The Real Estate Educators Association (REEA) held their national conference on June 20-24, 2023 and honored two of the Commission’s own.
The 2023 Classroom Education Program of the Year Award was bestowed on Commission member Cindy Chandler, DREI, for her work on the commercial version of the Commission’s mandatory Update course. The award recognized the innovative and successful nature of the classroom program.
In addition, REEA bestowed its “Rising Star Award” on the Commission’s Legal Education Officer Kizzy Crawford-Heath, DREI, for her contributions at REEA conferences and the DREI Summit. The award recognizes a REEA member who has made a significant change or accomplishment in their career within the past 3 years that has positively affected others in the real estate industry.
The Commission remains committed to leading industry-wide discussions and participating in educational events to build knowledge and skills that can benefit North Carolina licensees and consumers.
To maintain a current license, brokers must renew their license annually between May 15 and June 30. The license of a broker who fails to renew during that period will expire on June 30, and that broker must cease all brokerage activities immediately.
What steps must a broker take to reinstate an expired license? That answer depends on how long the license has been expired.
To reinstate a license expired for less than 6 months:
NOTE: Following expiration, a broker’s license is reinstated on inactive status. To regain active status, a License Activation / Affiliation form (REC 2.08) also must be submitted.
To reinstate a license expired for 6 months but no more than 2 years:
NOTE: Following expiration, a broker’s license is reinstated on inactive status. To regain active status, a License Activation / Affiliation form (REC 2.08) also must be submitted.
To reinstate a license expired for more than 2 years:
NOTE: You will be licensed as a provisional broker and be subject to the 90-hour Postlicensing education program. To gain active status, a License Activation / Affiliation form (REC 2.08) also must be submitted.
For more information, review Commission Rule 58A .0505 or visit the “Reinstate your License” page on the Commission’s website. You may also contact the Commission’s Education & Licensing Division at firstname.lastname@example.org or 919-875-3700.
In its December 2022 eBulletin, the Commission published an article warning brokers about an increase in scams involving fake buyers and fake sellers. The Commission is seeing a rapid increase in the fake seller identity theft scams. A scammer will contact a listing broker and pose as the owner of the property. In many cases, they produce a very realistic driver’s license to show the broker. A listing agreement is signed and the property is then marketed.
In many cases, the real owner will find out about the listing and put a stop to it before the deed has gone under contract. However, the scammer may already have received due diligence money or, in some cases, even completed the sale. This can lead to injury to the real owner, buyer, brokers, and closing attorneys. In some cases, the owner will have to go to court to get the matter resolved with the buyer.
Some similarities have arisen through all the cases. The scammer often gets in contact with the listing broker through a lead generating website. Most of the time, the scammer states that they are traveling or are out of state and cannot meet the broker in person. The scammer often indicates they need a quick sale due to health or other family matters and are willing to take a lower offer to get that quick sale. The scammer requests to sign documents through Docusign, Dotloop, or some other digital signature platform. The emails appear to be legitimate and they feature the proper owner’s name in the email. It is rare, but in at least one case, the scammer met the listing agent at the property in person.
The other common element is that the scammers usually target undeveloped land, vacant or abandoned properties, or properties that are in a trust where an owner has recently died. Typically, there is no one around that might question a real estate sign on a property and that is why they are being targeted. In some cases, a neighbor who knew the owner contacted either the owner or the listing broker to alert them to the questionable listing.
There is no area of the state that is seeing a higher concentration than other areas. This is affecting the whole of North Carolina as well as other states. The scammer ID’s are also coming from other places than North Carolina when the actual owner is from another state.
As brokers, be vigilant when dealing with these types of leads. The scammer will often have a ton of information about the real owner and can answer questions regarding what you might find on the deed, tax records, or county government records. Remember that these are publicly available documents. Be careful about sellers who are too busy to meet in person, or seem extra motivated to sell quickly, yet are traveling out of state. We recommend that when you see these red flags, you take steps to independently verify that the purported owner is who they say they are rather than rely on documents or information coming from the purported owner. This could include googling, checking with neighbors, looking up the seller on social media, and/or requiring Zoom, FaceTime, or some other online face-to-face meeting. Check the history of the property and contact the previous listing agent/firm if something seems strange about the purported seller. It is important to take your time and take steps to protect yourself, your business, and any potential buyer when faced with a seller showing red flags.
The Commission continues to gather information about these scams for possible referral to law enforcement agencies. However, online scammers are often located out of this state and country so prosecution becomes even more difficult. Be wary and protect both yourself, your firm, and your community.
The Commission’s GENUP-General Update and BICUP-Broker-in-Charge Update courses for 2023-2024 are available beginning on July 1, 2023, for all licensees.
The 2023-204 GENUP course topics are:
The 2023-2024 BICUP course topics are:
A statewide continuing education course schedule
is provided on the Commission’s website (www.ncrec.gov) under the Education menu. Licensees may search for courses by:
Licensees may take the Update course anytime between July 1, 2023 – June 10, 2024. However, the Commission encourages licensees to take the course as early as possible during the license year, to stay up-to-date on law and rule changes.
Per Commission Rule 58A .1702, a licensee must take eight (8) hours of continuing education (CE) each year to maintain an active license, as follows:
A broker with BIC-Eligible status who takes the General Update course and an elective will maintain an active license but will lose their BIC/BIC-Eligible status.
If you have questions about the CE requirement, contact the Education and Licensing Division at email@example.com or 919.875-3700.
Every day Commission staff receives on average approximately 500 phone calls and 1,000 emails. A majority of the inquiries are requests for information, explanations on processes or forms, and clarification on License Law and Commission rules.
Incoming calls are generally sent to one of two different divisions, either License Services or Regulatory Affairs.
Just over 60 people work at the Commission, and the primary responsibility of many of them is to respond to questions and concerns from brokers. There is a high probability that when you call the Commission you will be routed to the individual who is trained to deal with your specific issue. This means that you may have to wait only a few minutes for answers to your particular question. Other times, you may be asked to leave your phone number and describe the nature of your question/concern so that a License Specialist or Information Officer may call you back.
Question: Why do I have to provide my license number when I call the Commission?
Answer: You do not have to provide your license number. However, the Commission has a call tracking system for all calls received including calls from brokers. Providing a license number ensures that Commission staff provide the broker accurate information regarding their particular license record. Otherwise, only general information can be provided and it may not apply to the broker’s particular situation. Additionally, providing a license number ensures that the broker’s name and contact information are accurately recorded for returned calls. Staff will explain the requirements under License Law and Commission rules that brokers must adhere to in an effort to maintain an active license to engage in brokerage activity. Therefore, brokers should not be hesitant to provide their license number.
Len Elder, Director of Education & Licensing and Kizzy Crawford Heath, Legal Education Officer, spoke at Durham Regional Association of REALTORS® on June 6.
Minerva Mims, Diversity Equity Inclusion Officer, spoke at the Longleaf Pines REALTOR® Association on June 8.
Christy Evans, Consumer Protection Officer, spoke at Larry McGuire Realty meeting on June 22.
JAYNE A. ANDERSON (OCEAN ISLE BEACH) – By Consent, the Commission suspended the broker license of Anderson for a period of 12 months, effective June 10, 2023. The Commission then stayed the suspension in its entirety. The Commission found that Anderson listed a vacant lot for sale in Brunswick County and had in her possession a copy of the Soil Evaluation that showed the lot did not perc. Anderson noted in the MLS that there was a Soil Evaluation but failed to attach the results or disclose that the lot did not perc.
JEFFREY S. BEISER (CHARLOTTE) – By Consent, the Commission suspended the broker license of Beiser for a period of 12 months, effective June 6, 2023. The Commission then stayed the suspension in its entirety. The Commission found that, acting as broker-in-charge of a sole proprietorship, Beiser listed a residential property for sale which went under contract with a buyer. Following their home inspection, the buyer terminated the contract and Beiser received a copy of the home inspection report via email. Beiser failed to open or forward the home inspection report to his seller-client. Beiser re-listed the subject property, which went under contract with a second buyer who also had a home inspection performed. This buyer’s home inspection report noted the same issues with the subject property as the previous home inspection report. The subsequent buyer terminated during the due diligence period. Beiser then re-listed the subject property with an updated disclosure form reflecting the home inspection findings and a copy of the inspection report was added to the listing.
KARMEN K. BODGE (ELIZABETH CITY) – By Consent, the Commission reprimanded Bodge, effective June 1, 2023. The Commission found that Bodge was the Director of New Agent Training for a firm during the subject transaction. Bodge became aware that the transaction was an all-cash transaction with a provisional broker acting as dual agent. Bodge failed to adequately supervise the provisional broker regarding a proof-of-funds letter submitted by the buyers that was not reliable.
JASON T. CHURCHMAN (WILMINGTON) – By Consent, the Commission suspended the broker license of Churchman for a period of 12 months, effective June 10, 2023. The Commission then stayed the suspension in its entirety. The Commission found that Churchman represented a buyer purchasing a vacant lot. The listing agent advertised that the lot could be developed and represented that there was county water and sewer available on the street, but that the utilities ended at the house to the right of the subject property. Churchman failed to pursue further information from the Listing Agent or county about the perc test or the availability of the water and sewer prior to the buyer going under contract or closing.
ERIC M. CORNELISON (HIGH POINT) – By Consent, the Commission suspended the broker license of Cornelison for a period of 6 months, effective June 15, 2023. The Commission then stayed the suspension in its entirety. The Commission found that Cornelison, acting as broker-in-charge, supervised a provisional broker who submitted an offer containing confusing language regarding the conveyance of a refrigerator, resulting in a later dispute. Cornelison assisted in negotiating a payment from the listing agent to the buyer but failed to adequately supervise the provisional broker during the transaction, leading to the provisional broker accepting a cash payment from the listing agent which she delivered to her buyer-client without informing the lender or closing attorney.
URIAH L. DORTCH (RALEIGH) – By Consent, the Commission suspended the broker license of Dortch for a period of 6 months, effective June 15, 2023. The Commission then stayed the suspension in its entirety. The Commission found that Dortch listed property he had under construction with a listing broker. The property was advertised as having city water. Dortch had started construction of a well after being informed that city water was not available. Dortch failed to disclose to the listing agent that the subject property would utilize a private well. After the property went under contract, the buyers learned that the property would be served by a well. Dortch offered to terminate and refund all deposits but the buyers chose to close.
KENNETH R. EDWARDS, JR. (ROCKINGHAM) – By Consent, the Commission suspended the broker license of Edwards for a period of 12 months, effective June 1, 2023. The Commission then stayed the suspension in its entirety. The Commission found that Edwards represented the buyers of the subject property and failed to disclose the possibility of a 4-lane bypass planned by the North Carolina Department of Transportation that could affect the subject property.
JOHN K. GRAYSON (SOUTHPORT) – By Consent, the Commission suspended the broker license of Grayson for a period of 12 months, but stayed the suspension following a 6 month active suspension. The Commission found that Grayson advertised and leased properties managed by Property Management Services, Inc. through Discovernchomes.com. Grayson failed to affiliate with the firm and to obtain written agency agreements with owners. Beginning in 2018 and into early 2019, Grayson advertised and leased one such property to a tenant on a month-to-month basis. Grayson failed to inform the owners that the property had been rented for March 2019. When the owners notified Grayson of their intention to use the unit during the month of March, Grayson attempted but failed to relocate the tenant to another unit. Grayson then tried to force the tenant to vacate the property by misrepresenting to security personnel and others that the tenant was trespassing and did not have a lease.
JOSHUA T. GREENWALD (CHARLOTTE) – By Consent, the Commission suspended the broker license of Greenwald for a period of 12 months, effective June 6, 2023. The Commission then stayed the suspension in its entirety. The Commission found that Greenwald listed a residential property for sale, which contained multiple units, that was being advertised as income producing property. The property owner requested that Greenwald not allow showings to take place and to not inform the tenants of the sale until contract formation, so as not to disturb their quiet enjoyment. For this reason, Greenwald failed to measure the subject property or have it professionally measured, instead relying on the rent rolls of the current property management company. Greenwald advertised the subject property as having 3,352 square feet of living area. The property went under contract with a buyer whose appraisal showed the subject property as having 2,872 square feet, a difference of 480 square feet or a 15.4% difference. When presented with this information, Greenwald immediately corrected his listing to reflect the correct square footage. The buyer then terminated the contract when he and the seller could not agree on a price change to the contract.
ADRIENNE H. HAGERMAN (GREENSBORO) – By Consent, the Commission suspended the broker license of Hagerman for a period of 6 months, effective June 15, 2023. The Commission then stayed the suspension in its entirety. The Commission found that Hagerman, as a provisional broker representing a buyer client, submitted an offer that contained confusing language regarding the conveyance of a refrigerator, resulting in a later dispute. Hagerman negotiated a payment from the listing agent for the removed refrigerator. Hagerman accepted a cash payment from the listing agent and failed to deliver the cash to her broker-in-charge, but instead immediately delivered the cash to her buyer client. Hagerman failed to inform the lender or closing attorney about the negotiated payment prior to closing.
KATHERINE R. HICKMAN (CHARLOTTE) – By Consent, the Commission reprimanded Hickman effective June 6, 2023. The Commission found that Hickman acted as the agent for the buyer in the purchase of residential real property. During this transaction, a number of material issues with the subject property were discovered through various inspections. The seller and buyer agreed to a reduced price without any repairs being made prior to closing. The new owner then made some cosmetic updates to the subject property’s interior, but otherwise did not address other material issues. Hickman then listed the subject property and failed to disclose the outstanding material issues. The subject property went under contract two separate times with both buyers terminating during the due diligence period when their respective home inspections discovered similar material issues with the subject property. The Commission notes that both buyers have been refunded their respective due diligence fees and expenses, and the property was removed from the sales market.
TAMARA L. HILL (RALEIGH) – By Consent, the Commission reprimanded Hill effective June 15, 2023. The Commission found that Hill acted as the buyer’s agent for the purchase of a property and received a home inspection report that noted material issues with a deck and electrical system. Months after the purchase, the buyers informed the Hill they had carried out a variety of improvements to the property and Hill believed this included addressing the issues noted in the inspection report. Hill later acted as a listing agent for the sale of the same property but failed to disclose the issues found earlier or to .confirm that repairs had been made. The buyers’ inspection report noted the same problems with the deck and electrical system and was almost identical to the 2020 inspection. The parties agreed to a price reduction and the buyer closed on the subject property.
BALA K. KAMUJU (CARY) – By Consent, the Commission suspended the broker license of Kumuju for a period of 12 months, effective June 1, 2023. The Commission then stayed the suspension in its entirety. The Commission found that Kumuju, as broker-in-charge of a licensed firm, was unaware that a broker associated with his firm conducted brokerage during a time when her license was on inactive status for failing to complete continuing education. Kumuju failed to renew his firm’s license and it was expired for 10 days before being renewed. Kumuju recreated and backdated 5 of 10 agency agreements provided to the Commission as he could not locate originals.
KRIS & ASSOCIATES PROPERTY MANAGEMENT (CARY) – By Consent, the Commission suspended the firm broker license for a period of 12 months, effective June 1, 2023. The Commission then stayed the suspension in its entirety. The Commission found that the Firm was unaware that a broker associated with the Firm was conducting brokerage during a time when her license was on inactive status for failing to complete continuing education. The Firm failed to renew its license and was expired for 10 days before renewing. The Firm’s broker-in-charge recreated and backdated 5 of 10 agency agreements provided to the Commission as it did not have originals.
LAKE WYLIE MARKET CENTER LLC (CHARLOTTE) – By Consent, the Commission reprimanded the firm effective June 15, 2023. The Commission found that the Firm represented an out of state buyer purchasing property sight-unseen. The Firm, through its affiliated broker, failed to ensure that the buyer agency agreement included accurate dates and was completed prior to a transaction closing. The Firm has instituted additional policies and procedures for reviewing document compliance.
JOHN M. LEES (RALEIGH) – By Consent, the Commission suspended the broker license of Lees for a period of 6 months, effective June 15, 2023. The Commission then stayed the suspension in its entirety. The Commission found that Lees acted as the listing agent on behalf of a licensed seller for the sale of a home under construction. Lees advertised that the property would have city water and a septic system although the seller had started construction of a well and had been informed that city water was not available. After the property went under contract, the buyers learned that the property would be served by a well. The seller offered to terminate and refund all deposits but the buyers chose to close.
BRUCE W. MOYER (CHARLOTTE) – The Commission accepted the voluntary surrender of the real estate education approvals of Moyer effective June 14, 2023. The Commission dismissed without prejudice allegations that Moyer violated provisions of the Real Estate License Law and Commission Rules. Moyer neither admitted nor denied misconduct.
CARLOS OROZCO (CHARLOTTE) – By Consent, the Commission suspended the broker license of Orozco for a period of 18 months, effective June 6, 2023. The Commission then stayed the suspension following a 3 month active suspension period. Orozco is also prohibited from acting as, or becoming broker-in-charge eligible for a period of 5 years. The Commission found that Orozco represented a buyer in a residential purchase transaction for a property that was advertised as a 4-bedroom home. A few days after going under contract, the listing agent emailed Orozco a copy of the septic permit, which only allowed for a 2-bedroom home. Orozco failed to inform his buyer-client of the septic information. Orozco’s buyer-client closed on the subject property and then hired Orozco to list the subject property for sale a few months later. Orozco at this time advertised the subject property as a 4-bedroom home, despite being in possession of the 2-bedroom septic permit, and failed to disclose this material issue at the time one offer was made on the subject property.
DAVID OWENS (TARBORO) – Following a hearing, the Commission revoked the broker license of Owens effective June 13th, 2023, with no right to reapply for reinstatement for a period of two years. The Commission found that Owens was convicted of Felony Death by Motor Vehicle, as well as Driving While Impaired and was sentenced to 55-78 months in the North Carolina Department of Adult Corrections.
JORDAN E. STEPANSKY (WAYNESVILLE) – By Consent, the Commission suspended the broker license of Stepansky for a period of 12 months, effective June 15, 2023. The Commission then stayed the suspension in its entirety. The Commission found that Stepansky represented buyer-clients in a residential transaction and failed to thoroughly review the seller-provided home inspection report and discuss it with the buyer-clients. Stepansky failed to discuss incorporating the cost of a UV filter for the well into the sales price with the buyer-clients prior to discussing it with the lender and preparing a contract amendment form. Stepansky failed to discover a square footage discrepancy of 16%.
The United States Attorney’s Office (USAO), Eastern District of North Carolina hosted “United Against Hate”, a community outreach program on Wednesday, June 20th. The event featured representatives from the USAO civil and criminal division, FBI, State and local law enforcement, Legal Aid of NC, and other State and local agencies/organizations and served to educate the community on how to identify and report hate crimes.
One event panel highlighted the stories of victims of Fair Housing violations which resulted in both a criminal conviction and a civil settlement. In the case of the criminal conviction, the defendant was sentenced to 28 months in federal prison for using racial slurs and threatening the lives of a Black family, which is a criminal violation of the Federal Fair Housing Act. The civil settlement involved employees of a non-profit that administered a federal housing program who were alleged to have sexually harassed several women, including asking for sexual favors in exchange for Section 8 housing vouchers, which is a violation of the Federal Fair Housing Act. The non-profit and former employees involved were ordered to pay a $2.7 million settlement to the women named in the lawsuit, a fund for other victims who have yet to come forward, and attorneys’ fees.
This event was a part of the USAO’s larger United Against Hate Initiative, which was established in 2022 to build stronger relationships of trust between members of the public, law enforcement, community organizations, and other government agencies in an effort to stop unlawful acts of hate and to improve reporting of such crimes.
To learn more about any of the initiatives or cases mentioned in this article refer to the links below: