Looking Back to See How Far We've Come


 Cori Lamont  |    January 06, 2014
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For most individuals, the idea of reading an article about the changes that have occurred at the Department of Safety and Professional Services (DSPS) is painful. However for me, it is a review of my last 10 years with the WRA. As both Wisconsin Real Estate Magazine and I celebrate 10 years with the WRA, I am astounded at how much has changed at DSPS since 2004.

2004 brought many changes in America: the death of a former president with the passing of Ronald Reagan, the end of Oldsmobile as it produced its final car, the beginning of Gmail as Google introduced the email service to the world, and the likely end of Janet Jackson’s career opportunities with the halftime show at the Super Bowl. In 2004, the real estate market was on fire, and substantial legislative changes (see Tom Larson’s article on page 26) affecting real property rights and real estate practice as well as changes within the DSPS were on the way.

First things first, for those of you licensed for more than five years, you probably recall when the DSPS used to be the Department of Regulation and Licensing (DRL). And with the passing of the 2011-13 state budget, the Real Estate Board (REB) became the Real Estate Examining Board (REEB), and the DRL became the DSPS. 

The REB assisted the secretary in policymaking and the discipline of licensees, and advised the secretary on real estate forms and rules. The secretary had the final authority on forms, education and promulgation of rules affecting real estate. 

The REEB grants real estate licenses, reviews complaints and enforces disciplinary actions against licensees, enters into reciprocal agreements with other states, and promulgates rules. Additionally, the REEB approves real estate forms, establishes education curriculum and requirements for both pre-license and CE, and appoints members to the Real Estate Curriculum Examinations Council and the Real Estate Contractual Forms Advisory Committee ‚ÄĒ both of which are advisory to the REEB. Lastly, the budget provided a portion of the Department of Commerce staff and responsibilities to be pulled in under the purview of the DSPS.

The following provides a brief summary of the changes that have occurred relating to forms, administrative rules and education requirements over the last 10 years at the DSPS, formerly the DRL. 

Forms

Part of the responsibility of the state of Wisconsin is to create the forms that are required for use by real estate licensees, better known as ‚ÄúWB Forms.‚ÄĚ One of the major changes that affected the everyday practice of real estate was the modernization of agency law in 2006. Due to this law change, the state began to update the state-approved forms beginning with the listing contracts and buyer agency agreement in 2008. Those form changes included the following:

  • WB-1 Residential Listing Contract ‚ÄĒ Exclusive Right to Sell.
  • WB-2 Farm Listing Contract ‚ÄĒ Exclusive Right to Sell.
  • WB-3 Vacant Listing Contract ‚ÄĒ Exclusive Right to Sell.
  • WB-4 Condominium Listing Contract ‚ÄĒ Exclusive Right to Sell.
  • WB-5 Commercial Listing Contract ‚ÄĒ Exclusive Right to Sell.
  • WB-36 Buyer Agency/Tenant Representation Agreement.
  • And most recently, the WB-37 Residential Listing Contract ‚ÄĒ Exclusive Right to Rent.¬†

The changes to the listing contract and buyer agency agreement triggered a chain reaction of revising the remaining WB forms. Therefore in 2010, the WB-11 Residential Offer to Purchase received a major change overall, and further received minor tweaks again in 2011. Other minor tweaks followed: 

  • WB-12 Farm Offer to Purchase.
  • WB-13 Vacant Land Offer to Purchase.
  • WB-14 Residential Condominium Offer to Purchase.
  • WB-15 Commercial Offer to Purchase.
  • WB-24 Option to Purchase.¬†

Visit www.wra.org/Legal/Updates and search for years 2004 through 2013 to see the various Legal Updates regarding each form change. 

Rules

One of the most major revisions to a Wisconsin Administrative Code Rule in the last 10 years occurred in 2012 with Wis. Admin. Code Chapter REEB 24, ‚ÄúConduct and Ethical Practices for Real Estate Licensees.‚ÄĚ

In terms of changes that directly affected real estate practice, a few alterations to Wis. Admin. Code § REEB 24.05 are worth noting: rules for disclosure of compensation and of interest as well as the § REEB 24.07(8) rules regarding agency disclosures. The terminology used in chapter REEB 24 was modified to better match the vocabulary used in Wis. Stat. chapter 452. Thus some definitions were amended, and new ones have been created. In addition, other changes were made to expand the application of the existing rules to apply not only to offers, but to counter-offers, leases and other contracts as well. Similarly, rules that, at face value, applied to listing contracts in the past now apply to other agency contracts, such as buyer agency agreements and property management agreements.

For further information about these changes, see the June 2012 WRA Legal Update, ‚ÄúRegulatory Revisions‚ÄĚ at www.wra.org/LU1206.

Education

After years of increasing complaints about the level of professionalism and competence in the real estate industry, there were a number of changes made to Wisconsin’s licensing and CE requirements. Over the course of the last 10 years, the WRA believes that these changes found the right mix to achieve these goals. 

Broker pre-license hours: Effective July 2012, the required broker pre-license hours to obtain a real estate broker’s license in Wisconsin increased from 36 hours to 72 hours. Roughly 47 states in the U.S. have an average pre-license requirement of 109 hours for obtaining a real estate broker’s license. This increase to 72 hours made Wisconsin closer to, or rather more consistent, with the national average by requiring 144 pre-license hours for broker and salesperson. 

Changes to CE credit hour requirements: Effective for the 2009-2010 CE biennium, the required CE hours to be completed by real estate licensees every two years was increased from 12 hours to 18 hours in order to renew the broker or salesperson license. 

No more CE ‚Äútest-out‚ÄĚ: Due to a lack of participants, as well as a significant cost-savings for the DSPS, the 2011 budget repealed Wis. Stat. ¬ß 452.12(5)(c)2, or better known as the ‚ÄúCE test-out.‚ÄĚ Previously, real estate licensees had the ability until June 30 of the even-numbered year of the biennium to take an examination on the subjects required for CE. Any broker or salesperson who passed this exam could then be exempt from CE for that biennium. Thus repealing ¬ß 452.12(5)(c)2 means CE test-out is no longer an available option for real estate licensees to achieve CE credit.¬†

There are many more changes coming from and to the DSPS, so keep your eye out for the 2014 quarterly Legal Hottips that will be solely dedicated to a DSPS update. That‚Äôs right ‚ÄĒ you won‚Äôt have to wait 10 more years for this interesting topic to come across your desk!

Cori Lamont is Director of Regulatory Affairs for the WRA.

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