Thousands of Colorado real estate brokers are unable to conduct business after missing a Dec. 31 deadline to submit fingerprints to state and federal law enforcement officials, the Denver Business Journal reported Dec. 30.

A state law that went into effect July 1 mandated that all real estate brokers must submit fingerprints and fees to cover the cost of background checks, the Journal reported.

One-third of the state’s approximately 46,000 agents were notified they had to do so by year-end — but only about 8,000 had submitted ink-rolled or digital fingerprints plus accompanying fees by the deadline to the Colorado Bureau of Investigation, Debbie Campagnola, director of the Colorado Real Estate Commission, told the Journal.

The licenses of the remaining 4,000 to 8,000 real estate agents who had planned to renew their active broker status but missed the year-end deadline automatically will be placed on inactive status, Campagnola told the Journal.

Those agents still would be able to work as unlicensed personal assistants within a brokerage, according to media reports.

The remaining two-thirds of Colorado’s active brokers must submit their fingerprints and fees in either 2006 or 2007, depending on when their licenses expire, reports said.

“There’s been a lot of talk about it,” Skeeter Wilson, a real estate broker with Prestige Real Estate Group in Broomfield, told the Journal.

“Without a license, you can’t practice real estate,” Wilson said, according to the Journal.

Real estate agents without active licenses aren’t supposed to take on listings or receive commissions, and their errors and omissions insurance isn’t in force, Campagnola told the Journal. “Its a big deal. So if you have a closing in the works [and your license becomes inactive], that’s a problem.”

The new requirements caught many real estate agents by surprise — despite several letters containing specific warnings from the real estate commission and educational sessions offered by the Colorado Association of Realtors and other industry trade organizations, reports said.

Brokerage managers have pushed agents to complete the fingerprinting task and urged them not to wait until the last minute, according to reports. But many agents simply put it off until it was too late.

“The first time you try to implement something like this, the biggest battle is getting the word out to people that it’s even required,” Jacquie Wolff, director of education for the Denver Board of Realtors, told the Journal. “I still think there are a lot of people out there who aren’t aware.”

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