Licensee, Realtor, Agent…all the same??? Part I
How does one become a licensed salesperson?
New Hampshire, as most other states, regulates its real state practice by requiring that practitioners become licensed. To do this, the individual must fulfill the 40 hour education requirement, register for testing with the NH Real Estate Commission, (NHREC), and take and pass a two-part exam. The exam covers both general real estate knowledge and New Hampshire State License Law. Once the individual passes the exam, that person affiliates with a NH Principal Broker and can practice real estate in this state. The license is sent to the broker, not the new salesperson, as a salesperson must have their license hung under a broker in order to practice. All offices are required to have a managing broker who oversees the activities of the salespeople working out of that office.
Are there ongoing education requirements? Is the license law enforced?
The NH Real Estate Commission regulates all licensees and enforces the combination of statute and administrative rules known as "The Real Estate Practice Act." The NHREC investigates complaints against salespersons and brokers and has the power to impose fines, revoke licenses or refer matters to the Attorney General's office. The Commission also sets minimum continuing education standards for license renewal - currently 12 hours of education every two years. The process for becoming a broker is similar to that for a salesperson, but requires at least sixty hours of accredited study prior to sitting for that exam along with proof of a minimal amount of practice as a salesperson. Approval of both Salesperson and Broker licenses are subject to a criminal background check.
What are the basic rules? What happens to violators?
All licensees are subject to the laws and regulations of the NH Real Estate Practice Act. They are required to be honest, to disclose material conditions of property, to disclose their agency or non-agency relationships, and they are prohibited from discriminating against any of the categories protected Protected by Fair Housing laws. In addition, the license law in this state specifically itemizes 38 forms of "prohibited conduct". A complaint, filed with the NH Real Estate Commission, is processed by a Commissioner and the investigator to determine if a hearing is in order. If a hearing is held, the Commission, (made up of three licensees, an attorney and a "public" member), listens to both sides and determines if a violation has been committed. If they decide there is a violation, they have the power to impose sanctions including revoking the license and fines up to $2,000 per infraction. Fines are paid to the state not to the complainant. Also, the commission does not have jurisdiction to process disputes between licensees over fees.
The good news is that in NH, the number of formal complaints is actually small relative to the amount of business done - in 2009. Most consumer issues involve disclosure or misrepresentation of material conditions. Consumers beware! It's a good idea to have a professional inspect the house before you purchase - licensees are not "home inspectors". Licensees beware! Be truthful, and when in doubt disclose... it's your license on the line.
By John Doran, GRI, CRP, ABR
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