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Use Good Judgment: A Regulatory Affairs Division Case Study

by Stephen L. Fussell, Chief Consumer Protection Officer

The Complaining Witness in this case was a seller who listed his property with a broker. The Respondent was a buyer agent who showed the seller’s property. The seller had a doorbell camera which records persons approaching his front door. The camera recorded the Respondent buyer agent as he and his buyer-clients approached the seller’s front door.  The buyers brought their dog on a leash, and, while the buyers were inside the property, the dog urinated on the floor. The buyer agent and the buyers left the property without cleaning up the mess.  There were three additional showing appointments that day.  The next agent who showed the property noticed the “accident,” cleaned up the mess, and reported it to the listing agent, who informed the seller. The seller was justifiably upset that the Respondent had allowed his clients to bring a dog into the property without authorization and then failed to clean up after the dog.

In a written response, the Respondent claimed he asked the buyers to leave their dog in the car, but they said it was too hot. This incident occurred in September, so it may have been too hot to leave the dog in the car.  The Respondent claimed the buyers assured him the dog was “well-trained.” The Respondent had other options, including rescheduling the showing or asking one client to stand outside with the dog while the other client viewed the interior of the home and then the clients could have traded places so that both clients could have viewed the interior of the house with the Respondent. Only with the seller’s permission should the Respondent have allowed his clients to take a dog into the seller’s home.  

When a seller lists his/her property with a broker, the seller understands that other real estate brokers will show the seller’s property to prospective buyers. The seller should be able to trust that the brokers who show the seller’s property will use good judgment and take reasonable steps to safeguard the seller’s property. When a broker is inside someone else’s home, the broker is generally responsible for what occurs.  Therefore, each broker who shows a listed property must exercise reasonable skill, care and diligence to ensure that no damage will be done to the seller’s property during a showing. When a broker leaves a listed property after a showing, the broker should make sure he/she leaves it in the same condition as before it was shown.

With regard to the above-referenced case, the Commission’s Regulatory Affairs Division issued a letter of caution to the buyer agent instructing him to exercise greater care in the future to safeguard the properties he shows to prospective buyers. We sent copies of the letter to the seller and to the buyer agent’s broker-in-charge.  Moreover, the Commission retains complaints in a permanent database for review and reconsideration in the event that a similar complaint is filed in the future.

Proposed Rulemaking

The Commission is currently considering two proposed rule changes, one concerning Education Providers, and a separate Annual Rulemaking on various topics. Text for the proposed rules under consideration may be found on the Commission’s website under ‘License Law and Rule Changes.’ Changes to the proposed rule text are reflected by underlining text that will be added and striking through text that will be deleted.  All proposed rules have a proposed effective date of July 1, 2020.

The Commission is accepting public comments on these rules beginning February 3, 2020 until April 5, 2020.  Members of the public may submit written comments on any of the proposed rules by contacting the Commission’s Rulemaking Coordinator, Melissa Vuotto, or by attending the public hearing on the proposed rules to be held at the Commission’s office, located at 1313 Navaho Drive, Raleigh, North Carolina, on Wednesday, March 18, 2020, beginning at 9:00 a.m. 

The Commission will review all public comments before reaching its final decision on April 15, 2020. Once the final rule text is approved by the Rules Review Commission, the Commission will publish the approved rules.   

If you would like to receive notifications of rulemaking proceedings, please join the Commission’s mailing list.


Tracy Sease, Information Officer, spoke at Smart Choice Realty’s event in Raleigh.

Licensee Count as of January 1, 2020

How to check your CE Record

Did you know that you can check your CE record at any time on the Commission’s website?

Your CE record is part of your license record. To access it:

  1. go to www.ncrec.gov;
  2. click on Licensing;
  3. click on Licensee Login;
  4. enter your License Number and your Password (your Password is the last four digits of your SSN if you have not changed it); and
  5. click on Login.

After you log in, you will see the Licensees Menu. Click on CE License Information.

At the top of the CE page, you will see “Current Update Hours” followed by a 0 (zero) or a 4 (four). A 4 (four) means you have completed an Update course for the current period. A 0 (zero) means you have NOT yet completed a course, and you need to do so by June 10.

Next, you will see “Current Elective Hours” followed by a 0 (zero) or a 4 (four). A 4 (four) means you have completed an elective course for the current period. A 0 (zero) means you have NOT yet completed a course, and you need to do so by June 10 .

Also provided in your CE record is a full listing of the courses you have completed and the dates on which you completed them.

DO YOU HAVE BIC ELIGIBLE STATUS? If so, you need to take the BICUP (rather than the GENUP) course if you wish to maintain BIC Eligible status. To determine whether you have BIC Eligible status, go back to the Licensees Menu in your license record. If you see a link for “Print BIC Eligible Document,” then you have BIC Eligible status. If that option does not appear, you do not have BIC Eligible status and must take the GENUP course.

For more information about your license record, contact the Commission’s Education and Licensing Division at 919.875.3700.

Commission Spotlight: Janet B. Thoren

Janet Thoren, Legal Counsel, has been employed by the North Carolina Real Estate Commission since 1997 and has been the Director of  Regulatory Affairs since 2012. She is a native of Fayetteville, NC, and received her undergraduate degree from Pembroke State University, and her Juris Doctorate degree from the University of North Carolina School of Law.

After receiving her Juris Doctorate degree, Janet joined a Hillsborough law firm where she specialized in residential and commercial transactions.

As Legal Counsel and Director of Regulatory Affairs, she oversees the Commissions legal, investigative, rulemaking and legislative functions, prosecutes complaints before the Commission, conducts settlement negotiations of contested cases, and responds to inquiries relating to License Law and Commission rules.

In 2005, Janet was appointed as Special Assistant United States Attorney in the Western District of North Carolina, where she has assisted the FBI and US Attorney’s Office with mortgage fraud cases. Janet has a daughter who serves in the United States Air Force and a son in high school who plays travel hockey.

Disciplinary Actions

CHERIE L SCHULZ (Richlands) – By Consent, the Commission reprimanded Cherie L Schulz effective January 2, 2020. The Commission found that Respondent failed to respond to letters of inquiry issued by Commission staff within fourteen days of receipt. Respondent was warned in a previous case to timely respond to such letters.

CHERIE SCHULZ REALTY FIRM INC. (Richlands) – By Consent, the Commission reprimanded Cherie Schulz Realty Firm Inc. effective January 2, 2020. The Commission found that the firm’s broker-in-charge failed to respond to letters of inquiry issued by Commission staff within fourteen days of receipt. The broker-in-charge was warned in a previous case to timely respond to such letters.

Postlicensing Education Deadline

This article from the January eBulletin is republished here to remind brokers of the new Postlicensing Education requirement effective July 1, 2020.

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. 

If you were licensed anytime during 2018, you must complete all your Postlicensing courses by July 1, 2020. If you have been licensed in 2019, you will have at least 18 months from your date of licensure to complete the courses.

Example #1: Licensed on February 1, 2018

Example #2: Licensed on March 17, 2019

Additional information about this important change is provided in the 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.