DRE vs BRE? The Right Abbreviation For California’s Department Of Real Estate

When the California Department of Real Estate (DRE) became the California Bureau of Real Estate (BRE) in 2013, it was a whopper of a change for industry professionals. On a minor level, industry professionals and licensees with the previous name had many questions about which abbreviations, (DRE vs BRE) were valid and legal.

Aside from confusion at this news, however, the transition added an additional hierarchy level to DRE transactions and processes, leading to numerous departmental inefficiencies and causing real estate professionals much frustration.

The First Change: From DRE to BRE (2013)

Real estate agents pointing out the name difference of DRE vs CalBRE on a legal document.
See, Rob, I was right! It’s BRE, not DRE.

To understand why the California DRE changed to the California BRE in 2013, it’s necessary to understand Governor Edmund G. Brown Jr’s Reorganization Plan.

At that time, unrelated state departments like CalTrans and the DRE were lumped together, while other programs that were actually related to one another were jumbled and duplicated in different state agencies.

Governor Brown’s 2013 Reorganization Plan aimed to cut the number of state agencies from 12 to 10 by eliminating or consolidating various state departments and governmental entities. Once implemented, this reorganization effort would replace five existing agencies with three, including:

  1. The Government Operations Agency: responsible for administering state procurement, IT operations, and human resource activities
  2. The Business, Consumer Services and Housing Agency: responsible for licensing and overseeing industries, business, and professionals
  3. The Transportation Agency: this agency aligned all of California’s transportation departments

How did this cause the DRE to become the BRE?

Press conference of governor of the state of California concept.
California Governor Edmund G. Brown’s 2013 Reorganization Plan caused the California DRE to become CalBRE.

Prior to the Governor’s plan, the Business, Transportation and Housing Agency included two entities, the DRE and the Office of Real Estate Appraisers.

Governor Brown’s consolidation effort abolished these departments and set up the Bureau of Real Estate and the Bureau of Real Estate Appraisers. That meant that the DRE would become the BRE. For many within real estate, CalBRE was another nickname for the new real estate bureau.

Between May and June of 2012, Governor Brown’s Reorganization Plan was approved by the Little Hoover Commission and subsequently approved by the state legislature. Gov. Brown’s Reorganization plan, and thus switch to BRE, went into effect on July 1, 2013.

What effect did the switch from DRE TO BRE have on the industry?

It was essentially a reduction and rearrangement of the Department overall, putting it under the Department of Consumer Affairs. All of the applications, forms, documents, and titles had to be rewritten or revised and there was a lot of confusion over whether DRE or BRE was the correct abbreviation to use on official documents.

After the switch to BRE, industry professionals watched timelines skyrocket – adding more time to a critical path item, carrying with it the costs of time and money as projects take longer to get to market. 

The efficiencies decreased and frustrations grew as CalBRE lacked support and direction for its department. Internally, red tape and issues such as employee reimbursements and technology upgrades were ignored or forgotten. 

The Second Change: From BRE to DRE (2017)

Confused young blonde long haired female frowning her eyebrows and biting lips
Following the news that CalBRE was once again DRE, many industry professionals had the same face as this young woman.

In 2017, a year full of other monumental changes, California Gov. Jerry Brown has just signed Senate Bill 173 reverting from BRE (and CalBRE) back to DRE.

With the sponsorship and support of the California Association of Realtors, among others, the Bill passed both the Senate and Assembly with no opposing votes, much to the relief of the entire Department and those who depend upon its reliable functionality.

But, SB173 is not merely a name change to the California Bureau Of Real Estate – the government is far too complicated for that!

The Bill also changes the hierarchy of the Department, removing it from under the umbrella of the Department of Consumer Affairs (DCA). The newly re-formed California Department Of Real Estate (DRE) will be under the jurisdiction of the Business, Consumer Services, and Housing Agency (BCSH), instead of the DCA.

So, effective July 1, 2018, SB 173 will abolish one level of supervision between the Governor and the Commissioner of Real Estate, reducing management tensions.

The passing of the SB173 will ease frustrations and anxieties both internal and external, improving speed and efficiency for not only our clients but all real estate professionals. 

The recent reversion has the Department hopeful that they will retain further control over fund usage, support, and staffing. With too many people and not enough real estate, housing costs in California continue to soar, creating an increasing need for stability.

Well, for one, the entire California building industry knew. Returning to the DRE abbreviation and hierarchy has filled building industry professionals with the hope that things will return to a more efficient and independently-controlled era.

The ultimate goal of returning to the DRE is to serve the real estate and housing industry more efficiently. Who knew one letter could make such a big difference in the world of real estate and professional resources and reports?

How does the change from BRE to DRE impact the real estate industry?

happy businessman celebrating victory at office
Now that DRE is back, real estate professionals can hope for improved efficiency in licensing and approval processes.

Now that the Department of Real Estate will have control over their budget, they hope to be able to harness the technology upon which we have come to depend. By embracing technology, we will be able to submit electronic filings. Consequently, we at California Builder Services can provide more efficient efforts for our clients, highlighting the speed and efficiency this change affords us.

Effective July 1, 2018, the forms, real estate law documents, and titles with CalBRE will change again; a small price to pay for such significant, advantageous changes.

If you’re a real estate agent, it’s worth noting that any marketing materials, such as business cards, posts, reports with the new name are still valid. Similarly, documents with your license number on them that have the new (old?) name are still valid, just as they were when we had CalBRE.

In a 2017 CalBRE bulletin, Commissioner Wayne S. Bell commented on Senate Bill 173, saying that he wanted to “offer an answer [hint: the answer is “no”] as to whether licensees will now or soon need to modify the acronyms/initials that accompany license numbers on business cards, marketing materials, and the like.”

For those of us who never acclimated to calling it the Bureau of Real Estate or CalBRE, we’re safe calling it the Department Of Real Estate! At California Builder Services, we welcome this news about the name change and remain committed to offering superior reserve study services and public report processing services. If you have any comments about this change to and from CalBRE, feel free leave them below!

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