Before Judges Havey, Keefe and Collester.
The opinion of the court was delivered by: Collester, J.A.D.
NOT FOR PUBLICATION WITHOUT THE APPROVAL OF THE APPELLATE DIVISION
On appeal from the New Jersey Real Estate Commission.
Appellant Kent Pipes appeals from a final decision of the New Jersey Real Estate Commission denying his application for a license as a real estate broker.
Mr. Pipes has been a licensed real estate salesperson pursuant to the Real Estate License Act, N.J.S.A. 45:15-1 to -29.5, since 1980. From 1990 to the present he has been licensed through Stockwell-Knight Realty Co. in Mt. Holly. On June 19, 1998, he filed an application for a broker's license, noting his employment as Executive Director of Salt and Light Company, Inc., a non-profit corporation, with regular work hours five days a week from 9:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. The application form was also filled out by Paul T. Andrews of Stockwell-Knight Realty Co., who stated that Pipes was licensed as a real estate salesperson under his supervision but did not work for forty hours a week in that capacity. The Real Estate Commission denied the application by letter of its Executive Director for the following reason:
N.J.A.C. 11:5-1.3(a) requires employment as a real estate salesperson on a full-time basis under the authority of his or her broker during the hours of approximately 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. on any five days in each week during the three year period immediately preceding application and the absence of any other full-time employment during that time.
Mr. Pipes appealed to the full Real Estate Commission, which heard the matter on September 15, 1998. He testified that he had used his salesperson's license in connection with his position with Salt and Light to assist moderate or low income individuals and families to acquire affordable housing. He was involved in the acquisition and rehabilitation of forty emergency shelters, fifteen rental units and over seventy home ownership units by assisting people with multiple needs to begin the process of attaining self-sufficiency. An ordained minister of the Presbyterian Church and former president of the Affordable Housing Coalition of Burlington County, he participated in other non-profit organizations to assist needy persons to obtain housing in Burlington and Mercer Counties.
Mr. Pipes conceded that he did not work full-time as a real estate sales person and earned no commissions for sale of realty during the three years immediately preceding his application. His role as Executive Director of Salt and Light was not as a salesperson but as a principal selling to buyers. An independent agent licensed with another brokerage represented Salt and Light in various transactions and received a commission.
The full Commission denied appellant's application for approval of experience to qualify for a broker license, setting forth the following reasons:
The Commission concluded that you had not fulfilled the experience requirement to licensure as a New Jersey real estate broker as established at N.J.S.A. 45:15-9 and N.J.A.C. 11:5-1.3. The Commission determined that the evidence presented established that you had not worked on a full-time basis as a real estate salesperson under the authority and direction of the broker through whom you are licensed during the three years immediately preceding your application. The Commission further determined that you had other employment during the time period which exceeded twenty-five hours per week. Based on those findings, the Commission determined to affirm the initial denial of your application. See N.J.S.A. 45:15-9 and N.J.A.C. 11:5-1.3(a).
The qualifications for persons desiring to become real estate brokers are set forth in the Real Estate License Act, N.J.S.A. 45:15-9. Clearly Mr. Pipes meets the educational and good character requirements. The issue on appeal turns on the interpretation of the experience requirement, which provides that
every applicant for a license as broker or broker-salesperson shall at first have been the holder of a New Jersey real estate salesperson's license and have been actively engaged on a full-time basis in the real estate brokerage business in this State for 3 years immediately preceding the date of application... [N.J.S.A. 45:15-9.]
The Real Estate Commission promulgated a regulation to implement this provision of the statute, which states that with the exception of persons licensed as brokers in other states, all applicants for licensure as a broker must have been continually licensed and employed on a full-time basis as a real estate salesperson during the three years immediately ...