If you hold a real estate broker license in the state of California and are facing a formal complaint or statement of issues, your license and professional reputation are at risk. It is in your best interests to move quickly to obtain the services of an experienced California license defense lawyer who has expertise in your very specific practice area.
The California Department of Consumer Affairs' Bureau of Real Estate takes every alleged violation of profession standards and California law by in-state realtors very seriously and will investigate and allegation they deem to have even apparent merit. Unless you fight back with skilled legal defense as early as possible, the chances of your being subjected to professional discipline will be higher.
At California License Attorney, we have the intricate familiarity with the laws, regulations, and procedures involved in California license defense. We have successfully defended numerous realtors' licenses in the past, and we can do the same for you.
For a free consultation on the details of your case, do not hesitate to call us anytime 24/7 at 888-959-0068.
The Important Roles of California Real Estate Brokers and Agents
Real estate brokers and agents are both licensed by the California Bureau of Real Estate, and both supply the public with valuable services that are frequently needed by numerous of our state's residents.
Real Estate Brokers
Real estate brokers invest in the large but limited supply of land that California is blessed with. They assist others in the legal transfer of properties, help negotiate on the terms of sales/leases, act as middle men between buyers and sellers, pay attention that contractual terms are abided by, and sometimes even arrange for financing.
Some brokers will also fill the role of manager of a sales team, whose members work under the auspices of the broker's license.
As a real estate broker, you must be knowledgeable of California real estate laws, always have the pulse of the national, state, and local economies, and be diligent to review the work of appraisers, loan officers, and others involved in the property transaction process.
It almost superfluous to say that your work exposes you, by its very nature, to all manner of potential lawsuits, criminal charges, and formal complaints to the California Bureau of Real Estate (BRE). At California License Attorney, we understand the work of real estate brokers, the nature of the complaints they often face, and the legal strategies that are most effective in defending them against potential disciplinary actions.
Real Estate Agents
As a state-licensed real estate agent, you are the connection point between buyers and sellers. Your duties include negotiations, market research, and ensuring transactions are legally completed.
Your work takes not only a deep understanding of real estate, markets, and people, but also an ability to be tactful yet upfront in sometimes tense, uncertain situations. Every client you serve is also a potential source of future referrals, and in your line of work, that fact must be always kept squarely in mind.
Your role constantly interacts not only with buyers and sellers but also with inspectors, appraisers, escrow/title officers, and other professions involved in the process of making a real estate transaction. This takes a basic understanding of the roles of many other professions along with a near-exhaustive understanding of your own.
And at all stages of the process, you must be careful to abide 100% by all California real estate related laws and regulations. You must both facilitate full disclosure to all parties involved in a transaction in a timely, appropriate manner and, at the same time, serve the best interests of your client(s).
At California License Attorney, we understand the vital role played by California's real estate agents, and we also realize how easy it is to make a single mistake or oversight or to have a false or misleading complaint filed against you. We will defend your license and your livelihood with well seasoned license defense that is second to none.
The Mission of the California Bureau of Real Estate
For a century (since 1917), the California Bureau of Real Estate (BRE) has been tasked with the mission of protecting the general public from financial fraud or harm in all matters related to real estate. The tools used to accomplish this mission are the restriction of real estate broker's and agent's licenses to only qualified candidates, the creation of regulations that uphold high standards for the industry, and the enforcement of laws and regulations via various forms of disciplinary action.
Specifically, the BRE mainly enforces California's Real Estate Law and its Subdivided Lands Law. Any violation of these (and other) standards can result in publicly posted disciplinary actions.
Some examples of common violations for which formal discipline may be administered include:
- Operating without a real estate license.
- Exceeding the bounds of your license and/or expertise.
- Failure to properly supervise assistants working under you.
- Real estate fraud and misrepresentations to clients of the vital facts involved in making an informed real estate decision.
- Trust fund shortages and failure to maintain proper trust fund records.
- Unprofessional conduct.
- Criminal conduct after receiving your license or before if you did not disclose any misdemeanor or felony convictions.
- Already being under investigation by another California agency or by the real estate licensing board of another state.
The above is only a partial list of possible allegations. There are many more that realtors sometimes face. And any significant violation can lead to professional discipline being administered by the board, in any of the following ways:
- Public or private letters of reprimand. These can hurt your reputation and your ability to gain future clients or get hired by new employers.
- Issuance of a Desist and Refrain Order. This is a light form of discipline that simply orders you to stop the alleged activity.
- Administrative Fines. These can range from relatively minor to extremely heavy, depending on the nature and severity of the offense.
- License suspension/revocation. The former prevents you continuing your practice for a specified period of time; the latter indefinitely.
- Stay of revocation with license probation. License probation may come with strict probation conditions, but it is far better than losing your license altogether.
- Civil or Criminal Penalties. If the violation involves civil/criminal offenses, the D.A. may press charges on these grounds in addition to any board disciplinary action.
At California License Attorney, we are skilled to defend you against all manner of complaints and against all potential administrative penalties. We have successfully handled cases just like yours in the past, and we can win you the best possible outcome to your case.
From Complaint to Final Decision: The Process
The Bureau of Real Estate takes in written complaints from the public against its licensees on a continual basis. An investigation can also be triggered when the board hears of criminal allegations or convictions against you.
Most complaints end up being dismissed by the board of its own accord due to being "unmerited" or because, though the board feels the accusation may have merit, enough evidence simply does not exist to proceed. But in some cases, a more serious and potentially prolonged investigative process will begin.
At that point, the board will either operate covertly, in a kind of "sting operation," where they feel contacting you about the complaint would compromise their ability to collect adequate evidence. Or, they will issue you a Notice of Investigation via mail. You may also be issued notice of an audit of your business practices or of a citation. In every instance, you should contact us immediately once you know you are or likely are under the board's investigative scrutiny.
If a board investigator contacts you, do not speak with him/her until you have first spoken with a skilled license defense lawyer. You must cooperate with the board for your own good since lack of cooperation can result in stiffer penalties down the road, but giving the board information before speaking to a lawyer could lead to your inadvertently incriminating yourself and/or limiting your defense options.
If an interim suspension is issued against you, we will fight that first and foremost since you cannot afford to be sidelined for months or years on end during the investigation.
If the board feels they have a good case against you, they will issue a formal accusation with a statement of issues, detailing the specific allegations. This will also be a time where we have the opportunity to respond with a Notice of Defense and to counter the allegations. Many times, a dismissal or a negotiated settlement can be reached before an administrative hearing ever becomes necessary.
When a formal hearing is necessary, we know how to prepare thoroughly and how to fight back effectively in your behalf at the hearing. We can present exculpatory and mitigating evidence in your favor and work to undermine the case of the prosecution. If a complete victory cannot be reasonably expected due to the circumstances of the case, we can still fight hard and win you a reduced form of discipline that at least allows you to keep you license and continue your career in real estate.
How Criminal Allegations/Convictions Can Affect Your License
If you have been charged with a criminal violation, be it misdemeanor or felony, you are required under Business & Professions Code Section 10186.2 to report this fact to the California Board of Real Estate promptly. A conviction must also be reported, along with any disciplinary actions suffered from other California agencies, agencies of other states, or from federal agencies. All such reporting must be done in writing within 30 days of the relevant incident.
In order to be disciplined for a criminal charge/conviction by the board, the offense must be "substantially related to" your duties or qualifications as a real estate broker or real estate agent. But be aware that the board will take a "broad view" or what constitutes a "substantial relation."
Besides the potential criminal penalties, a criminal charge brings with it the possibility of action being taken against your professional license. At California License Attorney, we will fight to ensure you do not lose your right to practice in California either before or after the conclusion of the trial or due to past convictions already on your record.
Our Range of Services
At California License Attorney, we cover the full gamut of services in regard to real estate broker and agent license defense.
We assist brokers, realtors, mortgage experts, property managers, institutions of realty education, developers, and others in the broad field of real estate with expert advice and skilled representation.
We can help defend you against all forms of discipline, from letters of reprimand to citations to suspensions/revocations. In the case of complaints directly related to your practice, there is a 3-year statute of limitations. If the complaint is based on an issue that occurred more than three years ago, we can likely get it summarily dismissed.
Otherwise, we can assist you in filing a Notice of Defense, winning a dismissal before or at your administrative hearing, negotiating a favorable stipulated settlement where that makes sense, overcoming license application denials, getting through a board-initiated audit, petitioning to get a revoked license reinstated, or appealing a disciplinary decision by petition for Writ of Mandamus.
Contact Us Today for Assistance
At California License Attorney, we stand ready to rush to your aid 24/7/365 with expert real estate broker license defense, from the moment we receive your call.
Our team of experienced license defense lawyers will know how to build you a solid defense and how, if necessary, to negotiate a favorable stipulated settlement that will let you keep your license and continue your career.
To learn more or for a free consultation, do not hesitate to call us 24/7/365 at 888-959-0068.