For anyone who is excited about a real estate career, but requires an understanding of this field before going through the proper pre-licensing accreditation and exam, you might consider being employed by a brokerage as an unlicensed assistant. Such an unlicensed assistant is referred to as a support member of staff in a real estate firm. This sort of relationship produces a win-win for everyone concerned - you'll have an opportunity to gain practical experience, network with those working in the industry, and learn from those already working at the company. On the other hand, licensees at the firm will gain from the services you offer and may very well grow their sales through increased efficiency.
Who will be responsible for you?
This really is an important subject and will influence all those working at the organization. While being employed as an unlicensed assistant, you will find yourself being coached and managed by licensed brokers and/or real estate agents. These licensees will be accountable for you at all times, and they will make sure that you are not performing any functions that strictly demand a real estate license. If licensees don't carry out management and supervision in this regard, they risk losing their own license. Make sure to tell the truth and report all of your activities to your designated licensees, and if you are not certain about something be sure to ask questions before doing anything.
What are you allowed to do without a license?
If you are an unlicensed assistant, it is possible to help agents and brokers with day-to-day tasks. Each state provides specified limitations as to which activities an unlicensed assistant can conduct, so please do your research and learn what these are.
When you are conducting this research, you may focus on finding out about the limitations and guidelines on the following routine tasks (which will still need to be monitored by a licensed agent or broker):
- Answering telephone calls, taking messages and making appointments
- Creating promotional sales copy, and planning leaflets/advertisements
- Researching and assembling information for evaluations and market analyses
- Placing and taking away signs
- Typing up letters and contract forms
- Arranging appointments for salespersons or brokers to show properties
- Following up on loan responsibilities after a contract has been negotiated
- Preparing records for closing
- Ordering items of maintenance
- Acquiring public documents
- Determining commission payments
What aren't you allowed to do without a license?
Once again, this can be state-specific and you will need to do some research relating to the regulations and rulese stablished by the real estate commission or regulating body in your state. Often, unlicensed assistants may not solicit business on behalf of the firm, interpret or give any explanation of info about listings or legal agreements, bargain for commissions, or show properties with no licensee there.
How will you be paid?
Assisting without a real estate license is most commonly characterized by an employee relationship, and you will not be considered an independent service provider. Because of this, the licensed salesperson or broker in charge of you will be liable for paying you directly and will need to respect the criteria associated with an employee relationship. This obligates the licensee to withhold state and federal taxations, as well as FICA, workman's compensation, and unemployment.
It is best to negotiate your income on an hourly, salaried or per-action basis. Understand that an assistant is never paid on a pro-rated commission schedule or solely upon the successful closing of a property sale. You will be eligible for your agreed-upon rate regardless of any outcomes, whether the sale was closed or not.
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