Licensed for Success: Renew your essential right to practice!


 Debbi Conrad  |    November 09, 2020
Success

Your completed real estate license renewal application and fee must be received by the Department of Safety and Professional Services (DSPS) no later than midnight on Monday, December 14, 2020, if you wish to be authorized to practice real estate on Tuesday, December 15 and thereafter. You need your license to list a property, write an offer and collect a commission, so don’t let this crucial date slide by! It is your key to real estate prosperity and success!

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 terminates at midnight, and you will wake up the next morning as a non-licensee. 

How can a licensed real estate professional avoid that outcome? The basic steps are easy and straightforward.

  1. Take the six continuing education (CE) courses and pass the tests.
  2. Find your DSPS renewal reminder.
  3. Look up you PIN number if you do not know it already.
  4. Make sure you have $75 on your credit card.
  5. Go online and renew your license.

1. Continuing education

The Real Estate Examining Board (REEB) requires all individual real estate licensees to complete six courses of three hours each for a total of 18 hours of CE per biennium. The individual must pass the respective course examinations; 70% correct is passing. This applies to persons with salesperson’s licenses and with broker’s licenses. There are no elective courses as part of the 18 required hours as there were in the last biennium.

2019-20 CE courses (all six required):

  • Course 1: Wisconsin Listing Contracts
  • Course 2: Wisconsin Offers to Purchase
  • Course 3: Wisconsin New Developments
  • Course 4: Wisconsin Real Estate Ethics and Consumer Protection (includes the NAR Code of Ethics)
  • Course 5: Wisconsin Real Estate Law and Practice
  • Course 6: Wisconsin Real Estate Transactions

To complete these courses, an individual licensee may attend live or virtual classes, work through self-study courses and/or use the On Demand internet-based education format. Visit www.wra.org/19-20CE for the WRA 2019-20 CE virtual classroom course schedules or to order distance learning materials. 

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. Individuals who complete their CE with the WRA can see all of their completed WRA CE courses by visiting www.wra.org/educationhistory using the myWRA login. This is a handy way to track the CE course information required on the renewal application. You can print completion certificates at www.wra.org/educationhistory, and brokers can also use it to verify agents’ CE progress. The WRA maintains completion certificates for WRA CE students only; if you took CE through another education provider, contact that provider 
for your course completion information and certificates.

Licensees need not submit course certificates with their renewals, but these may later be requested by the REEB. The DSPS performs random audits to verify completion of CE courses as submitted to the DSPS. If the DSPS discovers a licensee falsified a renewal application, the licensee is subject to discipline. Making a false statement to the REEB in connection with a license application is grounds for revocation, suspension or denial of the license. Failing to complete CE courses could come to the attention of the DSPS in another way as well. If a license law complaint is made against a licensee, the DSPS now requires the licensee to submit proof of CE completion along with the response to the complaint. Failure to do so will result in an investigation being opened against the licensee whether the underlying complaint is determined to need investigation.

A person who receives an original salesperson’s or broker’s license is required to satisfy the CE requirement during the biennium in which the person receives that license, with one exception: a person who receives an original salesperson’s license after October 1 of the even year of the biennium is not required to complete CE for that biennium. There is no exemption for broker licensees as stated in Wis. Admin. Code § REEB 25.065(5). Thus, every individual with a real estate license must complete CE as part of the December 14, 2020, renewal except for those who received an original salesperson’s license after October 1, 2020.

Taking your CE is not enough to renew your license. To maintain your license, you must complete the required CE and renew your license with the DSPS every two years by December 14 of the even-numbered year. This year, that means Monday, December 14, 2020. The online renewal process opened up October 26, 2020.

2. DSPS renewal reminder

The DSPS generally sends a blast email to all credential holders when the window for license renewal opens. The email includes your license number along with other valuable information about the renewal process. If the DSPS does not have an email address on file for you, a postcard may be sent out instead. In other words, a licensee should receive either an email or a postcard from the DSPS, sent near the end of October, announcing the DSPS is ready to receive real estate license renewals. Please note the DSPS is ready to accept real estate license renewals as of the date of this publication.

However, not receiving a renewal notice by email or postcard does not excuse you from the renewal requirement! “But I didn’t receive a postcard or an email!” 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 need to renew your license, the fact that you didn’t receive an email or postcard will not give you a pass when it comes to paying the $25 late fee. No excuses! 

3. PIN number

If you do not know your PIN number, you can look it up online using your license number and other personal information. The PIN number lookup is at https://online.drl.wi.gov/PinLookup/PinLookup.aspx

4. Renewal fee

Be prepared to have a credit card or electronic check ready when you renew online to pay the license renewal fee. VISA, MasterCard, Discover, American Express and electronic checks are accepted forms of payment. A 2% convenience fee is assessed on all credit and debit card transactions and will show as a separate charge on your statement. 

The $75 license renewal fee applies to real estate salespersons, real estate brokers, and real estate business entities such as corporations, partnerships and LLCs. The late fee for any license renewal after December 14 is $25. The same fees apply across the board.

5. Renew online

Licensees may renew their real estate licenses online at https://online.drl.wi.gov/UserLogin.aspx. Licensees need their license number, PIN number and a means to pay the $75 renewal fee. If you are unable to renew online, contact the DSPS at least 15 business days prior to the expiration date of your license to request a renewal form be mailed or emailed to you. You may email the DSPS at DSPSRenewal@wisconsin.gov or call 888-506-4239 toll-free or 608-261-4460 in the Madison area. 

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

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 CE has been completed, the credential holder is eligible to practice while the license is being processed. The DSPS website at https://licensesearch.wi.gov indicates: “ATTENTION: If a renewal payment is received on time, the credential/license holder is eligible to practice while the credential/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 licensees 
to confirm completion of renewal. 

Renewal status may be checked online by using the licensee lookup feature at https://licensesearch.wi.gov. 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. 

6. Business entity renewals

Along with individual licenses, it is also necessary to renew any broker business entity license for any business entity involved in or related to a licensee’s practice. If an individual licensee is the “business representative” for a business entity, that individual, as the director, manager, member, officer, owner or partner of the business entity, must make sure their broker’s license is renewed and 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 broker’s license is not renewed, the firm cannot engage in brokerage activities until the license is renewed. Furthermore, licensees associated with the firm may not provide brokerage services until the firm’s license is renewed or they associate with another licensed firm. 

In addition, the business representative for the firm must 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 https://dsps.wi.gov/Pages/Professions/REBusinessEntity/Default.aspx

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

7. Reporting criminal convictions 

Wis. Stat. § 452.12(5)(d) requires that a person applying for renewal of a broker’s or salesperson’s license complete a form asking whether the renewal applicant has been convicted of a crime since they last renewed the license or, for the first renewal, since they 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 the DSPS has the authority to investigate 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. 

Truth be told, real estate licensees must report to the REEB within 48 hours of the judgment any time they are convicted of a crime in accordance with Wis. Admin. Code § REEB 24.17. A crime is conduct that is prohibited by state law and punishable by fine or imprisonment or both. A crime punishable by imprisonment in the Wisconsin state prisons is a felony. Every other crime is a misdemeanor. Conduct punishable only by a forfeiture is not a crime — for example, a no-call violation or many traffic offenses. 

The REEB determines whether the circumstances of the crime are substantially related to the practice of real estate and makes a case-by-case decision upon consideration of the factors listed in Wis. Stat. § 425.25(1)(c). The REEB may revoke the license or impose other discipline if the licensee was convicted of a felony. Failing to immediately report a criminal conviction that later comes to the attention of the REEB will not put the licensee in good favor and may result in discipline.

8. 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 or delinquent unemployment insurance contributions 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/Pages/FAQS/ise-occupa.aspx and the Department of Children and Families information regarding Denying, Restricting, Suspending, or Not Renewing 
a License at dcf.wisconsin.gov/cs/enforce/license.  

9. Firm supervision oversight

Wis. Stat. § 452.132(2)(c) requires each firm to confirm that each agent associated with the firm has renewed their real estate license at the beginning of each biennium and is properly licensed. If an individual’s renewal application has not been timely filed, 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 file a Form #766 Notice of Termination of Employment of Broker or Salesperson with 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.

10. The WRA is not the DSPS!

Please don’t be confused! This article is about renewing your real estate license with the state. This 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 your REALTOR® organization. REALTOR® membership is renewed every year and requires payment of annual REALTOR® dues. The two are entirely different! You must, however, have a current, valid real estate license to be eligible for REALTOR® membership. 

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. If a licensee’s legal status as a qualified alien or nonimmigrant lawfully present in the U.S. has changed since the issuance of the original license, the licensee should contact the DSPS at 608-266-2112 or dsps@wisconsin.gov.

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

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