UPDATED: Pierce judge overturns emergency real estate suspension


FRIDAY, OCT. 8 – A Pierce County Superior Court judge overturned an emergency suspension of the real estate licenses of Hellickson.com, Inc. managing broker Michael Hellickson and broker Tara Hellickson.  After today’s ruling, DOL has reissued the real estate licenses. Click here to read the judge’s ruling.

The temporary suspensions were put in place by DOL on Sept. 2.

DOL spokesperson Christine Anthony says that the agency stands by its decision to issue the summary suspension, but will certainly abide by the judge’s decision. She says the agency will present its case at an administrative hearing beginning Oct. 19.

ORIGINAL POST, Sept. 9

The Department of Licensing (DOL) has indefinitely suspended the real estate licenses of Hellickson.com, Inc., managing broker Michael Hellickson, and broker Tara Hellickson for misconduct following the investigation of 27 consumer complaints. They are barred from engaging in any real estate business and transactions, pending further disciplinary proceedings.

While investigating these complaints, DOL investigators found evidence of ongoing patterns and practices that financially harmed consumers. These practices included:

  • misrepresenting to sellers that the home would be purchased by the broker if it didn’t sell within 30 days
  • telling homeowners to stop making mortgage payments so they could do a short sale
  • listing homes at prices not authorized by the homeowner
  • listing homes at artificially reduced prices in order to generate low-ball offers
  • misrepresenting the contents of listing agreements by having homeowners sign blank addenda and later filling in unacceptable list price authorizations
  • failing to provide sellers with copies of executed listing agreements
  • telling homeowners to vacate their home before they were legally required to do so
  • communicating negligently with homeowners, potential buyers, and lenders

The department also found evidence of false advertising about the real estate practice. The company’s website claims Hellickson is the number one agent in both Hawaii and Oregon, when neither of them is licensed to sell real estate in either state. The website also claims the Hellicksons or their company, Perfect Fit Loans, can provide home loan services, but this company is not licensed by the Department of Financial Institutions.

Consumers with a pending transaction or a signed contract with the Hellickson group are encouraged to seek advice from an attorney or a licensed real estate broker before taking any action.

Consumers who are worried about losing their homes may contact the Department of Financial Institutions about their options. To talk to a counselor, call 877-894-4663. They can also get more information at Homeownership.wa.gov. Consumers can also contact the Office of the Attorney General’s Consumer Protection Division at 800-551-4636. If you need help finding an attorney, the following resources may be useful:

Washington State Bar Association for Lawyer Referral Services
Housing Justice Project
Department of Housing and Urban Development Mortgage Counselor Services
WSBA Home Foreclosure Legal Aid Project:  877-894-HOME
KCBA Housing Justice Project:  206-267-7090
Northwest Justice Project CLEAR line:  888-201-1014 (outside King County), 206- 461-3200 (in King County)
Legal Action Center:  206-324-6890

15 Responses to UPDATED: Pierce judge overturns emergency real estate suspension

  1. JL Smith says:

    Thank you. A home is an American family’s most important asset. Real estate agents need to approach this with due diligence and utmost care. I am aware fo their illegal and unethical practice. They seem to thumb the noses to the NWMLS and regulators. I know that it takes a lot for the Department of Licensing to suspend or revoke a license.

  2. CSG says:

    I appreciate the notice on your website. Unethical practices should be exposed.

  3. Broker says:

    We are so happy the Hellickson’s have been caught. Many complaints for many years from the industry about these folks. Bank fraud where they manipulated the banks by not showing the other offers. Logs that don’t show our calls. Cover ups glaore! So many victims it will take decades to sort through Michael Hellickson’s greed!

  4. There is even more misrepresentation in the business for sale field. Chosse a good broker.

  5. James lanco says:

    Thank Goodness, It does take those few people to ruin it for the many. If only the punishment included Jail Time then I would be happy. We are way too leniant with criminals and just encourage people to act up and be bad/evil since the punishment doesnt fit the crime. This goes along with DUI and Drug abuse and sellers. Get stricter laws that make criminals think twice about breaking them like other countries. I am James Lanco and I am running for Gov.

  6. Rhonda says:

    What about the mess for those of us who were using ethical brokers but trying to purchase properties Fannie Mae had listed with the Hellicksons? My offer was accepted, my earnest money taken, just needed a response to the inspection. Meantime their license is suspended and all contact stops. Now we find out that Fannie Mae transferred the listings to another broker, the home I thought I was getting is in process of being sold to someone else. Fannie Mae should have frozen all properties the Hellicksons had touched until investigations were made. Why penalize honest home buyers for their decision to list with a bad company. I hope the Hellicksons penalty includes reimbursing those hurt by their stupid actions.

  7. I am one of Hellicksons’ attorneys. It is apparent to me that the Department of Licensing [DOL] is retaliating against the Hellicksons for successfully asserting their Constitutional rights against warrantless and unreasonable seizures by DOL. Last year, DOL issued a subpoena to the Northwest Multiple Listing Service purporting to require NWMLS to produce “Records of all disciplinary actions taken against Michael J. Hellickson and Tara Hellickson now and at all times since date of acquiring Northwest Multiple Listing Service membership.”King County Superior Court Judge Catherine Shaffer quashed the subpoena and ruled that “the Subpoena constitutes a warrantless search of business records without a determination of merit or probable cause in violation of plaintiffs’ constitutional rights, that the real estate licensing law does not contain adequate safeguards to protect plaintiffs’ Fourth Amendment rights, and, in the alternative, the Subpoena is overly broad and unreasonable.”
    On Tuesday, October 5, 2010, Pierce County Superior Court Judge Beverly Grant will hear argument on Hellicksons’ motion to stay the summary suspension of Hellicksons’ real estate licenses. The hearing will not address the merits of the charges against Hellicksons, but rather whether DOL again violated the Hellickson’s Constitutional rights by summarily suspending the Hellicksons’ licenses without a hearing.
    DOL has been investigating the subject complaints for over a year, so it is difficult to imagine how the alleged practices suddenly constitute an “immediate danger” to the public the day before a long, holiday weekend. In addition, even if an emergency existed, the law requires DOL to take the least restrictive action necessary to protect the public. If DOL believes that Hellicksons committed practices that violate the real estate licensing law, then it simply should have issued a temporary order prohibiting those specific practices pending a hearing, rather than putting them out of business! DOL is abusing its power and the Hellicksons intend to fight back.
    The Hellicksons have done nothing wrong. Nevertheless, their primary concern right now is the well being of their customers and that transactions currently being processed not be disrupted. The Hellicksons are helping homeowners in distress. The actions of the State could result in sales not taking place, foreclosures, and damages and harm to these consumers. The rash actions of the State, without so much as a hearing and an opportunity to respond, does not protect the public and hurts the consumers and community at large. The State’s actions also damages contractors working on homes being marketed, employees of the Hellicksons, and the Hellicksons and their professional reputation. The Hellicksons welcome their day in court to respond to these damaging and false allegations.

    • James says:

      As their attorney you have to protect their assests. Everything that you said really doesnt hold water considering that they are paying you to help them cover the un ethical and un moral things they have gotten away with in the past. Hell has a special
      spot for people like you guys..

  8. Vlad says:

    Thats what happens when someone operates outside the law, Doug. Innocent people get hurt by the greedy actions of a few because, unfortunately, the train has to stop at somebodys doorstep before its taken of the tracks.

  9. Hellicksons win Round One! On October 8, 2010, Pierce County Superior Court Judge Beverly Grant (a) ruled that the Hellicksons had been denied due process of law by the Department of Licensing and (b) entered an order reinstating their real estate licenses pending a hearing on the merits of the charges, which Judge Grant also ruled must be proven by “clear, cogent and convincing” evidence. As of today, the Hellicksons are back in business!

    • James says:

      Figures our legal system is a HUGE joke. Money talks and it’s very apparent that the guy with the money makes the rules no matter how many people they hurt or destroy. Does anyone ever wonder why 3/4 of the world hates Americans?? It’s not hard to see why judges and lawyers politicians in general are corrupt we need a new way of punishing the wicked and evil.

      • Tiffany says:

        Maybe you should educate yourself before you even thinking of running for office. Just because someone is accused of something does not make them guilty! The court didn’t take their rights away, a government office did that without any notice or chance for them to defend themselves.
        You seem to enjoy the right to freedom of speech, how would you like it if some government office decided to take it from you? All rights are protected under the Law and until someone violates the law they are entitled to those rights. The Hellicksons have not been convicted of anything.

  10. What is unfortunate is that an honest, hard-working small business-owner must spend a lot of money to protect his reputation and business when the State violates fundamental Constitutional rights. Our checks and balances system is essential to the protection of individual rights. One can only wonder how many people have been the victims of government over-reaching, but do not have the resources to fight against the strong-arm of the State.

  11. On Friday, November 5, 2010, Pierce County Superior Court Judge Beverly Grant overturned the Director’s order that incorrectly instructed the Administrative Law Judge to apply the “preponderance of the evidence” standard of proof to Hellicksons’ case. Judge Grant held that under the “due process” clause of the Constitution real estate brokers hold professional licenses that cannot be taken away without “clear and convincing” evidence that violations of the real estate licensing were committed. This standard of proof helps to ensure that brokers are not deprived of their license, a valuable property right, without due process of law.
    The hearing on the merits of the charges against the Hellicksons is scheduled to begin on February 14, 2011. I am optimistic that the Hellicksons will be vindicated of all charges.

  12. another broker says:

    Those of us in the business know the Hellicksons are guilty of a lot of things. Cheers went up in RE offices when we heard the State had pulled their licenses. It’s amazing how bad you have to be to get in trouble. It gives the good agents a bad name. Many of us hope the DOL is successful is revoking their licenses. Permanently.

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