The District government now requires would-be real estate brokers to take a 135-hour course before they can apply for a broker's license -- but as of this week, it had no courses for the would-be brokers to attend.
Under the requirements of the D.C. Real Estate and Licensure Act of 1982, applicants for a broker's license must complete a 135-hour course of study by April 1, 1985. But only two schools have come forward with proposals to teach the required course, and the city has yet to approve their curricula, said Valerie J. Barry, city spokeswoman. The courses can be taken only at an institution approved by the District's Real Estate Commission. Previously, the city only required that candidates for broker's or agent's licenses pass an exam.
"The word is out that we need these courses, and we are confident that schools will respond," Barry said.
But real estate officials said last week they would expect the city to extend the April 1 deadline if courses are not made available soon.
"It makes little sense to maintain a standard that no one can meet," David Strachan, executive vice president of the Washington Board of Realtors, said this week. "A 135-hour course cannot be completed overnight."
Barry said the Real Estate Commission is expected to meet at the end of the month to review the two proposals -- she would not say who they are from -- it has under consideration. She said the commission expects that even more schools will offer proposals at that time.
"If not, then it is quite likely the deadline will be extended," she said. "But we believe we will have some more courses coming up" for consideration.
The 1982 act also requires that candidates for a real estate sales license take a 45-hour course of study before applying for a license, effective Dec. 1. Barry said the Real Estate Commission has approved plans to offer the course by 17 institutions, including the Arlington public schools, George Washington University, Strayer College and the University of the District of Columbia.
She said many more people apply for the sales license than a broker's license each year in Washington, but said she did not have precise figures. She said, though, that there are about 7,000 licensed real estate agents in the District.
Salespeople usually work for brokers, who need to be much more familiar with District laws and regulations, Strachan said.
Barry said the commission is requiring the new courses to ensure that licensed salespeople and brokers are qualified to sell property. "We are tightening up the procedure," she said. "The commission is playing watchdog."
The commission has released a detailed list of subjects that must be covered in the 135-hour broker's course to various schools and real estate institutes in the area to help them devise a curriculum. The course must include sessions on financing, contracts, title insurance, property taxes, property assessments, property management and how to run a real estate office.
The curriculum, designed in part by the Washington Area Real Estate Education Association, "is very thorough," Barry said. "We understand it will be a commitment to teach such a course, but we are confident we will have several qualified institutions to do so by next month," she said.