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Your Safety Matters!

An excerpt from the North Carolina Real Estate Agent Safety Guide

(This booklet is published as a cooperative venture of the North Carolina Association of REALTORS® and the North Carolina Real Estate Commission.)

Real estate sales and rental agents routinely find themselves in situations where they are alone with clients or customers about whom they have very little information. The very nature of showing real estate to prospective buyers and tenants who are virtual strangers can make agents, both men and women, susceptible to becoming victims of violent crimes.

Recognizing the need for greater attention to real estate agent safety, the North Carolina Association of REALTORS® and the North Carolina Real Estate Commission agreed to cooperate in promoting the education of real estate licensees about agent safety. Through the leadership of the REALTOR® Association’s North Carolina Real Estate Safety Council, this safety guide was published to assist in this educational effort. This guide contains some common sense safety tips that have been compiled from crime victims and real estate associations across the country.

The North Carolina Real Estate Safety Council encourages every real estate firm to implement a formal safety program. Moreover, every real estate agent can and should individually utilize the safety tips addressed in this guide to practice in a safe manner, even if your company does not have a formal safety program.

The four basic safety practices are:

  1. Identify the person you are working with before you join him or her alone, in a car or a house. Preferably meet him or her at your office, copy his or her driver’s license and make sure someone from your office knows where you’ll be going with the person.
  2. Always carry your cell phone with you and make sure it is fully charged and has reception. Program 911 into speed dial and don’t hesitate to call for help. Make sure your method of communication utilizes the most current technology.
  3. Trust your instincts. If you have a bad feeling, don’t second-guess what it’s telling you. Listen to your gut feeling and protect yourself.
  4. Never assume you are safe.

The North Carolina Real Estate agent Safety Guide provides an additional 12 general safety tips for licensees. The Safety Guide can be found on the NC Real Estate Commission’s website by clicking here.

Reminder: If you reinstate, don’t forget to activate!

When a broker’s license is reinstated, the license is on inactive status.  Before the broker may begin legally practicing brokerage again, the license must be activated. 

To activate a license, the License Activation and Broker Affiliation form (REC 2.08) must be completed online and submitted to the Commission. 

Do you need to reinstate your license? Click here for instructions.

Do you need to activate your license? Click here to access the activation form.

Need further assistance? Contact the Education and Licensing Division at 919.875.3700.

Appearances

Sheryl B. Graham, Consumer Protection Officer, spoke to the Central Carolina Association of REALTORS® in Albemarle and to Keller Williams Realty Platinum in Garner.

Disciplinary Actions

ERIKA LEE REED (Greensboro) – The Commission accepted the voluntary surrender of the broker license of Ms. Reed for a period of three years effective August 14, 2019. The Commission dismissed without prejudice allegations that Ms. Reed violated provisions of the Real Estate License Law and Commission rules.  Ms. Reed neither admitted nor denied misconduct.

BENITA WILLIAMS SCOTT (Raleigh) – By Consent, the Commission suspended the broker license of Ms. Scott for one year effective August 14, 2019. The Commission then stayed the suspension and instead reprimanded Ms. Scott on certain conditions. The Commission found that Ms. Scott in or around 2002 was licensed as a surety bail bondsman by the North Carolina Department of Insurance (NCDOI) and in or around 2005 was licensed as a professional bondsman by the NCDOI. On or about October 4, 2018, the NCDOI revoked the professional and surety bail bondsman licenses of Ms. Scott for multiple violations of N.C.G.S. § 58-71.

A New Deadline for Postlicensing Education

Beginning July 1, 2020, Rule 58A .1902 will require a Provisional Broker to complete all three 30-hour Postlicensing courses within 18 months of initial licensure in order to maintain active license status. 

More information about this important change is provided during General Update (GENUP) and Broker-in-Charge (BICUP) courses throughout the year. Also, if you are a provisional broker, be on the lookout for email communications from the Commission about the changing education deadlines. 

If you have further questions regarding this rule change, please contact the Education and Licensing Division at 919.875.3700.

Licensees as of August 1, 2019

Spotlight: Douglas A. Fox, Commissioner

Douglas A. Fox has served on the North Carolina Real Estate Commission since November 2018. He is a senior partner and attorney with Yow Fox & Mannen, LLP, in Wilmington, NC. Mr. Fox’s practice areas are business law, collections, and real estate, along with wills and estates. Mr. Fox’s law partner, Jerry A. Mannen, Jr., was on the North Carolina Real Estate Commission from 2006-2012.

Mr. Fox graduated from Guilford College with a Bachelor’s of Art in 1970 and received his Juris Doctorate degree in 1973 from the Cumberland School of Law of Sanford University. He was admitted to the North Carolina State Bar in 1974. He has also been admitted to practice before the U.S. District Courts, specifically the Eastern and Middle Districts, and the U.S. Court of Appeals, Fourth Circuit.

Mr. Fox served as President of New Hanover County Bar Association from 1986-1987. He is a member of the North Carolina State Bar, North Carolina Academy of Trial Lawyers, and Delta Theta Phi, a legal fraternity.

Doug is married to Marcie Fox. They have been married for over 30 years.  He has two sons, David, who lives in Charleston, SC,  and Allan, who resides in Wilmington, NC. If Doug is not in the office or spending time with his family, you can find him on a golf course.

On-site Septic System or Public Water and Sewer – Do Your Research

By Danielle Alston, Consumer Protection Auditor

Since 1993, there have been at least 8 articles published by the Commission on the importance of reviewing septic permits in order to accurately advertise the number of bedrooms for a listed property. This subject has also been covered in at least 3 General Update courses. However, the Commission continues to receive complaints about misrepresentations by overstating the number of bedrooms for a property served by a septic system. If a broker decides to advertise the number of bedrooms for a property, that advertisement should accurately reflect the bedrooms supported by the septic system. In other words, be sure to check the septic permit, specifically, the number of bedrooms the septic permit allows.

Unfortunately, many complaints about septic permit misrepresentations are not received until years after the misrepresentation has been made.   The buyer is now ready to sell the home and cannot list it for the same number of bedrooms it was advertised as having when the buyer purchased it. While listing agents are primarily responsible for researching and reviewing septic permits, selling agents should also make it a practice to ask to review permits as a service to their clients. Reliance on old listings only adds to the misrepresentations over several transactions.

Sometimes the original septic permit for a property cannot be located due to the age of the property.  Be careful if you are relying on a bill to determine that a property is on city water or sewer. In some cases, the property may only have public water or sewer, but not both. Accuracy is important.  If a permit cannot be located after a reasonable search, a broker should document search efforts and obtain something in writing from the municipality stating that the permit cannot be located.  The broker can then advertise the  existing number of bedrooms with the disclosure that the permit records are not available and therefore capacity of the system could not be verified. 

Both listing and selling agents should be able to explain to their clients the value of obtaining a septic permit and what information such permits provide. Disclosures must always be made so that the potential buyer is made aware of material facts before an offer is made.

REMINDER: The Real Estate License Law prohibits misrepresentation, omission, or concealment of material facts; a course of misrepresentation through false advertising; and improper, dishonest, or fraudulent conduct. Willful or negligent misrepresentation of the occupancy or the design limits of a property’s on-site sewage disposal system may result in disciplinary action by the Commission.

It is a Privilege to Practice Brokerage in NC

Did you know a real estate broker must possess a privilege license issued by the North Carolina Department of Revenue in order to practice brokerage?

What is a privilege license? A privilege license is a license to engage in a business, trade, or profession in North Carolina.

To legally engage in brokerage, brokers must first apply for a privilege license and then must pay the privilege license tax annually by July 1.

It is unlawful for any broker to practice brokerage without a privilege license.

Have questions about the privilege license? Contact the North Carolina Department of Revenue at ncdor.gov or 877.252.3052.

Need to apply for a privilege license? Access the application here.

Appearances

Frederick A. Moreno, Chief Deputy Legal Counsel, spoke to the Raleigh office of Fonville Morisey Real Estate.

Jean A. Wolinski-Hobbs, Auditor/Investigator, spoke to Allen Tate Company in Charlotte.

Peter B. Myers, Legal Information Officer, spoke to REMAX Leading Edge in Concord.