TAR expresses concern about TREC’s proposed unlicensed-assistant rules

Translate this page

12/19/2016 | Author: TAR Legal Staff

The Texas Real Estate Commission in November proposed amendments to rules affecting unlicensed assistants. (Read about the proposal in this blog post, or watch this one-minute video.) 

The Texas Association of REALTORS® this week submitted to the commission its comments about the changes, expressing concerns about how the proposal will affect certain license holders. Read TAR's comments in this PDF

If you'd like to voice your opinion on the proposal, TREC is accepting comments at general.counsel@trec.texas.gov until Jan. 1. 

Categories: Legal
Tags: trec, unlicensed assistant, trec rules, legal


Matthew Poploski on 01/13/2017

Why is an unlicensed person opening the door in the first place!?  Is that not the job of the licensed agent?  Is that not why they are paid thousands of dollars to sell a house? Or do they just want to sit back and collect a commission and have everbody else do the work for them.  All these agents caring more about the commission than they do about their client.

Edith M Ryan, Broker on 12/30/2016

As a licensed Broker/Owner for many years,  My professional integrity to our clients is top & foremost in my office.  I would Never allow an unlicensed person to enter a property, unlock doors, show property—the liability is also Much to High.  All the owners of listings our office has had have been virtually all concerned about a lockbox being put on their property.  They for most part want assurance it is a licensedbackground checked agent that will be allowing entrance to their home.  This really shows how far real estate has gone down in professionalism since I got my license in 1976.  This brings up the question—why is a real estate license and education needed if an unlicensed person with no background check is being allowed to do the work we are being hired for by our clients?  Is there also going to be a commission given to the unlicensed person as well—one that has not paid Any of the dues we licensed agents and brokers have to pay each year in order to maintain Our license?


Kathy MOORE Cloud on 12/23/2016

STOP THE BLOG.  Raise the Bar in our Industry by contacting TAR directly with your comments….As a Realtor MEMBER…. or contact TREC directly.

These blog comments are indeed public…

Candy Cargill on 12/23/2016

There are so many assistants out there “acting” like REALTORS…yes, it happens.  I don’t even like the idea of and unlicensed assistant sitting at an Open House without the agent or broker there…are they going to write up a unlicensed offer?
So you say Commercial and Farm and Ranch are different.  I totally agree, you normally are dealing with a higher dollar amount, sometimes could be Homestead also and that consumer is entitled to every bit of protection that TREC affords a residential consumer.  Remember, TREC is a consumer protection agency, they do not exist to please Texas REALTORS. 
Short answer, I am in favor of this restriction and possibly more.

Jeanette Edwards on 12/23/2016

Re: Kathy Moore comment - I’ve sent my comments in to TREC and everyone else should too.

Kathy MOORE Cloud on 12/22/2016

Did you all make your COMMENT known to General Council by clicking the provided LINK?  By Jan 1st?

.(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)

John Cahill on 12/22/2016

Regarding assistant access into a home. This a matter is better decided by the seller, owner or tenant. Who the seller allows into their home is not TRECs business.

TREC is semi-autonomous (report to no real authorities) and has bloated the rules and fees. Who would believe that the 9 commissioners were all appointed by Republican Governors! Now is the time to organize and reduce regulation.

1 - Qualify new students with classes created solely by outside providers.
2 - Test new applicants
3 - Defer all enforcement and fines to the civil courts.
4 - Discontinue micromanagement of education classes.
5 - Encourage entrepreneurial business ideas.

Nattlie Hoover on 12/22/2016

I don’t believe the customer/client will understand that the “unlicensed assistance” is there to simply unlock the property.  You cannot tell me that there will not be questions/answers and conversation going on that shouldn’t be.  Even the “unlicensed assistance” may not understand what he or she can and cannot say And will they be required to have a background check and be finger printed?  It would just be confusing and limiting for the consumer.  First it will be unlicensed assistance “opening” properties for farm and ranch and rentals, then it will be all properties if this is approved.  Just when our professional is on an upward curve in professionalism and education and now it’s proposing a step back.  I’m not in favor.

Mary Beth Harrison on 12/22/2016

Given that TREC is allowing brokerage firms to exist that allow anyone to call a number and be given the code to get into a house or other firms who place the property on MLS but make us have to call the seller to show or get information about a house. I cannot understand why they would care that an assistant, who at a minimum works for an agent that represents his or her clients fully,  opens a door to show a house.  I personally agree that anyone opening a house for a prospective buyer should be licensed but the state of representation is already compromised beyond repair.

Aaron on 12/22/2016

As a sole proprietor/broker I welcome the rule change, clarification. If you want to practice real estate and show property you should be willing to get a license, period end of story.
I have always been amused by teams and listing mills that employ any number of unlicensed assistants to handle a large part of their job in the name of additional profits. When sales volume and money are your ultimate goal, the consumer loses.

Silvia Zamora Tello on 12/22/2016

I think if you don’t have a license you shouldn’t be allowed to show a house.  The biggest problem I run into is agents giving combo codes out to Investers etc…  That is a huge problem that no one is addressing!!!

Bill Erter on 12/22/2016

I have not seen a new updated version of this proposed rule change since November but if it is still the same as it was then,  I think the rule change is okay.  I don’t like it but I guess I fall in to that specialized category because we have a lot of residential property management.  I would have preferred a distinction between showing vacant residential rentals and residential properties for sale that may or may not be vacant.  Open houses is no a big issue for me and nor is showing properties for sale.  Having 4 to 5 vacancies can and does create a hardship for scheduling showings when a potential tenant wants to see a property ASAP.  Those who are familiar with property management will know what I am talking about.  So I rely on my assistant who is also the daughter of the owner of the company and is Vice-President of the Board of Directors.  I have also done a back ground check on her and she is my sister-in-law.  Really, does she need a license when she has no desire to have one?  Why can’t there be qualifications that can be met by an assistant to be able to show properties.  Finally, don’t forget we would not be having this discussion if it were not for TREC changing the definition of “showing” and trying to justify it on the grounds of public safety (no back ground check).  I understand the need for change but I don’t think there has been enough thought put into the “how” to change it.

Earl Hoppenrath on 12/22/2016

As with most government entities, TREC seems to believe that enacting rules are some kind of magic wand that can be waved and miraculously all things will be perfect. I wise man once told me, ‘It’s not what you put on paper, it’s what you accept’.

My personal opinion is that this whole brouhaha is much ado about nothing. If TREC really thinks that simply having a RE license automatically relegates someone to some higher level of expertise or integrity, then they should meet some of the losers I come into contact with. I agree that guidelines are needed, but the current proposals are way too broad and restrictive. I remember an earlier discussion where an Agent’s wife wasn’t allowed to great people in the lobby and pass out cookies. Really!

If TREC is truly interested in elevating the professionalism of our industry, a better place to start would be with the ruse we call ‘Broker Responsibility’. There is no way on earth that a Broker in Austin or Houston can be responsible for managing the actions of a Salesperson in Dallas; or vice versa. Most of these ‘Rent a Broker’ outfits are just collecting a fee that in essence allows their Salespersons to operate unfettered as Quasi Brokers. Same with Teams. I have checked many of these individuals and most are not registered as Supervisors, and have not taken the BR classes required for managing others. 

David Maglito on 12/22/2016


I fully agree.

Stefanie Hebert on 12/22/2016

The market is saturated with agents that can help them show. If that agent is taking on so many clients that they cannot show properties then they are not giving their service to their client. That is our dury to our clients. Buyers and sellers alike. I dont have one seller that would aign off on a none agent shwoing their home or property.  Even if that person just stands there and opens the door. My clients dont want them in their houses. Because they are taking time out of their family time to clean and make ready and then we have an assistant showing?  How is that fair to the seller. We all work for the seller until buyers rep is signed. Keep that in mind!

David Maglito on 12/22/2016

No I don’t think that any assistant should be allowed to show a property commercial or residential nor hold an open house.  Only Licensed Real Estate Agents / Brokers should be showing any property.  No exceptions.  Rules have become way too lax.
Too many Agents and Brokers having an assistant take on responsibility that should e the Licensed Agents / Brokers.

Brian Shuey on 12/22/2016

TAR’s argument to TREC regarding Farm and Ranch and Commercial brokers’ unlicensed assistants showing property undermines everything a real estate license stands for.  We have so many qualified agents in this State whom have gone through proper education and training to achieve their licenses.  Why would TREC even consider a plan to dilute licensure for the convenience of unlicensed assistants and their employers?

Gloria D Granados on 12/22/2016

I see it has opening a can of worms! Get a license if you want to do Real Estate business, that includes showing homes.  Will the assistance be responsible if something goes wrong in the house? He/she not license, what makes an assistance accountable?
That is being lazy in books.

Deborah Marek on 12/22/2016

I have seen unlicensed assistants doing all sorts of things that they should NOT be doing.  I even had an unlicensed assistant attempting to negotiate an offer with me.  This in addition to what they do once they have a supra key in their hand.  I give 100% support to the rule change and cannot wait for it to go into effect.

Cyndia Moore on 12/22/2016

I do think it’s interesting that attorneys use unlicensed individuals that have yet to get their law degree to do all sorts of tasks associated with legal research and such, and their profession has not required everyone that worked in the law office to have a law degree.  Yet the simple act of opening the door of a home requires a license.  It seems a bit of an overkill to me, especially since the doors can’t be opened without getting showing instructions thru an agent, and in most cases using a SupraKey, which can be tracked electronically.  I see the pros and cons - this is just an observation.  I’m just not sure what all the uproar is about.  And yes, an assistant can absolutely open doors and not make sales related comments about the property.  Almost every professional has unlicensed solicitors related to their profession.  I get sales calls all the time from insurance sales people, even though though they don’t hold a license to sell insurance.  They just collect the information of interested people, and forward to the insurance associate.  Don’t hate me.  This is obviously an unpopular view.  These are just observations.

Jack Benton on 12/22/2016

Unlicensed assistant is just another term for cheap labor and that’s why some folks are resistant to the change. Let’s call it what it really is.

Rebecca Moore on 12/22/2016

I know Realtors who almost always have their assistant show the houses then the contract coordinator writes the offer.  I don’t know why anyone would want to be so disconnected from their buyer/client.  Not the best way to build relationships amongst all the other good points made above.  Agreed unlicensed or un- vetted assistance should not be in these peoples home.

Donald Moore on 12/22/2016

I like the change.  An unlicensed assistant should never be allowed to show and do open houses. If they enter a property at the direction of their boss, a licensed agent, than it should be with the permission, in advance, of the owner or occupant and only after they are told that the assistance is unlicensed and has not been vetted by TREC. 

Several years ago,a well known Broker and ReMax Franchise owner was caught by a local Houston TV station having his unlicensed assistance going into occupied listings using the Broker’s supra key as well as doing other outside realty jobs for the broker. Turns out that the assistant had a record as a sex offender. The TV station also went on to report (10 o’clock news) that the Broker had 2 agents that had felony convictions.  It is my understanding that the TV Station’s report help bring about the change in the law concerning not licensing felons.  TREC is not following the law. Read the TREC Advisor.  Another issue but it needs to be looked into by TAR.

I agree with Shirley: You want to sell or participate in Real Estate activities, then get a license!

Bryan Anthony on 12/22/2016

If the unlicensed assistant has been background checked and fingerprinted by a TREC approved service, a Broker should have the authority to instruct his/her unlicensed assistant to open a door for a customer, open up a house for the purpose of setting up a Open House for the Broker or open a house to allow the plumber in. The unlicensed assistant must act professional,  follow the Brokers instructions and may not offer any information.

I’d rather have a full time unlicensed assistant perform these duties versus a part time licensed agent that seldom if ever comes into the office.

Lilly Hughes on 12/22/2016

I agree that unlicensed agents not be allowed to do open houses or show homes. There’s no establishment of fiduciary; who will do their criminal background and fingerprints?; isn’t giving the code or the key to an unlicensed person a violation in itself?

Walid Al-Souki on 12/22/2016

I do agree that assistants should be licensed to reduce the liability to the broker and the E and O coverage also, I will go even further to make licensed agents be a full time agents and not part time as they do not offer the same service as a full time agent does and it is reflecting on the image of us all.

I also put the responsibility on the brokers who hire part time agents and most of the time with poor training.

Steve Kelley on 12/19/2016

It appears much of the opposition to restrictions placed on whether or not an unlicensed assistant is allowed to show properties comes from those agents and brokers in the commercial and farm/ranch specialty fields.  Although farm/ranch properties, in particular, may pose a particular inconvenience for an agent or broker to unlock or provide access to, it is almost ridiculous to assume that an unlicensed person when charged with providing that access would not offer information regarding the property to a prospective buyer. With the specialized skills involved in either the brokerage of commercial and or farm/ranch properties it would seem that proper training, as that required by licensure is, if anything, more essential rather than less.  In a time when the real estate industry is rapidly evolving from one that delivers information, to one that will need to deliver an absolutely high level of trust and expertise to clients, it should be the goal of TAR to increase the qualification requirements of all Realtors and providers, not lower the standards.

Jeanette Edwards on 12/19/2016

Builders reps are an employee of the builder and are only showing homes owned by the builder.

Manuel on 12/19/2016

What about new construction,  builders most of the time have a person showing their inventory to buyers.
In most cases, these are not real estate agents at all.

Jeanette Edwards on 12/19/2016

Unlicensed agents should not be allowed to show, open or hold an Open House for Residential. I think it’s a big mistake to allow them to do that for commercial or farm and ranch also. Just because it’s ‘always been done that way’ is no excuse for allowing it now. They should get a license, be fingerprinted and have their backgrounds checked.

Dena Smith on 12/19/2016

I agree with TRECs proposal, but hadn’t heard the concerns of commercial agents.  At least make the unlicensed assistants get fingerprinted and pass a back ground check if you allow them access to homes. Allowing unlicensed assistants to perform/behave like licensed agents is dangerous…. same as allowing sales people to perform/behave as brokers is dangerous.

Denise Teel on 12/19/2016

As a licensed Broker, I feel unlicensed assistants are given too much leeway in what they are allowed to do.  I don’t think they should be allowed to open a house for a prospective buyer or tenant for any reason unless they are required to have background checks.  I think some agents allow their assistant to preform some of their duties because they don’t want to give their client the time they deserve.

Chip Staniswalis on 12/19/2016

    I have read the TAR comment letter to TREC. Just signing up to hear the forthcoming comments.

Shirley Howard on 12/19/2016

For me personally, I don’t think an “assistant” or a person “without” a real estate license should be allowed to do Open Houses, or show houses. There is NO such thing as an assistant “opening” a house to show a buyer and not make any comments about the property. Same thing goes with an Open House. Do you really think that “assistant” follows the rules about what they can and can’t say? Just my take on it. You want to sell or participate in Real Estate activities, then get a license!

Leave a Comment

Read our commenting policy

Get REALTOR® blog posts via email

advertise with us

Legal disclaimer

The material provided here is for informational purposes only and is not intended and should not be considered as legal advice for your particular matter. You should contact your attorney to obtain advice with respect to any particular issue or problem. Applicability of the legal principles discussed in this material may differ substantially in individual situations.

While the Texas Association of REALTORS® has used reasonable efforts in collecting and preparing materials included here, due to the rapidly changing nature of the real estate marketplace and the law, and our reliance on information provided by outside sources, the Texas Association of REALTORS® makes no representation, warranty, or guarantee of the accuracy or reliability of any information provided here or elsewhere on texasrealestate.com. Any legal or other information found here, on texasrealestate.com, or at other sites to which we link, should be verified before it is relied upon.

Advice for REALTORS®

5 ways smart-home tech affects real estate transactions

5 apps that can keep you safe in—or before—a crisis

Is the eviction process different for manufactured homes?

3 places you can find free marketing content


More advice for REALTORS®