Real Estate Broker Licensee Advisory: Understanding Broker Teams

Having trouble viewing this email? View it as a Web page.

Real Estate Broker Licensee Advisory: Understanding Broker Teams

A real estate “Team” is two or more brokers within a brokerage firm that conduct their real estate brokerage business together. Although Teams are not issued their own real estate license number and were not officially defined until 2014 (in Commission Position 45), the Commission has long recognized their existence within the industry.  

Teams can be an effective way for multiple licensees within a brokerage to pool their resources, leverage their time, and distinguish themselves from the other members of the brokerage.  However, it’s often within this last endeavor that licensees unfortunately find themselves too successful in drawing a distinction between their Team and their brokerage. The desire of the Team to emphasize their brand can frequently conflict with the regulations that require all licensees to clearly and conspicuously identify their brokerage and not mislead the public as to the identity of the brokerage.

Team Advertising Considerations

In 2011, the Real Estate Commission adopted Commission Position 40 identifying compliance considerations in the operating and advertising of teams.  In 2014, the Division further codified Team advertising regulations in Rule E-8.  Some of the key considerations for teams in advertising include the following:

  • All Team advertising must clearly and conspicuously include the brokerage firm.
  • Teams may not mislead the public concerning the identity of their brokerage firm.
  • No Team may license its name for use outside the team’s brokerage firm.
  • Certain terms are prohibited from being used within a Team name, including “Realty” “Real Estate”, “Inc”,“llc”, or any other term that may suggest that Team is a separate entity from the brokerage firm.
  • In electronic advertising, every website page must include the brokerage firm name.
  • Emails, chat, instant messages, newsgroups, blogs, et., must include the brokerage firm name.
  • If space is limited in electronic advertising such as Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, banner ads, etc., the brokerage firm must be disclosed within 1 click of such ad.

Brokerage Relationship to Teams

In addition to the advertising concerns referenced above, special consideration also needs to be given to brokerage relationship regulations as they relate to Teams. Commission Rule E-38 identifies specific brokerage relationship restrictions and requirements including the following:

  • The individual team member(s) entering into a listing contract as a buyer’s agent, seller’s agent, or transaction broker will bind all team members to the same relationship.
  • When Teams work with both the buyer and seller, the Team members may work with both buyer and seller as transaction broker, or agent for one party treating the other party as customer.
  • Different members of the same team may not serve as both seller’s agent and buyer’s agent in the same transaction.

Other Considerations for Teams

  • Unlicensed persons may not sign real estate transaction documents on behalf of the Team.
  • If unlicensed assistants work for multiple Teams under one brokerage, brokers must ensure that information is not shared in a way that could be a violation of working relationships.
  • All Team members and all unlicensed assistants who are part of the team should be identified in every listing contract.

As stated above, there can be many advantages associated with forming a Team.  However, there are also a number of regulatory considerations that must be taken into account.  Consequently, the Employing Broker must approve the formation of all Teams within a brokerage firm.  Additionally, the Commission strongly recommends that a formal Team Agreement be drafted that clearly identifies the Team policies, such as who does and does not sign listing contracts.  The Team Agreement should be signed by all members and be amended every time there is a change in one or more team members.