IT IS NOT TOO EARLY!

On June 1, 2012, hundreds of Pennsylvania licensees will violate the Real Estate Licensing and Registration Act! That is because they will be practicing without a license or perhaps practicing with a license not supported by the requisite continuing education credits. Licenses expire May 31, 2012 and hundreds will fail to renew or fail to do so properly. Many of those failures will involve violations of the continuing education obligations.

As you know, the Commission no longer accepts transcripts and no longer universally monitors compliance with continuing education requirements. Rather, applicants are required to certify their compliance with the mandatory educational requirements (MCE) of the Commission. The Commission will then identify those licensees who will undergo the process of verifying the accuracy of their certification that they have complied with the MCE requirements. Failures to furnish proof of compliance will likely lead to, in most cases, fines. That is not to say that suspension is not a possibility depending upon the circumstances.

The fact is that most MCE issues can be resolved without resorting to drastic measures. But now is the time to start. The way to start is by assessing your compliance. Do you have the necessary credits? If not, schedule your classes now. It is possible to get an extension but you will need to ask sufficiently early. Whining at the last minute that you could not get your classes scheduled is a non-starter. Asking several months out may be a different story.

Begin looking for your documentation. If audited, do you have sufficient evidence of having attended the necessary courses? Contacting schools at the time of audit may present unanticipated difficulties. Perhaps the school will have closed by that date and the records unobtainable. If the school has already gone out of business, well, better to know now than later.

Not only should you check to determine if you have sufficient hours but that you have taken courses approved for credit by the Real Estate Commission. Many courses are offered by non-accredited/non-approved sources. It may be that the course you attended was accredited by another licensing board, say the appraisal board but not the Real Estate Commission! Out-of-state courses may or may not be approved for credit. Regardless, it is up to you to determine that you have taken the requisite number of approved hours. This is another reason why you should check now.

For new licensees who are completing their full 14 hours for the first time, have you taken the right courses? The old timers are permitted to take those courses from approved schools as they may elect. The newbies are required to take 14 hours within two of three education modules: general (mandatory) and the residential or commercial (your choice). Took the wrong courses? Oops; get busy.

Every two years there are salespersons who, by virtue of belonging to a limited function referral office, think they are exempt from the MCE requirements. Not so! While you may no longer belong to an MLS or an association of Realtors®, you are nevertheless a Pennsylvania licensee subject to the mandatory continuing education requirements. Getting heart palpitations? Oops; get busy!

Every two years my office gets busy helping licensees with re-licensure and MCE issues. I am guessing this year will not be much different, though I am trying to do my best to make a quieter year. Do your part.