Despite tremendous growth in the number of real estate licensees in California, the staff for the state Department of Real Estate has dropped dramatically, according to Real Estate Commissioner Jeff Davi.Speaking at the California Association of Mortgage Brokers annual convention in San Jose, Mr. Davi said there are now 510,000 real estate licensees in the state. Under the current regulatory scheme, many mortgage brokers are licensed as real estate agents. With the turn in the real estate market, the department is expecting to deal with an increase in phone calls and complaints, Mr. Davi said. The department does not do random audits -- any audits it conducts are based on complaints from consumers or competitors. Right now the DRE has 303 employees, but the department has persuaded the legislature and the governor to allow it to hire 38 more, he said. All the new employees will be dedicated to enforcement.

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