Georgia Real Estate Commissioner Spoke About Licensing to GABB

Georgia Real Estate Commissioner William L. Rogers, Jr. talked about licensing and new training requirements at the Georgia Association of Business Brokers’s meeting on Sept. 29.

Roger serves as the Executive Officer for the Georgia Real Estate Commission and the Georgia Real Estate Appraisers Board where he oversees the day-to-day operations of the state agency responsible for implementing the license law regulating Georgia’s more than 82,000 real estate brokers and salespersons and the law regulating Georgia’s 4,700 real estate appraisers.

Under Georgia law, a business brokers must have a real estate license to buy and sell any businesses in the state that involve the transfer of the lease or ownership of real property. Under state law, neither business brokers nor their associates may “negotiate or attempt to negotiate or assist in procuring prospects for the sale of a business” where the sale “involves the transfer of any interest in real property, or where the payment of all or part of a commission or fee to the business broker or any of the business broker’s associates in the sale of a business is contingent upon the transfer of an interest in real estate.” (See the applicable law below)

Rogers told GABB that his office answers questions about licensing and investigates complaints. Recent laws also require his agency to ensure that everyone who holds a state real estate license is either a citizen or legally present in the U.S.

The commission offers coursework online and in person, and also occasionally pursues judgments against licensees, and maintains a recovery fund. Rogers said only one payment has been paid out of recovery fund in recent years, about $7,000. Georgia law was amended law in 2012 to make it easier for non-licensees to recover payments.

Most of the commission’s investigations involve trust funds and earnest money. Rogers said the commission backed law changed that enable licensees to do certain activities that are not considered illegal practice of law. For example, licensees may provide advice to clients about listing management, leasing optioning and any other conveyance of real estate without that advice being considered the practice of law. Rogers says this allows agents to fill in certain forms that had been prepared by an attorney. However, Georgia law does not give brokers the authority to give a legal opinion or to the authority to close a transaction.

Effective July 24, licensees, other than certain grandfathered license holders, must complete 36 hours of Commission-approved continuing education during each four-year renewal period, of which three hours must be on specific license law. The commission has approved 63 license courses. “Hopefully, this will be helpful to stop the violations and protect the public.”

Even at the rate of nine continuing education hours per year, Georgia is still below the national average of 9.3 hours per year. However, Rogers said real estate licensees should have training commensurate with other professionals.

Rogers urged licensees to take courses that are educational, and not to wait until the last minutes to take coursework.  He also discussed new rules that make it easier for licensees to work as support persons for brokers in other towns.

The commission has been flooded with cases in which brokers representing buyers have  presented offers directly to the seller. However, the listing broker needs to examine the offer first before showing the offer to the seller, Rogers said. Hear Rogers’ speech here.

GABB member Kathryne Pusch provided this citation of the specific language related to business brokers in Georgia law.

520-1-.12 Business Brokerage.
Unless otherwise excepted from licensure requirements by O.C.G.A. Section 43-40-29, a person who brokers the sale of a business must hold an appropriate license issued by the Commission if the sale of the business involves the transfer of any interest (including, but not limited to, leasehold or ownership interest) in real property. A business broker and any of the business broker’s associates who do not hold licenses issued by the Commission may not negotiate or attempt to negotiate or assist in procuring prospects for the sale of a business where:
(a) that sale involves the transfer of any interest in real property,
or
(b) where the payment of all or part of a commission or fee to the business broker or any of the business broker’s associates in the sale of a business is contingent upon the transfer of an interest in real estate.
An unlicensed broker may not perform or attempt to perform the acts in the preceding sentence and then secure a person licensed by the Commission to approve that transaction.
see also O.C.G.A. §§43-40-1; 43-40-2; 43-40-29; and 43-40-30.
Authority O.C.G.A. Secs. 43-40-2, 43-40-14. History. Original Rule entitled “Examinations” adopted as ER. 520-1-0.1-.12. F. and eff. July 12, 1973, the date of adoption. Amended: Permanent Rule entitled “Licensee’s Duties Upon Surrender, Suspension, or Revocation of License” adopted. F. Dec. 7, 1973; eff. Dec. 27, 1973. Repealed: New Rule of same title adopted. F. June 4, 1980; eff. July 1, 1980, as specified by the Agency. Amended: Authority changed. F. Aug. 5, 1982; eff. Nov. 1, 1982, as specified by the Agency. Amended: F. May 9, 1985; eff. July 1, 1985, as specified by the Agency. Repealed: New Rule entitled “Business Brokerage” adopted. F. Nov. 12, 2003; eff. Dec. 2, 2003.