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 Georgia notes the following:

The Georgia Real Estate Commission has identified the following as tasks unlicensed assistants may perform:
• Answer the phone, forward calls to the licensee
• Submit listing data to the MLS
• Follow up on loan commitments after the negotiation of the contract
• Gather the necessary documents for a closing
• Secure information documents from a courthouse or other public sources
• Have keys made for listings
• Install or remove lockboxes from listings
• Create ads and promotional materials that are to be approved by the licensee
• Place ads in newspapers, magazines and other publications as instructed by the real estate agent
• Receive, record and make deposits, such as security deposits, earnest money and advance rent
• Fill in contract forms following the instructions of the licensee
• Monitor license reports and personnel files
• Compute commission checks
• Place and remove signs on/from properties
• Order routine repair as instructed by the agent
• Pick up and deliver documents and keys
• Schedule appointments on behalf of the licensee
• Schedule property inspections
• Schedule dates for open houses, mortgage applications, walkthroughs before closing and closings
• Attend an open house with the purpose of offering security services
• Perform maintenance works on properties

The Georgia Real Estate Commission has identified the following as tasks unlicensed assistants may not perform:
• Make cold calls or otherwise contact the public for the purpose of securing prospects for listings, leasing, sales, exchanges or property management of real estate
• Host open houses, kiosks, home show booths or fairs
• Prepare promotional materials and advertisements without the review and approval of an affiliated licensee and firm
• Show real estate listings
• Answer any questions on title, financing or closings (other than time and place)
• Answer any questions regarding a listing except for information on price and amenities expressly authorized in writing by the licensee
• Discuss the attributes or amenities of real estate, under any circumstances, with a prospective purchaser or lessee
• Collect or hold deposit monies, rent or anything of value received from the owner of real estate or from a prospective purchaser or lessee

Those looking to take a deeper dive into Georgia 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.