If you're an agent or broker considering hiring an assistant, or someone considering starting a real estate career as an assistant, here's a list of duties that are allowed for a licensed real estate assistant, but specifically prohibited for the unlicensed. Check the rules in your state, but many are similar to these excerpts from the real estate regulations in New Mexico.
Preparing legal documents such as listing and sales contracts are allowed, and obviously help to a busy agent or broker. However, the broker is liable and should review documents.
This is definitely something an unlicensed assistant is not allowed to do. It requires the real estate specific knowledge that comes from education to pass the real estate licensing exam. Whenever contracts, negotiations or answering questions of consumers is concerned, only a licensed assistant can perform them (check your state's laws as they may be more restrictive).
There is also an additional liability that comes with performing these activities. Your assistant, through you or on their own, should have E&O (Errors and Omissions) insurance coverage, as everybody makes a mistake now and then.
Interpretation and Advice
Interpreting documents, offering opinions or advice is OK for a licensed assistant. When the client phones in for help interpreting a document, the licensed assistant can help.
How many questions does a real estate professional get during a transaction from their clients? For most of us, there are a lot of questions and sometimes long explanations. In our focus on getting the transaction through closing, sometimes we can be less than totally responsive to our clients.
A licensed assistant good with people can be an invaluable asset to the busy real estate professional. The client calls in and doesn't have to track you down to get an answer. Instead, the licensed assistant can help them with document and contract interpretation.
A licensed assistant can disseminate and distribute all types of information without having to have it specifically prepared by the supervising agent or broker.
If you need a change to an MLS listing in the comments section, that task should be no problem for a licensed assistant. If they're good at writing ads, that's even more value. Your licensed assistant can write your newspaper and homes magazine ads.
Get Client Information
Licensed assistants are able to obtain personal or property information from a client or customer for document and marketing purposes. Take that licensed assistant along when you're pulling together the information and photos for a new listing. You can talk to your clients while your assistant does a lot of the work onsite.
Delivery of Financial and Title Documents
Picking up from or delivering to customers or clients financial documents prepared by title companies, lenders or other third persons for the purpose of obtaining signatures is a prohibited activity for the unlicensed, but a normal duty of a licensed assistant.
Send that licensed assistant out to get documents signed, copied and delivered to all of the parties involved. Your job is to work with clients and grow your business. Getting those signatures isn't as important to the future.
Attend a Closing Unsupervised
An unlicensed assistant would be in violation for attending a closing without the responsible person present. This could be a duty assigned to a licensed assistant.
Sound Like a Licensee
This is the licensing regulation statement: "representing himself or herself as being an associate broker or a qualifying broker or as being engaged in the business of buying, selling, exchanging, renting, leasing, managing, auctioning or dealing with options on any real estate or the improvements thereon for others" is prohibited for unlicensed persons. This would be more an avoidance for the unlicensed, while a licensed assistant can act and sound like a licensed agent.
Do Telephone Marketing
A licensed assistant can conduct telephone solicitation of any kind designed to procure buyers, sellers, listings or appointments for listing presentations.
This is where you really need to educate them and exercise caution. The Federal Do Not Call List has some stiff fines for violations. Don't just turn your assistant loose to telemarket.