California Dept. of Real Estate (DRE) Changes License Renewal Requirements for Agents and Brokers

It’s about time. The last renewal I took was a joke. Of course it was all multiple choice, as the new one will be. Fees going up? Well there’s a shocker for ya.

Effective December 31, 2010 – Changes to license renewal include:

  • Multiple choice questions required – no more true or false.
  • 30-40% increase in material to be covered.
  • Education cost increase due to the required changes in material and exams.
  • DRE license fees and renewal fees to increase as the number of new licensees has dropped 90% and renewals have dropped 44%.
  • 70% correct on exams required as of 2010 and able to take only 15 units per day (of 45 total).
  • Agents & Brokers should know they can take continuing education anytime in the 4 years prior to renewal but can’t actually renew with the DRE until 90 days prior to their license expiration date. It is suggested that anyone with a license due to expire by December 30, 2010 or sooner, do their continuing education now and avoid the tougher exams and higher prices.

For the best prices in on-line license renewal education, go to www.srcar.org; Click on “Education”, then “Continuing Education” and the “Online Ed logo”. If you have any questions contact Leslie, SRCAR Education at (951) 894-2571

DRE, AG Warn Homeowners About Loan Mod Fraud

Time and again people don’t listen to that little inner voice that tells us – if it sounds too good to be true, then it probably is. We know that has always been the case and continues to be the case but sometimes… sometimes we think – well, reality may have suspended itself just this one time, just on this occasion, just for me.

NOT!

We continue to warn people about loan mod fraud – yet people continue to be victimized. I know people are desperate but sometimes you also have to be just a little bit naive and/or stupid to buy into some of these scams.

But the coalition formed by our Attorney Generals office, the Department of Real Estate and the State Bar of California keep trying to protect us from these scamsters and ourselves. I posted here some months back when they initially formed the coalition and were effective in passing legislation that required loan mod specialists to register with the Attorney Generals office and post a $100,000 bond (SB 94 Calderon). The same bill made it illegal for anybody to charge an up-front fee to modify, or attempt to modify, a loan. Yet in spite of shutting down hundreds of these scam artists and acting on 1,000’s of complaints, the problem continues.

So once again, AG Brown, the DRE and the State Bar have today submitted the following press release:

Brown Warns Homeowners to Avoid Forensic Loan Audits

Los Angeles-Attorney General Edmund G. Brown Jr. today joined the California Department of Real Estate (DRE) and the State Bar of California in warning Californians to avoid forensic loan audits, the loan-modification industry’s latest “phony foreclosure-relief service,” in which homeowners pay up-front fees for a forensic review of their lender’s practices, but are provided no actual foreclosure relief.

“Forensic loan audits are yet another phony foreclosure-relief service hawked by loan-modification consultants trying to cash in on the desperation of homeowners facing foreclosure,” Brown said. “The foreclosure-relief industry continues to be long on promises, but short on results.”

Individuals and businesses who offer forensic loan audits use inflated and misleading claims to convince homeowners to pay up-front fees for services that produce no actual foreclosure relief. Homeowners are encouraged to pay for an audit of their mortgage loan file to determine their lender’s compliance with state and federal mortgage-lending laws. This audit is pitched to homeowners as a tool they can use to gain leverage and speed up the loan-modification process.

In truth, there is no evidence or statistical data to support claims that forensic loan audits-even if performed by a licensed, legitimate and trained auditor, mortgage professional or lawyer-will help homeowners obtain loan modifications or provide any other foreclosure relief.

“The State Bar is committed to dealing with all aspects of loan foreclosure fraud involving attorneys,” said State Bar President Howard Miller. “We will continue to work with all the other government agencies to prevent fraud and to move for disciplinary sanctions against attorneys who violate their obligations to their clients.”

By law, all individuals and businesses offering mortgage-foreclosure consulting, loan-modification and foreclosure-assistance services must register with Brown’s office and post a $100,000 bond. It is also illegal for loan-modification consultants and businesses to charge up-front fees for their services.

Brown has sought court orders to shut down more than 30 fraudulent foreclosure-relief companies and has brought criminal charges and obtained lengthy prison sentences for dozens of deceptive loan-modification consultants.

In 2009, the DRE investigated more than 2,000 complaints involving loan-modification scams. Nearly 350 individuals and companies received a Desist and Refrain Order to stop illegal activity.

“The DRE has aggressively pursued loan-modification scammers who prey on vulnerable and financially stressed homeowners, and those peddling false hope by promising mortgage relief with a forensic audit will be scrutinized,” stated Real Estate Commissioner Jeff Davi. “With consumer education efforts and warnings, we hope to keep consumers from falling victim in the first place.”

As part of today’s consumer alert, Brown offered the following tips to homeowners:

– Don’t pay up-front fees. Foreclosure consultants are prohibited by law from collecting money before services are performed.
– Don’t ignore letters from your lender or loan servicer. Responding to those letters is your best bet for saving your house.
– Don’t transfer title or sell your house to a “foreclosure rescuer.” Beware! This is a scam to convince homeowners they can stay in the home as renters and buy their home back later. It could also be part of a fraudulent bankruptcy filing. Either way, a scammer can then evict you and take your home.
– Don’t pay your mortgage payments to anyone other than your lender or loan servicer. Mortgage consultants often keep the money for themselves.
– Never sign any documents without reading them first. Many homeowners think that they are signing documents for a loan modification or for a new loan to pay off their delinquent mortgage. Later, they discover that they actually transferred ownership of their home to someone who is now trying to evict them.

Non-profit housing counselors certified by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development provide free help to homeowners. To find a counselor in your area, call 1-800-569-4287.

If you are a homeowner who has been scammed, you can contact Brown’s office at 1-800-952-5225 or file a complaint online at: www.ag.ca.gov/consumers/general.php. You can also learn more about avoiding scams and obtain a complaint form by visiting the DRE’s web site at: www.dre.ca.gov.

If you have a complaint against a lawyer, contact the State Bar Complaint Hotline at 1-800-843-9053. Complaint forms and an explanation of the attorney discipline system are available online at: www.calbar.ca.gov.

In 2009, California accounted for 22 percent of the nation’s foreclosure activity, with 632,573 homes in foreclosure statewide. This is an annual increase of more than 20 percent in foreclosure activity from 2008 and a 150 percent increase from 2007.

For more information on Brown’s action against loan-modification fraud visit: http://ag.ca.gov/loanmod.

AG Brown Joins DRE & State Bar to combat Loan Mod Fraud.

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Brown to Join Forces with Department of Real Estate and State Bar in New Round of Legal Action Against Loan Fixers

Los Angeles – At a news conference Wednesday at 10:00 a.m., Attorney General Edmund G. Brown will announce a new round of legal action against more than 200 Los Angeles and Orange County loan consultants who have not registered with his office and nearly two dozen companies that have made unsubstantiated promises to homeowners.

This action is part of new collaboration between Brown’s office, the California Department of Real Estate and the State Bar of California to combat loan modification and foreclosure rescue fraud.

Date: Wednesday, August 12, 2009
Time: 10:00 a.m.
Location: 300 South Spring Street
Los Angeles, Calif.

Participants:

Attorney General Edmund G. Brown
Jeff Davi, Commissioner of the Department of Real Estate
Suzan J. Anderson, Supervising Trial Counsel, State Bar of California
Bryan Batiste — an employee of the LA County Fire Department who paid $2,895 upfront to a loan modification company for services never provided.

Brown will also unveil a new website that provides homeowners tips to avoid loan modification fraud, allows them to determine if a company is registered with his office and makes it easier to file complaints.

Brown has made it a top priority to combat loan modification fraud. As part of a nationwide sweep last month, Brown filed suits against 21 individuals and 14 companies who ripped off thousands of homeowners seeking mortgage relief. In total, Brown has sought court orders to shut down 32 companies and has brought criminal charges and obtained lengthy prison sentences for deceptive loan modification consultants.