A District requirements that applicants for brokers and agents licenses have 45 hours of educational training in the principles of real estate has been rescinded little more than a week after it went into effect. The D.C. Real Commission was forced to cancel the directive earlier this month after the acting Corporation Counsel ruled that it had exceeded its authority.
This leaves the District as one of the few jurisdictions in the country where anyone 18 years old and able to speak English can walk in off the street, take the exam and get a real estate license, according to commissioner Noah P. Moore.
David Krause, chief of the Occupational and Professional Licensing division, said that approximately 100 persons take the exam each month, compared with 50 to 75 a month a year or so ago. Special cram schools exist to prepare applicants for the D.C. exam, he added.
As a result of the boom in home sales and liberal licensing laws, there are now between 6,000 and 7,000 licensed brokers and sales representatives in the Nation's Capital. Theoretically that means that one out of every 100 District residents is in the real estate business, although in reality only a portion of those licenses are active.
For those actively engaged, the National Association of Realtors reports sizeable increases in income. Nationwide, broker's median income has climbed to $28,000 annually from $24,000 three years ago, a 17 percent increase. Sales representatives' incomes have gone up nearly 20 percent, from $12,000 to $14,000.
Male brokers reported considerably higher income than did females, $30,000 compared with $19,500. Male agents reported a median income of $17,000. Female agents, a number of whom work part-time, had a median income of $12,000.
The increase in licenses has been accompanied by an increase in complaints, as much for suspected incompetency as for alleged dishonesty, the commission said. Complaints included charges that agents withheld deposits, mismanaged property, made false promises and other misrepresentations, the commission said.
The commission reported that it received approximately 100 complaints in the past six months, the same number received in the preceding two years. In 1975, there were seven complaints.
As a result of all the complaints one broker was reprimanded and another was suspended for 60 days for selling property without the owner's written agreement, the commission said. Both actions took place this summer.
Three persons operating without licenses were handed over to prosecutors and one was convicted and fined $300, the commission said. Approximately half of the complaints were dismissed at the start and the rest, apart from those still pending, were invetigated and terminated without action against the agent or broker, the commission said.
One problem facing real estate professional licensed solely in the District is lack of reciprocity. Maryland and Virginia both require pre-exam educational training in a degree-granting institution. Three year ago Maryland announced that it would no longer agree to grant a Maryland license upon presentation of a D.C. license unless the holder took the academic courses.
In order that D.C. licensees could get reciprocity on equal terms and to cut out some of the abuses, the D.C. commission gave notice July 14 that future applicants would have to furnish proof of 45 hours of courses, including three in District law. The commission had arranged for qualifying courses to be offered at American and Howard universities and Strayer College.
When, after five weeks no comments were received from the public or governmental authorities, the commission ordered that the educational requirement take effect on Sept. 1. On Sept. 8, Louis P. Robbins, acting Corporation Counsel, at the request of city administrator Julian Dugas, ruled the commission had exceeded its authority.
A commission member said the Mayor's office had received a complaint from a Virginia woman who had failed the exam there and wanted to get a license in the District without having to go to school.
A Moore said the commission will now seek to get emergency legislation passed by the City Council.