Commission Spotlight: Regulatory Affairs

This is the second of three articles highlighting the North Carolina Real Estate Commission’s staff and structure. 

The principal purpose of the Real Estate Commission is to protect the interests of members of the general public in their dealings with real estate brokers throughout the state. This is accomplished through:

  1. Licensing real estate brokers and brokerage firms, and registering time share projects:
  2. Establishing and administering prelicensing education programs for prospective licensees and postlicensing and continuing education programs for licensees;
  3. Providing education and information relating to the North Carolina Real Estate License Law and Commission Rules, and
  4. Regulating the business activities of brokers and brokerage firms, including disciplining licensees who violate the License Law or Commission rules.

As dictated by N.C.G.S. § 93A-3(a), the Real Estate Commission consists of nine members who serve three-year terms. Seven members are appointed by the Governor and two are appointed by the General Assembly. 

The Commission’s staff is tasked with implementing rules and policy set forth by the Commission. 

As of November 1, 2019, there are 56 Commission staff members, divided between three divisions, Executive & Administrative, Education & Licensing, and Regulatory Affairs.

This month’s Commission Spotlight is on the Regulatory Affairs Division.

The Division is supported by twenty-six staff members consisting of five attorneys, nine auditor/investigators, four consumer protection officers, two information officers, two paralegals, and four legal assistants. Several of our auditor/investigators are certified public accountants, and several of the investigators have significant investigative experience in interagency law enforcement.

Janet Thoren, as Director of the division and Legal Counsel, supervises the Commission’s legal staff and all functions of the division. Additionally, the Real Estate Commission can use the services of an attorney from the Department of Justice for legal advice during hearings or on other matters.

Under the provisions of G.S. § 93A-6(a), the Real Estate Commission has the power to investigate the conduct of real estate licensees and those who presume to act as licensees. Investigations may be undertaken as the result of a complaint filed with the Commission or upon the Commission’s own motion. If the Commission finds there is probable cause to believe that a licensee has violated Real Estate License Law, the Commission may commence a disciplinary proceeding. Such proceedings are governed by Article 3A of Chapter 150B of the General Statutes.  The Commission may also investigate the character and background of any applicant for licensure. G.S. § 93A-4(b).

The Commission Regulatory Affairs staff opens approximately 1,500 files each year.  Most of these are based upon specific complaints against licensees filed by members of the public.

The Real Estate Commission also has authority to adopt rules. The rulemaking process is conducted by the division under the supervision of the Commission’s Rule-making Coordinator. The Commission’s rules deal primarily with matters relating to agency procedures for applying for and renewing licenses, the conduct of real estate brokerage, and the handling and accounting of trust funds.

Primary responsibilities of the Regulatory Affairs Division include:

  • evaluating the character of license applicants
  • investigating complaints against licensees, and against unlicensed persons alleged to be conducting brokerage activity
  • conducting spot audits of trust account records of licensed brokers;
  • conducting hearings and taking disciplinary action against licensees for violations of the Real Estate License Law and Commission rules;
  • seeking injunctions to prevent non-licensees from conducting real estate brokerage without a license;
  • annual rule-making;
  • registering and regulating sales activities at time share projects located within this state; and
  • answering the inquiries of brokers and members of the public, including attorneys.

To learn more about the North Carolina Real Estate Commission, go to