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 Fall 2011     

Guidelines for Unlicensed Employees
Ground Rent: Who's Responsible?
2011 Legislative Update
Commercial Agency CE Now Here
Meet the New Commissioners
Home Improvement Referrals
Staff Spotlight: Pat Richardson


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The Commission knows that in this challenging market, real estate professionals can use all the help they can get to assist in transactions, listings, client relations and a smooth-running office. But sometimes, in such a fast-moving climate, it's hard to remember what you can and cannot depend on your unlicensed employees to perform on your behalf.  


Maryland has a specific set of guidelines to follow in the use of unlicensed individuals. You can find a helpful listing of those guidelines on the MREC website. You may want to download the document and refer to it whenever you have a question regarding the specific tasks that can be safely delegated to your staff and colleagues that aren't licensed.




Be advised that it is the listing agent's responsibility to determine from the seller whether or not a listed property carries ground rent (and, if so, how much). It also is something you should know if you are listing a property in an area that you are familiar with and have worked before. Reviewing a Deed in the land records is also a quick way to determine if a property is subject to a ground rent. It is not a prospective buyer's responsibility to investigate this information. Ground rents can be quite high, particularly in Baltimore, so do your homework and advise any interested parties.


The Maryland Department of Assessments and Taxation no longer maintains a ground rent registry to help homeowners determine who owns their ground rent. Owners were required to enter their ground rents by September 30, 2010, or forfeit all rights to collection. Since the registry no longer exists for public use, you can look up ground rent using the SDAT's Real Property Data Search. For more information, familiarize yourself with Baltimore City's ground rent guidelines. Also, if you detect any legal issues arising, you should advise your client to seek legal advice from an attorney who is familiar with matters relating to ground rent.



Stanley J. Botts, Commissioner, Occupational and Professional Licensing 

Harry Loleas, Deputy Commissioner, Occupational and Professional Licensing
Janet Morgan, Outreach Coordinator


John Nicholas D'Ambrosia, Chair, Industry Member, Charles County
Anne S. Cooke, Vice Chair, Industry Member, Howard County
Marla S. Johnson, Industry Member, Frederick County
Juan Muñoz, Consumer Member, Montgomery County
Robin L. Pirtle, Consumer Member, Montgomery County
Nancy R. Simpers, Industry Member, Cecil County
Jeff Thaler, Consumer Member, Worcester County
Georgiana S. Tyler, Industry Member, Baltimore City
Colette P. Youngblood, Consumer Member, Prince George's County


Katherine F. Connelly, Executive Director
Steven Long, Assistant Executive Director
Patricia Hannon, Education Administrator
Charlene Faison, Licensing Supervisor
Jennifer Grimes, Investigator
Celestine Hall, Reception/Education
Robert A. Hall, Investigator
Brenda Iman, Paralegal
Darchelle Lanteon, Licensing
Jack Mull, Investigator
Robert J. Oliver, Investigator
William F. Reynolds, Investigator
Patrick Richardson, Auditor
Lucinda Rezek Sands, Paralegal
Charlotte Streat-Thornton, Complaints & Education
John West, Complaint Intake Administrator 

Katherine Connelly


Katherine ConnellyGreetings! We are very pleased to once again bring you a new edition of The Commission Check. As you may have noticed, we haven't had the ability to publish new issues for a little over a year now. Our absence was due to transitions in staffing, but we're back and eager to bring you up to speed on what's been happening at the Maryland Real Estate Commission (MREC) and how it affects your business.

2011 was an active year for legislation affecting the real estate profession. We'll summarize all of the state legislative changes for the Real Estate Commission, as well as recent updates to Maryland's continuing education requirements. We have rolled out a new commercial agency course to address principles of agency and agency disclosure for those professionals who are primarily or exclusively commercial practitioners. Also, we'd like to offer a reminder about ground rent guidelines (previously published Spring 2010) and about the use of unlicensed employees. Finally, we'll let you know about some changes in the membership of the Commission, as well as highlighting one of our staff.

If you have any comments or suggestions about subject areas for the newsletter, please email me at We will try to address those issues in our future newsletters.



In May, key legislation was signed into law that affects the timeframe for reinstatement of inactive licenses and reactivation of expired licenses. The new legislation also addresses the continuing education requirements that must be met in order to successfully reinstate or to renew while active or inactive.  

SB285 affects two sections of Maryland Real Estate Broker's Act (§17-314 and §17-316). In a nutshell, the changes are as follows:
  • Beginning October 1, 2011, if you let your license expire, you will now have three years in order to reinstate without having to re-qualify under the current requirements and retake the real estate licensing examination; and,
  • As of October 1, 2011, if you place your license on inactive status, you will now have three years to renew as inactive without having to retake the licensing examination, and you will be required to complete your continuing education requirements at every renewal during the time you remain inactive.
The MREC website contains information and charts for licensees to follow in order to determine exactly which courses you will need based upon upcoming renewal date, type of license held, and primary area of concentration (commercial or residential). Please visit our education page to see the number of hours per required subject that you will need to complete before your time of renewal or reinstatement.

Another bill, HB1049, passed earlier in the 2011 session. This new legislation is essentially a procedural change to §17-546, which specifies who can designate two members of the same real estate sales team as intra-company agents for the seller and the buyer in the same transaction. Effective October 1, 2011, a real estate broker does not have to be the sole authority to make the designation. A real estate broker may now assign a designee (such as a branch office manager) to authorize the team to act as intra-company agents. Be advised, the designation must be made PRIOR to executing any contracts, and disclosure must be given to all parties to those contracts. The designee may not be a member of the sales team. In addition, the law requires that all brokerage activities of the team be conducted from the office or branch office where the licenses of the team members are displayed. This is not to say you can't work at home or meet someone outside of your office. But, all of your records and files must be at the office where your license is hanging, and they must be available for inspection by the MREC. Also, your clients need to know that you are affiliated with a broker. Your team name must be connected to the broker's company name in all forms of advertising.

2011 brought regulation changes, as well. The Commission successfully modified the procedures governing continuing education for the industry. Regulations (See COMAR through .10) became effective on April 18, formalizing the system for approving courses and course providers, including guidelines for how courses are to be conducted by approved providers. Many pertinent details about obtaining and documenting continuing education have been addressed in the new set of regulations. The regulations govern how courses can be advertised, how course credit is earned, how courses are to be conducted, and how documentation is to be maintained by providers. They set forth the requirements that a prospective provider must satisfy in order to obtain approval from the Commission, along with a system of appeal in the event the approval is denied or revoked.

Also, two new subject areas have been included to the list of course requirements pursuant to the 2010 legislative session: the principles of agency and agency disclosure; and the requirements of supervision by brokers, branch office managers, and team leaders. The required Agency class must be taken by all licensees every four years beginning with those licensees that renew on or after January 1, 2012. If you meet the requirements of being a Broker, Branch Office Manager or Team Leader, you must take the required Supervision class once every four years beginning with those Brokers, Branch Office Managers or Team Leaders who renew on or after January 1, 2012. 



Courtesy of Maryland REALTOR® magazine

Reprinted with permission


The Maryland Real Estate Commission is pleased to announce that a Continuing Education (CE) class covering agency requirements in commercial real estate transactions has now been completed and is available through various providers across the State (check the education providers schedules to see which school is offering the course). As all licensees should understand, the provisions in the Maryland Real Estate Brokers Act requiring agents to disclose whom they represent, establishing buyer agency and restricting dual agency apply only to transactions involving four or fewer single family units and unimproved real estate zoned for residential use. An extensive body of case law, also known as common law, pertains to all agency relationships, including those that arise in the commercial real estate industry.


Legislation passed in 2010 requires all real estate licensees to take a three hour continuing education course on the principles of agency and agency disclosure at least once every four years. The new commercial agency course is designed for those licensees who are primarily or exclusively commercial practitioners. (Commercial real estate agents may also take the residential agency class and count those continuing education hours as an elective towards the overall 15 hours of C.E. required for license renewal.) The Real Estate Commission encourages those licensees who are primarily or exclusively commercial practitioners to take the Commercial version of the agency class. Those licensees who primarily provide residential real estate brokerage should take the residential agency class. If they choose to take the commercial version of the class also, they may count it as an elective. According to the regulations you need to be informed of matters affecting real estate in the community where your business is transacted. We will be addressing this regulation if it should arise as to whether a licensee completed the proper agency course for the types of transactions that comprise their business.  


The new commercial agency curriculum covers several topics, including: the definition of an agency relationship; how such a relationship is created and terminated; and the duties owed by an agent. Common law recognizes sub-agency, so the new commercial agency class covers subjects such as how sub-agency relationships are created, with whom a real estate agent typically enters into sub-agency and the duties owed by a sub-agent in a commercial transaction.


From the point of view of the Maryland Real Estate Commission, the most important issue addressed in the commercial agency class is dual agency. Under the common law, dual agency is permitted in a commercial transaction if it is disclosed and consented to by the parties. The commercial agency curriculum also contains a section on undisclosed dual agency and the types of remedies and damages a real estate broker's client may claim in a law suit.


The Real Estate Commission is pleased that the commercial agency continuing education course is now being offered to commercial licensees and we would like your feedback at after you have taken the class.



A few faces have changed at the MREC since we last sent out an e-newsletter, and we would like to take this opportunity to introduce and thank our newest Commission members. The two newest members join MREC as consumer members, and are appointed to provide a balance of perspective to the members from within the industry. The newest members have diverse professional backgrounds, and offer valuable insight on the issues and challenges facing the Commission.

Jeffrey M. Thaler has a professional background in real estate development. Appointed in 2010, he is President of Atlantic Planning & Development located in Berlin, MD and served from 1990 to 2009 on the Board of Zoning Appeals for the Town of Ocean City, MD.

Juan Muñoz was also appointed in 2010. He works in the marketing and advertising industry for a firm in Rockville, MD. He has a broad background in international finance and investment along with degrees from the Universidad Javeriana in Cali, Colombia. Commissioner Muñoz is fluent in Spanish and has brought a unique perspective to the Commission with respect to consumers who are not familiar with the U.S. real estate market.

Jeff Thaler and Juan Munoz
The Maryland Real Estate Commission welcomes
Jeffrey M. Thaler and Juan Muñoz



How often are you asked by clients to recommend a good contractor to call for home improvements? As a real estate professional, you probably have the names and numbers of a lot of plumbers, electricians, painters, and other building tradespersons. Also, you want to help your clients find solutions quickly and efficiently. But when you are posed with the question of how to handle a request for a contractor's name, it pays to think about how you will frame your response.

Are you absolutely certain that the contractor you have in mind has kept his or her license current? If you aren't sure, you may be putting your client at risk. In Maryland, it's a crime to do home improvement work without a valid MHIC license. If your client contracts with an unlicensed contractor, it could end up being a very costly mistake for them and for you.

The Maryland Home Improvement Commission handles about 1,500 complaints per year, with issues ranging from failure to perform on contracts to dangerous home improvement scams. The Home Improvement Commission maintains a Guaranty Fund to award monetary damages to complainants, but only for work done by licensed contractors. If the contractor you recommend is not currently licensed, your client will not be protected by the Guaranty Fund.

Help protect your clients by passing on the link to the Maryland Home Improvement Commission's Public Query page on their website, and urge them to look up the license status of any person they are considering for hire. The Home Improvement Commission can also be reached by calling 1-888-218-5925 (toll-free) or 410-230-6231 (Baltimore area). If you are unsure about which types of improvements require a Home Improvement Contractor's License, please refer to the list posted on the website.

Searchable licensing information is maintained for other industries involving work inside the home, as well. Electricians, plumbers, home inspectors and other occupational professions are regulated by the State. Please take a moment to refer to each regulatory website before recommending anyone to your clients.



Pat RichardsonPat Richardson joined the MREC as a Fiscal Auditor in November of 2006. He brings about 35 years of accounting, tax and auditing experience to the Commission, and has held both a Maryland Real Estate Sales License and a Mortgage Broker's License during his career. His duties at the MREC involve the auditing of broker escrow accounts and ensuring that they are compliant with Maryland Law. Pat was educated at Archbishop Curley High School in Baltimore City, and graduated from the University of Baltimore with a business and accounting degree. Pat is an avid golfer and Ravens fan. He has three children and lives in Bel Air, Maryland.


Department of Labor, Licensing and Regulation / Maryland Real Estate Commission
500 N. Calvert Street / Baltimore, MD 21202