Paying Your Unlicensed Assistant. Is it Legal?

by | Sep 2, 2016 | Legal Tips

The next item we examine under the revised South Carolina Real Estate Practice Act which becomes law effective January 1, 2017 is the paying of an unlicensed assistant. The revised Act continues to allow real estate agents to use unlicensed assistants for certain ministerial acts; however, the permitted actions of an unlicensed assistant remain limited. For example, the unlicensed assistant may not show property; discuss, explain or negotiate a contract or buyer/listing agreement; or host an open house.

Of particular interest is §40-57-135(K)(8) which holds that an unlicensed employee may not be paid “solely on . . . a percentage of the commission or an amount based on the listing or sales compensation or commission.”  An Agent that pays the unlicensed assistant based on a percentage of commission made on a closing or based on the volume of commission is probably violating this statute.  While the statute says “paid solely” we recommend you remain cautious in creating a system in which you pay a nominal salary to your unlicensed assistant and then truly compensate the person with a bonus system based on closing volume or commissions paid. If the Real Estate Commission believes your scheme was established to avoid the Act the Commission may still discipline you. You should discuss compensation of your unlicensed assistant with your Broker in Charge for guidance on the law.

Historical Fact: Throughout the 1940s a number of B-25 Mitchell bombers crashed into Lake Murray. Most of the planes were recovered but three were known to have sunk into the lake bed. In September 2005, a B-25 was raised from the depths by the Lake Murray B-25 Rescue Project. The plane’s remains were moved to the Southern Museum of Flight in Birmingham, Alabama.  It is presently believed that two B-25s remain submerged in Lake Murray. 


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