Professional licensing in any field establishes a level of trust with the consumer. It says you have successfully completed your training and that the industry has carefully vetted you for trustworthiness and upstanding character. Some businesses, like real estate, don't even allow you to practice their trade without a license, which you may even have to renew periodically following further training.
Real estate licensing provides a standard of excellence on which the public relies when making a major transaction like selling or buying property. This is why real estate licensing commissions give serious consideration to complaints against licensees or reports of misconduct. In fact, some behaviors may place your status as a licensed real estate agent in jeopardy.
Keeping your license safe
The most common issue putting real estate licenses in danger is misrepresenting the condition of the property. Each state has different rules for disclosure, and violating those rules may not only cost you your license, but it may also expose you to a lawsuit. Experienced real estate agents often suggest that licensees err on the side of truth and disclose anything that may be a problem.
In addition to disclosure, other common issues that threaten your license include the following:
- Criminal conviction: In most states, a DUI won't necessarily cost you your license, but other felonies probably will since such activities do not instill confidence in the public.
- Poor bookkeeping: Unreconcilable transactions may be suspicious enough to jeopardize your license. Handling a client's money carelessly may also put your license at risk.
- Mortgage fraud: Some agents think they are helping a buyer by inflating the appraisal to allow the buyer to borrow a little extra for the down payment. This is illegal.
- Fair housing violations: Discriminating against any protected class is against the law, even if your seller requests it.
- Overstepping legal boundaries: Real estate contracts are often complex legal documents, and your license may not extend to making alterations in those contracts.
In the event that the North Carolina Real Estate Commission contacts you about a complaint, they expect you to cooperate. Agents who ignore Commission requests for interviews or information may harm their chances of a positive outcome. The Commission tends to conclude that you have something to hide if you aren't forthcoming.
Facing an administrative hearing
If the North Carolina Real Estate Commission has notified you that someone has filed a complaint about you, you do not have to face the allegations alone. In fact, you have every right to have legal counsel with you every step of the way, including any meetings or hearings in front of the Commission.
Your attorney will investigate the claims against you and help you draft your response to the complaint. You may be able to face the allegations with more confidence knowing your rights are protected and you have knowledgeable advice based on years of experience in real estate law.