Renew Your License Before Midnight December 14

Don't let your golden carriage turn into a pumpkin!


 Debbi Conrad  |    November 10, 2016
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It’s real estate license renewal time again! Completed real estate license renewal applications and fees must be received by the Department of Safety and Professional Services (DSPS) no later than midnight on Wednesday, December 14, 2016, for all licensees who wish to practice real estate on Thursday, December 15 and thereafter. Licensees who do not meet the December 14 deadline will be unlicensed as of December 15 and cannot practice real estate per Wis. Stat. § 452.12(5)(b) until the license is renewed. Your license will disappear at the stroke of midnight, and you will no longer be a real estate licensee!

But I didn’t receive a renewal postcard! 

The DSPS has indicated that renewal postcards will be mailed out to real estate licensees six to eight weeks before the December 14 renewal deadline. But not receiving a renewal notice postcard does not excuse you from the renewal requirement! It will not save you if a disciplinary proceeding is brought against you for practicing real estate without a current license. In addition, if you realize after December 14 that you do need to renew your license, the fact that you didn’t receive a postcard will not give you a pass when it comes to paying the $25 late fee. No excuses! 

Online renewal

Licensees may renew their real estate licenses online at online.drl.wi.gov/UserLogin.aspx. Licensees will need their credential number and a credit card to pay the $82 renewal fee. This fee applies to real estate salespersons, real estate brokers, and real estate business entities such as corporations, partnerships and LLCs. The PIN number will appear on the postcard or can be looked up online using the credential number and other licensee information. If you cannot renew online, you must contact the DSPS at least 15 days before your license expiration date to request a paper renewal form at DSPSRenewal@wisconsin.gov or by calling 608-261-4460 or toll-free at 808-506-4230.

The DSPS site advises to allow two business days for the processing of online renewals. Waiting until the last day may also be unwise because there can be computer issues or other reasons for an outage of the online service. If a renewal application and payment is received on time and the continuing education (CE) has been completed, the credential holder is eligible to practice while the license is being processed. The DSPS considers a license renewed as soon as the department website shows that the renewal requirements have been completed. Emails are sent to confirm completion of renewal. 

Renewal status may be checked online by using the licensee lookup feature at app.wi.gov/licensesearch. This database generally is updated daily. As long as the license appears on the DSPS website as active, the licensee may practice. The reverse also is true — if the license shows as expired, then the salesperson, broker or business entity, as the case may be, is not authorized to practice real estate in Wisconsin. In other words, what appears on the DSPS database controls the ability to practice.

The WRA is not the DSPS

Please don’t be confused! This article is about renewing your real estate license with the state, which needs to be done every two years. Your license authorizes you to practice real estate in Wisconsin. 

The Wisconsin REALTORS® Association, on the other hand, is a trade organization. REALTOR® membership is renewed every year and requires a current license, an application and payment of annual REALTOR® dues. 

These two are not the same! You must renew your real estate license to be eligible for REALTOR® membership, unless you are an affiliate or appraiser member.

CE requirement: six courses, 18 hours 

The Real Estate Examining Board (REEB) requires all individual real estate licensees to complete 18 hours of CE per biennium and pass the respective course examination; 70 percent correct is passing. The 18 hours are comprised of six three-hour modules with specific course content approved by the REEB.

Licensees must take courses 1, 2, 3 and 4 and two elective courses. The four mandatory courses are:

  • Course 1: Wisconsin State-approved Listing Contracts 
  • Course 2: Wisconsin State-approved Offers to Purchase 
  • Course 3: Wisconsin New Developments 
  • Course 4: Ethics and Fair Housing in Wisconsin (includes the NAR ethics requirements)

The electives include:

  • Elective A: Disclosures in a Wisconsin Transaction 
  • Elective B: Risk Reduction for Wisconsin Salespeople and Brokers 
  • Elective C: Inspections and Testing in Wisconsin Transactions 
  • Elective D: Wisconsin Condominiums 

As part of the renewal process, individual licensees must list the date, course title, course sponsor and the number of hours for each course completed to satisfy the CE requirements.

To complete these courses, an individual licensee may attend live classes, watch classes on DVD, work through self-study courses and/or use the On Demand Internet-based education format. Go to www.wra.org/RECEinfo for the WRA 2015-16 CE live course schedules or to order distance learning materials. Individuals who complete their CE with the WRA can see all of their completed WRA CE courses by visiting www.wra.org/educationhistory and using the myWRA login. This is a handy way to track the CE course information required on the renewal application. 

Licensees need not submit any course certificates with their renewals, but these may later be requested by the REEB. Wis. Stat. § 452.14(3)(a) tells us that making a false statement to the REEB in connection with any license application is grounds for revocation, suspension or denial of the license. The lesson is “don’t lie to your fairy godmother!”

Effective October 1, 2015, all licensees are required to complete the 18 credit hours of CE including for the biennium during which they are licensed. Therefore, newly licensed individuals are no longer exempt from the CE requirement during the biennium when they first receive their license. However, one group of individuals is exempt: salespersons who received their initial license after October 1 of the even year of the biennium will not be required to complete CE for that biennium. There is no exemption for broker licensees. See Wis. Admin. Code § REEB 25.065(5). Thus, everyone with a license must complete CE as part of the December 14, 2016, renewal except for those who received an original salesperson’s license after October 1, 2016.

Any criminal convictions? 

The new Wis. Stat. § 452.12(5)(d) requires that a person applying for renewal of a broker’s or salesperson’s license complete questions wherein the renewal applicant must state whether he or she has been convicted of a crime since he or she last renewed the license or, for the first renewal, since he or she initially applied for the license. If the answer is yes, the renewal applicant will be asked for the date of conviction and a description of the nature and circumstances of the crime. The applicant must sign his or her name to attest to the accuracy and truthfulness of the information provided and acknowledge that the DSPS has the authority to conduct an investigation into the applicant’s criminal convictions, assess forfeitures up to $1,000 against an applicant who is not truthful, and revoke the license of a person who fails to pay such forfeitures. In addition, the REEB may impose discipline if the licensee was convicted of a felony. The REEB makes a case-by-case decision in accordance with Wis. Admin. Code § REEB 24.17 and based upon the factors listed in the statutes in Wis. Stat. § 425.25(1)(c). 

Truth be told, a licensee should have reported any criminal convictions to the REEB within 48 hours after the judgment of conviction, pursuant to Wis. Admin. Code § REEB 24.17. The REEB may determine whether the circumstances of the crime of which the licensee was convicted are substantially related to the practice of a real estate broker or salesperson.

The moral of the story is to report criminal convictions right away because failing to report definitely will not be in your favor when the REEB later learns about the incident.

Late for a very important date (my horses have turned into mice!) 

Licensees who do not renew their licenses by December 14 may file a late renewal application. Applications received by the DSPS after December 14 must include the $82 renewal fee plus the $25 late fee as directed by Wis. Stat. § 440.08(3), for a total of $107. 

The REEB may grant an extension of time for completing CE and a renewal license if it receives a written request from the licensee and a physician’s statement that verifies that a licensee’s health prevented him or her from attending CE. An extension may also be granted, as explained in Wis. Admin. Code § REEB 25.065(9), to a licensee on active military duty outside Wisconsin, or for other compelling reasons beyond the control of the licensee.

Business entity renewals

Along with individual licenses, it is also necessary to renew any broker business entity license for any business entity involved in your practice. If you are the “business representative” for the business entity, that means that you, as the director, manager, member, officer, owner or partner of the business entity, must make sure that your broker’s license is renewed and that the license for the business entity also is renewed if that company will continue to act as a broker entity during the upcoming biennium. 

Under Wis. Stat. § 452.12(5)(bm), if the firm or business entity license is not renewed, the firm cannot engage in the brokerage activities covered by the license until the license is renewed. Furthermore, the licensees associated with the firm may not provide brokerage services on behalf of the firm until the firm’s license is renewed. In addition, the business representative for the firm shall notify each licensee associated with the firm if the firm’s license was not renewed and file a Form #766 Notice of Termination of Employment of Broker or Salesperson with the REEB for each licensee associated with the firm within 10 days after providing the notice. The form is available at dsps.wi.gov/Licenses-Permits/RealEstateBroker/REBRforms.

Sometimes the individual broker may receive a postcard but does not receive a postcard for the business entity. Once again, that is not a valid defense for failure to renew the business entity license — be sure to also submit the renewal form and fee for the business entity if the brokerage firm is going to continue practice.

Firm supervision oversight

Wis. Stat. § 452.132(2)(c) requires each firm to confirm that each agent associated with the firm has renewed his or her real estate license by December 14, 2016, and is properly licensed. If an individual’s renewal application has not been timely filed with the DSPS, a firm may not permit the person to engage in real estate practice after December 14 until the license is renewed. If there are any agents who do not renew their licenses or who are no longer with the company, the firm should make sure that a Form #766 Notice of Termination of Employment of Broker or Salesperson is submitted to the DSPS within 10 days. Firms that allow unlicensed persons to practice real estate on behalf of the firm can be subject to REEB discipline.

Renewal obstacles: delinquent tax and support obligations

As part of the renewal process, the DSPS uses a licensee’s Social Security number or a business entity’s FEIN to check for any delinquent state tax or family support obligations — this does not include property taxes — and to see if a licensee has failed to comply with a warrant or subpoena related to paternity or support proceedings. If left unresolved, these issues are grounds for the denial or restriction of a license as laid out in Wis. Stat. §§ 440.12-440.13.

The Department of Revenue (DOR) is willing to enter into reasonable arrangements for payment of delinquent taxes. You can contact the DOR’s nearest office; call the Madison Central Collection Unit at 608-266-7879; or phone the Occupational License Specialist at 608-267-0833 and choose option 1 to discuss the available options. See the DOR credential renewal information at www.revenue.wi.gov/faqs/ise/occupa.html, and the Department of Children and Families information regarding Denying, Restricting, Suspending, or Not Renewing a License at dcf.wisconsin.gov/bcs/enforce/enforce_license.htm.

Privacy concerns 

  • All licensees should be aware that the name and address information submitted during renewal is available to the public, so consider substituting a business address in place of a home address. 
  • Individuals and sole proprietors have the opportunity to opt-out of the disclosure of your address on lists of 10 or more credential holders furnished to third parties. 
  • As part of the renewal application, each individual applicant must certify that the applicant is a U.S. citizen or a legal alien qualified to receive a credential. 

The REEB will not grant you a glass slipper exemption, so be sure to renew your license no later than December 14, 2016, or the magic spell of your license will be broken!

Debbi Conrad is Senior Attorney and Director of Legal Affairs for the WRA.

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