Real Estate Commission
Executive Summary

Issue Area 1: The Commission's proactive enforcement by its full-time investigator appears to decrease disciplinary activity when compared to surrounding states's real estate licensure agencies.

West Virginia's Real Estate Commission ranks last among the States listed in the number of disciplinary actions taken each year, while at the same time, the Commission consistently receives the smallest proportional and absolute number of complaints regarding its licensees. Data indicate that while the Commission is less active with respect to disciplinary actions, there appears to a lower level of demand for disciplinary actions in West Virginia than in surrounding states given the much smaller numbers of licensees and complaints. While the Commission takes fewer disciplinary actions per 1,000 licensees than surrounding states, this may be the result of a determined and proactive enforcement effort, since the investigator employed by the Commission conducts 300-400 compliance reviews among licensed brokers annually. This may result in a decreased incidence of serious violations.

Issue Area 2: The Commission should limit future expenditure increases in response to falling revenues and to maintain its self-sufficiency.

Expenditure patterns for the Commission have changed considerably during the period from FY 1994 to FY 1999. Total revenues decreased slightly, but steadily from FY 1994 to FY 1999. At the same time, total disbursements have risen sharply each year. Given the historical trend towards decreasing numbers of licensees and therefore reduced licensure revenue, and the fact that the fewest number of applicants over the period studied sat for exams in FY 1999, the Real Estate Commission should be prepared for further decreases in total revenues. The Commission should, therefore, take steps to ensure that the historic trend towards sharply increasing expenditures does not continue in future years. The Commission does, on the other hand, have approximately twice its annual budget in its account. This means that the Commission's funding needs for the immediate future can be met without increasing licensure fees.

Recommendation 1:
The Commission should take measures to limit the growth of future expenditure levels in response to falling revenues.

Issue Area 3: The Commission has developed an easy to use Web site with links to a wide range of information relevant for real estate brokers, salespersons and the public.

In addition to containing the West Virginia license law and administrative regulations, the Web site has links to general information on the Commission including its authority with respect to the filing of complaints and directions to the Commission's office and the testing site. The public is directed to contact the Commission in order to obtain complaint forms as they are not available on-line. The Web site also provides links to information necessary for obtaining a license such as exam application deadlines and testing dates as well as a description of testing procedures. Another set of links provides information on pre-licensing education and continuing education requirements, as well as education providers. Downloads available include application forms needed by different classes of licensees, as well as other forms needed by licensees. The availability of these documents on-line greatly facilitates licensees' adherence to the various reporting and documentation requirements of the Code. The Commission has clearly sought to make maximum use of the Internet to provide information to its licensees.

Recommendation 2:
The Commission should continue to maintain the wide range of information and documents currently available on its Web site.

Recommendation 3:
The Commission should enhance its website by adding a printable complaint form to it.