California Department of Real Estate: Structure, Responsibilities and Powers 

The California Department of Real Estate (DRE) is a key entity in the regulation and supervision of real estate activities in the state of California. In this article, we will explore the structure, responsibilities and powers of the DRE, which plays a crucial role in protecting consumers and regulating the real estate industry in California.


California's real estate licensing law was first enacted in 1917, leading to the creation of the Department of Real Estate. Over the years, there have been significant changes to the structure and name of this regulatory entity:

  • In 2013, as part of the 2012 Government Reorganization Plan, the Department of Real Estate (DRE) became the California Bureau of Real Estate (CBRE), located within the Department of Consumer Affairs. (Department of Consumer Affairs).
  • In 2014, the entity became an office within the Department of Consumer Affairs.
  • However, in 2018, the Department regained its status as an independent entity thanks to Senate Bill 173 and once again became the Department of Real Estate (DRE).

The DRE operates under the jurisdiction of the Business, Consumer Services and Housing Agency (BCSHA).


The highest authority of the DRE, which operates under the direction of the BCSHA, is the Commissioner of Real Estate. The Department of Real Estate is organized into seven main sections, each of which is headed by an Assistant Commissioner:

  1. Compliance
  2. Legal (Legal)
  3. Audits
  4. Communications & Publications
  5. Subdivisions
  6. Licensing & Administrative Services
  7. Legislation


The Commissioner of Real Estate is the highest authority of the Department of Real Estate and plays a key role in overseeing and regulating the real estate industry in California. Some key aspects about the Commissioner include:

  • The Commissioner is appointed by the state governor.
  • To qualify as a Commissioner, a person must have at least 5 years of active experience as a real estate broker in the state of California or related real estate experience for 5 of the last 10 years.
  • The Commissioner must not have any concurrent interest in a real estate company or an oil, gas or mineral brokerage company.

Commissioner's Duties

The Real Estate Commissioner has a number of fundamental responsibilities and duties, including:

  • Administer and enforce real estate law for the protection of buyers and those dealing with real estate licensees.
  • Carry out all the actions provided for in the Real Estate Law.
  • Maintain a main office in Sacramento and establish branch offices as deemed necessary.
  • Appoint deputy commissioners and other persons as necessary.

Commissioner's Powers

The Real Estate Commissioner has significant powers to regulate and control various real estate-related activities in California. His powers include:

  • Regulate and control the issuance and revocation of all licenses subject to DRE regulation.
  • Employ deputy commissioners, administrative employees, and other individuals as necessary to fulfill the responsibilities of the DRE.
  • Adopt rules and regulations necessary for the effective application of the law.
  • Supervise the activities of real estate licensees who operate as mortgage lenders and mortgage brokers.
  • Active mortgage loan brokers are required to submit reports to the Department to assist in monitoring compliance with the law.
  • Hold hearings related to a licensee that may result in the suspension, revocation or denial of a real estate license.
  • Obtain court orders and subpoenas against licensees when necessary.
  • Issue Desist and Refrain Orders to stop activities that violate the Real Estate Law or the Subdivided Lands Law.
  • Issue citations and orders for violations of the Real Estate Law or its regulations.

Commissioner's Legal Advisor

The Real Estate Commissioner is supported by legal counsel who acts as lead counsel for the Commissioner. This legal counsel typically comes from the Attorney General's Office and provides legal guidance and advice on issues related to real estate regulation.

The California Department of Real Estate, under the direction of the Commissioner, plays an essential role in protecting consumers and regulating real estate activities in the state. Their powers and responsibilities are designed to ensure that applicable laws and regulations are followed and that integrity and ethics are maintained in the California real estate industry.

Legal and Tax Disclaimer

Please be advised that the content presented in this blog is for informational purposes only and should not be construed as legal or tax advice. The articles and information provided here are written from the perspective of a real estate agent affiliated with Keller Williams, and do not represent legal or tax counsel.

As the author, I am a licensed real estate professional under Keller Williams, holding Brokerage DRE License Number: #02197031. However, it is important to note that my expertise is in the field of real estate, and not in legal or tax matters. The insights and opinions shared on this blog are based on my experiences and knowledge in the real estate industry and should be treated as general guidance rather than definitive legal or tax advice.

For specific legal or tax concerns relating to any real estate transactions or investments, readers are strongly encouraged to consult with a qualified attorney or tax advisor who can provide tailored advice based on your individual circumstances and the latest legal and regulatory requirements.

The information on this blog is provided "as is" without warranty of any kind, and I, along with Keller Williams and its affiliates, disclaim all liability for any loss, damage, or misunderstanding arising from reliance on the information contained herein.

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