Last Updated: December 21, 2022. Report error / Make suggestion

Initial Application Requirements

  • Who/What Agency governs or oversees the profession?
    • Department of Licensing
  • What are the background check requirements?
    • Applicants are required to submit a fingerprint background check as well as renew their fingerprint checks every six years.
  • Are there any convictions that will automatically disqualify me?
    • If a background check shows a conviction, DOL will review and investigate the record on a case-by-case basis. Factors they take into consideration:
      • Type of crime
      • Level of the convictions
      • Relationship of the crime to the profession’s practices
      • Length of time since conviction occurred
      • Whether applicant already notified DOL of the conviction as required
  • Do Certificates of Restoration of Opportunity (CROPs) apply to the position?
    • No, certificates of restoration of opportunity do not apply to the licensing of real estate brokers.

License Suspension/Revocation

  • Why might my license be suspended or terminated?
    • There are three reasons why your license might be suspended or terminated:
      • Failure to renew a fingerprint background check (every 6 years once licensed)
      • Unprofessional conduct which includes:
        • Commission of any act involving moral turpitude, dishonesty, or corruption relating to the practice of the profession
        • Misrepresentation or concealment of a material fact in obtaining/renewing a license
        • False, deceptive, or misleading advertising
        • Incompetence, negligence, or malpractice that results in harm or damage to another or creates an unreasonable risk thereof
        • Suspension, revocation, or restriction of a license to engage in any nosiness or profession
        • Failure to cooperate with the disciplinary authority in the court of an investigation, audit, or inspection
        • Failure to comply with an order issued by the disciplinary authority
        • Aiding or abetting an unlicensed person to practice or operate a business or profession when a license is required
        • Failure to adequately supervise or oversee auxiliary staff
        • Conviction of any gross misdemeanor or felony relating to the practice of the person’s profession or operation of the person’s business
        • Engaging in unlicensed practice
      • Unethical and deficient practices within the real estate profession as listed in RCW 18.85.361
  • How does the DOL learn of these grounds?
    • Individuals, licensees, organization, and government agencies may submit a written complaint to the DOL regarding a license holder alleging unprofessional or unlawful conduct
      • If the director determines the complaint warrants follow-up, the director will initiate an investigation to determine the truth of the allegations
      • If DOL determines the complaint needs further review, an investigator or auditor will be assigned to the matter.          
        • An investigator may inspect a licensee’s business location and records without a warrant provided it has been assigned or approved by the director
    • Likewise, real estate firms are subject to routine audits every 3 years
  • How do I ask for a hearing?
    • You must file a request for a hearing with the DOL within 20 days after being served a statement of charges or statement of intent to deny you a license. Failure to request a hearing is considered a default and the DOL may then enter a decision on the facts available. RCW 18.235.050
      • If you request a hearing, the disciplinary authority will set a hearing no earlier than 30 days after the service of charge(s). A hearing may be held sooner than this only if the disciplinary authority has issued a summary suspension or summary restriction.
        • A summary suspension or restriction occurs due to a temporary and emergency ruling pending a full hearing addressing the allegations. This is often made when there is a finding that suspension is necessary to protect the public’s health and safety.

Hearing Process

  • When will the hearing be and who will oversee it?
    • The Administrative Procedures Act, RCW 34.05, governs all hearings including denial of licensure, unprofessional conduct, and inability to practice.
    • Once you request a hearing, the DOL will set a hearing to be held within 90 days of the receipt of your request.
      • The DOL must give you at least 7 days advance notice.
    • The hearing will be conducted by an Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) from the Office of Administrative Hearings
  • The process for hearing, what to expect, and what to prepare can be found by following the link below:
  • What do I have to prove at the hearing to succeed?
    • You will have the burden of proving that it is more likely than not that you are either a.) qualified under DOL rules and regulations, b.) have not committed unprofessional conduct, or c.) have not committed unethical and deficient practices

Is there an appeals process if I don’t agree with the final order? If so, what does that look like?

  • Yes. The process is outlined by the Administrative Procedures Act RCW 34.05
    • First, you may file a petition for reconsideration of a final order. This can be done within 10 days of the service of the final order.
      • This is an administrative review of the previous ruling.  The hearing officer may decide to grant your petition, deny your petition, modify the previous order, or set the matter for a new hearing.
    • You can also petition the superior court for review. This must be done within 30 days of notice of the final order.
      • The petition must be filed with the Superior Court for either a.) Thurston County, or b.) the county where you live.  You must also pay a $250 filing fee.
      • You are not required to petition for reconsideration before seeking review in court.
        • However, if you do file a petition for reconsideration first, then the 30 day time limit for filing with the court does not begin to run until after the petition for reconsideration is resolved.
      • You cannot seek judicial review until you have exhausted all administrative remedies unless you fall into one of three exceptions. RCW 34.05.534.
      • When reviewing your case, the Court can only consider the evidence admitted and facts established during the first administrative hearing.
      • You can request that the Court stay your suspension while the judicial review is pending, but the Court will only grant a stay if it finds that 1.) you are likely to win your appeal, 2.) you will be irreparably harmed without a stay, 3.) the stay will not cause harm to the other party, and 4.) there is not a serious threat to public health or safety.
    • If you still disagree with the decision following review by the Superior Court, you can appeal to the Court of Appeals.
  • What is the range of sanctions?
    • Withdrawal of your certificate of approval
    • Suspension of your of approval for a fixed time or indefinite term
    • Stayed suspension for a designated period of time
    • Censure or reprimand
    • Payment of a fine for each violation not to exceed one thousand dollars per day per violation
    • Denial of your initial or renewal application for a certificate of approval
    • Restriction or limitation of your practice
    • Satisfactory completion of a specific program of remedial education or treatment
    • Monitoring of your practice in a manner directed by the DOL
    • Compliance with conditions of probation for a designated period of time
      • Prior to determining the sanction for unprofessional conduct, the DOL must first consider what sanctions are necessary to protect the public health, safety or welfare. Only after that may the DOL include sanctions designed to rehabilitate you.
    • Additionally, any violation of the regulations governing real estate brokers is also considered a gross misdemeanor.  RCW 18.85.401
  • Post hearing, what are the options for reinstatement?
    • After having your license suspended or revoked, you may petition the DOL for reinstatement after an amount of time and under specific conditions that are included within the original order suspending or revoking the license. RCW 18.235.100.

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