eLicensing?

Licensees can access the records of the statutory courses CalBRE has on file for them through CalBRE’s [Interactive Voice Response] (IVR) system. In order to access this menu option, a licensee or examinee must first validate through the IVR system by entering his or her social security number and date of birth. CalBRE will add detailed information on our website regarding navigating through the IVR system, to make this information easier to access.

4. Does CalBRE offer an eLicensing tutorial?

CalBRE’s website currently has eLicensing tutorials for licensees. These tutorials provide detailed information on how to complete all of the eLicensing services that are provided to licensees. These tutorials can be found by accessing the link titled “Learn to use eLicensing.”

5. In the most recent Bulletin, Commissioner Bell also voiced the opportunity for enhanced communication between CalBRE and licensees now that licensees are required to provide email addresses in their licensing and renewal applications. What types of electronic communication to licensees is CalBRE planning to implement in the near future?

Indeed, AB 2540 is providing an excellent opportunity to expand the breadth of communication with licenses. On January 1, 2015 the eLicensing system was updated to allow licensees to provide and/or update email addresses. Future emails blasts will include the availability of the Real Estate Bulletin, consumer and industry alerts, updates, and writings as well as surveys.

6. Finally, does CalBRE plan to implement a reduced fee schedule for licensees renewing in an inactive status?

The Real Estate Law specifies that a real estate license shall be valid for four years. The law does not differentiate between licensees who are engaging in licensed activity and those who are not (inactive). As such, CalBRE does not have the statutory authority to assess varying fees based on “status.”

However, it worth noting, the law does cap license fees by setting forth statutory maximums. Every year CalBRE holds a fee hearing, typically in December, to determine if fees should be adjusted. Real estate salespersons and broker license fees were lasted adjusted in 2009, and it does not appear a fee increase will be needed in the near future.

Editor’s note — For more ways of keeping tabs on what’s happening at CalBRE, check out our feature on CalBRE public meetings.