On January 1st of this year, the new education requirements in the Real Estate License Act (“Act”) became effective. However, the administrative rules that accompany and implement the new statutory requirements have not yet been updated. As a result, the current regulations conflict with active, new law.
by Jeffrey T. Baker, Illinois REALTORS®
Associate General Counsel & Director of Legal Services
The Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation (IDFPR) decided in late December 2017, that rather than implement emergency rules and an immediate transition to the new education system, the Department would prefer a phased-in approach. Within a week of the new year, the Department released their “Education Transition Plan” – a calendar that explained when certain parts of the new education system would actually be imposed on licensees.
The recent changes to the Act include, among other things:
- a revised list of subject areas for courses,
- a redefinition of the “core” curriculum for continuing education,
- the reclassification of schools as education providers, and
- the elimination of testing for certain types of courses—another significant change.
But, without immediately effective regulations in place, licensees that seek to renew their licenses in the coming year, are left in a gray area as to which courses to take, whether testing will be necessary, and whether there will be any other mid-year changes that affect their renewals.
Immediately effective provisions
- Two substantive changes in the Act became immediately effective on January 1st. The first was the implementation of test-free courses. Courses taken in a classroom, via live interactive webinar, or through on online distance education format are eligible to eliminate the testing that normally accompanies them. Because of the added requirements placed on education providers for recordkeeping, it is thought that only a few education providers will be able to cease administering tests right away.
- The second substantive change that had immediate effect is the new requirement that leasing agents practicing under a 120-day temporary permit must be enrolled in a pre-license course no later than 60 days from the date their temporary permit was issued.
Education transition plan
The most important takeaway from the Department’s Education Transition Plan (download pdf) is that the broker license renewal date, April 30, 2018, remains unchanged. Brokers may continue to take any course that is available to them and that qualifies for credit between January 1st and April 30th (including courses that have eliminated testing at the completion of the course). Likewise, the leasing agent renewal date, July 31, 2018, also remains unchanged.
Currently licensed schools, instructors and courses whose licenses are scheduled to expire in 2018, will be extended through June 2019 in order to allow for time to reclassify schools as Education Providers and to reapprove instructors and courses under the new education system.
Full implementation of Act
According to the Department’s plan, final regulations fully implementing the changes made to the Act will not be approved until, at earliest, late 2018. Following a 6-month “communication” period of the new Core Curriculum, all licensees will be expected to comply with the new requirements under the Act (and which are contained in the new regulations). However, because that time frame extends into both the managing broker license renewal in 2019 and possibly the 2020 renewals for brokers and leasing agents, the Department’s plan also makes allowances for these periods.
Importantly, the current managing broker license renewal date, April 30, 2019, has not changed. However, they will be allowed to continue taking any existing already-approved courses between now and then, even if those courses have not been approved under the new system. Also, according to the Department’s current plan, brokers and leasing agents will be able to continue using “old” already-approved courses up until their 2020 renewal.
While the plan, as written, allows licensees to go all the way through the 2020 renewal date before complying with the new education system requirements, it is the opinion of Illinois REALTORS® that once schools are rebranded as education providers and once courses are updated and approved (by mid-2019), there will not be any “old” courses left for licensees to use and the transition to the new system will be nearly complete.
Illinois REALTORS® used its influence and industry expertise to see that necessary changes were successfully made to the Act. Likewise, it is also using its position to influence as positively as possible the informal and formal rulemaking processes so that the regulations that are finally adopted are beneficial to the industry and its membership, including working with the Department on the implementation and any future adjustments to its Education Transition Plan.