The ""California State Department of Real Estate"":http://www.dre.ca.gov (DRE) says it revoked a record number of real estate licenses for cause in 2009, and accepted another record number of license surrenders from real estate professionals facing[IMAGE]disciplinary action. All told, over 775 licensees in the state had their license revoked or simply surrendered their licenses while facing accusations last year.
Over the past two fiscal years, the DRE averaged 446 license revocations and 59 license surrenders. In 2009, license revocations jumped over 50 percent, to 672, while license surrenders skyrocketed nearly 80 percent to 105. The 122 cases that resulted in license suspensions in 2009 remained relatively unchanged from the 125 license suspensions averaged in the past two fiscal years.
The downturn in the real estate market is a big reason disciplinary actions are up, with foreclosure prevention cons a large contributing factor, the state department said.[COLUMN_BREAK]
""With so many people struggling to stay in their homes, foreclosure rescue and loan modification scams have risen dramatically,"" DRE Commissioner Jeff Davi said. ""And what is even more unsettling, a majority of offenders involved in loan modification scams are not even licensed, which limits a consumer's ability to obtain restitution or verify the legitimacy of a business.""
In 2009, the DRE initiated over 2,000 investigations involving loan modification complaints, which represents 25 percent of all cases. The department issued over 180 desist and refrain orders to nearly 348 different respondents performing loan modification services, ordering them to stop or change their business practices.
Of those, the DRE discovered 60 percent were not licensed and ordered them to cease licensed activity, including offering loan modification services. In addition, nearly 100 real estate licensees have been accused of violating the real estate law in connection with loan modification complaints. According to the DRE, many of the completed cases have been referred to law enforcement agencies for criminal prosecution.
In order to help inform consumers to stay away from the bad actors, the ""DRE posts on its website"":http://www.dre.ca.gov/cons_DandR.html all the recipients of desist and refrain orders and accusations in loan modification complaints along with a copy of the order. The department also makes real estate license verification available to consumers on its site.
Homeowners that are defrauded by a licensee and obtain a fraud judgment in civil court, but are unable to collect on the judgment, may be able to receive restitution from the DRE. The agency administers a recovery account for fraud victims that can pay a victim up to $50,000 for a transaction.