Effective July 1, 2013, a much anticipated change has occurred – the independent entity known as the Department of Real Estate has become a license agency within the Department of Consumer Affairs known as the Bureau of Real Estate. The purpose of this realignment is to save money as certain functions handled by the Bureau can be shared with other divisions of the Department of Consumer Affairs, including budgeting, administration, investigations, and even some legal services. Also, some have speculated that this change enables the Department of Consumer Affairs to get its hands on considerable revenue generated by DRE in issuing and renewing licenses and other bureaucratic functions that generate fee income.
Unfortunately, little is known at this point about how the newly formed Bureau will operate differently in the future. The Department of Real Estate has had its own staff counsel and investigators. The Department of Consumer Affairs also has investigators, its own legal staff, and for license discipline, contracts with the Office of the Attorney General. There is anecdotal evidence that staff at the now former DRE has shrunk in the face of this change, without replacements, resulting in a slow down of investigations and litigation. As the DRE recently adopted rules requiring mandatory reporting of certain adverse events, and in the continued wake of the residential mortgage crisis, it seems that delays will be frustratingly commonplace while the Bureau tries to find its place within DCA as a more streamlined, cost efficient agency.