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Legally speaking: What tasks are personal assistants permitted to perform

By Peg Ritenour, OAR Vice President of Legal Services/Administration

The OAR Legal Assistance Hotline receives an array of real estate-related legal questions — including license law issues, disclosure, contract law, ethics and commission problems, among others. In an effort to help you work within the law, our “Legally Speaking” series spotlights some of the timely questions that are being asked by REALTORS. This one involves some commonly asked questions pertaining to the duties an assistant can or can’t perform on your behalf…

Q:  My assistant is a licensed real estate agent. Are there any limitations in the license law on what duties she can perform on my behalf?

A: No. A personal assistant who is licensed as a salesperson is legally permitted to do all of those things that any licensed agent does. This would include showing homes, going on listing presentations, preparing or explaining terms of an offer to purchase or lease, soliciting listings or buyers, attending closings, etc. These duties, however, may be limited by the brokerage or agent that hires the assistant.


Q: If I hire an assistant who isn’t licensed, what are the limitations on the contact she can have with my buyers and sellers?

A: Simply stated, unlicensed personal assistants may not perform any duties that would require a license. This includes anything that could be construed as assisting or directing in procuring prospects for the purchase, sale, or lease of real estate, or negotiating such a transaction. To avoid engaging in activity that falls in this category, an unlicensed assistant’s interactions with clients and customers should be limited to ones that are secretarial or administrative in nature. When interacting with a client or customer, an unlicensed assistant cannot answer questions about a property, a listing, lease, purchase contract or interpret or explain such documents.


Q: Can my unlicensed assistant show homes for me or staff an open house?

A: Showing property is considered by the Ohio Division of Real Estate and Licensing to be activity that requires a real estate license. Therefore, an unlicensed assistant cannot show property to a prospective purchaser.  The Division does, however,  permit an unlicensed person to staff an open house, as long as they are there only for security purposes and to greet persons. As an unlicensed person they are not permitted to answer any questions about the property.


Q: Can an unlicensed person solicit business for the brokerage by providing information on the brokerage’s services to potential clients and customers?

A: No, this is considered by the Division to be activity that requires a real estate license.

Tags: legal, Legally Speaking