This quarter, the California Bureau of Real Estate (CalBRE) Real Estate Bulletin:

  • highlights its Complaint Resolution Program (CRP);
  • calls for your help in a real estate study;
  • reviews your duty to retain transaction records;
  • clears up misconceptions about what CalBRE does; and
  • reviews mortgage loan originator (MLO) endorsement requirements.

It’s a busy bulletin!

Complaint resolution, the CalBRE way

There’s a lot at stake when disputes arise between parties in a real estate transaction — money, properties, reputations. CalBRE’s Complaint Resolution Program (CRP) offers licensees help re-establishing constructive communication between licensees and parties in a dispute.

Topics the CRP has helped resolve in the past include:

  • disputes between licensees and their clients;
  • consumer questions about short sale transactions;
  • consumer inquiries regarding subdivisions;
  • consumer issues cancelling transactions or mortgages; and
  • tenant facing eviction after foreclosure on the property.

While researching cases to report to readers, we’ve run across more than a few instances in which the disputed amount is less than $1,000, but the legal fees are well into the tens of thousands of dollars.  Alternative dispute resolution exists to prevent these absurdities, and we’re all for anything that helps consumers and licensees get back to moving the real estate market.

Editor’s note — Realty Publications, Inc. (RPI) forms include a mandatory mediation provision to mitigate the risk of a long and costly legal battle. Mediation of any dispute needs to be undertaken as a precursor to filing an action, be it arbitration or litigation, to bring about a mutually agreeable solution. Mediation is a quick process and is the most cost effective method of dispute resolution.

For more information on CalBRE’s CRP, call:

  • (213) 576-6885 for Statewide Facilitation;
  • (916) 263-8941 for CalBRE’s Mortgage Loan Activities Unit;
  • (916) 263-8879 for Subdivisions Northern Region; and
  • (213) 576-6927 for Subdivisions Southern Region.

Real estate volunteers needed

Every five to seven years, CalBRE reviews its licensing exams to make sure the questions reflect current practice. To help it digest the continually evolving California real estate market and the attitudes and customs of its practitioners, CalBRE first conducts a job analysis of real estate brokers and agents.

Once the job analysis results are in, CalBRE experts will convene to review the state exam content for any necessary updates.

To flesh out their job analysis, CalBRE will post a survey for licensees about their real estate operations and practice. A copy will also be mailed to all licensees. Expect this to hit your mailbox later this year.

I know, you’re thinking: “A government survey — this is going to make my day!” Even without that impetus, consider this: it’s a good chance to chime in on how to best gauge who is ready to enter the real estate profession, including those new recruits you’re looking to add to your brokerage. A few minutes of your time helps push the industry in the right direction. Not bad!

Transaction record retention

By now, you’ve all heard of the new 3-hour course in Office Management and Supervision that is required as part of your CalBRE 45-hour renewal course. (Yes, first tuesday has it – it’s part of all our 45-hour CalBRE continuing education packages. And yes, we did redesign that page to be prettier — you’re welcome.)

CalBRE is serious about you retaining the proper records. Let’s do a quick quiz, off the top of your heads —

How many years do you have to keep real estate listings on file?

View Results

Most of you probably got that in a second — but if you didn’t, you’ll want to bone up on your office management smarts. CalBRE can require you to present records by sending a notice to your office. Failure to provide the requested documents can be the first step in license suspension or revocation, as a story in the most recent bulletin illustrates.

If you think you need to brush up on your office management skills, check out RPI’s series of Office Administration Forms 500-550. They’ll help you get ship-shape and Bristol fashion – and they’re free.

Editor’s note — The answer is 3 years.

CalBRE does and doesn’t…

CalBRE Commissioner Wayne Bell’s message for the month can be condensed into two lists:

  • what CalBRE does; and
  • what CalBRE doesn’t do.

Here’s what CalBRE does:

  • CalBRE reports on its operations and functions to the California Legislature every few years — the result of the latest report will be released soon.
  • CalBRE protects consumers against documented violations of the real estate law as reported in complaints. The key word is “documented.”
  • CalBRE interprets the law in its “plain, clear and ordinary” meaning.

Here’s what CalBRE doesn’t do:

  • CalBRE won’t pursue agents for being unscrupulous — even if everyone you know agrees they’re a big fat jerk. Here at first tuesday, we promote the idea of a state-mandated ethics code (and so do our readers) but CalBRE has limited resources, and a limited and defined jurisdiction. So, unless you can factually prove the jerk has violated the Real Estate Law, or other law over which CalBRE has authority, your best bet is to just avoid doing business with them.
  • CalBRE doesn’t make laws. It merely enforces the laws made by the California Legislature regarding real estate matters.

Private lenders and the MLO endorsement

And lastly, but not leastly, CalBRE answers the perennial question: “Do Private Money Brokers Need the Mortgage Loan Originator (MLO) License Endorsement?”

We get asked all the time, too. Here’s the response:

If you take an application for a mortgage that is used for a personal, family or household (consumer) purpose in expectation of compensation, and that mortgage is secured by a one-to-four unit residential property, you need the proper MLO endorsement on your CalBRE license.

There are three crucial parts of that definition:

  1. Consumer-purpose mortgage.
  2. Compensation – collected or expected.
  3. One-to-four unit residential property (including mobilehomes and trailers that are residences).

If the mortgage you’re originating fits all three criteria, you’re required to have the MLO endorsement.

Want the full CalBRE FAQ on MLO endorsements? Check it out here.

And if you need to renew your MLO endorsement, we’ve got you covered there as well.

Read the full Summer 2016 CalBRE Bulletin here.

See you next time, readers.