When it comes to buying or selling real estate, it is one of the most significant transactions that you will ever make in your life. That’s why it is crucial to work with someone who is knowledgeable, experienced, and trustworthy. Unfortunately, not all real estate agents are created equal. Some may try to take advantage of you by engaging in fraudulent activities, such as misrepresenting property details or taking commissions they are not entitled to. These types of scams can result in significant financial losses and can cause a lot of stress and frustration.
By verifying a real estate broker’s license, you can protect yourself from potential fraud and legal issues. This process involves checking if the broker has met the state’s requirements to operate as a real estate agent. You can do this by checking the California Department of Real Estate’s license lookup tool, which provides information about the broker’s name, license number, expiration date, and any disciplinary actions or restrictions on the license.
Why Do I Need to Verify Someone’s Real Estate License?
Working with a licensed real estate agent can give you peace of mind throughout the buying or selling process. The licensing process requires agents to undergo rigorous training, pass an exam, and adhere to strict ethical and legal standards. By choosing to work with a licensed agent, you are not only protecting yourself from potential fraud, but you are also ensuring that you receive quality service and support throughout the entire process. Licensed agents have access to the latest tools, information, and resources that can help you make informed decisions about your real estate transaction. Additionally, licensed agents are required to disclose any known issues or defects with a property, which can help you avoid any costly surprises down the road. Overall, by choosing to work with a licensed real estate agent, you are making a smart investment in your future and protecting yourself from potential legal and financial issues.
How To Verify a California Real Estate License
Verifying a real estate salesperson or broker’s license is a simple process that can be done online. The California Department of Real Estate (DRE) has an online license lookup tool that allows you to check the status of a broker’s license. The tool provides information about the broker’s name, license number, expiration date, and any disciplinary actions or restrictions on the license. You can also verify the license status of a salesperson, corporation, or partnership associated with the broker. Additionally, you can check if the broker has any additional licenses or certifications, such as a notary public license.
With that being said, here are the steps you can take to verify a California Real Estate License:
- Go to the California Department of Real Estate’s website (DRE) at https://www.dre.ca.gov/.
- Click on “Licensees” in the top menu bar, then click on “Verify a License” in the dropdown menu.
- On the Licensee Search page, enter the name or license number in the search fields of who you wish to verify and click “Search.”
- Review the search results to find the licensee you are looking for. The search results will show the licensee’s name, license type, license id number, and current license status of the real estate agent.
- Verify the licensee’s information matches what you are expecting. If you have any doubts or concerns, you can find all of the DRE contact information here: https://www.dre.ca.gov/Contact.html
It is illegal for an unlicensed individual to conduct real estate transactions in California. If you end up dealing with a real estate broker that does not have their California real estate License there are steps you can and should take against them. These are the steps you will need to take if you believe you have been dealing with a fraudulent real estate agent:
- Stop working with the unlicensed broker: This may seem like an obvious first step however people might continue working with an agent if they are already invested financially. However, there are ways to reclaim stolen finances from this person and by ceasing to work with them you will also stop the potential for further loss or more legal issues.
- Seek Legal Advice: If you are suspicious that an agent is operating without a license it is a good idea to speak with a lawyer. They will be able to hopefully investigate your suspicions further and give you advice on what to do next from a legal standpoint.
- Gather information: If you are going to take action against this person it will likely be in the form of a complaint to the Department of Real Estate. This could be emails, texts, bank statements, etc. The more information you are able to provide them with the easier it will be for them to take action.
- Find any Witnesses: If someone witnessed this real estate agent telling you information you now suspect is not true, get their information. Your witness information should include a name, address, phone number, and written statement if possible.
- Fill Out a Complaint Form: The form to file an official complaint with the Department of Real Estate can be found here: https://www.dre.ca.gov/files/pdf/forms/re519.pdf. On this form you will be asked to provide a statement about what happened. Do your best to include as much detail as possible such as full names, times, and dates. When your complaint is received it will be reviewed and someone from the DRE will reach out to you with the findings or to request more information if it is needed.
- Testify: You may be asked to testify in court if it is found that the broker is indeed fraudulent. In California, it is illegal to operate without a real estate license so an administrative hearing will likely be held to resolve the matter. If this happens, review your complaint to refresh your mind before and tell the truth about what you experienced.
If there is compelling and clear evidence that the broker is illegitimate then the California bureau will take further steps. The broker will then be seen and possibly disciplined by a judge.
By checking the license of a real estate agent prior to working with them you are ensuring that you are protected legally and that the person that you are working with has all the necessary credentials. It is a quick and easy step to take that can help you avoid a lot of problems in the future.
If you have dealt with any of the issues listed above, searching for real estate agents moving forward may feel stressful. If you feel wary from a previous experience we recommend looking for someone that has reputable business reviews. It is important to remember that if you end up working with an illegitimate real estate agent that it is okay and it is not your fault. People who pose as something they are not are likely highly manipulative and deceitful. You are likely not the first victim, but you can prevent others from experiencing this through taking action and filing a complaint. If you think someone you know may be dealing with an illegitimate real estate broker, consider sharing this information with them and encourage them to investigate.