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 Winter/Spring 2013  

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MESSAGE FROM THE EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR
Katherine Connelly

 

Katherine ConnellyNow that the weather has warmed up, I have been out on the road visiting offices and giving Real Estate Commission updates to licensees across the State. In my travels, I have noticed that there are many, many signs posted on properties that do not meet the advertising guidelines established by the Commission. All advertising must contain the full name of your brokerage in a meaningful and conspicuous manner. I shouldn't have to squint when riding by a sign to see the name of the company for whom you work. Also, you may not just use a franchise name or an abbreviated version of a franchise name. You must use the full name of the company that is on your license.

Remember that advertising is all inclusive of any publishing you do concerning real estate, including Facebook, LinkedIn, Craigslist, websites, yard signs, brochures, self-help books, etc. Having connected with many of you on Facebook and LinkedIn, I see the repeated violations of the advertising laws every day.

Brokers, you are responsible for reviewing and approving all advertising done by your licensees before the ads are placed. Help me by looking at your various methods of advertising and correcting them so that they are in compliance. We are more than happy to review your mock-ups before you spend money on something that is possibly incorrect and will have to be done over again. The Commission does not want to start fining licensees, but if this trend continues, there will probably be no choice. Please look at your various means of advertising to make sure that you are compliant.

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HARRY LOLEAS RETIRES AS COMMISSIONER
Harry Loleas
At the end of December 2012, DLLR's Division of Occupational and Professional Licensing celebrated the extensive and very memorable career of Harry Loleas, who retired as our Commissioner. For over 24 years, Harry was one of the most respected and competent leaders to enter State service. Plus, he delighted his staff on a daily basis with his funny stories, clever insights, and spot-on impressions. He started gathering material for those stories in 1988, when he began as Executive Director for the Division. Back then, he was in charge of 12 of the boards and commissions in the Division. By 1990 he was promoted to Deputy Commissioner, where he served until June 2012, when he was appointed Commissioner.

Harry is as well-known to the Maryland Legislature as he is to DLLR and to local Baltimore politics----he was a remarkable orator and skilled negotiator in Annapolis for an impressive 38 sessions. He began to hone his political expertise as early as 1973, when he was still a student at Johns Hopkins University. From there, he was Executive Assistant to both the President of the Baltimore City Council and the Mayor of Baltimore. Luckily for us at DLLR, he stayed here for the balance of his career.

There are few leaders these days who can truly be called indispensable, but that's exactly what all 80 of his employees said during his last weeks, as we counted down the days to retirement with him. We hope that you had a chance to meet Harry during his tenure at DLLR, because you undoubtedly would have been as taken with him as we are.

Happy retirement, Harry!

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CONTINUING EDUCATION BANKING UPDATE
On January 2, 2013, the MREC's continuing education banking system was fully implemented, including a web portal designed to allow licensees the ability to check the status of their continuing education classes. Since that date, over 40,000 education records have been uploaded to the Commission.

The staff at the Commission views the program as a success; however, there are a few minor issues that have arisen. One recurring issue involves the time it takes for record updates to appear on the MREC website. The most frequent complaint education providers have received from students is that their records are blank when they check the portal. There are only two reasons that would cause a student record to be devoid of course information. One reason is that the school has not yet uploaded the course information. The providers have 14 days from the class date to upload the class. The second reason is that once a student renews his or her license, the course completion data is removed from his or her education history. This was done intentionally to prevent confusion on the part of licensees. The Commission wanted to prevent licensees from checking their continuing education balances and seeing old courses that could not be used for the current renewal period.

Another frequent concern is that some students are not receiving the courtesy email from the Commission acknowledging that the provider has uploaded the course completion data. We have found the following reasons for emails not being received by students:

▪ An invalid email address is on file with the Commission;

▪ No email address is on file with the Commission; or

▪ Email is being blocked by spam filters.

Please note that if your email account is protected by the use of anti-spam verification questions, you won't receive our emails. To prevent missing important communications from the MREC, please add our email addresses to your address book or safe list. The Commission encourages you to update your email address by clicking here. You can also update or verify your email address when you renew your license.

The only significant problem to occur has been operator error by the education providers. We have experienced approximately 15 instances where the providers uploaded incorrect courses. We are working closely with the providers to eliminate this problem. In the event you receive a courtesy email from the Commission, and the course number or date of the class is incorrect, please contact the course provider. The Commission staff cannot make changes to the course numbers or dates of classes. That information must be confirmed and corrected by course providers.

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TEST YOUR KNOWLEDGE: COMMISSIONS AND REFERRAL FEES
How well can you navigate the legal and ethical ramifications of the following scenarios? Test yourself on the proper handling of commissions and referral fees:

For Brokers

Q. A broker from a country outside the United States refers a client to you. Can you pay the broker a referral fee?

A. Yes, as long as you have documentation that the broker is currently licensed in his or her foreign jurisdiction.


Q. You have a friend who is a salesperson for another brokerage, and he or she referred someone to you. Can you pay your friend a commission?

A. Not directly. You must pay the commission to the agent's broker, who will then pay your friend.


Q. You plan to pay a commission to a licensee in your firm, and he or she asks you to make the check payable to the limited liability company (LLC) of which the licensee is a member. Is that acceptable?

A. Yes. The LLC should then disburse the funds and provide 1099 forms to its members.


For Salespersons

Q. Your broker paid you a commission that you agreed to share with an agent from another brokerage. Can you send a check to the other agent once you receive the funds?

A. No. You must instruct your broker to pay a portion of your commission to the other agent's broker. The other agent can only be paid by the broker with whom he or she is affiliated.


Q. One of your fellow affiliated agents owes a debt to your broker, and wants to keep a commission that he or she knows will be taken by the broker to repay the debt. The agent asks you to assist the client so that the commission gets paid to you, provided you are willing to pay a referral fee to him or her. Should you agree to do it?

A. No, because sales agents are prohibited from paying commissions or referral fees to other sales agents under any circumstances.


Q. A seller that is your prospective client tells you that he or she will use your services if you agree to inflate your commission in order to return a portion of it to him or her after settlement. If it means getting the business, should you consent to the arrangement?

A. No. Misrepresenting the true amount of your commission to a lender, to HUD or to an REO constitutes an unethical and illegal business practice.

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TIMETABLE SET FOR PASSING EXAM
At the January 2013 meeting of the Maryland Real Estate Commission, final action was taken on a new regulation that adds a requirement for applicants to pass both portions of the real estate salesperson's examination within one year of completing the pre-licensing course. The adopted regulation amends Regulation .11 under COMAR 09.11.01 General Regulations to contain the new time provision. If an applicant does not take or pass the exam within one year of completing the course, the applicant will be required to take another pre-licensing course before sitting for the exam.

In order to phase in the requirement, the regulation contains conditional provisions for applicants who have already completed the pre-licensing course. If an applicant completed the course more than one year prior to March 1, 2013, the applicant must pass both portions of the exam no later than August 31, 2013. If an applicant completed the course less than one year prior to March 1, 2013, the applicant must pass both portions within one year of the course completion date. In both cases, if the applicant fails to take or pass the exam by the cut-off date, he or she will have to complete another pre-licensing course in order to take or retake the exam.

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COMMISSION SEEKS CONSUMER MEMBER
Do you know someone who might be a good candidate for serving on the Maryland Real Estate Commission? The MREC is currently looking to fill a vacancy for a Consumer Member. Candidates are appointed by the Governor, and are asked to commit to monthly meetings at the offices of the Department of Labor, Licensing and Regulation in downtown Baltimore. The statutory requirements for serving on the Commission can be found here.

If you would like more information or want to submit the name of a candidate, please email Executive Director Katherine Connelly.

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MREC MAINTAINS LIST OF DISCIPLINARY ACTIONS
Did you know that the MREC maintains an extensive list of past disciplinary actions? Information on cases the Commission has adjudicated as far back as 1997 are updated regularly on the website. All actions up through the first half of 2013 are currently posted, and cases are searchable by licensee name. Click here to access the site.

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2013 COMMISSION MEETINGS

The Maryland Real Estate Commission holds regular meetings that are open to the public. The meetings begin at 10:30 a.m. and are located at the offices of the Division of Occupational and Professional Licensing, Department of Labor, Licensing and Regulation. The address is 500 North Calvert Street, 3rd Floor Conference Room, Baltimore, Maryland 21202. Please contact the Division at 410-230-6220 or op@dllr.state.md.us for additional information.




Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Tuesday, September 24, 2013
*Please note the day change to Tuesday
in September 2013


Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

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DIVISION PERSONNEL  

Michael Vorgetts,
Acting Commissioner, Occupational and Professional Licensing
Janet Morgan,
Outreach Coordinator

COMMISSIONERS

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


Vacant, Consumer Member
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

MREC STAFF

Katherine F. Connelly, Executive Director
Steven Long, Assistant Executive Director 


Patricia Hannon, Education Administrator
Diane Carson, Investigator
Charlene Faison,

Licensing Supervisor
Jennifer Grimes, Investigator
Celestine Hall, Reception/Education
Robert A. Hall, Investigator
Brenda Iman, Paralegal
Darchelle Lanteon, Licensing
Jack Mull, Investigator
William F. Reynolds, Investigator
Patrick Richardson, Auditor
Lucinda Rezek Sands, Paralegal
John West, Complaint Intake Administrator

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


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