Washington State’s Database of Unprofessional Agents

Alternate title: Real Estate Agents do the Darndest Things!

A while ago someone sent me a link to an interesting page over on the state’s Department of Licensing website: Disciplinary actions: Real estate brokers and managing brokers

Some of the tidbits contained within:

  • Unprofessional conduct — Had judgments against him directly related to his real estate license and failed to report them to us within 20 days.
  • Unprofessional conduct — Access to home given to buyers prior to closing of sale and some of seller’s personal property went missing.
  • Unprofessional conduct — Forged designated broker’s signature and received commissions not paid through the firm.
  • Unprofessional conduct — Convicted of Assault in the 2nd degree and didn’t report the conviction to us within 20 days.
  • Unprofessional conduct —
    • Negligent in taking steps to determine true ownership of property listed for sale.
    • Acted outside of scope to remove person living in property.
    • Interfered with our investigation.
  • Unprofessional conduct — Convicted of Conspiracy to Distribute Controlled Substances and Conspiracy to Engage in Money Laundering and Wire Fraud, and failed to report the indictment and verdict to us.
  • Unprofessional conduct — Failed to notify us of 2 separate arrests and subsequent convictions for shoplifting, and false answers on application.

Before you make the decision to work with a real estate agent, it probably wouldn’t hurt to take a moment to look them up in the DOL’s license database to make sure they’re in good standing and that they haven’t had their license revoked in the past for shenanigans similar to those quoted above.

If you believe your agent has engaged in illegal “unprofessional conduct,” or you encounter someone acting as an agent without the proper licenses, be sure to report them to the DOL.

  

About The Tim

Tim Ellis is the founder of Seattle Bubble. His background in engineering and computer / internet technology, a fondness of data-based analysis of problems, and an addiction to spreadsheets all influence his perspective on the Seattle-area real estate market.

39 comments:

  1. 1

    Until you posted this I didn’t realize DOL shows a disciplinary history like the Bar Association does. Don’t assume it goes all the way back though. The WSBA on-line records only go back maybe 10-15 years.

    Another way to check up on an agent (or anyone else you’re dealing with) would be some of the search tools available for everyone, like the Washington State Court search for civil matters:

    http://dw.courts.wa.gov/index.cfm?fa=home.home

    Or even the county recorder’s office to find things like recorded judgments, tax liens, Notice of Trustee’s sales, etc., for financial distress type matters. As I mentioned last week, my biggest concern would be the agent needing your transaction to close too much, and putting their interests ahead of their clients’, and again that would be true for others you may deal with too.

    Finally, the NWMLS and Realtor organizations also punish agents, but I’m not sure that information is ever made public. Agents can see current NWMLS actions, but not older actions.

    Rate this comment: Thumb up 0

  2. 2
    Mike says:

    Geez Kary, I might think you’re calling out one of the other realtors that posts here.

    Rate this comment: Thumb up 0

  3. 3

    RE: Mike @ 2 – You think that applies to only one agent here? I’d be surprised if it’s only one. Long time readers here will remember that someone else did previously post such a matter here for one agent that has posted here. Is that what you were referring to? In any case though, what I suggested is that potential clients check out their possible agents, not that people here do so for other reasons.

    When I was a bankruptcy attorney, a number of my clients were real estate agents. Now, as an agent am in a position to hear of a lot more situations. For example, at one of my prior firms so many agents at that firm were so bad at paying their bills that we had to pay Sign Pros in advance on each transaction. That was a bit embarrassing. Financial distress for real estate agents is fairly common, and something that IMHO potential clients should check out.

    BTW, I can check for bankruptcy filings, because I have a “Pacer” account with the court. I’m not sure if there’s a way for the public to check for such filings. But an ongoing Chapter 13 or very recent Chapter 7 case would be another thing to check for.

    Rate this comment: Thumb up 0

  4. 4
    sally buttons says:

    Realtors are self-regulated which helps explain the low bar.

    Rate this comment: Thumb up 0

  5. 5

    RE: sally buttons @ 4 – How do you consider the DOL to be self-regulated? I could see that claim made as to the Realtor and NWMLS organisations, but not DOL. They are governed by statutes enacted by the Legislature.

    Also, whatever the bar, I don’t see how evidence that they actually have an active enforcement division should be seen as being a negative. For years one of the complaints about the WSBA was they didn’t do enough enforcement. It would sometimes take about 5 years to disbar an attorney.

    BTW, back in the day, the fines the NWMLS handed out were quite extreme. That seems to have moderated some, perhaps because they realize agents are struggling financially.

    Rate this comment: Thumb up 0

  6. 6
    Pegasus says:

    Most of the infractions appear to be related to the agent not reporting certain incidents within 20 days of which many are not directly related to real estate practices. For example if you are an axe murderer you must report that once you are convicted. That doesn’t necessarily make you a bad real estate agent…. Evidently the constantly braying of nonsense on message boards by a jackass is non-reportable.

    Rate this comment: Thumb up 0

  7. 7
    David Losh says:

    There are about two hundred good Real Estate agents in the Seattle area, and maybe the same number on the Eastside. It is very hard to tell who is good, but research is always a good idea.

    The Real Estate market actually regulates who survives, and who doesn’t.

    That being said it looks to me like Windermere, here in Seattle, won that horse race by retaining, and attracting more high quality agents.

    The Brokerage isn’t a hard, and fast rule because good agents go where they can make the best commission splits for the services the Brokerage offers. REMax is a good example.

    My opinion is that if you really feel the need to investigate your Real Estate agent you have already lost the trust factor, and you should move on with your interview process.

    Let me also qualify that the interview process goes two ways, your prospective agent is interviewing you while you are interviewing them. It’s best to be open, honest, and communicate to be sure the two of you mesh.

    I think people spend more time looking for houses than they do finding an agent. In today’s market, I would want a good agent, who was worth the commission dollars.

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  8. 8

    By David Losh @ 7:

    My opinion is that if you really feel the need to investigate your Real Estate agent you have already lost the trust factor, and you should move on with your interview process. .

    That is crazy. Don’t do any investigation. Just trust the agent you found. Yep, that will lead to really great results! /sarc

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  9. 9

    By Pegasus @ 6:

    Most of the infractions appear to be related to the agent not reporting certain incidents within 20 days of which many are not directly related to real estate practices. For example if you are an axe murderer you must report that once you are convicted..

    I initially mentioned that in my first post, but deleted it. Some of these events go to the qualifications to be an agent, as opposed to “unprofessional conduct” (e.g. letting someone into possession prior to closing.)

    Rate this comment: Thumb up 0

  10. 10

    With So Much Shennigans Going On Outside of Laws on the Books By Businesses and Government

    Much of it passed over even when its transparent….the real estate business actually looks squeaky clean in comparison. At least they didn’t take an oath of office to support and uphold the US Constitution and its laws on the books, before they blatantly ignored it.

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  11. 11

    The DOL site Tim linked is good for other professions because real estate agents. This link is good for checking contractor registration and bonding.

    https://fortress.wa.gov/lni/bbip/Search.aspx

    And I would also check those court and recorder sites for such people.

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  12. 12
    David Losh says:

    RE: Kary L. Krismer @ 8

    You didn’t read my comment, the second sentence of my second paragraph says, I quote ” It is very hard to tell who is good, but research is always a good idea.”

    However trust is a core issue of picking an agent. If you have suspicions strong enough to feel a need to investigate, then that trust is probably already damaged.

    Leave the personal attacks at the door, it’s not getting you anywhere.

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  13. 13
    No Name Guy says:

    I have to wonder who did the 2 “thumbs down” on the post. What, are YOU TWO on the naughty list?

    Ditto those thumbs downing Kary’s post 1.

    [Note, I only find myself agreeing with Kary about 1/3 of the time – that doesn’t mean I automatically thumbs down his comments. He occasionally gets it right, IMO – post 1 is one of those.]

    More information is better than less information.

    The Tim – thanks for the link. Ditto Kary @ post 1.

    Rate this comment: Thumb up 0

  14. 14

    Actually, Kary and David are agreeing with each other here, but that would spoil the show if they admitted it.
    Buying a house is a hugely important and expensive transaction, and the agent /broker you retain has the potential to screw things up and cause major problems. So it’s a perfectly good idea to find out if they’ve gotten into trouble. But you should also like them like them. I’ve met agents with perfectly clean records who still seemed like untrustworthy, rude jerks.
    A couple of years ago I was representing a buyer. The listing agent was advertising himself as ” Dr. Kevin”. And I wondered why a real estate agent would call himself a doctor? Did he have a Ph.D? Simple googling and looking into Department of Licensing records revealed the reason. He was a medical doctor. He’d been arrested a couple of times for assault, after advertising his services on the back page of The Weekly for discipline and bondage male prostitution. Apparently his activities got a bit too enthusiastic, and the cops were called. On another occassion, it involved a patient of his in extracurricular activities. And he lost his licnese to practice medicine for three years. I guess he needed to make a living, and anybody can become a real estate agent.
    As a real estate agent, he was nothing but professional. He never offered to show me the house wearing nothing but leather shorts and a whip. He was competent, friendly, and polite.
    But if this information about him was so easily found, why did he advertise it by calling himself a doctor?

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  15. 15
    David Losh says:

    RE: No Name Guy @ 13

    I agree that the thumbs up, and down feature has gotten to be a joke without value.

    Rate this comment: Thumb up 0

  16. 16

    By David Losh @ 12:

    RE: Kary L. Krismer @ 8 – You didn’t read my comment, the second sentence of my second paragraph says, I quote ” It is very hard to tell who is good, but research is always a good idea.”.

    I did notice that inconsistency. I was trying not to point that out because I didn’t want to start another pointless debate with you.

    Rate this comment: Thumb up 0

  17. 17

    RE: No Name Guy @ 13 – We don’t know who they are, but we know what they are.

    Rate this comment: Thumb up 0

  18. 18
    David Losh says:

    RE: Kary L. Krismer @ 16

    Then don’t.

    Rate this comment: Thumb up 0

  19. 19
    Pegasus says:

    I think you will that in the real estate industry as it is in any industry that there are those that constantly try to elevate themselves above their peers through constant derision, questioning of others ethics, possible “violations” , etc. History has taught me that these are the ones that deserve your highest scrutiny. They are the foxes in the hen house.

    Rate this comment: Thumb up 0

  20. 20
    corndogs says:

    RE: David Losh @ 7 – “There are about two hundred good Real Estate agents in the Seattle area”

    That’s a pretty big number to pull out of your a$$, you should see if you can fit some monkeys up there and start your own carnival.

    Rate this comment: Thumb up 0

  21. 21
    No Name Guy says:

    RE: David Losh @ 15

    Well, one good thing about the thumbs up / down was it got rid of that shill / troll who would 100% of the time parrot a certain party line, thankfully I can’t recall their name……but yeah, some times it’s just plain silly on what gets up and down.

    Rate this comment: Thumb up 0

  22. 22
    Scotsman says:

    Hey, everybody makes mistakes, even real estate agents. As long as they apologize it’s probably OK. “I’m sorry” seems to cover and excuse just about everything these days up to negligent homicide. Beyond that one needs to switch to “what does it matter?” /sarc

    Rate this comment: Thumb up 0

  23. 23
    Scotsman says:

    Oh- and the two who gave the thumbs down to the post- you’re part of the problem, not the solution. Time to take another 3 clock hours of PMA from your life coach. Don’t worry, you can write it off on your taxes and I’ll help you pay for it . . .

    Rate this comment: Thumb up 0

  24. 24
    Scotsman says:

    RE: Ira Sacharoff @ 14

    “He’d been arrested a couple of times for assault, after advertising his services on the back page of The Weekly for discipline and bondage male prostitution. ”

    WHOA! So, what you’re saying is that if one wants to sell to the Capital Hill crowd it’s wise to cover your azz? Watch your backside? The slippery slope of real estate ethics?

    Love ya, Ira!

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  25. 25

    By Scotsman @ 24:

    RE: Ira Sacharoff @ 14

    “Heâ��d been arrested a couple of times for assault, after advertising his services on the back page of The Weekly for discipline and bondage male prostitution. ”

    WHOA! So, what you’re saying is that if one wants to sell to the Capital Hill crowd it’s wise to cover your azz? Watch your backside? The slippery slope of real estate ethics?

    Love ya, Ira!

    I don’t recall what kind of doctor he was. Hopefully not a proctologist.

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  26. 26
  27. 27

    RE: Mindy the cat @ 26
    My thought is that it’s advertising masked as news. No matter what the economic situation is, a managing broker for a real estate brokerage is going to encourage business. We’re recovering now, so you better buy before prices skyrocket. Or you better sell while inventory is low and there isn’t a lot of competition.

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  28. 28
    Feedback says:

    LMAO! I loved the part where the real estate agent committed 2nd degree assault! That is the darnedest thing!

    Rate this comment: Thumb up 0

  29. 29
    ARDELL says:

    RE: Feedback @ 28

    I liked this one: “Acted outside of scope to remove person living in property.”

    I want the video. …whatcha gonna do when they come for you.

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  30. 30
    Ray pepper says:

    RE: Kary L. Krismer @ 3 – who are the posters here that show up ? I don’t find any I recognize?

    Rate this comment: Thumb up 0

  31. 31

    RE: Ray pepper @ 30 – I’m suggesting doing those searches for evaluating people you’re considering actually dealing with, or are actually dealing with, not for entertainment.

    I do those types of searches any time I’m dealing with someone who doesn’t take a credit card for payment, and in the case where contractor licensing is required, even then.

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  32. 32

    By ARDELL @ 29:

    RE: Feedback @ 28

    I liked this one: “Acted outside of scope to remove person living in property.”

    I want the video. …whatcha gonna do when they come for you.

    That’s an interesting one. I seem to recall that was part of the case against Hellickson, although I may be confusing cases. Whoever it was for some reason advised the person to move out as part of a short sale.

    But it also might be a situation where the owner simply wants a tenant out, and the tenant is refusing to move. I’ve had that situation before, and it never occurred to be to get involved in that process as the real estate agent. I wonder if the basis for punishing that activity is simply that they’re acting as an attorney?

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  33. 33

    Be sure to check out your mortgage originator too. Not all are required to be licensed – per the SAFE Act, mortgage originators who work for depository banks or credit unions are only registered and not licensed… and yes, there’s a difference. Many LO’s who either could not become licensed (couldn’t pass the test or had other issues) are working for banks or credit unions.

    You can check out mortgage originators here: http://www.nmlsconsumeraccess.org/

    Whether or not they’re licensed or registered shows at the bottom of the page and this site also has a resume of the mortgage originator.

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  34. 34

    RE: David Losh @ 15

    I Play Yahoo Cribbage to Relax Sometime

    You get points for winning games that rate you….since Cribbage is still a game of chance, the ratings are not the same, and I know why….

    The cheaters get two computers, play themselves, lose on purpose and raise their score to look better on the website by lying.

    Same with the thumb ratings, get those who’d rather see sales now at any price gang up against those of us that want a fair deal. Pro-seller vs. Pro-buyers….

    I take thumb ratings with a grain of salt, actually if I get a bunch of Pro-seller down thumbs I know I’m usually on to something worthwhile for the Pro-buyers too.

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  35. 35

    “Many LO’s who either could not become licensed (couldn’t pass the test or had other issues) are working for banks or credit unions.”

    In addition, LOs who were unable to obtain a license also can be found working at non-depository lenders. The mortgage industry can be quite funny sometimes. They call him “branch manager,” “sales manager” or some other fancy title.

    If a person is quoting rates, taking loan applications or otherwise holding himself/herself out as being able to make a mortgage loan, he/she needs to be either licensed or registered. Thanks for posting the link, Rhonda.

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  36. 36
    Steve H says:

    Ira @26 “I don’t recall what kind of doctor he was. Hopefully not a proctologist.”

    For his sake let’s hope he was, as he’d already be accustomed to getting a little behind in his practice.

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  37. 37

    Here’s a fairly recent story of a “fake Realtor” apparently defrauding someone out of $25,000.

    http://blogs.miaminewtimes.com/riptide/2013/01/fake_realtor_ricardo_ribas_arr.php

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  38. 38

    On the topic of Hellickson, does anyone know what he’s doing? I get spam from someone with his name, and the most recent one mentioned a radio show. Unfortunately I deleted it before becoming curious. Searching, this is all I can find.

    http://www.blogtalkradio.com/clubwealth/2013/01/30/club-wealth-with-michael-hellickson

    It probably is him, since there are claims of “literally becoming the Nations #1 real estate agent.” Does adding the word “literally” suck in the gullible, or what?

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  39. 39

    RE: Jillayne Schlicke @ 35 – Jillayne, can a “sales manager” or “branch manager” at a non-depository company still take an application or quote rates and not be licensed?

    BTW it’s too bad that the CFPB didn’t take the opportunity to require all LO’s to be licensed – period. LO’s who work for banks/credit unions are still not held to the exact same standards per the SAFE Act as those of us who are licensed. They’re on they’re way to getting a closer – however, it’s still not the same IMO.

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