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Notes from the MAR Legal Hotline

by The MAR Legal Team | Aug 30, 2017
Q: I’d like to hire an unlicensed real estate assistant. How can I make sure that I am complying with licensing laws?

A: According to the National Association of Realtors®, 13% of Realtors® use at least one personal assistant. While a real estate assistant can be a welcome addition to your busy office, it’s important to make sure that you and your unlicensed assistant are complying with Massachusetts licensing laws.

While licensing laws vary from state to state, in Massachusetts it is illegal for an unlicensed real estate assistant to act as a licensed broker or salesperson either
directly or indirectly. An unlicensed real estate assistant may be subject to fines of up to $500. Massachusetts licensing law states that “no person shall engage in the
business of or act as a broker or salesperson directly or indirectly, either temporarily or as an incident to any other transaction, or otherwise, unless he is licensed.”

You may also be subjected to fines and license suspension or revocation if your
unlicensed real estate assistant violates state licensing laws. To ensure compliance
with licensing laws and to make sure that your unlicensed real estate assistant is not
acting as a broker or salesperson, it’s best to set up a written office policy that clearly
defines their tasks and responsibilities. 

Q: What tasks can my unlicensed real estate assistant perform? What tasks should they avoid?

A: Unlike some states, Massachusetts does not have specific guidelines that define the tasks that an unlicensed assistant may or may not perform. Unlicensed real estate assistants should generally avoid tasks that bring them into direct contact with clients and customers. While unlicensed assistants may schedule appointments with potential
clients, they should not provide detailed information about properties or listings. They should also avoid discussing specific details including home value or marketing strategies with potential clients. Engaging in a conversation about a property or listing that goes beyond an administrative task could violate licensing laws.