Are Final Exams Required for Real Estate License Renewal?

Empty_chairsOn January 1, 2018, amendments to the Illinois Real Estate License Act took effect. While most of the changes are subtle, there is already an impact for Illinois Real Estate Brokers. Over the past few weeks, our customer service team has been getting lots of questions about the changes. Here is the key question and answer…

Do the license law changes impact your 2018 Broker license renewal?

Yes, but not in a significant way.

Although the amended license law makes some changes to curriculum and the way courses can be offered, most of the impact of those changes won’t be felt until the next license renewal period. That’s because there’s another step in the process. The state must first establish administrative rules that implement many of the changes.

Even so, the Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Education (IDFPR) recently indicated that some aspects of the amended license law are very clear and may be implemented in advance of the rulemaking process. This has led to some confusion among licensees.

Impact on Broker Continuing Education

As a reminder, most Illinois Brokers must complete 12 hours of continuing education before renewing their licenses. The IDFPR understands that with the Brokers’ two-year license renewal period nearly complete, it would be unfair to make changes that significantly change the CE requirements before the April 30, 2018, deadline.

That means you can stick with the tried-and-true way you’ve completed CE for previous renewal seasons. No need to change it up unless you really want to. For most licensees, that takes the form of a simple self-study program.

In addition to self-study programs, licensees sometimes attend classes or webinars to earn CE credit. You may be pleased to learn that if you attend a live, interactive CE course via classroom or webinar, you are no longer required to complete a final exam for that course. Keep in mind that you must attend the entire course. (Attending review classes for self-study CE courses is not permitted.)

Attending 12 hours (at least two days) of live training is not for everyone, and you may be looking for another way to avoid a self-study course with a final exam. If you’re feeling a little adventurous and willing to try something new, Online Distance Education may interest you. This new interactive course delivery method just became available under the amended license law. Online Distance Education is a modern approach to self-study that has some pros and cons, depending on your perspective:


No one relishes the idea of taking a test. It’s important to know that although a final exam is not required with Online Distance Education courses, there must be interactivity, which includes quizzes/knowledge checks along the way to make sure you’ve gone through the entire course.

Impact on Broker Post-License Education

Brokers whose licenses were issued after February 1, 2016, will be renewing their licenses for the very first time. This group of licensees is required to complete a 30-hour Post-License Education program in lieu of continuing education for their first renewal. This program consists of two courses:

  • 15-Hour Broker Post-License Topics
  • 15-Hour Broker Post-License Applied Real Estate Practices (Interactive)

If you’re among those who need to complete post-license education by April 30, you’ll be happy to know that the “Applied” course, which requires interactive delivery, no longer requires a final exam! This means that a final exam will only be required for the “Topics” course and only when completed in a self-study format.

While it may be possible to attend the “Topics” course in a class or webinar format, our student feedback indicates that independent study is strongly preferred. Attending an extra two days of classes/webinars is challenging for anyone, especially new brokers trying to build their businesses. Until now, that left only a self-study course option, which includes a final exam. (Although nobody looks forward to a final exam, the 25-question exam is based on the school’s course and is really no big deal… and there is no state license exam to follow.)

As mentioned above, the new course delivery method, Online Distance Education, lets Brokers avoid a course final exam without any extra class or webinar attendance. This format is a great fit for students who are open to online courses.

For most students, completing the “Topics” course via Online Distance Education and the “Applied” course via webinar will be the winning combination. “Applied” webinars reinforce the concepts learned in the “Topics” course by providing live interaction and feedback from expert educators. This makes it possible for post-license students to complete all their coursework online, choosing their own schedule, without any final exams!

In summary, the course format you choose will determine whether a final exam is required.


Real Estate Institute has been a leader in real estate education for 25 years. Our team of experts is standing by to answer your questions about your requirements, our courses and the renewal process. Please don’t hesitate to contact us at 800-995-1700.


Should a Career in Real Estate Be Your New Year’s Resolution?

key-2323278_1920No time like the present!

New year, new you!

2018 will be the year I…

When the calendar turns the page from one year to the next, it’s human nature to sit back and contemplate what the previous year’s experiences taught us. Self-reflections may include questions like:

Did I do what I set out to do last year?
Am I happy with the choices I made?

Sometimes we know we are just where we’re supposed to be. Other times, we know we’re on the right path but not quite there yet. A new year offers us not only the opportunity to assess the previous year but also the chance to look ahead toward great possibilities. For many of us, it means a clean slate. We leave behind the things that aren’t bringing out our best, and we grow excited as we seek other avenues where we can develop our talents.

Here at Real Estate Institute, we’re fortunate to experience the excitement and eagerness of these seekers every single day. Something finally clicks in their minds and, before you know it, we have a new classroom filled with real estate pre-license students, eager to learn and excited to begin the process of exploring a new career path. They’re taking a first step that can lead to…

happiness, self-direction, the possibility of unlimited income,
helping others fulfill their dreams, loving what they do, freedom…

Happiness means something different for everyone. Only you can determine what it means for you. What we know for sure is that the opportunities you will find at the end of your broker pre-license course are endless and only limited by your own imagination. How much can you imagine?

Why not learn about what a career in real estate can offer you? Just think, if you start your broker pre-license education now, you can get licensed and start working for a real estate company just in time for the upcoming spring market.

We welcome the opportunity to discuss how you can begin to make your dreams a reality. You can learn more about Illinois real estate pre-license programs by attending one of our upcoming free real estate information sessions or by visiting us at InstituteOnline.com.


Real Estate Institute has been a leader in real estate education for 25 years. Our team of experts is standing by to answer your questions about your requirements, our courses and the state licensing process. Please don’t hesitate to contact us at 800-995-1700.

3 Tips for a Successful (and On-Time) MLO License Renewal

Hand writing the text: Time to RenewIt’s difficult to believe that another year has come and gone, and the license renewal period for Mortgage Loan Originators is now in full-swing. While this time of year generally involves visions of turkeys, football and sugarplums dancing in heads, let’s not forget that our careers also need some tending to prior to the end of the year. Here are some tips to make sure that the Grinch doesn’t steal your ability to originate loans in 2018.

  1. DON’T WAIT UNTIL DECEMBER 31!
    While it’s true that the federal SAFE Act sets a December 31 deadline for an on-time renewal application, waiting until the last minute won’t give the licensing agency time to process and approve your application before January 1. Some states will not allow you to originate new business (even with a timely renewal request) until your application has been formally approved, meaning that you will not be able to take applications or review loan terms with new clients until this happens; doing so could land you in hot water with your regulator and face discipline for unlicensed activity. Other States (like Georgia) have earlier deadlines for submitting on-time renewal requests, so please make sure you know the requirements for each state in which you’re licensed. For those of you in Illinois, the IDFPR will only guarantee that your renewal request will be processed before January 1 if you submit it by December 1.

  2. COMPLETE YOUR EDUCATION EARLY

    Most states will not let you submit a license renewal request through NMLS unless you’ve completed your continuing education requirement. Seems simple enough, right? Just do the education on December 30th and renew on the 31st! Unfortunately, to quote a recent nationwide commercial sensation, “That’s not how this works.”

    Course providers have seven days from the day you complete your education to report your hours to NMLS. This means that the latest you can complete education (in most states) and still be guaranteed a timely renewal is December 23. Note that Real Estate Institute will report all course completions until 1:00 PM on Friday, December 29 to allow some extra time, but even WE don’t recommend waiting that long! The good news is, If you need to get your education done, we have options to meet your needs through the end of the year.

  3. REMEMBER TO CHECK YOUR NMLS RECORD AHEAD OF TIME

    When logging in to NMLS, the “individual dashboard” will tell you how many licenses you have that are eligible for renewal, and how many you are prevented from renewing (generally because of issues like outstanding education or a required fingerprint submission). You’ll need to address any “deficiencies” prior to being able to submit for renewal, and you can find out what those are by clicking on the number of licenses that cannot be renewed. (This will take you to the renewal page, where you’ll have to click “attest and pay” to see a list of licenses that are not eligible.)

    Don’t wait until the last minute to check your record; allow yourself time to address any issues that may come up. This is ESPECIALLY true for those of you licensed in many states, as it’s easier than you think to forget a state-specific education requirement.

If you follow these three tips, you should have an easy and pain-free license renewal, not to mention a more enjoyable holiday season. As always all of us at Real Estate Institute appreciate your time and business, and we wish you the best for a successful 2018.

Happy Holidays!

Peter

IDFPR Introduces Online Licensing for Real Estate

Hands_Typing_on_Laptop
Streamlining New License Application Processing

Over the past two years, the Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation (IDFPR) has moved to implement more efficient processes that streamline the ways we interact with government.

This month, the Real Estate Division took a big step forward with the introduction of an online licensing process for new license applicants. Initially, this feature is being offered to Brokers and other individuals who have recently passed a state licensing examination.

What License Applicants Should Know

Up until now, individuals who passed the state license examination (currently administered by PSI/AMP) were required to complete and submit paperwork that is provided to them immediately after their examination. Because Illinois Real Estate Brokers are required to be sponsored by a Managing Broker, they must identify which person or company will sponsor their license. A license cannot be issued without a sponsoring broker.

While the paper-based process is still available (for now), information about successful exam completions is now being transmitted from PSI/AMP to the IDFPR. Upon receipt and processing, the IDFPR will send the individual an e-mail that invites them to apply online for their new license. The online application process eliminates the need to submit paperwork and payments by mail.

Applicants who take advantage of the new online portal will enter all required information electronically, including attachment of required documents and payment – by credit card or electronic check. Importantly, the applicant will be required to identify the sponsoring/managing broker with whom they seek to affiliate. Once submitted, the applicant will be able to monitor the status of their application. Upon approval by the IDFPR and sponsoring broker, the applicant will receive an e-mail notification that their new license has been issued.

What Sponsoring and Managing Brokers Need to Know (and Do)

This new process impacts two major areas for sponsoring brokers:

  1. 45-day permit sponsor cards
    With the traditional paper application process, there was a long delay that resulted from mailing, check processing, and application review. The 45-day permit helped to eliminate bottlenecks and enabled new licensees to get to work quickly. With the introduction of online licensing, most of these bottlenecks have been eliminated, which means that new license applications can be approved in just a few days. As such, there is no longer a need for sponsors to issue a 45-day permit.

  2. Online approval (or rejection) of sponsorship requests from licensees
    As new license applicants submit their online application, they will be required to choose their sponsoring/managing broker. (The IDFPR website will provide a list they may search/choose from.) As part of the application approval process, an e-mail will be sent to the sponsoring/managing broker with a notification that directs them to log in and approve or reject the applicant’s request. Therefore, it’s critical that sponsoring licensees have a valid e-mail address on-file with the IDFPR and monitor their inbox for these important messages. (Messages will be sent by FPR.Notice@Illinois.gov)

What’s Next?

Development of the online licensing portal is ongoing and soon, an online application process will be available to real estate business license applicants (Corporations, Partnerships, and LLCs). Sometime later, sponsoring and sponsored licensees will be able to request and approve sponsorship changes through an online process.


Real Estate Institute has been a top real estate education provider in Illinois for 25 years. Our students have consistently outperformed other state exam candidates. A reputation for highly-rated instructors and superior customer service explains why we have over 150,000 alumni nationwide.

New Brokers’ Quick Guide to the First Real Estate License Renewal

Hands_holding_green_apple
We always advise Broker Pre-License students about their Post-License Education and Continuing Education (CE) requirements, once they successfully pass our school final exam and the state licensing exam. But during all the terminology, laws and rules that they are studying and learning, the nuances of required education and license renewal can be easily forgotten. Here is a quick guide to help new Brokers navigate and understand what is required.

Education Overview

All Real Estate Brokers licensed by the Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation (IDFPR) are required to complete education during each two-year license renewal period (by April 30 in even numbered years). As a follow up to their pre-license education, newly licensed Brokers are required to take a 30-hour Post-License Education program during their first renewal. All subsequent renewals require a 12- hour Continuing Education program. In a previous blog, we discussed changes to the license law and how it will impact Brokers.

What does the law say about Brokers and their first license renewal period?

Brokers are required to complete 30 hours of post-license education, including a school-administered examination for the course, prior to their first renewal of that license. This course must address the practical application of pre-license topics to the practice of real estate as set forth in law. Furthermore, Brokers completing the 30-hour Post-License program during their first renewal period shall not be required to complete any continuing education during that renewal period. The 30-hour Post-License requirement must be completed within the two years immediately prior to the Broker’s first renewal.

How does this affect you?

  • If you received your first Broker’s license between February 1, 2016 and January 31, 2018, you will need to complete a 30-hour Post-License program by the April 30, 2018 renewal deadline.
  • If you will be issued your first license after February 1, 2018, you do not need to take the 30-hour Post-License program this renewal period. You will need post-license education by April 30, 2020.

What should you do?

First, determine when your license was issued by the IDFPR. You can call us – we are happy to provide you with this information. Or you can find your license issue date on the IDFPR website. If you are uncertain about education requirements and how they pertain to you, call an IDFPR-approved pre-license and continuing education provider for more information.


Real Estate Institute has been a leader in real estate education for 25 years. Our team of experts is standing by to answer your questions about your requirements, our courses and the renewal process. Please don’t hesitate to contact us at 800-995-1700.

The One Resource Your Real Estate Brokerage Might Be Missing

Hands_Holding_String_of_LightsBookkeeping, recruiting, marketing, budgeting … the list of demands on a managing broker or office manager is long and varied.  From budgeting software to interior design, real estate brokerages rely on tools, resources, and consultants to get the job done efficiently and effectively.  While it may or may not be immediately apparent, a relationship with an IDFPR-approved real estate school can go a long way to help with compliance and recruiting.  When selecting a school to support your office success, make sure it has the following resources.

  • Customer Service Team – You need a school with a team of individuals dedicated to helping your agents.  A good customer service team is not only knowledgeable about the school’s courses, but can answer questions about initial licensing and the licensing renewal processes.   
  • Designated Contact – Sometimes, managing brokers and managers have questions or concerns with company compliance.  Organizing continuing education for the office or questions about the licensing process during an acquisition, for example, are very common issues that a school can assist with.  Having a designated contact who can help you address these issues can be an invaluable resource during stressful times.
  • Helpful Resources – Understanding the needs of a real estate business should be important to the school.  Tools to help you recruit new agents and maintain the ones you have should be available from the school you choose.

If you have any questions about how Real Estate Institute can help, visit our Contact Us page or call Tanya Rinsky, Director of Strategic Client Relationships, at (847) 423-5006.

Will License Law Changes Impact Illinois Real Estate Brokers?

springfield-1648402_1920There are major changes on the horizon that will impact Illinois real estate licensees and education required for license renewals.

License Law Amendment

On Friday, August 18, 2017, Gov. Bruce Rauner signed HB3528 into law. This updates the Real Estate License Act with changes intended to streamline and modernize various aspects of the law. Some highlighted changes include a restructuring of the Education Advisory Council (EAC), new requirements for school and instructor licensing and requirements for education program content and methods of delivery.

Upcoming Broker License Renewal

With a Real Estate Broker license renewal quickly approaching, we should first take a closer look at how the license law amendments impact (or may not impact) this large group of licensees.

In summary, continuing education requirements will be updated as follows:

  1. The mandatory 3-hour “Core A” curriculum will be replaced by a 4-hour “Core” course. Brokers and Managing Brokers will be required to attend this course via classroom, live webinar or online distance education (a new option for which details are not yet available). The good news – a final exam will not be required!
  2. The remaining 8 hours will continue to be elective credits. A variety of delivery options will be available. Delivery methods with mandatory final exams will require a passing score of 75%. (Currently, a passing score of only 70% is required.)

How Soon?

The Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation (IDFPR) still has many details to sort out before any changes to license law can be implemented. For example, the new “Core” curriculum needs to be clearly outlined before schools can create, seek approval and offer the new course. It will take the Real Estate Division many months to complete the rulemaking process, which won’t officially begin until January 1, 2018.

This means that most likely the full impact of these changes will not impact Brokers during their current renewal period.

What Should You Do?

We strongly recommend that Brokers stay on track and complete currently approved programs in a timely manner.

Real Estate Institute will continue to provide updates as the IDFPR develops implementation plans for the changes. Be sure to JOIN OUR MAILING LIST if you have not done so already.


Real Estate’s Leadership Crisis

question-mark-2492009_640

With over 94% of real estate brokerages running in the red, one of the biggest challenges we see in the industry is a crisis of finding and developing tomorrow’s company leaders.

The problem stems from the fact that most real estate brokerage managers/owners, despite being good salespeople who have risen to a certain level of success in their own real estate production, aren’t necessarily good business owners. Typically, these producers get fed up with current company leadership and start believing they can do it better. They then launch out on their own with their new company, only to fail more than 75% of the time.

So how do we help prevent this craziness? The answer is simple: Training.

Companies need to develop and/or outsource leadership development programs that can help train their own agents to be leaders. Unfortunately, most companies refuse to do this, out of fear that they’re simply training a future competitor. As a result, the task falls on trade organizations and real estate schools. The National Association of Realtors®, through its various member-only subsidiaries, used to have one of the best programs available to learn how to start, grow and maintain a successful brokerage. Unfortunately, over time this program became watered-down and has virtually disappeared.

So, the gap in professional education falls to the real estate schools or seminar trainers/consultants. One such school in Illinois, Real Estate Institute, has launched a two-day program called “Building & Growing Your Real Estate Brokerage” in conjunction with my seminar company and based upon my book, “The Real Estate Entrepreneur.” This intensive crash course covers the essential information that future brokerage leaders should have before launching into company ownership, or at the very least, within the first two years of ownership.

The program covers such essential topics as:

  • The Importance of Your Company Vision
  • Your Niche
  • To Franchise or Not to Franchise
  • Policies and Procedures Issues
  • Commission Structures From the Inside Out
  • Targeting and Recruiting Agents
  • And More! 

This course will save a future broker-owner THOUSANDS of dollars in wasted time and energy. Kudos to the Real Estate Institute for stepping up and filling the leadership educational gap in our industry.



Cliff Perotti is a 32-year veteran in the real estate business and has consulted with some of the largest brokerages in the world.  He holds 11 national designations and is the author of “The Real Estate Entrepreneur… A guide to Launching & Growing a Real Estate Brokerage” (McGraw-Hill).


How CFPB’s Amendment to TRID Affects Your Business

TRID mazeThe Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) finalized an amendment to the TILA/RESPA Integrated Disclosure Rule (TRID) that has been in effect since October of 2015. While the rule makes no changes to the Loan Estimate or Closing Disclosure forms or their timelines for delivery, there are some items in the amendment that may affect your business processes, and we’ll take a quick look at them here.

  1. Information sharing with parties to the transaction: The new rule makes it clear that the borrower’s Closing Disclosure may be shared with other parties to the transaction (i.e. the real estate agent and the seller.) This codifies long-established practice in many States, and removes uncertainty that was thrown into the mix when the original TRID rule was promulgated. The CFPB is working on additional specific guidance on providing separate CD forms to the borrower and seller. NOTE: this Federal regulation will not change practices in any State that might explicitly prohibit such sharing of information at the state level.
  2. Housing Assistance / HFA Loans: In the final rule, the CFPB provides guidance that certain loans made by housing finance agencies and other non-profit housing groups will retain their partial disclosure exemption from the TRID rule even when recording fees and transfer taxes are charged to the borrower. The CFPB hopes that this will increase the number of these transactions that receive the exemption, thereby increasing the number of such loans made.
  3. Co-Op Loans to be Covered by TRID: The new rule extends the scope of TRID to cover all loans made on cooperative housing units (“Co-Ops”), where the buyer is technically buying into the Corporation running the housing project instead of purchasing real property in the traditional sense. Co-ops are quite prevalent in the New York metropolitan area, as well as elsewhere on the East Coast, and this change will probably have more impact on general business processes than the others listed here.
  4. Tolerance for Total of Payments Disclosure: Under the old TIL disclosure, the total of payments box was calculated specifically using the finance charge. With the roll-out of TRID, the marriage between finance charge and this disclosure was removed, but no accuracy tolerances were put in place. This rule changes that by adding an accuracy tolerance to the total of payments disclosure that mirrors the one that has been in place for the finance charge itself.

Finally, the CFPB also put out another request for comment on a proposal to address when creditors specifically may use a Closing Disclosure (instead of a Loan Estimate) to determine if a charge was disclosed in good faith. The uncertainty around acceptable situations for this has created what many compliance officers call the “black hole” – especially when closings are delayed. See the CFPB Website for more information.

The mandatory compliance date for all provisions of the rule listed above is OCTOBER 1, 2018.

Happy Originating,

Peter



Real Estate Institute offers top-rated Mortgage Loan Originator Continuing Education and Pre-License courses in all three formats: Classroom, Live Webinar and Online, Self-Study. These courses were designed BY loan originators FOR loan originators covering topics you need to know to navigate today’s ever-changing lending landscape.

2017 Illinois Managing Broker License Renewal in Two Simple Steps

Keep_it_Simple-Cropped
The Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation (IDFPR) is now accepting Managing Broker license renewal applications. Follow these instructions for a timely renewal:

Step 1 – Complete 24 Credit Hours of Continuing Education

Illinois real estate Managing Brokers need a total of 24 hours of continuing education (CE) which includes:
12 hours of core and elective CE 
(via self-study, online or classes) plus 12 hours of interactive Broker Management CE (via classes or live webinars).

The current Managing Broker renewal period began May 1, 2015, and ends April 30, 2017. If you complete continuing education courses with Real Estate Institute, our school reports your course completions to the IDFPR.

Exceptions

  • New Licensees: Managing Brokers who are in their first renewal period might not need 24 hours of CE in 2017. Licensees who completed the Managing Broker pre-license courses during the renewal period are exempt from the Broker Management CE requirement. These licensees are required to complete only 12 hours of core and elective continuing education.
  • Attorneys: Currently licensed Illinois attorneys are exempt from the education requirements! Don’t forget to submit your license renewal application. See below.


Step 2 – Submit Your New License Application

After you have completed your CE requirement, you must renew your license with the IDFPR. There are two ways to renew your license:

  1. Apply Online – The IDFPR permits online license renewal applications to be submitted up to 90 days before the license expires. This option allows you to complete the entire renewal application and pay online.  Click here to apply online.

  2. Mail Your Application – The IDFPR no longer mails licensees a pre-printed renewal application. However, you can print the form online. Select Print Renewal and enter the requested information. This application can be completed and returned with payment. If you use the paper application, we strongly recommend that you send it to the IDFPR via USPS Certified Mail so that you receive confirmation of delivery to the IDFPR. Delivery confirmation will be critical in the event of a delay in license renewal. It will take the IDFPR several weeks to process your application.

If you have questions about your education requirements for renewal, please call 800-995-1700 to speak to one of Real Estate Institute’s compliance experts. More information can also be found at InstituteOnline.com/Renew.