I sponsor several agents who work out of their homes. I have a license for the main office, but another broker told me that I’m required to also have a branch-office license for every agent’s home. Is that true?

It depends on the activities your agents perform in their homes. Section 1101.552 of the Real Estate License Act provides that a broker who maintains more than one place of business must obtain a branch-office license for each additional office.

But what is “a place of business”? TREC rule Section 535.112 defines it as a place where a real estate license holder meets with clients and customers to transact business.

So, if your agents meet with clients or customers at their homes to transact business, you must obtain branch-office licenses for each of those homes. If your agents never meet with clients or customers at their homes to transact business, then no branch-office license would be required.

My client wants to hold an auction to sell her house. Since I’m a licensed real estate agent, can I call the auction?

No. You must be licensed as an auctioneer by the Texas Department of Licensing and Regulation to call an auction. Your real estate license alone doesn't authorize you to act as an auctioneer.

I'm a licensed real estate sales agent, and I'm working with a client who wants to sell his manufactured home. Do I need to be licensed by the Texas Department of Housing and Community Affairs as a manufactured-housing broker to negotiate the sale of my client's property?

Whether you need to be licensed as a manufactured-housing broker by the TDHCA depends on the property and your recent transactions.

You can take part in the transaction without becoming licensed as a manufactured-housing broker if three criteria are met: 

1. the home is attached to the real property,
2. the same person is the record owner of both the manufactured home and the real property, and
3. the sale or lease occurs in a single real estate transaction.

There's also an exemption to the licensing requirement if those elements don't apply and you haven't negotiated any manufactured-housing transactions in the past 12 months.

However, if the above elements don't apply and you have negotiated any similar transactions in the past 12 months, you would be considered to be acting as a manufactured-housing broker by negotiating this sale and must be licensed by the TDHCA to comply with state law.

Can I list a property that's not located in Texas?

Maybe, but you must consider the licensing law of the other state, Texas licensing law, and the REALTOR® Code of Ethics to determine if the listing is allowed and appropriate.

First, you should contact the state’s real estate regulatory body to determine the restrictions on practice in that state. All states have licensing laws or commission rules that restrict or prohibit the practice of real estate by people not licensed in their state. For example, TREC rules interpret the Real Estate License Act to require that out-of-state brokers be licensed in Texas if they are conducting brokerage business from another state and the property is located wholly or partly in Texas. However, you can cooperate and share commissions with brokers licensed in other states as long as all negotiations within Texas borders are handled by Texas licensees.

While your Texas real estate license permits you to practice real estate while you are physically located within Texas, regardless of the location of the property or your client’s residence, Article 11 of the REALTOR® Code of Ethics states that a broker should not perform a service or handle a transaction for which he lacks the requisite knowledge or expertise. Therefore, even if you are permitted to list the property, it might be better to have a broker who’s licensed in that state help you with the sale or handle the entire transaction through a referral if you aren’t familiar with that state’s laws, contracts, or closing procedures. 

One of my agents is the trustee of an estate located in California. Can he be the listing agent of that estate even though that property is in another state and he does not have a real estate license in California?

Your agent would be best served by contacting a California attorney or the California Department of Real Estate (CDRE), which is equivalent to the Texas Real Estate Commission (TREC) in our state. Each state is responsible for determining the permissibility of an out-of-state agent listing a property for sale. Under Texas law, a person acting under the authority of a will or a written trust instrument does not have to obtain a Texas real estate license in order to sell real property in Texas. Unfortunately, Texas law means nothing in California.

Can an unlicensed person be a property manager?

It depends. A license is required for anyone who controls the acceptance or deposit of rent from a resident of a single-family property if the person has the authority to do any of the following:

-Use the rent to pay for services related to management of the property
-Determine where to deposit the rent
-Sign checks or withdraw money from a trust account.

In addition, only a licensed broker or sales agent may perform leasing activities, such as finding tenants, showing properties for lease, and negotiating leases. However, there are certain activities that do not require a license, including bookkeeping or arranging for repairs. Also, on-site managers of apartment complexes do not need to be licensed.

What tasks can my unlicensed office manager do?

Unlicensed individuals can train or motivate agents, as well as handle office administration and personnel matters. An unlicensed person can also serve as bookkeeper for the company.

However, TREC Rule 535.4(d) prohibits an unlicensed person from directing or supervising agents in their work as license holders. This means an unlicensed person cannot advise agents about helping others buy, sell, or lease property. An unlicensed person cannot review contracts or be a party in deal-making. 

The Texas Real Estate Licensing Act Section 1101.002(1)(A)(x) prohibits an unlicensed person, on behalf of another, from controlling the acceptance or deposit of rent from a resident of a single-family residential real property unit in exchange for, or with the expectation of, a commission or other valuable consideration. TREC Rule 535.4(h) further defines controlling the acceptance or deposit of rent, stating that a person must be licensed if the person has the authority to:

  1. use the rent to pay for services related to management of the property;
  2. determine where to deposit the rent; or
  3. sign checks or withdraw money from a trust account.

Can my unlicensed assistant unlock the door for potential buyers if I'm running late?

No. TREC Rule 535.4(c) states that a person must be licensed as a broker or sales agent to show a property. “Show” includes causing or permitting a property to be viewed by a prospective buyer or tenant, unlocking or providing access onto or into a property for a prospective buyer or tenant, and hosting an open house at the property. As such, an unlicensed assistant must refrain from any activity that allows the buyer to be able to view the home, which includes unlocking doors.