The Commentator

We Are Washington DC

The Commentator

District of Columbia Real Estate Commission (DCREC)

Josephine Ricks
DCREC Chairman
Broker Member

 Ulani Gulstone
Legal Committee Chairman
Attorney Member

Monique N. Owens 
Education Committee Chairman
Salesperson Member

Frank Pietranton
Broker Member

Darrin Davis
Broker Member

Danai Mattison Sky 
Salesperson Member  

Christine M. Warnke
Consumer Member 

Vacant Positions (2) - Property Manager Member

Chairman's Corner

Josephine "Jo" Ricks

This year has been full of political rhetoric. When a real estate term pops up on a national stage, it really stands out for real estate licensees, especially when used in context. During the Republican debate on February 6th, one of the debate moderators started a lively discussion with a question about the term “eminent domain”. 
It is a concept licensees should remember from pre-licensing Principles and Practices courses. While this term may be generally understood, we may be hazy on the details. defines it as follows: “Eminent Domain” refers to the process by which the government may seize private property with proper compensation, but without the owner’s consent.

The Fifth Amendment to the Constitution stipulates:
1. That the property must be claimed for a public use; and,
2. That just compensation must be provided to the property owner.
Per DC Code § 16–1311, Condemnation Proceedings by District of Columbia:  
“When real property in the District of Columbia is needed by the Mayor…for sites of schoolhouses, fire or police stations, rights-of-way for roads, highways, streets and alleys or parts thereof, rights-of-way for water mains or sewers, or any other authorized municipal use, and that property cannot be acquired by purchase from the owners thereof at a price satisfactory to the officers of the District authorized to negotiate for the property, a complaint may be filed in the Superior Court of the District of Columbia in the name of the District of Columbia for the condemnation of the property or rights-of-way and the ascertainment of its value. ”

This process is further complicated by the method owners used to value their properties versus the government process.  Property owners are most likely to rely on a competitive market analysis from a licensee, where an opinion of value is based on recent sales within blocks of a property. The government; however, will generally rely on the most recent assessment report from the DC Real Property Tax Administration (RPTA).

The magnitude of the reassessment requires the use of mass appraisal techniques. In using the mass appraisal technique, an RPTA appraiser values all properties in an entire neighborhood at one time with standardized appraisal method(s) and statistical testing. This also is in  contrast with the practice of a fee appraiser, who is concerned with valuing one property at a time. 
The application of eminent domain can be controversial. Some recent and very public discussions of this practice centered on the aggregation of property on which to build stadiums for DC United's soccer team and also the Nationals baseball team. Land owners in both cases sought to figure out where they would be moving next and also how to maximize the profit of an inevitable sale. Conversely, government officials pushed to obtain the land quickly and at the lowest cost.  Fortunately, the exercise of eminent domain powers is used only after other negotiations fail.

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Farewell to Helen Dodson

Helen Dodson
Helen Dodson

The DC Real Estate Commission bids long standing member, Chairman Helen Dodson, farewell and a heartfelt “Thank You”.
In reflecting on her tenure with the Commission, Ms. Dodson had this to say:
“It's been an honor to serve the District of Columbia Mayor's Office in protecting consumers receiving the services of licensees.  In my years of service, I have been privileged to work with many Commission members and staff whose hard work and dedication ensure and strengthen best practices in the industry. As real estate transactions continue to grow more complicated, the role of the Commission will continue to grow in importance".
Ms. Dodson has served as Commission Chairman in multiple tenures and roles. She served several times between 1999 to 2014, and was appointed by the sitting District of Columbia Mayor each time. Most recently, Commissioner Dodson ably served to bridge the void created by the death of previous Chairman, Alton “Tony” Duncanson. Commissioner Dodson was also the dedicated Chairman of the Commission’s Education Committee.  Whenever there has been a need, Commissioner Dodson has always answered the call.  
All the Commissioners and the DC real estate community appreciate Ms. Dodson’s service and wish her well on future  endeavors.

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Welcome to New DCREC Chairman, Josephine Ricks

Josephine "Jo" Ricks

Ms. Josephine “Jo” Ricks was  unanimously elected to the position of  Chairman of the DC Real Estate Commission (DCREC) at the March 8, 2016 meeting.
Ms. Ricks brings to the Commission Chairman position a distinguished career and a wealth of  qualifications. She has previously served as the Chairman of the Commission's Legal and Education Committees as well as the Grievance Committee of the Greater Capital Area Association of  Realtors (GCAAR). She  currently sits on the Board of Directors for the Association of Real Estate License Law Officials (ARELLO) and is also the Chairman of their Fair Housing Committee. 
Ms. Ricks started her real estate career in 1979 in Logan Circle.  She has been with City Houses Real Estate for twenty-seven years and believes our market is going to remain vibrant for many years to come. In her view, every projection indicates that the population growth seen in the District over the past eight or ten years will not only continue, but accelerate.  She has witnessed and participated in the dynamic re-birth of various inner-city neighborhoods.  She anticipates continued growth as we see the explosion of dining options, the development of the Southwest Waterfront, the restoration of the Anacostia Waterfront, the growth in bicycle use and more. Washington is a premier destination for young professionals and that trend will quicken, not diminish, per Ms. Ricks.

Perhaps the most notable of Ms. Ricks’ attributes is her  irrepressible enthusiasm for the job.  A previous concern of hers was how she would do following in the footsteps of such stalwart chairmen.  Warming to the task immediately, Ms. Ricks has impressively helped the Commission in presenting its annual events and also in carrying out its monthly business.
This past June, the Commission offered its three mandatory courses at Gallaudet University's Kellogg Conference Center. Courses offered were Fair Housing, Legislative Update and Financing Issues. Each course was attended by roughly 200 licensees.

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Farewell to Kenneth Smith

Kenneth Smith
Kenneth Smith

Kenneth D. Smith, a fourteen-year Property Manager Member of the Commission, recently tendered his resignation.  Commissioner Smith was a long-standing member of the Commission, providing expertise in the property management area, as well as expertise in brokerage.  Mr. Smith was a dedicated member of the Legal Committee spending a tremendous amount of time reviewing hundreds of cases and legal matters and making sound recommendations to the committee and Commission.  

Additionally, Commissioner Smith devoted a considerable amount of time on the Examination Committee of the Commission serving as a subject matter expert to review all items in the examination bank for property managers, providing an assessment, possible revisions, and the writing of new questions.  He also participated in the review and updating of the Property Management Study Guide.  The Commission and staff express their deep appreciation to Mr. Smith for his outstanding service and wish him well and much success in all future endeavors.  We will miss you tremendously.    

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Meet the New DCREC Commissioners

Danai Mattison Sky
Danai Mattison Sky

The DC Real Estate  Commission welcomes Salesperson Member Ms. Danai Mattison Sky.
She is based out of the Capitol Hill Sales Office of Long & Foster Real Estate, Inc. and brings a fresh outlook on the DC market.
Ms. Sky has always enjoyed and focused on being active in local, state and national  associations so as to stay at the abreast of the marketplace and the people in it. This role is no exception. She is also honored to serve as a second generation commissioner (Her father, Dale Mattison served as Commissioner from 1993-1996). Ms. Sky is excited by the opportunity to uphold the regulations, bring a millennial Realtor perspective,  and to promote positive change.
In her view, DC’s real estate market continues to thrive. There is quite a demand for homes as the supply is low. With millennials entering into the marketplace we are likely to see a steady increase in the buyer pool and demand for certain home types. While they were once entering the marketplace looking for a condominium, many millennials are entering the market later in their lives (often when they’ve settled down or gotten married) and are starting their searches for larger homes, sometimes suburban, where they look to plant roots and raise a family. It is an interesting shift and one to watch. 

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Darrin Davis
Darrin Davis

Welcome to new Commission Broker Member,  Mr. Darrin Davis.
As the Principal Broker/Owner of Anacostia River Realty, Mr. Davis has been successfully involved in the Washington Metropolitan real estate business for over 15 years. While he knows the entire  Washington DC area real estate market, Mr. Davis specializes in DC neighborhoods east of the Anacostia River. Since 2002, he has sold real estate east of the Anacostia River exclusively.
His specialties consist of  formalizing residential real estate sales, listings, development consulting,  tenant-locating and property management for single-family homes, condominiums, and apartment buildings in East of the Anacostia River neighborhoods in Washington, DC.

Mr. Davis is currently working with the local non-profit  housing organization Manna, Inc. to promote home ownership to residents who live east of the Anacostia River. In addition to being profiled in the Washington Business Journal, Davis was featured in the HGTV reality series, "My First Sale" in 2011. This episode marked the first time that HGTV filmed in a Washington, DC neighborhood east of the Anacostia River. In 2013, Davis appeared in the HGTV series, "House Hunters".

He feels honored and excited at having been appointed to the Commission and Mr. Davis sees the Commission as the forum to protect the consumer.

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Frank Pietranton
Frank Pietranton

While he is honored to serve as a Broker Member of the Real Estate Commission, Mr. Frank Pietranton also sees his appointment as a fiduciary obligation to help the Commission fulfill its mission of protecting the public.
This will be accomplished by continuing to fairly enforce existing laws, vigilantly identify emergent areas of harmful practice, and timely implementation of new education requirements to help all licensees build and maintain ethical practices which protect the public from harm. 

Over the past 40 years, Mr. Pietranton has seen first-hand the tremendous change technology has brought to every real estate transaction and also the potential for both good and bad these technologies bring to the objective of protecting the public from harm.   He believes that with the expanded amount of information available, it is now more difficult for Brokers to oversee the quality and correctness of that information, and how it is being used.  

Mr. Pietranton believes the Commission must work with Brokers to promote guidelines which protect the public from the unintended consequences of instantaneous, global communications. Broker education and more stringent requirements for supervision are an essential part of our obligation to protect the public.
In his view, public harm can stem from a lack of proper licensee training and supervision. The Commission could help protect the public from harm by promulgating some additional education  requirements.

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The CAN-SPAM Act: A Compliance Guide

Can Spam Image

What’s the most efficient way to spread the word about a HOT new listing?
E-mail! This has got to be the number one answer for most licensees. It’s quick, easy, and cost effective, even if the list being used is purchased . The question is how do the email recipients feel about being on your list. Hypothetically, assume it is decided to include the addresses of the DC Council members or the Mayor. This might sound reasonable,  especially if the thought is that you might get additional  publicity and or some well placed word of mouth advertising. However, the most likely result is a deleted email and quite possibly a complaint against the sender.
The issue here is that there are specific rules governing business use of email for marketing purposes. It is reasonable to assume that  recipients of an email know the law and could possibly take an email sender to task based on that knowledge. What follows is taken from the Federal Trade Commission’s publication on the topic.
The CAN-SPAM Act, a law that sets the rules for commercial email, establishes requirements for commercial messages, gives recipients the right to have you stop emailing them, and spells out tough penalties for violations.
Despite its name, the CAN-SPAM Act doesn’t apply just to bulk email. It covers all commercial messages, which the law defines as “any electronic mail message the primary  purpose of which is the commercial advertisement or promotion of a commercial product or service,” including email that promotes content on commercial websites. The law makes no exception for business-to-business email. That means all email – for example, a message to former customers announcing a new product line – must comply with the law.
Each email in violation of the CAN-SPAM Act is subject to penalties of up to $16,000, so non-compliance can be costly. But following the law isn’t complicated.
Click Here for a Rundown of CAN-SPAM’s main requirements:  (Read More)

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Legal Actions

Law Books

The [Commission] ... shall have the power ... to receive complaints of malpractice or other complaints against any persons licensed, certified, or registered under the jurisdiction of the Commission and shall have the authority, after a hearing in accordance with the procedures ... to discipline any such person by the imposition of the penalties provided in [the Regulations].

William A. McConkey
The license of William A. McConkey was suspended pursuant to D.C. Official  Code Section 47-2853.17(4) is disciplined by a licensing or disciplinary authority in another jurisdiction, or is convicted or disciplined by a court of any jurisdiction, for conduct that would be grounds for disciplinary action under this section.  Mr. McConkey has appealed this matter to the DC Court of Appeals.

Mark E. Rutstein
By Consent Order, a fine of $1,000.00 was imposed on the respondent for violation of 17 DCMR Section 2609.6 for permitting the use of his name in an advertisement without the telephone  number of the brokerage company with whom he is affiliated.

Jeffery Taylor
By Consent Order, a fine of $1,500.00 was imposed on the respondent in violation of 17 DCMR Section 2609.21 for attempting to contact the owner or real property directly for the purpose of inducing the owner to break a listing agreement when another licensee has a listing on the     property.
Alexander Venditti
By Consent Order, a fine of $1,500.00 was imposed on the respondent in violation of 17 DCMR Section 2609.21 for attempting to contact the owner or real property directly for the purpose of inducing the owner to break a listing agreement when another licensee has a listing on the     property.

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DC Continuing Education Credit Process

Continuing Education Logo

Licensees must COMPLETE the required coursework prior to the end of their applicable cycle.  Please note that the 60 day period  following the end of the cycle is there only for licensees to SHOW PROOF that the credits were earned prior to the end of the cycle.
There is NO “Grace Period” or extension period in which to take CEs. The penalty for not  completing CE courses on time will be to have licenses deemed expired and need to be reinstated prior to conducting any real estate business in the District.  The process to reinstate a license includes submitting a reinstatement application,  review by the DC Real Estate Commission (DCREC) and the issuance of the actual license by Pearson Vue. A licensee could easily lose at least 30 to 60 days or more, as well as incur the license reinstatement cost of $295 . (Read More)
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Real Estate Commission CE Offerings

The DC Real Estate Commission will be sponsoring the three mandatory courses at Gallaudet University Kellogg Conference Center at no out of pocket cost to the licensee. The courses will be held on September 16, 2016. 

Courses will apply to continuing education requirement for the current 2015 -2017 license cycle.

Financing Issues/Update - 3.0-hrs

Fair Housing - 3.0-hrs

DC Legislative Update - 3.0-hrs

Each course can accommodate 275 licensees. There are no additional spaces once registration is full. Gaining a spot on the wait-list will not guarantee a seat for class, since most licensees who sign up do attend the sessions.

Register for the September 16, 2016 courses. CLICK HERE and use the Green button.

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Key Dates and Facts

DC Real Estate Commission Course Offerings 
Kellogg Conference Hotel at Gallaudet University, Washington, DC Sept 16

Association of Real Estate Law Officials Annual Conference
Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada, Sept 21-25

2016 National Association of REALTORS Annual Convention
Orlando, FL, November 4-7

2017 National Association of REALTORS Mid Year Convention
Washington, DC, May 15-17, 2017

Real Estate Educators Association 2017 Annual Conference
Miami, FL, June 23-25, 2017


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2016 - 2017 Commission Meeting Schedule

 Meetings are scheduled for second Tuesday of each month.

September 13, 2016
October 11, 2016
November 8, 2016
December 13, 2016
January 10, 2017
February 14, 2017
 March 14, 2017
April 11, 2017
May 9, 2017
June 13, 2017
July 11, 2017

Dates are subject to change. Call 202-442-4320 for updated dates.

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Occupational and Professional Licensing Administration

Clifford Cooks
Program Manager

 Staci Mason
Program Officer

Leon Lewis
Executive Director
Contributing Editor

Kevin Cyrus
Education Coordinator, Editor

Kathy Thomas
Education Liaison Specialist

Stephanie Johnston

Commission Assistant


Kia Winston 

Legal Counsel 


George Batista


  Asia Duma

  Arnebya Herndon