If you're an unlicensed real estate assistant, or an agent or broker utilizing one, be sure you understand and follow your state's regulations as to what they are allowed to do. This list of permitted activities for an unlicensed assistant is from the New Mexico regulations but is similar to the rules in other states. The position of an unlicensed assistant can be a great training ground for a real estate career, but know the rules so you do not start out wrong.
Obtain Information With Written Instructions
Obtaining information pursuant to written instructions from the responsible person from public records, a multiple listing service, listing exchange, or from third party sources including, but not limited to, surveyors, banks, appraisers and title companies are allowed.
An unlicensed assistant can be valuable in pulling together the many documents and details related to getting a new listing going. What they cannot do is talk to the client about it. Their job is to gather data and documents. They can go to the courthouse and pull information related to the property.
Open House Duties
Hosting and/or distributing literature at an open house is allowed if:
- an unlicensed assistant does not discuss, negotiate or solicit offers for the property or provide any information other than printed material prepared and approved by the responsible person; and
- the responsible person is present at the open house where the unlicensed assistant is located; and
- all inquiries are referred to the responsible person or other associate brokers or qualifying brokers.
If your unlicensed assistant is chatty and likes to engage people you may not want to put them in a position at an open house where they may be asked questions. Their natural reaction would be to answer them, which isn't allowed.
Distributing Prepared Information
Disseminating and distributing information prepared and approved by the responsible person is OK for the unlicensed assistant. Note that the information is prepared by someone with a license.
They can hand out brochures, drop off brochures and documents at title companies, with appraisers and surveyors.
Delivery of Documents to Brokers
Rules allow picking up and delivering paperwork to associate brokers or qualifying brokers other than the responsible person.
The real estate professional's time is best spent working directly with clients, so unlicensed assistants can be of value in taking over permitted delivery duties.
Document Delivery to Clients With Limitations
An unlicensed assistant can be assigned the duties of picking up and delivering paperwork to sellers or purchasers after a contract has been executed. This is if the paperwork has already been reviewed and approved by the responsible person, without answering any questions or providing any opinions or advice to the recipient of the paperwork; all substantive questions must be referred to the responsible person.
As mentioned above, if they're the friendly chatty type, having them deliver a document to a client can be a problem. The first thing the client may do is ask what it's about. They may answer the question to avoid looking incompetent.
Write and Place Advertising
The assistant can write advertisements, flyers, brochures, and other promotional materials for the approval of the responsible person, and place classified advertisements approved by the responsible person.
If you have a talented writer or ad person as an assistant, it's great. Let them create ads and property descriptions that work. Just make sure that you document that you reviewed and approved them before they went live.
Place and Remove Signs
Placing and removing signs from real property is OK as directed by the responsible agent or broker.
This should be simple and not create problems, as they're just stopping by and placing or pulling up a sign.
Under the direction of the responsible agent or broker, an unlicensed assistant can order repairs or services for a property.
This is another duty that is valuable as it frees the licensed agent up to work with clients.
Banking, Accounting, and Documents
An unlicensed assistant is approved for receiving and depositing funds, as well as maintaining books and records while under the supervision of the responsible person.
If prepared by the responsible person, an unlicensed assistant can engage in typing and word processing of documents.
Often a Licensed Assistant is a Better Choice
It can be a more economical solution to use an unlicensed assistant, but there is added risk involved. You, as the responsible licensed party, will be expected to train and supervise the unlicensed person to be sure that they are not doing things that they are not allowed to do. While the risk doesn't go away with a licensed assistant, it is lowered.