Four IDFPR Website Features Every Sponsoring Broker Should Use

Computer_Phone_Notebook_IDFPROver the past few years, the Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation (IDFPR) has taken big steps to offer more information and services at its website. The resulting features offer some efficiencies that most real estate sponsoring brokers haven’t yet discovered. Here are four features you should use:

  1. This easy-to-use lookup tool enables consumers, licensees, and others to check the status of a professional license. For sponsoring brokers, it offers these important features:

    • Check to see whether your personal or business license is in good standing. (Look for an “ACTIVE” status.)
    • View a list of all licensees (e.g., Managing Brokers, Brokers, Leasing Agents) who the sponsoring broker currently sponsors. (See the list of “subordinate” licensees.)
    • Using the above list, you can confirm that the sponsored licensees have an “ACTIVE” status. TIP: It’s especially important to do so at the start of a renewal period. It’s not uncommon for licensees to overlook the renewal … and you need to be sure that they are currently licensed to practice.

  2. Use this feature to print an official copy of your license(s). This is especially important for sponsoring brokers, who are still required to display a copy of the license for each sponsored licensee or have licenses available for viewing upon request.

  3. Using the Online Services Portal, individuals and businesses can apply for a new license. This currently includes:

    • Leasing Agent, Broker, and Managing Broker license candidates who recently passed the state exam
    • Pre-License and Continuing Education Instructor candidates
    • Real Estate Businesses, including Corporations and LLCs
    • Real Estate Branch Offices

    New licensee candidates should be encouraged to use this system, which offers faster processing and online payment of the license fee(s).

  4. This is a big one. Now, sponsoring and sponsored licensees can request a change of sponsor without relying on paper forms. This means that it’s no longer necessary to use the 45-day sponsor card and mail in the corresponding form and fees to the state.

    To use this feature, you must create an account and login to the Online Services Portal . Once logged in, click the Online Services menu, then Licensure Options.
    Online Services Menu

    Using this feature to initiate a change of sponsor request will trigger an automated, online process. The terminating sponsoring broker, new sponsoring broker and licensees will all be notified of the request by e-mail. Below is an example of the message a sponsoring broker might receive.

    Four IDFPR Website Features Every Sponsoring Broker Should Use - E-Mail

    The affected licensees will have three days to respond affirmatively. If the required approvals are not provided, the request will be cancelled.

    TIP: Be sure to have your e-mail address on file with the IDFPR. You can provide or update that here.

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Should Real Estate Agents Be Worried About Processing Delays at the IDFPR?

Changing Sponsoring Brokers – A Quick Summary
Illinois real estate licensees typically only submit forms to the IDFPR’s Division of Real Estate only once every two years, when it’s time to renew their licenses.  (For Brokers, that time is approaching once again.)  However, you also rely on the IDFPR to process an application if you become sponsored by a new Managing Broker sometime during your license renewal period.

The process to change sponsors is pretty straightforward, as summarized here:

  1. Notify your current sponsor that you no longer wish to be sponsored.  The current sponsor will terminate your license by signing the back of it before returning it to you. (Your license should have been on display at your office location. Your pocket card is not your license.)
  2. Complete the IDFPR’s 45-Day Permit Sponsor Card form.  Provide the form to your new sponsoring broker, so that he or she may complete the bottom section of the form.
  3. Make two copies – one for you and one for your new sponsoring broker.
  4. Within 24 hours, mail the original form, your old (terminated) license and the required $25 processing fee to the IDFPR.

Your copy of the form will serve as a 45-day permit while you’re waiting for the IDFPR to process the form and mail your new license.

Does it Really Take Less Than 45 Days?
Until recently, the Division of Real Estate had been processing license applications and other forms rather promptly.  This was no small feat, since just a few employees at the division process more than 15,000 termination and sponsor change requests every year!

Unfortunately, reductions in staff have led to delays in processing documents like these.  In fact, some applications are taking more than 45 days to process.  

So, What Happens When Your Permit Expires?
Most notably, you would not be able to provide a copy of your license to customers or your sponsoring broker.  Of course, this is just a temporary problem and no fault of your own.

Recently, the division advised that it is doing its best to manage the situation and understands that such a delay would impact licensees.  To mitigate the issue, the division indicated that it will allow these licensees to complete and submit a duplicate 45-Day Permit Sponsor Card – without the $25 payment.  You may reference a copy of this document as needed.  Meanwhile, the division will be working to clear out the backlog and issue your new license as quickly as practicable.

A Word To the Wise…
As you might imagine, the Division’s staff will be under much more pressure we proceed into the upcoming Broker’s license renewal season.  Brokers should look to complete their continuing education requirement early and apply for their new license as soon as permitted (early next year.)  That way, you’ll be out in front of the line!

When the IDFPR Comes Knocking at Your Door, Will You Survive an Audit?

“Knock, knock.”
“Who’s there?”
“It’s the Real Estate Professional Examiner from IDFPR assigned to review your real estate business!”

As a Sponsoring Broker, you must be prepared to open the door when the Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation (IDFPR) comes knocking. Will you be ready?

Sponsoring Brokers who are selected for an audit will receive a letter from the IDFPR establishing a time for an on-site inspection or a request to complete a Brokerage Verification Report.

Am I exempt from an audit?

Some of you are thinking that these audits do not apply to you because you…

  • Are a self-sponsored Managing Broker operating out of your home with no sponsored licensees.
  • Have not been engaged in any real estate transaction for the past few years.
  • Do not maintain any escrow accounts.

You might be surprised to learn that there are NO exceptions to IDFPR audits. If you are a Sponsoring Broker, an audit is always a possibilityYou must be prepared to participate in a compliance review at the request of the IDFPR.

How does a Sponsoring Broker survive an IDFPR audit?

Here are a few of the office compliance questions that Sponsoring Brokers must be prepared to answer:

  • Place of business: Do you maintain a definite place of business?
  • Identification sign: Is your real estate office located in a separate and distinct area, away from any retail or financial business establishments?
  • Licenses readily availed: Is your license (and those of all sponsored licensees) current and readily available to the public at the sponsoring place of business?
  • Assumed name requirements: Do you operate under an assumed name (DBA) or any name other than what appears on your license?

The IDFPR may review other sections from the Brokerage Verification Form in the examination. They are:

  • Company Licensure
  • Brokerage Agreements and Contracts
  • Advertising
  • Supervision
  • Licensee, Agents and Assistants
  • Escrow
  • Advertising

State-approved continuing education courses should provide more information. This renewal season, Managing Brokers are required to attend a new 12-hour Broker Management program. Attending Broker Management CE may be one of the easiest ways to learn additional IDFPR audit requirements. This course will provide you with a clearer understanding of compliance issues by helping you apply the law to real-life situations.

For additional compliance information, review the Real Estate License Act and Administrative Rules.