The Northern Virginia Association of Realtors® (NVAR) supports legislative and regulatory solutions to enhance the knowledge and professionalism of Virginia’s real estate licensees and accountability of real estate brokers through new licensing, education, supervision and enforcement requirements.
The practice of real estate is a complex and ever-changing profession. To protect the needs of the consumer and prevent liability to agents, it is essential that real estate licensees have adequate education, training and broker supervision. Realtors® have always been supportive of maintaining and increasing the professionalism of the real estate industry.
In the past decade, Realtors® have sought and obtained General Assembly approval on legislation addressing the core competency of real estate licensees, including additional pre- and post-licensing education requirements, written brokerage agreement requirements, increased broker oversight of firm licensees, and background checks for new licensees. These measures have increased the training and education levels of licensees, but more must be done. Considering that real estate agents facilitate what may be the most expensive transaction individuals will make in their life, agents with minimal education, training and supervision are not sufficiently qualified to advise many homebuyers and sellers as well as they should.
In the spring of 2016, leadership from five local associations (Northern Virginia Association of Realtors®, Prince William Association of Realtors®, Dulles Area Association of Realtors®, Fredericksburg Area Association of Realtors® and Greater Piedmont Association of Realtors®) and brokers from around the region convened a regional broker professionalism meeting.
This group discussed a wide range of topics related to broker supervision and accountability, pre- and post-licensing education requirements, quality of education, real estate teams, regulatory enforcement and numerous other issues. Several legislative and regulatory changes gained consensus in the group, and NVAR is recommending the following:
Separate Licenses for Associate Brokers and Supervising Brokers In an effort to strengthen broker supervision, a Supervising Broker licensing category should be created. In addition to completing 180 hours of VREB-approved broker pre-license education courses, passing the state and national portions of the examination, and submitting verification of experience (actively engaged as a salesperson for five years preceding application for licensure) as required for a broker’s license, a Supervising Broker would be required to have at least two years' full time real estate brokerage experience (or equivalent four years of part-time experience) and a significant number of independent transactions.
Supervising Broker Course Requirement Once a licensee serves in a supervisory position as a broker, he or she should be required to complete, in addition to required renewal hours, a three-hour course every four years to learn about the management tools needed to be successful in their roles along with essential supervisory guidelines and regulatory updates from VREB.
Improving Real Estate Schools and Instructors Continuing Education instructors should be required to take an 8-hour class and pass a test to teach continuing education. To improve real estate school standards, only an accredited college or university, a public or private vocational school, a real estate board, a real estate office, a real estate-related professional society or organization should provide continuing education courses.
Strengthening Post License and Continuing Education Require licensees to complete 50% of their renewal hours in-class. All mandatory renewal classes should be completed in-class while electives can be completed on-line or via correspondence. While on-line classes are a great supplement to learning, classroom examples and interaction can’t be replaced by reading a computer screen. Exemptions should be provided to military personnel.
Bolstering Pre-Licensing Education Requirements Improve pre-licensing curriculum to add three hours of contracts as well as allocating five of the existing sixty hours to cover practical topics such as purchasing and listing paperwork and writing contracts.
Improving Regulatory Enforcement To improve enforcement of Virginia Real Estate Board (VREB) regulations, there should be consideration of bolstering VREB resources.
Numerous professionalism-related measures have been included in NVAR’s legislative agendas over the course of the last 10 years. Many have been adopted, but others have not advanced beyond the discussion and study phase. In 2015 the Virginia Association of Realtors® referred a broad range of proposed professionalism issues to a presidential think-tank in order to refine the positions most worthy of moving forward in 2016.
NVAR recommends legislative or regulatory action to: (1) separate licenses for Associate Brokers and Supervising Brokers; (2) establish Supervising Broker course requirements; (3) improve the quality of real estate schools and instructors; (4) require mandatory continuing education topics be completed in-class; (5) bolster pre-licensing education requirements; and (6) improve VREB enforcement.