Legal Q&A: Licensing

Q: I am a licensed attorney in the District and a licensed real estate agent in DC. Am I still required to satisfy the bi-annual CE requirements for his real estate license?

A: I don’t know. DCMR 2601.8 (b) clearly indicates that attorneys are qualified to act as real estate brokers/agents. However DCMR 2605 (dealing with continuing education) does not appear to include any exception for attorneys. To be absolutely on the safe side, I would take the courses. (Although the DC Office of Tax and Revenue has a good Web site – so that anyone can get tax and assessment information – unfortunately, DCRA and the Real Estate Commission have a long way to go before their Web site is up to par.)

Q: How can I obtain a copy of the law that stipulates that the real estate sales commission is negotiated between broker and seller and can be any rate of the sales price?

A: To my knowledge, there is no such law on the books since it would be an antitrust violation if all brokers (by agreement) started to charge the same commission. In my career, I have always assumed that everything in real estate is negotiable. The only thing I could find is DC Municipal Regulation (DCMR), section 2609.7, which states that “a licensee shall make a reasonable effort to ensure that all written agreements for the sale, purchase... set forth the exact agreement of the parties and that copies of the agreements are made available to each party when the party signs the agreement.” This clearly implies that there is no law setting rates, and tells licensees that they can charge what they can negotiate.

Q: I have about five agents who have not renewed their real estate licenses for DC. Two of them have issues pending that require attention. How do I handle these pending issues with these agents who have not renewed their licenses?

A: I don’t understand what you mean by “issues pending.” However, the fact remains that you cannot continue to operate your real estate business with unlicensed agents. Either they get reinstated, or they have to leave your company.

Q: What is the liability of an agent who tells you it is a VCR (variable rate commission) when you go to write contract that but didn’t indicate it in MRIS? Is it the same as any other error in the listing?

A: As I understand it, the multiple listing service is a contract between the listing agent and the cooperating broker/agents. In my opinion, if he checked “no,” then he is bound by that agreement.