Working in Real Estate without a Georgia Real Estate License: Unlicensed Assistants
Are you thinking about getting a Georgia real estate license, but aren’t quite sure? A great way to find out if this career is for you is to work as an unlicensed real estate assistant. You’ll observe agents performing their day-to-day duties and generally get a sense of this profession.
It may also happen that, once you get your Georgia real estate license, you’ll have an unlicensed real estate assistant working for you.
So, who can be an unlicensed real estate assistant? What can they do – and what can’t they do?
Ministerial Duties Only
An unlicensed real estate assistant (also called support personnel) can only perform duties that do not require a Georgia real estate license.
Specifically, support personnel is only allowed to perform ministerial duties. These are duties which do not require the exercise of the assistant's own judgment. Essentially, these are secretarial duties.
Active and Inactive License Holders Can Be Unlicensed Real Estate Assistants
What if you already have your Georgia real estate license? An active license holder can work as an unlicensed assistant if they want to. For instance, a license holder who is actively licensed with one firm might want to work as support personnel for another firm. That's fine – the licensee just needs to get written consent from both brokers.
A license holder whose license is inactive may also work as an unlicensed real estate assistant.
Written Agreement Required
Any firm which employs an unlicensed real estate assistant must enter into a written agreement with the assistant which specifies the duties that the support personnel may and may not undertake.
Unlicensed Real Estate Assistants: Dos and Don'ts
You might notice that there’s a lot of emphasis on what the unlicensed real estate assistant can and can’t do. That’s because the Georgia Real Estate Commission (GREC) is very strict about making sure that an assistant doesn’t ever perform duties that require a real estate license (read the rules here).
An unlicensed real estate assistant can:
Answer the telephone and forward calls and emails
Submit data on listings to an MLS
Check on the status of loan commitments
Assemble documents for closings and secure documents that are public information
Have keys made and install or remove lockboxes
Write and place advertisements and promotional materials with the firm’s approval
Record and deposit earnest money, security deposits, and rents
Type contract forms and compute commission checks
Monitor personnel files and license reports from GREC
Place and remove signs on real estate
Order items of routine repair and perform physical maintenance on real estate
Act as courier
Schedule appointments and open houses
Accompany a licensee to an open house or a showing only for security purposes
Arrange dates and times for inspections, a mortgage application, a pre-closing walkthrough, or a closing
An unlicensed real estate assistant cannot:
Make cold calls or otherwise contact the public for the purpose of finding prospects for listings, leasing, sales, exchanges, or property management
Host open houses, kiosks, home show booths, or fairs
Prepare promotional materials or advertisements without the firm’s approval
Show real estate
Answer any questions on title, financing, or closings (other than the time and place) or regarding a listing (except for information authorized in writing by the licensee)
Discuss or explain a contract, listing, lease, agreement, or other real estate document with anyone outside the firm
Negotiate or agree to any commission, commission split, management fee, or referral fee on behalf of a licensee
Discuss the attributes, amenities, terms or conditions of real estate, under any circumstances, with a prospective purchaser or lessee
Collect or hold deposit money, rent, or anything of value received from the owner of real estate or from a prospective purchaser or lessee
Provide owners of real estate or prospective purchasers or lessees with any advice, recommendations, or suggestions as to the sale, purchase, exchange, or leasing of real estate
Pretend to be a license holder
Penalties for Acting without a Georgia Real Estate License
It’s a criminal misdemeanor to practice or attempt to practice real estate without the proper license. That means if an unlicensed real estate assistant does anything that requires a Georgia real estate license, they’re in big trouble.
Likewise, if a licensee or firm employs an unlicensed person to perform duties that require a Georgia real estate license, that is a violation of license law. So if a broker has their unlicensed real estate assistant showing property and negotiating commissions, guess what – both the broker and the assistant are in hot water.
GREC can impose penalties including cease-and-desist orders, fines, demotions, license suspension, and more.
Stay in Your Lane
The most important thing to remember is that if a license holder can do it, an unlicensed real estate assistant can’t!
If you’re a license holder employing an assistant, educate yourself on the rules, and you’ll be fine. And if you’re an assistant, you’ll learn a lot about the real estate world – while respecting the limitations of your role.
Wanna Get a Georgia Real Estate License?
If you’re an unlicensed real estate assistant, you might like it so much that you decide to make the big leap to license land! Get some tips here.