|The North Carolina
Real Estate Commission:
The First Forty Years!
By Phillip T. Fisher, Executive Director
This is a Test
Q. When was the Real Estate License Law enacted in North Carolina?
(C) All of the above.
If you answered "C," go to the head of the class.
Although it's a little-known fact, North Carolina first enacted a license law for real estate brokers and salesmen in 1927. That same year, a real estate commission was created; a secretary named (at $75 per month); approximately 1000 licenses were issued and one revoked. However, because the law applied to only eight counties - Buncombe, Durham, Forsythe, Guilford, Henderson, Lee, Rowan, and Wake - it was declared unconstitutional in 1939.
For the next eighteen years, North Carolina was again without any licensing requirements for real estate agents. But in 1957, the state legislature considered another licensing bill - this one introduced by Senator Pat Cooke of Gastonia. According to newspaper accounts, the debate over the bill was lively. Nearly every occupation wanted to be exempt from licensing - farmers, bankers, preachers and teachers. But when the dust settled, only lawyers came away with a limited exemption. The new law became effective July 1 of that year.
Governor Hodges presided over the swearing-in ceremony as Kenneth Smith (Raleigh), Hugh Mills (New Bern), E.S. Powell (Reidsville), J. Bart Hall (Belmont), and William Harrison (Rocky Mount) took the oath of office as the first members of the Real Estate Licensing Board.
As 1957 progressed, approximately 2300 persons were issued licenses under the new law's "grandfather clause" - the first one being issued to C.E. Phillips, Jr. (Durham) on October 5 [See this Bulletin Supplement, page VII]. In December, the first licensing examination was administered. Fifty brokers and twenty-six salesmen passed and were licensed. Also that year, R. Harry Lewis, the Executive Secretary of the North Carolina Association of REALTORS®, was employed as the Board's Secretary-Treasurer.
All was going well with the Real Estate Licensing Board as it entered the decade of the sixties. Then, in April, 1960, the constitutionality of the new Real Estate License Law was also challenged, and by the same person who successfully challenged the previous law more than twenty years earlier. But this time the challenge failed, with the North Carolina Supreme Court declaring that
It is our opinion that the real estate business affects a substantial public interest and may be regulated for the purpose of protecting and promoting the general welfare of the people. Real estate is one of the two great divisions of property rights, and bears as close a relation to public peace and welfare in our civilization as any species of property rights. The business of acting as intermediary between seller and purchaser in real estate transactions, the business of the real estate broker or salesman, is a lawful business or calling, and anyone has a right under constitutional guarantees of liberty and pursuit of happiness to follow it.
Secure in the knowledge that the license law had passed constitutional muster, North Carolina's 26th licensing board began expanding its program of service to the public during the seventies, focusing especially on real estate education. The Board began publishing the Real Estate Bulletin newsletter. North Carolina and Virginia inaugurated a new uniform licensing examination developed by Educational Testing Service. 1n 1974, the Commission's copyrighted textbook, North Carolina Real Estate for Brokers and Salesmen, was first published. And legislation was passed requiring persons to complete certain real estate education or experience before applying for licensure.
As the decade of the seventies drew to a close, the membership of the Licensing Board had expanded from five to seven members to include two "public members." A Recovery Fund was established for victims of embezzlement in real estate transactions. The position of Education Director was created. And the number of licensed brokers, salesmen and corporations had grown from approximately 10,000 in 1970 to nearly 42,000.
The North Carolina State Flag proudly waves in front of the Commission's current home on Navaho Drive in Raleigh.
During the 1980's, women began entering the real estate business in record numbers. So too, the Real Estate Licensing Board was for the first time chaired by a woman. Dee McCandlish (Charlotte), who in 1978 became the first woman to serve on the Licensing Board, was elected chairman in 1981. Also a sign of changing times, the Real Estate Licensing Board became the "Real Estate Commission" in 1983 to distinguish it from local "boards" of REALTORS®. In the Commission's Raleigh office, typewriters were replaced by computers, and tens of thousands of records were converted to microfilm.
The Commission also undertook two very ambitious programs mandated by the General Assembly: The regulation of the timeshare industry, and a voluntary program for licensing and certifying real estate appraisers. These new programs, combined with heightened consumer expectations and a dramatic increase in the number of licensees (more than 80,000 by decade end) required a further expansion of the Commission staff and relocation to its current office.
Enter the 1990's when the issues of "agency" and "disclosure" preoccupied the attention of the Real Estate Commission and real estate practitioners, and the Commission implemented a comprehensive continuing education program for brokers and salesmen.
Since its beginning in 1927 and renewal in 1957, the Real Estate Commission has pursued its mission, "To protect the public interest in real estate transactions," while at the same time, endeavoring to serve the needs of its licensees. Towards this end, its staff now includes attorneys, educators, auditors, investigators, information officers and other professional and support personnel available to assist licensees and consumers. It produces a variety of real estate courses and publications, and utilizes the most up-to-date technology to enhance its communications with practitioners and the public.
As the Real Estate Commission is poised to enter the 21st century, the Commission members and staff wish to thank the many thousands of licensed real estate brokers and salesmen who, during the past forty years, have subscribed to the high standards of conduct expected of real estate professionals in North Carolina. Your continued cooperation and support in matters affecting your real estate license is appreciated.
|[Article's author, Phillip T. Fisher, has been the Executive Director of the Real Estate Commission since 1981.]|