TREC FAQ: unlicensed assistant

No. Rule 535.4(c) clearly states that a person must be licensed as a broker or sales agent to show a broker's listings. An unlicensed assistant cannot perform any activities for a license holder that requires a license, and therefore, cannot "show" a property. The rules do not define what "show" a property means, so the Commission must interpret what that means. Generally in rule interpretation, one should look at the plain language meaning of the word and then put it into context. The Merriam Webster Dictionary defines to "show" as "to cause or permit to be seen". Taking the plain language meaning then, unlocking a house is "causing or permitting" the home to be seen. So, if an unlicensed assistant opens the house for a buyer, that constitutes showing a house.

Further, reading the rule in the context of the law's purpose of consumer protection, to allow an unlicensed person to open and enter a house for sale would effectively bypass the legislative requirement of requiring fingerprint-based criminal history background checks for all license holders before granting or renewing a real estate license. This requirement is in place to ensure that a person with an inappropriate criminal background will not receive a license that would allow them to open and enter homes for sale.

This is a change from a previous interpretation that was contained in an old article regarding unlicensed assistants. After the criminal background check requirement became law, that interpretation became outdated and was no longer correct.

So, an unlicensed assistant cannot show the property for a license holder; this applies to both homes for sale and for lease.