Yesterday, I sat down to write an offer on a house in northern Virginia. There was an unfamiliar For Sale sign in the front yard, and I figured it was a local mom & pop I hadn't run across before.
When I pulled up the MLS listing to fill in the broker's name and address, it was a firm in Hackensack, New Jersey, and its web site shows them operating in about 12 states and DC.
I called to request the disclosures and after several minutes in voice-mail hell, reached a person. I asked to talk to the listing agent, and a very polite woman on the other end said that she was his helper. She gave me the listing agent's Virginia license number to put on the offer and said she would email the disclosure information we needed to submit with the offer. At the same time, I asked if they could get me information about the sellers' time frame and how they wanted things handled.
Meantime, the seller called to follow up Sunday's showing. He instructed me to deal with him directly, and I sent emailed all of the paperwork to him.
A few minutes ago, I got a call from Hackensack. It was the "helper" I spoke to yesterday. I explained what I had done at the seller's request, and she told me that she handled he negotiations and would give him a call.
Now wait a minute! In the Commonwealth of Virginia, that is committing an act of real estate that I think requires her to have a license. Now I'm getting curious about how these guys work.
My guess is, they have a broker for each of the states where they are licensed, then have assistants who, while perhaps licensed in New Jersey, may not be licensed in the states where the broker is licensed.
Shuttling papers back and forth between Hackensack and Virginia or DC (or any other state for that matter) probably doesn't require a real estate license. That would fall under what we call "ministerial acts", and that is permitted.
But negotiating on behalf of a client is a serious act of real estate, at least in these parts!
And who knows, maybe all of their people are licensed in every state and are totally pulled together. If so, wow! What a bunch of continuing educations requirements they must have to fill!
There is plenty of room in the real estate market place for new and innovative services. And so far, I have to give these guys credit for being responsive and getting me what I needed to prepare an offer. And after checking their web site, I will also commend them on doing a great job of informing clients about what is or isn't included in their services.
If they have addressed the license issues, this is even a pretty interesting business model!