Welcome back! The fall 2021 edition of the DRE Bulletin serves as an annual report focusing on the DRE’s accomplishments throughout the previous fiscal year (which ended June 30, 2021).

Commissioner’s Update

Real Estate Commissioner Doug McCauley begins the bulletin highlighting his team’s notable accomplishments throughout the fiscal year, especially considering all the challenges the COVID-19 pandemic posed. Among these accomplishments was the addition of evening and Saturday exam sessions as well as an additional testing center in Sacramento that brought about the administration of more tests per month than before the pandemic, all while upholding safety protocols.

Additionally, the DRE remained steadfast in its enforcement work responding to complaints, pursuing investigations when warranted, and taking appropriate legal action, including license suspensions, restrictions, and revocations. In the 2020-21 fiscal year, the DRE:

  • received 5,863 complaints;
  • referred 3,801 complaints to investigators;
  • referred 861 complaints to their legal section;
  • suspended 116 licenses; and
  • revoked 313 licenses.


This past fiscal year was difficult to navigate amid the COVID-19 pandemic, especially in terms of exam administration. From December 7, 2020, to January 26, 2021, stay-at-home orders lead to the closure of 5 exam centers in Sacramento, Oakland, Fresno, La Palma, and San Diego, affecting thousands of examinees.

Once exam centers reopened safely, so did the floodgates. The number of salesperson exams administered totaled 5,979, a 73% increase from fiscal year 2018-2019’s numbers.

The licensing section also deals with conducting a multi-phased exam validation under the DRE’s Exam Administration and Development, a process which takes several years to complete. At this point, the first two phases have been completed. The first being the occupational analysis phase and the second being the written examination development phase.

Editor’s note — firsttuesday is a DRE-approved course provider of both statutory licensing courses and 45-hour continuing education.

The DRE plans to continue its expansion of the eLicensing system into fiscal year 2021-2022.

The Enforcer

The enforcement section investigates written complaints filed against licensees, subdividers and unlicensed individuals where real estate transactions are at issue. Investigators weigh violations of the Real Estate Law or Subdivided Lands Law and refer them to the DRE’s legal section where disciplinary action is determined.

In the 2020-21 fiscal year, 5,863 complaints were received, of those 3,801 were referred for investigation, and 861 were then referred to Legal. This is a positive downward trend compared to previous year’s numbers.

Mortgage Loan Activities

The mortgage loan activities (MLA) unit falls under the DRE’s enforcement section. It is responsible for overseeing a variety of work associated with real estate brokers who engage in mortgage business, such as:

  • mortgage loan compliance and enforcement;
  • background investigations; and
  • reports compliance.

Additionally, the MLA unit surveils the online submission via the DRE’s website of Business Activity Reports, Escrow Activity Reports, and Mortgage Call Reports submitted via the National Mortgage Licensing System (NMLS). This work is divided into voluntary mortgage loan advertising reviews and industry and commerce resource.

Going forward, the MLA unit will continue its enforcement efforts by working with the industry to increase consumer protection, knowledge and compliance.

Subdivide and conquer

The DRE’s subdivision section oversees public reports, permits and registration confirmation of subdivisions marketed in California. In fiscal year 2020-21, the DRE received 3,327 public reports, a 26% increase from the previous fiscal year and a 32% increase from the 15-year average.

Into the future, the primary focuses for the Subdivision section will be increasing awareness of inappropriate actions and real estate fraud as well as furthering consumer education on the home-buying and selling process.

Related article:

Career Coach: first-time homebuyer considerations


The audit section focuses on trust fund violations, which are still a hot topic as in previous years. Though compared with the Fall 2019 DRE Bulletin Digest at $8.8 million, trust fund shortages have dropped significantly totaling $3.6 million for the 2020-2021 fiscal year. The majority of offending brokers were involved in property management.

Related article:

Word-of-the-week: trust fund accounts

Technological advancement

Finally making good on their promise to expand the eLicensing system, since September 1, 2021, licensees are now able to apply online for either their exam or a combination of both their exam and license application. This new feature speeds up the DRE’s processing time on individual applications and the ability to address any issues or problems with you regarding them. In fiscal year 2021-2022, the DRE aims to enhance the eLicensing system further.

Related article:

DRE is now accepting exam and license applications online


The DRE’s communications and publications unit dealt with numerous projects under the 2020-21 fiscal year. This includes keeping the DRE website up to date with COVID-19 notices and information, running DRE’s social media channels and publishing the DRE Bulletins. The most notable achievement of the Communications and Publications unit was the development and implementation of the Housing is Key program.

Housing is Key was a major effort to protect California’s renters at risk of eviction due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and the communications and publications unit took part in five different projects related to it, including:

  1. developing content for the Housing is Key website with educational materials available in multiple languages;
  2. working with public and private sector partners to develop the interactive app to assist tenants and landlords in getting information about available protections;
  3. developing content for call center use to provide tenants and landlords with information related to their personal eviction situation;
  4. updating “California Tenants — A Guide to Residential Tenants’ and Landlords’ Rights and Responsibilities”; and
  5. developing industry group partnerships to further promote educational messages.

Parting words

This bulletin ends with an educational graphic flyer detailing how the COVID-19 vaccines work and promoting immunity so that we may one day put COVID-19 fully in our past.

Additionally, the bulletin includes the detailed financial statement for the 2020-21 fiscal year. To view this and the rest of the bulletin, click here.

We’ll see you when the winter bulletin rolls around. Happy Holidays!