Indiana Real Estate License Defense Attorneys
As a real estate broker, your license is essential to your work. When unfounded complaints by disgruntled customers or associates or questions about your qualifications arise, you need immediate assistance to protect your career. Help from Indiana real estate license defense attorneys can be critical to protecting your license and livelihood.
The world of real estate sales can be rough, and it’s sometimes difficult to keep up with intense competition between buyers, sellers, and agents. Transactions can result in hurt feelings and one or more parties believing their financial positions have been compromised unfairly.
While legal action in the courts may be taken by some aggrieved parties, some parties choose to vent their frustrations by filing a complaint against the real estate agent involved. These complaints can threaten your status as a licensed agent and require the assistance of an Indiana real estate agent lawyer to protect your rights.
Why You Need Keffer Hirschauer LLP Indiana Real Estate License Defense Attorneys
Indiana sets licensing standards for many professions, including real estate agents. These requirements contain generically stated provisions to cover the basics for each profession as well as individual requirements for each licensed profession. Knowing where to find these licensing requirements and successfully navigating the process of defending your license against complaints require experienced guidance from Indiana real estate license defense attorneys.
Keffer Hirschauer LLP is dedicated to protecting the rights of its clients. We have decades of litigation experience safeguarding the individual and a deep understanding of professional license defense, we help real estate agents licensed in Indiana protect their hard-earned license and career.
Governance and Licensing of Indiana Real Estate Agents
Licensed Indiana real estate agents are governed by the Indiana Real Estate Commission (Commission), which is overseen by the Indiana Professional Licensing Agency (PLA). The Commission develops materials for the examination required for licensure; holds hearings to determine whether conduct described in a complaint happened and merits sanctions; and issues, revokes, or suspends real estate licenses as the situation requires.
The Indiana Code and regulations in the Indiana Administrative Code contain the legal requirements that Indiana real estate brokers must follow in order to remain licensed and avoid disciplinary action.
To be licensed, a broker must complete an approved 90-hour real estate course and score 75 percent or higher on the state’s real estate licensing exam. At this juncture, would-be brokers can apply for their Indiana real estate license. Following issuance of the license, a broker must complete an additional 30 hours of coursework.
Indiana real estate license defense attorneys from Keffer Hirschauer LLP can help you successfully navigate the application process.
The Indiana Administrative Code Defines Professional Incompetence
Fundamental to licensure is the requirement that real estate agents must be fit to engage in the profession. 876 Indiana Administrative Code § 8-2-7 describes professional incompetence, listing the following types of conduct that could subject a licensed real estate agent to sanctions:
- Failing to acknowledge and report to another regarding documents or funds that come into the agent’s possession
- Accepting or offering a rebate or inducement to get a listing or inducing a sale despite the lack of full disclosure in writing to all parties to the transaction at the time of the offer or acceptance
- Giving, accepting, or receiving an undisclosed direct profit on payments made incident to or related to a real estate transaction
- Acting as both an undisclosed agent and a broker in any transaction
- Authorizing, guaranteeing, or permitting any person to guarantee future profits from a resale of real property
- Listing or offering real property for sale, rent, lease, option, or exchange without the owner (or the owner’s authorized agent’s) written consent of or on terms other than those approved by the owner or owner’s authorized agent
- Persuading any party already contracted under a written agency agreement or sale contract to breach the same in order to substitute a new agreement or contract with someone else
- Accepting employment or payment contingent on a real estate appraisal report with a prearranged value
- Issuing a real estate appraisal report that does not disclose in writing to all parties the broker’s interest
- Soliciting and/or negotiating a sale, exchange, lease, or written agency agreement regarding real property directly with buyer, seller, lessor, or lessee if the broker knows that the party has written contract promising an agent exclusive rights in connection with the property unless the buyer, seller, lessor, or lessee initiates the action in writing prior to expiration of the agreement
- Acting as a broker representing, or attempting to represent, more than one Indiana broker company except as allowed by 876 IAC 8-1-1(a)
- Compensating or paying a commission to a person who is not licensed to perform the services that require a license
- Committing fraud or any act of material deception while engaging in conduct that require a license
- Otherwise violating IC 25-34.1 or 876 Indiana Administrative Code article 8
- Having been finally determined to have committed an unlawful discriminatory practice under the Indiana Civil Rights Act, Indiana Code article 22-9
In addition to these definitions conduct that is considered to be professional incompetence, other provisions of state law and administrative code direct how a real estate agent should conduct business, such as mandates on how to make offers, handle escrow payments, manage escrow/trust accounts, and split commissions.
In sum, the profession of a real estate agent is very complicated and involves many financial and ethical concerns. Unintentional mistakes are very possible during the course of your work. Compliance with all of the legal demands on a real estate agent is challenging, and failure puts your license—and your income—at risk.
Real estate agent license defense lawyers in Indianapolis are a necessary component to your defense against a complaint that threatens your real estate agent license. At Keffer Hirschauer LLP, we serve clients across the state in these all manner of professional license defense matters.
How Our Indiana Real Estate License Defense Attorneys Help You Through the Early Complaint Process
Complaints may come from customers, colleagues, other professionals, or even the Indiana Real Estate Commission. Regardless of the source of a complaint, all complaints must be in writing, signed by the complainant, and filed with the Consumer Protection Division of the Office of the Indiana Attorney General (AG).
Upon receiving a complaint, the director of the Consumer Protection Division reviews it to make an initial determination of merit and notify the license holder of the allegations, potential ramifications, and the Commission’s duty to try to settle the claims.
Upon finding merit to the allegations, the director forwards the complaint to the Commission but waits 30 days before beginning an investigation to allow the parties a chance to negotiate a settlement. If settled, the complaint and any information about it remain confidential.
The prospect of confidentiality is a real benefit to the settlement of a complaint. Letting an Indiana real estate agent professional liability lawyer help you through the negotiation process can increase your chance at resolving the matter quietly so you can move forward.
Later Stages Where Experienced Indiana Real Estate License Defense Attorneys Can Help
If the parties do not reach a settlement within 30 days, the director conducts an investigation to determine whether there is evidence to support the allegations and a need for disciplinary action. If so, the director forwards such findings and recommendations to the attorney general.
The attorney general has the discretion to determine whether to prosecute the case—with one exception: if the Commission votes unanimously for prosecution of the complaint, then the AG must comply.
Prosecution of a compliant requires a hearing before the Commission or its designee, such as an administrative law judge (ALJ). At the hearing, both parties—the real estate broker and the complainant—may present evidence. The Commission (or the ALJ) then decides whether the allegations in the complaint are true and, if so, merit sanctions. The aggrieved party may appeal from this determination and/or the sanctions imposed.
Brokers are best served by engaging Indiana real estate license defense attorneys as early in the process as possible. A negative finding can be a public mark on your professional record, and sanctions can impact—if not revoke—the very license you need to work. Your chances of moving through the process swiftly and receiving a favorable result in the end must greater when you have an experienced Indiana real estate agent lawyer like those at Keffer Hirschauer LLP advising and representing you.
Possible Penalties Imposed against Indiana Real Estate Brokers
If the Commission (or the ALJ) ultimately determines that the allegations in the complaint are true and warrant disciplinary action, the Commission may impose one or more of several disciplinary options. These include:
- Permanent revocation of your license
- Suspension of your license
- Censuring you
- Reprimanding you in writing
- Placing you on probation for a period during which you must report back to the Commission on a regular basis on issues relating to the probation and comply with any other requirements of the Commission
- Fine you not more than $1,000 for each violation
- Require you to pay restitution to a complainant
When you seek our counsel as soon as you receive notice of the complaint, the Indiana real estate license defense attorneys at Keffer Hirschauer LLP can help you develop and carry out an early and strong defense strategy designed for a favorable outcome.
Indiana Real Estate License Defense Attorneys from Keffer Hirschauer LLP Offer a Free Consultation
Threats to your real estate license can wreak havoc with your income, business, and career. At Keffer Hirschauer LLP, we understand the significance of your broker’s license and, more importantly, how to protect it. Our professional license defense team represents professionals such as yourself and knows the processes and strategies at work in professional license defense.
Don’t mistake instructions from the Commission or PLA regarding the process for legal advice. It’s not. Call professional license defense attorneys who have your best interests at heart. For a free consultation with one of our Indiana real estate license defense attorneys, call us at (317) 857-0160 or complete our online contact page.