What are Investigations
The Georgia's Real Estate License Law and Appraisal Act provides that "The Commission/Board may, upon its own motion, and shall, upon the sworn written request of any person, investigate the actions of any applicant for licensure real estate broker, associate broker, salesperson, real estate course and instructors approved by the Commission, appraiser, applicant, or school approved by the Board." The law limits the Commission's Board's investigative authority solely to issues related to the Real Estate License Law or Appraisal Act.
The Commission's/Board's investigations do not determine whether a violation of any other area of law has occurred. For example, the Commission/Board cannot settle such issues as disputes regarding earnest money, loan amount a lender may make based on an appraisal, repairs to property, or payment of fees to licensees/appraisers. The law of contracts control these issues. If the parties cannot resolve such issues themselves, they should consult an attorney or the small claims court of their county for assistance.
Anyone who files a request for investigation with the Commission/Board and has suffered a financial loss should not wait for the results of a Commission/Board investigation before consulting an attorney. The Commission/Board cannot replace a financial loss. The law allows the Commission/Board to reprimand, suspend, or revoke a license/classification and/or to impose fines, education requirements, and/or require reports from an independent accountant.
The Board may only investigate real estate appraisers or persons performing the acts of an appraiser without proper registration, licensure, or certification. It cannot take action against persons acting properly under an exception to registration, licensure, or certification requirements. The Commission may only investigate licensed real estate brokers and salespersons or unlicensed persons performing the acts of a broker. It cannot take action against an unlicensed individual who may be an owner or builder acting as a principal on his or her own property.
The public and all licensees/appraisers should understand the following facts regarding Commission/Board investigations:
- When the Commission/Board initiates an investigation no one should make the inference that the Commission/Board believes a violation of the law has occurred or is charging anyone with a violation of the law. Only after reviewing the results of an investigation might the Commission/Board allege that a violation has occurred and bring charges. The Commission/Board, not the person who requested the investigation, is the Complainant in the matter.
- The investigator keeps all information that he/she gathers confidential.
- The investigator reports the facts gathered in the investigation but not the names of the party or parties involved. In this way the Commission/Board evaluates and judges only on the relative merits of the evidence.
- Unless the Commission/Board orders a formal hearing, the name of the person requesting the investigation and all other materials in the investigative file remain confidential and closed to the public.
Consider Your Other Options
The Agency's restricted resources often make the investigative process take longer than you or the Agency would prefer. Thus, you may get quicker attention to your problem by (1) discussing it directly with the agent(s) involved or the agent's broker or (2) asking the Small Claims Court in your county to address the problem. Regardless, before, after, or during those processes, you may file a Request for Investigation with the Commission/Board.
Request an Investigation
In order to initiate an investigation, you must submit a notarized Request for Investigation form.