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Hiring an assistant? Be careful when doling out tasks

by Timothy Inklebarger

The new year is fast approaching and many real estate brokers are making plans for what’s to come in 2020. If you’re considering hiring an assistant next year, save yourself both time and potential legal trouble by taking a closer look at the dos and don’ts of the tasks those assistants are allowed to perform by law.
AgentEdu.com, the educational arm of Agent Publishing, offers a quick primer on how best to use assistants and not run afoul of the law. One key takeaway is that you, as a broker, are responsible for the supervision, training, and control of an assistant. If your assistant does something that’s illegal or that’s reserved just for licensed pros, you will be held responsible. So don’t jeopardize your own license and business — do your homework so that your new assistants doesn’t become a liability.
Also, the National Association of Realtors also provides a quick guide for the work unlicensed assistants are precluded from performing in each state. NAR’s list of impermissible tasks for unlicensed assistants in Florida notes the following:

The Florida Real Estate Commission has identified the following as tasks unlicensed assistants may perform:

• Fill out and submit listings and changes to any multiple listing service
• Follow-up on loan commitments after a contract has been negotiated and generally secure the status reports on the loan progress
• Assemble documents for closing
• Secure public documents from courthouses, utility districts, etc.
• Have keys made for company listings
• Order surveys, termite inspections, home inspections and home warranties with the licensed employer’s approval
• Write ads for approval of the licensee and the supervising broker; place advertising; prepare flyers and promotional information for approval by licensee and the supervising broker
• Receive, record and deposit earnest money, security deposits and advance rents
• Only type the contract forms for approval by licensee and supervising broker
• Compute commission checks
• Place signs on property
• Order repairs as directed by licensee
• Prepare flyers and promotional information for approval by licensee and supervising broker
• Act as a courier service to deliver documents and pick-up keys
• Place routine telephone calls on late rent payments
• Schedule appointments for licensee to show a listed property
• Be at an open house:
o For security purposes
o To hand out materials, brochures and objective, written information on a listing or rental
o To answer questions concerning a listing from which the answer must be obtained from the licensed employer-approved printed information and is objective in nature (not subjective comments)
o To gather information for a comparative market analysis or appraisal

The Florida Real Estate Commission has identified the following as tasks unlicensed assistants may not perform:
• Auction or attempt to auction another person’s real property for compensation
• Advertise or attempt to advertise another person’s real property for compensation
• Undertake to list or sell one or more timeshare periods per year on behalf of another individual or entity for compensation.

Those looking to take a deeper dive into Florida laws and regulations on real estate licenses can visit the state website.
And if you’re ready to start the hiring process, check out AgentEDU’s blog or their full course on creating team job descriptions, which you can access for free if you create a profile and sign up for a seven-day free trial.

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