Purpose of our Brokerage Policy Manual:
- Provide a clear understanding of the relationship between broker and sales associates, management and employees, and administrative functions and sales functions.
- Permit the anticipation of and resolution of controversies before they arise.
- Stabilize both management and sales by building confidence that both management and sales associates know the rules by which the game is to be played.
- Forbid favoritism, since all must operate within the framework of the manual’s predetermined rules and guidelines.
- Provide stability of organization and permit the staff to function effectively in the absence of management
Brokerage Policy Manual written by Lone Star Luxury or also referred herein as “the Broker”, “I”, “We”, “US”, ”the Company” “Manager”, “Supervisor”, or an “Office Manager” *; and is addressed to all business Associates or also referred herein as “Sales Associates”, “Agents”, Supervisor”, “Employees”, “Assistants”, “Secretary”, “Independent Contractor”, “Staff”, “Contractor”* includes all plural and capitalized forms of the nouns in this paragraph.
This document is referred to in your Independent Contractor Agreement for Sales Associate agreement with Broker ‘Lone Star Luxury’ and you have agreed to read this entire document until you feel you have full understanding of this. Your Independent Contractor Agreement for Sales Associate agreement, the attached fee schedule, or any specific agreement between you and the broker, will over rule any contradicting points contained in this Brokerage Policy Manual
The Lone Star Luxury Brokerage Policy Manual is provided as a resource for our sales associates, contractors, any staff and employees in their conduct of daily real estate and business activities. It will provide instructions for cooperation between associates, employees and management, as well as detailed procedures for real estate related activities.
At all times, Lone Star Luxury intends to abide by all federal, state and local laws and regulations, as well as those of our local association, Texas Association of REALTORS® and the National Association of REALTORS®. Should any instruction or policy in this manual be in contradiction or in violation of laws or regulations, bring it to the attention of management for possible correction. It is expected that all associates and employees will also attempt to keep up with applicable laws and follow them at all times.
Though all associates, employees and management personnel should follow the instructions in this policy manual, doing so is not a guarantee of continued employment, nor is this an employment contract.
Lone Star Luxury reserves the right to amend this policy manual as necessary. Amendments will be emailed as attachments in PDF to all associates and employees, as well as discussed in meetings if appropriate. Failure to attend a meeting where changes are discussed does not excuse the associate or employee from understanding and compliance. Lone Star Luxury is a dba of Original Discount llc. A Texas Real Estate Broker licensed under the Texas Real Estate Commission.
All employees and associates will acknowledge receipt, understanding and agreement to comply with each amendment as it is issued. Within five days of the date of delivery, you will reply by email letting you know you have accepted it. It is your responsibility to keep updated with this office policy manual at all times, and to save amendments into your records as they are issued. Management may ask to review your copies at any time to assure compliance.
For the working relationship of the broker and associate, the following policies will be used to establish mutual benefit to both parties:
Broker and Associate Agreement of Mutual Benefit
• The associate and broker each agree to engage in business that promotes the utmost manner of professionalism by promoting positive relations, enhancing the business’ reputation and its profits, and increasing community goodwill.
• The associate agrees to put forth the best effort in selling, exchanging, and leasing all real estate and business opportunities listed with the broker and to include the solicitation of new clients and customers for future business. Furthermore, the associate agrees to act in lawful and ethical manners promoting the professionalism of himself as well as the firm to the greatest mutual benefit of both parties.
• The associate, as agent for the broker, agrees to act on the behalf of the broker. If a conflict of interest occurs, the associate will promptly notify the broker in writing so that the broker can take appropriate steps in rectifying the conflict for the mutual protection of both parties involved in the transaction.
Adhere to the Code of Ethics and Bylaws of Local Board and MLS
• The parties agree to conform to and abide by all laws, rules and regulations, and codes of ethics that are binding on, or applicable to, Texas real estate brokers.
• Strict adherence to the governing rules and regulations of the Texas Real Estate Commission, the Real Estate Broker License Act, The Code of Ethics of the National Association of REALTORS®, Texas Association of REALTORS®, Local Board/Association governing documents (Bylaws, MLS Rules and Regulations, etc.) will be followed by the broker and sales associates.
• Each party acknowledges receipt of a copy of the Code of Ethics, the local Board/Association Constitution and/or Bylaws, and the Rules and Regulations of the Multiple Listing Service.
Associate Affiliation Requirements*
The following provisions will be complied with at the associate’s personal cost:
Real Estate License, Mandatory Continuing Education,
Proper Automobile Insurance Coverage
- The associate shall maintain his or her own current real estate license.
- The Broker is not responsible for notifying agents when they need mandatory continuing education or when an agent’s license may expire. It is the agent’s responsibility to keep track of their own license status and education requirements.
- The associate shall meet all Continuing Education requirements as established by the Texas Real Estate Commission (TREC)
- Proof of Continuing Education compliance and license renewal shall be provided to broker no later than fifteen (15) days prior to the applicable renewal date
- The associate shall maintain the minimum or better mandatory Errors and Omissions Insurance coverage with the company designated by the Texas Real Estate Commission. Lone Star Luxury, at the discretion of the Broker/Owner, may maintain additional coverage that “kicks in” after the associate’s coverage is exhausted. If such a policy is purchased, [Your Company Name] may charge a per-transaction fee of up to $30 to the associate for this extra coverage.
- The associate is responsible for all continuing education, licensing and license renewal fees, mandatory errors and omission deductibles or additional fees due to associates case, or fees relating to any advertising or any endeavor real estate oriented that associate may incur costs of, the broker shall not be liable for any of such fees.
Membership in the Board of REALTORS®
- The associate agrees to become a member of the local area Board/ Association, Texas Association of REALTORS®, National Association of REALTORS® and to be responsible for all applicable dues and fees.
- The associate expressly understands that they may choose to join any Board/Association in which the broker holds membership. The associate can also join other Boards/Associations as a secondary membership even if the broker holds no membership in the particular Board/Association.
- The associate also understands the broker is a member of the Texas Association of REALTORS®, the National Association of REALTORS® and may belong to any of the Institutes and Societies of the National Association of REALTORS®.
- The associate agrees to abide by the rules and regulations of these organizations to which broker must adhere as a member thereof.
Miscellaneous Associate Expenses
- Any expenses incurred relating to customer/client entertainment and agent’s personal or company promotion will be paid for by the associate, unless broker fully understands and has agreed through written communication to any expenses.
- Any advertising, promotional and office expenses will be paid for as negotiated and stipulated in a separate agreement between the associate and Lone Star Luxury.
- Any shared advertising expenses will be agreed upon between broker and agent by email confirmation and terms addressed in attachment or body message of email. Shared advertising expenses will be paid upfront or through transaction fees on the first available incoming commission.
- In the course of real estate transactions, the associate must use his personal automobile. All operating, maintenance, repair, insurance, liability and other related automobile expenses will be paid for by the associate.
- The automobile will be in such condition as to promote the professionalism of the agent as well as the firm. It will be maintained in good operating condition and cleaned regularly. You must have running AC and Heat; No major body damage, nor over opinionated bumper stickers.
- Transportation will not be provided by the broker.
- Agents should not drive clients around in their car, and should check with a lawyer and their insurance company before doing so.
- Agents should not text while driving, or operate technology of any sort that takes attention away from driving safely.
- Car magnet or a Car wrap are optional, but recommended. Check with your insurance carrier before making a change, most will consider that commercial Automobile coverage.
- The associate shall at all times carry at least liability insurance on the automobile with coverage for personal injury and coverage for property damage.
- In accordance with Texas law, the associate must require that all passengers wear a seat belt and any infant under the age of four years shall be secured in a restraining seat during transportation.
Resolution of Disputes
Misunderstandings about brokerage prospects or sales are to be handled through the following processes to negotiate an equitable resolution.
What Constitutes a Dispute?
Disputes are disagreements between associates in regards to:
- The equitable right to work with a certain prospect
- The right to a split of commission or fee when more than one associate knowingly or unknowingly works with the same customer/client
- The percentage split of commission or fee earned when two associates have worked with the same customer/client
Intra‑office Disputes Between Associates
First and foremost, the associates in conflict must try to come to an agreeable mutual settlement and NEVER involve the client in the dispute.
In the event the associates cannot meet a satisfactory agreement, the broker shall hear both sides of the argument in a meeting with the involved parties. If a legitimate dispute exists, the broker will make a determination of action to follow. In the event the broker’s action is not satisfactory, a committee of three neutral parties engaged in the practice of real estate shall be invited by the broker to act as jury and render a final decision (based on the majority vote of the committee). All intraoffice disputes must be reported promptly to the broker. Personal disagreements not involving business related matters are not the responsibility of the broker. However, in an effort to promote goodwill, the broker can counsel the aggrieved parties.
Disagreement between Broker and Associate
- Disagreements or disputes between associate and broker pertain to:
- A conflict arising out of, or in connection with, their business relationship and dealings
- The company policy
- Special Expenses and commission splits
- Transactions or real estate laws
Any real estate business related practice unresolved between the associate and broker will be submitted to arbitration by an agreed upon chosen arbitrator. The arbitrator’s decision shall be final and the broker and associate must abide by the decision of the arbitrator.
The relationship of the associate to the broker is that of an independent Contractor. This relationship affords the associate maximum freedom and flexibility. It is established and described in an agreement and includes how listings and compensation will be handled in the event that the associate leaves the company. It must be signed by the associate and is included upon affiliation with the broker.
To meet state and federal requirements, an associate is an independent Contractor if:
- The associate holds a valid real estate license.
- Substantially all of the sales associate’s income performed as a real estate agent (90% or more) is directly related to sales or other output rather than to the number of hours worked.
- The associate holds a written agreement which specifically states that the associate will not be treated as an employee for federal and state tax purposes with respect to services performed as a real estate agent.
Independent Contractor’s Agreement
Upon affiliation with this broker, the associate shall enter into a written Independent Contractor’s agreement and attached fee schedule with the broker setting forth the pay structure, duties and responsibilities of both parties. This agreement shall include, but shall not be limited to, the following:
- The terms of compensation for work performed during the time of affiliation with the broker
- The terms of compensation for work in progress but not completed prior to termination of affiliation with the broker.
- The disposition after termination of affiliation of all active listings, buyer agency agreements, and pending sales the associate obtained during affiliation with the broker.
- A written accounting to the broker, at the time of termination of affiliation, of the names of all prospective purchasers, sellers, lessees and lessors which the associate encountered during affiliation with the broker.
- A provision for the return to the broker, at the time of termination of affiliation, all property of the broker in associate possession or control, including but not limited to: all property files, computerized files, keys, for sale signs, notebooks, lock boxes and records of any kind used in connection with the listing and sale or leasing of property.
Tax Filing Requirements
Each Associate is responsible for maintaining the necessary personal financial records for purposes of reporting income for state and federal tax requirements. The Broker is not liable for deduction of Social Security, or income or unemployment taxes for any production based income.
All Independent Contractors will need to provide their w-9 sent by email, to the Broker’s administrative’s email before receiving any compensation from the Broker.
Workers’ Compensation Requirement
According to state law, as long as the broker has a valid Independent Contractor agreement with an associate and adheres to the requirements of the Tax Equity and Fiscal Responsibility Act of 1982, the broker is not responsible for paying Workers’ Compensation Insurance. The Broker/employer must maintain Workers’ Compensation Insurance for all workers/staff classified as employees under worker’s compensation program guidelines.
Broker Authorization to Agreement
The obligation, commitment, or binding of a promise or representation by the broker is not valid unless the associate receives authorization from the broker in writing and provided the associate is authorized to execute listing agreements, buyer/seller agency agreements, and other approved forms on behalf of the broker and that the commission involved in the transaction is not less than that specified by the broker.
Authority to terminate a listing agreement, buyer/seller representation agreement, or other representation agreement, or make amendments to the agreement that alter the term and/or change the amount of compensation established in the agreement is prohibited unless such request is first presented to the broker or manager of the company who is authorized to execute such terminations and amendments and grants authorization in writing or unless authorization is granted specifically in the Independent Contractor Agreement between broker and associate.
Federal Fair Housing Laws
It is illegal to discriminate against any person because of age, race, creed, color, religion, sex, handicap, familial status or national origin:
- In the sale or rental of housing or residential lots
- In advertising the sale or rental of housing
- In the financing of housing
- In the provision of real estate brokerage services
- In the appraisal of housing
Blockbusting is also illegal
REALTORS® are not asked to sign a document with HUD to demonstrate a commitment to fair housing. That commitment is part of the REALTOR® Code of Ethics, real estate license requirements and the laws of the land. Because there is no document to sign, there is no list or form outlining what every REALTOR® should do. Instead, NAR and HUD developed a declaration of general fair housing principles. Lone Star Luxury subscribes to this declaration of general fair housing principles:
- Provide equal professional service without regard to the race, color, religion, sex, handicap, familial status, or national origin of any prospective client, customer, or of the residents of any community.
- Keep informed about fair housing law and practices, improving your clients’ and customers’ opportunities and your business.
- Develop advertising that indicates that everyone is welcome and no one is excluded; expanding your client’s and customer’s opportunities to see, buy, or lease property.
- Inform your clients and customers about their rights and responsibilities under the fair housing laws by providing brochures and other information.
- Document efforts to provide professional service, which will assist you in becoming a more responsive and successful REALTOR®.
- Refuse to tolerate noncompliance.
- Learn about those who are different from you, and celebrate those differences.
- Take a positive approach to fair housing practices and aspire to follow the spirit as well as the letter of the law.
- Develop and implement fair housing practices for our firm to carry out the spirit of this declaration.
The associates of Lone Star Luxury will adhere to the procedures as outlined in the National Association of Realtors® Fair Housing Handbook.
An investigation by the broker will follow for any accusation of discrimination. If the investigation confirms a violation of discrimination, the associate’s actions may be reported to the TREC for further investigation and necessary disciplinary action. Affiliation with the broker may be terminated.
Professional behavior is a requirement around your fellow associates, brokers, managers, company employees, staff and customers. Harassment, including verbal, physical, visual, religious, and sexual harassment is strictly prohibited in this office. A list of things that can be considered harassment:
- Any racial, ethnic, sexual, religious, jokes/slurs/or insults
- Any physical contact such as unwelcome touching, groping, grabbing, or pinching
- Any visual renderings of sexually suggestive materials or materials negatively reflecting an individual’s ethnicity, race, ancestry, or sexual preference
- Any unwelcome sexual advances, physically, verbally, and visually of a sexual nature that have the intent of or the effect of work performance interference, intimidation, or creation of a hostile or offensive working atmosphere
- Any inappropriate use of language or communications meant to harass or antagonize
In the event an employee, associate, or any other staff person feels that he or she has been harassed, the incident must be reported immediately to the office manager or broker. Any employee, associate or staff found guilty of engaging in harassment may be subject to disciplinary action up to and including reprimand, counseling, suspension, and termination.
Maintaining Contact with the Broker and active Clients.
In the course of business, it is necessary for associates to be vacationing, traveling, hospitalized, or other life happenings. However, the associate must provide a means of communication for the broker or any active Client, to contact the associate in case of urgent matters. When associates knows they will be absent from business or normal contact, they should contact their supervisor or broker giving them a heads up, especially if they have ongoing transactions.
It is the associates responsibility to keep some sort of communications open, and to respond with in reasonably time to ongoing matters with the associate’s Broker, supervisor, or active clients.
Failure to maintain reasonable contact with the Broker, Supervisor or active Clients, may result in special expenses charged by the Broker. A transaction coordinator fee will be assessed in between the amount of $250.00 & $650.00 depending on what action and time the Broker or a member of the Brokerage must take to ensure a satisfied client and a successful transaction.
Our ‘Office’ definition is any room or designated area where you conduct real estate business and/or store real estate paperwork/material. The Broker may not provide a physical office in many areas. If the Broker does not offer a physical work office, the sales associate, staff member, or employer will need to dedicate a bedroom in your home or an office building for work. Sales associate will need to meet any potential clients or current clients at first in coffee shops, title companies, and/or mortgage companies that are willing to oblige. Always meet a client in a safe public area until you feel safe showing them real estate.
In your home office you should practice green methods and be as paperless as possible, but even with green practices you must have these items in good condition at all times:
- All-in-one scanner/ copier/printer which is capable of feeding at least 20 pages of paperwork into a scanner smoothly;
- At least 200 sheets of printing paper, 2 blue pens, and 2 chairs
- A large wall map of your desired work area
- A working Desktop and/or laptop with good internet service
- A phone line/ cell phone able to receive email notifications from Gmail and a Lone Star Luxury work oriented message as your voicemail.
Any office or conference room you are able to use; It is your responsibility to keep the area clean, tidy, and professional in appearance. Your office appearance is a reflection on yourself as well as the firm when clients and customers are visiting. Any conference or meeting areas used for real estate must be organized and cleaned before and after usage including turning off lights, and securing sensitive paperwork and office supplies. Special expenses for use of office supplies when office is provided will be assessed by Broker or the office supervisor. Associate should not use any of the Broker’s office supplies unless there is an understanding of special expenses that may charged to associate for the use of such office supplies.
Anyone issued an office key is responsible for the safeguarding of this office. In the event that an office key is lost or stolen, you must immediately inform the broker or building’s manager. There will be a charge for replacement of lost or stolen keys. The broker is not responsible for any theft or loss of personal items left in any office. The last person leaving the office must make sure that all accesses into the building are firmly secured, all relevant lighting, business equipment and relevant appliances are turned off, and that the security alarm (if present) is activated before leaving the building.
Professional manner of dress is a requirement when serving the public in real estate transactions and when representing the broker. Business attire should match the clients within reason. If your clients wear suits or ties than so should you; if your clients are looking at ranch land, you should wear your wranglers and boots. NO ripped Geans, T-shirts, dirty tennis shoes, workout clothes, sweats, flip flops, baseball hats. Use good judgment, and keep your client’s comfort level in mind.
“A person’s success in selling is more dependent upon their attitude than upon their ability.” Lone Star Luxury associates should have a positive attitude at all times. You should not be afraid you will lose a sale, but be excited about making one. Self-confidence. If you believe in yourself, so will others. (The reverse will also be true). You can increase your self-confidence through learning more, practicing more and experiencing more. Pride. You should love to sell. Always be proud of the services and benefits you provide your customers and clients. A proper attitude toward suggestions and complaints. When suggestions are offered, accept them with good grace instead of adopting the negative attitude so often displayed by less successful people. (The hardest person to help is the prima donna—the person who refuses to admit any mistakes.) By stubbornly resisting any suggestions, you may delay or even permanently block your own growth. The ability to disagree. Form the positive habit of letting people speak their minds and explain their points of view. Then look for a point of agreement. Seek first to understand; then to be understood. The willingness to learn. Always learn and upgrade your knowledge! By doing so, you truly will become a top professional. The desire to be a win-win competitor. Remember that there is always room for everyone to achieve their goals and win! The desire to participate on a winning team! To be on a winning team, you must: Want to be on our winning team. Want to be successful and just as importantly, you must want your team to be successful. Look for a spot to fit in. Do your thing and let others do theirs. Never let yourself get to the point where you believe you are better than everyone else. Be a leader and let there be a leader. There is a proper place for both! You must look for solutions, not problems! You should believe that you are bigger than any problem which might arise.
Eating in the Work Area
Food and meals should NOT be eaten in your office in plain view of the customer or client, it is considered unprofessional.
Drug and Alcohol Use
Drug and alcohol use are strictly prohibited while engaged in real estate brokerage transactions and shall not be present or used during work hours unless medically prescribed and under the supervision of the associate’s health care provider. Any situations in which duties cannot be properly performed without the assistance of prescribed medication must be reported to the broker. Drug and alcohol use in the workplace may be grounds for termination.
Client or Customer Substance Use
An associate should never allow the use drugs or alcohol by any party during a transaction. Upon discovering that a party is under the influence of either drugs or alcohol, the associate should take appropriate action to terminate that day’s activity and suggest that they discuss or complete the transaction during a clear minded and sober time.
Changes in Name, Address & Phone Numbers
All changes in name, address, and telephone numbers of any associate must be reported immediately by the associate to the office manager or secretary. Agent should update these changes to the TREC, Texas Association of REALTORS® and the local Board/Association of REALTORS®. The associate is responsible for any fees associated with name, address and telephone number changes from NMREC or the Board/Association of REALTORS®.
Telephones are necessary in the day to day operations as a real estate agent. A work lines must be kept open at all times for the convenience of customers and clients. A smart phone able to receive email notifications from Gmail and a work oriented message on your voicemail is a requirement.
Phone Duty Time
The primary purpose of phone duty is to have a prepared agent answer real estate questions, relay messages, and work with new leads real estate customers/clients. Lone Star Luxury highly values phone duty prospects. Our online marketing strategies generate a significant number of telephone calls. It is important that there always be a licensed associate in the office to take prospect calls and speak to visitors. To accomplish this, we will follow a voluntary rotation schedule for floor duty. Though it is a voluntary activity, once an associate indicates a desire to participate, it is required that they man the properly keeping this rules in mind during their scheduled time periods. Phone Duty hours of operation are every day 8:30am to 8:30pm no exceptions; during this time you the person assigned to duty should be answering phone calls in a place without too much back ground noise. Any texts, voicemails or missed calls which happen during this time should be attended to immediately.
Phone Duty Rotation
If there is a phone duty rotation actively being practiced; the schedule will be prepared monthly, for publishing on a google calendar titled phone duty on about the 25th of the month for the next month’s phone duty schedule. If associates have conflicts or vacations, they should provide this information to office staff prior to the 25th of the month. Any conflicts that arise after the next month’s schedule is publish, will be resolved by the associate with a substitute. The schedule and rules around phone duty may be changed at any time by the Broker.
Office mobile phone Use
When you are in possession of the office phone through phone duty or any other purpose, scheduled or spontaneous, you are responsible for the safe keep of that phone. Any damages or losses of phone while in possession of phone will be assessed and charged to responsible party as special expenses. Personal use of any office line or phone provided by, or paid for by broker; is not permitted, except for emergencies. Any out of country communications on the phone which are not considered typical phone charges, determined by the broker, will be treated as special expenses and charged to the person responsible for such communications.
Taking Messages for Other Associates
As Lone Star Luxury currently does not utilize a secretary, quality of customer service and response are being addressed with a phone system setup that routes calls to the associate from a menu offered the caller if the phone is not answered. If the phone is answered and the call is for another associate, the person taking the call should take a message and immediately text and/or email the associate’s cell phone number or email, assuring that messages will be in that associate’s cell phone or email log. Please refer to the REALTOR pipeline for the associate’s cell phone number and email. Accuracy and detail of message taking is important and essential to the business at hand. When taking a message for other associates, employees, or staff, please include the following:
- The date and time of the call
- The name of the caller
- The telephone number and email which the caller can be reached at
- The message left by the caller and subject matter of the call
- The name of the person taking the message
Vacation/Leave Time for Associates
The broker does not control associate’s time off except that associates must make themselves available for mandatory meetings, tours, and scheduled phone duty, discussed in previous policy statements. However, if an associate plans to be absent from the area (i.e., out of town) for any period of time, he or she must inform the broker. Additionally, another associate must be scheduled to cover for the associate during this absence. Failure to arrange coverage by another associate will require broker to make necessary assignments and assess a special expenses charge typically in the form of a transaction coordination fee of between $350 and $650 to ensure the client is satisfied, a professional transaction and that the transaction is closed successfully.
Sales meetings are conducted on an as-needed basis as determined by the Broker. Any company policy, company happenings, changes in the market, new financing procedures, law changes, etc. will be discussed during these meetings. The purpose of the sales meetings is to keep the associates abreast of all facets of real estate happenings. They are training periods, round table discussion periods, and Q&A sessions concerning policies, contract law, ethics, new listings and requests for specific properties made by prospective purchasers.
Sales meeting attendance is expected of all associates. Mandatory attendance of sales meetings covering real estate law and license law matters is required unless excused by the broker. These meetings will be announced in advance on the office Calendar on google drive, to permit associates to make necessary adjustments in their appointment scheduling.
Information Systems Policy
Lone Star Luxury is a small office with no networked computer system at this time. Each associate will maintain their own personal computer and software as they deem appropriate to accomplish the business of the company in an efficient manner. As a secretary is not currently employed, there are some requirements that must be met for the efficient provision of data for other companies that wish to show properties we have listed:
1. All associates will learn to utilize the relevant MLS system and place documents such as plats, restrictions, seller’s disclosures and floor plans on the system for access by other agents. Though not specifically related to the information systems, all associates will prepare packets of information and place them at the listing in the case of a residence.
2. Associates will also train themselves and utilize the Google Drive system to keep track of prospects by using the ‘agent leads’ sheet and updating the REALTOR pipeline with your accounting for expected paychecks. Paychecks will not be released unless all appropriate paperwork requested in the iOffice and the REALTOR pipeline is updated.
Associates are encouraged to have their own personal web site if desired. All regulations of the TREC should be followed as to content and identification of Lone Star Luxury with main office phone number. However, a site (www.yoursite.com) will be maintained. This site will utilize the IDX system, thus having all participating realtor listings on display.
Associates will maintain their own Gmail address, with a business friendly Gmail. Gmail must be approved by the Broker, real estate oriented Gmail handles like JustInTimeClosings@gmail.com are great. Be careful about locking yourself into a certain city in your handle like email@example.com as it narrows what people think your field of knowledge is.
Each associate is responsible for acquiring and maintaining all software and hardware needed to provide professional real estate services, to include but not limited to, a computer, color printer, computer faxing software, Adobe Acrobat software, ZipForms forms software provided by TAR and other word processing software.
Gmail signatures should at the very least be professional and link appropriately. You must include your name, your licensee label, a working phone number which is owned by you, the current office phone number for your line, your work email, and a work approved website with a hyperlink to that website
Online Communication Conduct
Use of the information systems requires certain conduct be maintained to enhance professionalism among your working peers, customers, and clients. The following are strictly prohibited:
• Harassment in any form
• Forwarding of messages or information that will disparage individuals or groups based on their gender, race, national origin or other protected characteristic
• Forwarding of messages which might disrupt the work place or damage morale
• Offensive comments, jokes/riddles, cartoons, pornography, profanity and offensive messages or information in any form
• Threatening messages or forms of other threatening communications
• Forgery or attempted forgery of e‑mail or voice mail
• Accessing, deleting, copying or modifying of e‑mail and/or voice mail. This includes the attempt to do so.
Any associate who receives threatening, harassing or improper communications shall immediately report the situation to their immediate supervisor, consistent with our prohibition of harassment.
Copyright Infringement –Software
Broker licenses the use of computer software from a variety of outside sources. Broker does not own this software or its related documentation, and unless authorized by the software developer, does not have the right to reproduce it. Associates shall use the software only in accordance with the relevant license agreement.
Any duplication of copyrighted software, except for backup purposes, is a violation of the Federal Copyright Law. All software installed must be non-proprietary or properly licensed. Broker will not tolerate any associate making or importing unauthorized copies of software or data. Likewise, broker will not tolerate any associate conveying software or data to an outside third party, including clients, members, customers, or associates in other companies, without proper written authorization.
According to the United States copyright law, illegal reproduction of software can be subject to civil damages of as much as $100,000 per copyright violated and criminal penalties, including fines and imprisonment. Associates learning of any misuse of software on the information systems or in related documentation shall immediately notify the network administrator.
The World Wide Web
The World Wide Web or Internet is a very powerful and beneficial tool for our associates, clients and customers. In addition to MLS‑like marketing opportunities, the Internet provides an unlimited resource tool for access to and delivery of information and interpersonal contacts. When properly utilized, it will increase our capabilities and efficiency. However, access to the Internet also carries with it significant risks and potential problems including non‑secure transfer of data and non‑reliability and accuracy of information found on the Internet.
Use of the Internet requires conformance to certain etiquette as recognized by other users of the Internet. When using the Internet, associates are to conduct themselves as “ambassadors” of the broker and must show consideration and respect to others. Do not swear, use vulgarities or any other inappropriate language in your messages. Transmission or importing of any material or data in violation of any federal or state law or regulation is prohibited, including, but not limited to, copyrighted material, threatening, pornographic, or obscene material, or information constituting trade secrets. It is the responsibility of each associate to ensure that use of the Internet is done responsibly and economically, and that access to the Internet services does not adversely affect his/her productivity.
All photographs and images seen on any brokerage websites associated with the brokerage are copyrighted by their respective owners. You may NOT use in any way, any photography, pictures, or images seen on websites associated with us unless you have permission from the Broker, Mike Dee. Any images or versions of the logos located in the ioffice may be used as long as you are sponsored by our brokerage.
Professional grade photography is our Company Policy! Pictures are the most important marketing piece. Hire a photographer, it’s required. Prices typically range from $75-$250. See recommended Photographers here. (exceptions: tear-down or properties needing complete remodels do not need pro pics)
Copyright Infringement – Web Content
It is ILLEGAL to copy content written by another and place it on your web site or web log (blog). It is ILLEGAL, even if you credit and/or link to the author. There are NO EXCEPTIONS authorized by this brokerage.
Some will state the “fair use” defense. Their premise being that it is fair to use something written by another in certain circumstances. For the purposes of this brokerage, our rules will be very strict concerning quoting the written work of another. Using a sentence out of an article with 20 or more sentences would usually be acceptable, if the sentence is properly quoted and attributed to the author. This should only be done if it leads to your own commentary, and is useful to develop your copy. You should never use a significant portion of anyone’s work with out permission.
Your Web content practices reflect on this brokerage. Do not use software or services that “scrape” content from other sites on an automated basis. Quote other content only as it relates to your site or blog topic and is relevant.
Legal and Tax Advice Prohibited
No associate shall give legal advice to a party, offer opinion, or give advice regarding legal rights or obligations of a party. Parties may be referred to the default section in the Offer to Purchase form and advised to consult with their own attorneys. The associate also may explain the preprinted provisions of the standard listing and Offer to Purchase and any other approved forms the parties may be asked to complete and/or sign. For sticky legal situations call the TAR legal hotline at (512)480-8200 as an additional resource and contact the Broker.
No associate shall give tax advice to a party, including advice pertaining to deductions, exemptions, and/or tax liabilities resulting from the purchase or sale of real estate. If a tax question arises beyond the scope of real estate practice, and an explanation is asked for, the associate should suggest that the party consult an attorney, tax accountant or other appropriate expert having expertise in the area addressed by the client’s or customer’s question.
Problem Reporting Procedures
Immediately report problems to the broker that pertain to:
• A party having complaints involving real estate transactions
• Automobile accidents occurring while the associate is participating in real estate brokerage transactions
• Criminal charges against the associate, with the exception of traffic offenses
• Civil lawsuits or administrative actions involving real estate brokerage transactions
• TREC contacts concerning disciplinary actions or other purposes
• Party default under an accepted agreement
• Threatened legal or administrative actions involving the parties and/or a real estate transaction
• Acts of discrimination committed by associates or parties to transactions
• Unresolved disputes between associates, within or outside the office
• Physical injuries within the office or while in performance of services or duties in the name of the broker
• Local Board/Association contacts concerning disciplinary action or other purposes
Contacting the Broker
The broker generally will be available during work hours to discuss real estate matters. In the case of an emergency, the broker may be contacted after business hours.
In case of emergencies if the broker cannot be reached, the associate should not over react or make a rushed decision until they are able to contact the broker or an approved mentor, manager or experienced agent who is not a part of the transaction of concern. However, if the emergency pertains to the wording of an agreement, a protective clause to the effect that “this agreement is subject to the review and approval of legal counsel within (an agreed upon time frame) acceptance of this offer” could be inserted in the agreement.
All records of this office, as well as conversations between associates, broker and associates, and associates and parties to the transaction, are considered confidential. No files shall be removed from this office without the permission of the broker and no other information obtained while working for this company shall be used to the detriment of the broker.
All associates shall also be obligated to honor the confidential information of any client or non‑client party to any transaction, as designated in writing on an Agency Disclosure Forms or other documents. All documents containing a party’s confidential information shall be kept in a special locked file to guard against any unauthorized sharing of this information. Access to this information should protected and be limited to the associate working with the party.
Listing Agent Highlights:
- >> Do NOT start marketing any real estate ever, unless you have an executed agreement to do so.
- >> Professional grade photography is our Company Policy! Pictures are the most important marketing piece. Hire a photographer, it’s required. Prices typically range from $75-$250. See Photographers here. (exceptions: tear-down or properties needing complete remodels do not need pro pics)
- >> For Listing sales provide: Listing Agreement, Seller’s Disclosure, Information About Broker Disclosures, Survey and T-47, and any other needed paperwork.
- >> Market as much as possible before you hit the MLS, you have a much better chance finding an unrepresented buyer if you aggressively market before the MLS. Intermediary Relationships are prohibited by our company policy, talk to the Broker if intermediary is seemingly unavoidable see FAQs here.
- >> Majority of the work on a listing is done up front. Tell your client the importance of having every thing ready, including the paperwork and professional pictures, before going live on the MLS.
- >> Get a spare key to all locks necessary and discuss showing instructions with them, consider their pets, kids, security systems; If occupied let them know “call first and go” is the efficient way to go.
- >> Only Approved Broker Yard Signs are permitted on listings. Please talk with us if you do not have a sign and we will provide you one.
- >> Your direct phone # should be the sign or on the sign rider‘. (You can custom order a sign with your contact info, talk with the Broker)
- >> For Open Houses Only use the black and white directional signs for open houses, they are sold most anywhere open house signs are sold.
Intermediary Relationships are prohibited by our company policy, talk to the Broker if intermediary is seemingly unavoidable see FAQs here.
Each associate is responsible for the purchase of their signs, riders, directionals and other marketing items. There are approved sign vendors for Lone Star Luxury or the office may have spare ones to sell you, and a list is available on the iOffice located on our website. If the Broker does not have signs already made, the Broker will provide an approved sign vendor list for you to purchase the signs from. We have negotiated pricing with these vendors. The vendors on this list also have artwork for our signs, and approved formatting. However, it is the responsibility of the associate to assure that the signs meet our format requirements. The Broker will typically have spare 18”X24” ready-to-go signs in stock priced with a convenience fee marked up. All lost, damaged, dirty or stolen signs and marketing material will need to be replaced by the sale’s associate in possession or use of said material when negative incident has occurred.
Required Sign Formats/Design
You may ONLY use brokerage approved real estate signs. We use yard signs of 18” x 24” in a steel frame with riders above and below. The steel frame needs to be clean and painted a color matching any color on the sign, typically blue, red, black or white. This is the format for yard signs that all associates will use unless approval to change it is received in advance. Riders will have lettering and background matching any color on the main sign. typically blue, red, black or white.
Directional signs will also maintain the background colors and lettering styles used in the main signs. Do not place them until you have verified their legality in an area or approval by a subdivision. Any fines incurred due to their use will be paid by the associate.
Sold and Offer Pending Signs
We highly recommend acquiring permission to place sold signs on any property you have closed on. Only after all contingencies of the offer have been waived or satisfied and after obtaining the permission of the client or property owner may a “Sold” signs be posted. When representing the buyer after the deal has closed and funded, ask the buyer, which will be the current owner of the property to place a sold sign on their property for 30 days.
“Offer pending” or similar signs may be posted, with the seller’s permission, after acceptance of an offer but prior to waiver or satisfaction of contingencies. Sold signs may remain on the property for up to (30) days after closing provided that the consent of the new owner (buyer) has been obtained.
Without a current listing agreement, signs are not to be left on the property. Signs from expired listings must be removed within two days after expiration or closing.
Formal Real Estate Operation Hours
7 days a week: 8:30 AM to 8:30 PM
Informally you should be available when ever your client needs you, and of course within reason.
We Observe Holidays as a free ‘work organization and catch up day’!
Legal Assistance for Associates
Legal Counsel Involvement
If a question arises in which the associate feels that legal advice must be obtained, first determine is appropriate for the free Legal Hotline. If so the Legal Hotline number is (800)873-9155. If the question is not resolved, the associate will inform the broker by email replied to by broker at which time the broker shall make the decision as to whether legal consultation is necessary. If legal consultation is required, the broker will consult with the attorney.
Lawsuits and Threats of Action
If the associate is sued or threatened with a lawsuit or administrative action in conjunction with a real estate transaction, immediate attention of the broker is required. The broker will then report the suit to the errors and omissions insurance carrier. The responsibility as to payment of legal fees will be determined on a case‑by‑case basis decided by the Broker.
In matters of arbitration, an attorney may be employed at the discretion of the broker. The responsibility as to payment of fees for said attorney will be determined on a case‑by‑case basis decided by the Broker.
Code of Ethics & License Law Violations
In matters of alleged violation of the Code of Ethics and/or License Law, an attorney may be employed at the discretion of the broker. The responsibility for payment of such attorney fees will be determined on a case‑by‑case basis decided by the Broker.
Inspection Services, Surveys, Etc.
Broker shall not be liable to the associate for any expense incurred by the associate unless approved in writing in advance. All inspections and related services, such as well and septic inspections, surveys, etc., are to be ordered in the name of, billed to, and paid by the seller or buyer; billings shall never be made to broker.
Personal Assistants, Unlicensed Assistants, and Licensed Assistant.
Employment or Contracting of Licensed, Unlicensed, and/or Personal Assistants by any associate is at that associate’s discretion and sole responsibility. All regulations and procedures for conduct and management of a Licensed, Unlicensed, and/or Personal Assistants as set forth by the TREC and this Broker Policy Manual, shall be adhered to. Should conduct of the assistant reflect poorly on the company or place the company in a negative liability position, Broker can require the termination of any assistant.
Observance of Safety Practices
All associates are encouraged to be aware of unsafe situations and prepare themselves to avoid unsafe practices. Some suggestions are:
• Get a prospect’s full name, address and telephone number and write it on your leads list before you meet the client.
• If you are meeting for the first time, or are otherwise concerned about a buyer or seller, ask the broker, another associate or a personal assistant to accompany you and always have your buyers and sellers meet you at safe public place the first time, never at a vacant property and take separate cars.
• While showing a property, unlock the door and allow the prospects to enter first, keeping them in front of you at all times.
• Don’t carry a lot of cash or wear expensive jewelry during showings and open houses
• When leaving the office, always let someone know where you will be and how you can be reached.
Carry pepper spray or other reasonable self defense mechanisms in your purse.
• Use caution and sound judgment. DO NOT put yourself in an unsafe or compromising position
Do NOT text and Drive! That’s a requirement and the law!
DON’T LET WORK WORK ACTIVITIES EVER CAUSE YOU OR OTHERS PERSONAL INJURY.
- use hands free bluetooths for your cell phone that plays through your car.
- use third party road navigations that allow you input several address at once which also determine and display your best route to visit them all.
- Best practices is to have a driver working with you so you can sit in the passenger seat to conduct further research in route.
Open House Safety policy…
Always have a sign in sheet asking for at least name, number, email, reason for visit questions on the questionnaire or excel sheet, at every type of open house. Make sure you have this sign in sheet at the front door area and ask people to sign in before looking.
We’re not a fan of public open houses. Associate safety and outside theft are big concerns which are hard to control in this type of environment. Criminals often shop open houses and leave a window or door unlocked so they may come back after the open house, so you must make sure you check every door and window when locking up after an open house. Sometimes an open house can be just what’s needed to attract another buyer or seller. If you would like to host a publicly posted open house we require an associate has permission of the owner through the listing, feels it is a safe neighbor hood appropriate for an open house. An associate must be licensed, be safe, smart, licensed and follow one of the two plans below:
- The Buddy plan. You must have an open house buddy with you the entire time, a friend, a fellow agent, a lender friend, a home inspector, your boyfriend, somebody you know and trust needs to be with you. Two people is often times better than one not just in safety but also in sales.
- 2. The online Camera plan. You must have a laptop with sufficient power and capable of being online so that a live camera feed from your laptop will record on an ‘online, third party storage’, separate from your laptop. The camera(s) must be set up and monitored and pointed at the front door. 2 signs upfront and one on the table next to the laptop camera.
Your Lone Star Luxury business cards submission form located here must be completed and submitted with in a week of executing the Independent Contractor Agreement with our brokerage. Being properly branded and having updated information is important for our business. You will need an updated professional business head-shot, some reviews and a bio for the website. Your picture does not need to be on your business cards, that is your option. Submit this form ASAP here if you just signed up with the brokerage or when ever you need new business cards.
Antitrust Compliance Policy
Business must be conducted in accordance with all applicable antitrust laws. This includes, but is not limited to the following: Associates affiliated with Lone Star Luxury shall not discuss (and shall not be present at any discussion of) commission rates charged by the Broker or any other real estate brokerage in their community or any other community with any person affiliated with any other real estate brokerage, including other Lone Star Luxury offices, any real estate industry trade association, or any entity undertaking a survey of such rates. Any questions or concerns regarding discussion of fees or commissions should be directed only to the Broker. The Broker will consult with an attorney on all commission matters for which they do not have a response for the questioning associate. Associates affiliated with any Lone Star Luxury offices shall not discuss (and shall not be present at any discussion of) their intention to pursue or not to pursue business opportunities with particular potential customers or in particular geographic areas with any person affiliated with any other real estate brokerage, including other Lone Star Luxury offices, and any real estate industry trade association.
Open Door Policy
Your broker cares. The Broker has an open door policy. Feel free to contact your broker or supervisor with any concerns.
Use of Social Media in the Real Estate Business
As used in this policy REALTOR® shall refer to the principal broker or a broker standing in the shoes of the principal broker. Agent shall mean a licensed real estate agent employed by or affiliated with the REALTOR®. Users shall mean individuals visiting the social media sites of Agents. Social Media as used in this policy shall apply to both activities at the agent’s web sites (e.g., blogging) and use of third party social media tools (e.g., Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, etc.). Because there already exist hundreds of different Social Media tools which may be utilized by agents and more are constantly being created, the provisions of this policy are to be interpreted generally to apply to the types of interaction the agent has with the social media service rather than to specific web sites and providers. Notwithstanding anything in this policy, it remains the responsibility of the Agent to comply with the requirements of local, state and federal law and the Code of Ethics of the National Association of REALTORS®.
The scope of this policy shall extend to all uses of social media in connection with the real estate business (use in connection with the real estate business would include any use in which the agent seeks to promote or capture real estate business from consumers or other agents). This policy is not intended to cover the activities of Agents falling completely outside the real estate business; however any conduct which reflects adversely upon broker or the brokerage may be reviewed under the terms of this policy.
Whenever identification is required by this policy is shall include the following (include those that apply):
a. Name/Logo of brokerage
b. Name of broker
c. Address of the brokerage office with which the agent is affiliated
d. Phone/E-mail of the brokerage office
e. Name of the agent responsible for the web site
f. State of licensure
g. Agents affiliated with a team may also include the name of that team
h. Phone/E-mail of agent or team responsible for the web site
i. Any other requirements mandated by state law/regulation
j. Any additional brokerage identification requirements
k. Information About Brokerage Services Disclosure
l. Fair Housing Law disclaimers
1. Agent shall be responsible for compliance with all laws and regulations governing real estate business including fair housing, antitrust and real estate license laws and regulations.
a. Where identification is required the same items of identification listed in the Internet policy shall apply or
b. Where identification is required, at a minimum the following elements shall be disclosed (see list above to select)
2. The Agent shall be responsible for informing the REALTOR® (and obtaining approval) of any blogging site maintained by Agent and shall be provided with information necessary to subscribe to the blog
ii. Obtain clear authority from Users to utilize anything the User includes on the site
iii. Prohibit the unauthorized use of third party content or the posting of any unlawful or objectionable materials
iv. Prohibit the use of the site to harass or stalk anyone
v. Prohibiting the posting of content which infringes on the rights of any third party
vi. Prohibit the posting of content which expresses a preference based upon an individual’s membership in a protected class
vii. Provide a take-down policy in the event any such materials are posted to the site
viii. Disclaim responsibility for any third party sites linked to through the site
ix. Generally disclaim and limit any liability arising from the content of the site whether provided by Agent or a User
4. Agent shall not pay or provide anything of value to another party in consideration of comments placed on the blog. If Agent does allow comments to be posted in return for consideration, the fact that the commenter has received compensation shall be disclosed.
a. Agents shall identify themselves when establishing a blog in such a way that Users of the blog shall know the Agent’s name, their status as a real estate licensee and the name of the brokerage with which they are affiliated.
b. In any posting related to the brokerage, the Agent shall assure that the Agent’s relationship to the brokerage is clear so as to avoid violation of the FTC rules.
c. Agents shall not participate in the blog of another party without disclosing their identity and the brokerage with which they are affiliated.
6. Responsibility for Maintenance
a. All blogging must be monitored by agent for false / defamatory / demeaning / degrading comments at least once per ______
b. Agent is responsible for removing or clarifying any comment if the agent knows that it is false or misleading
7. Agent is responsible for assuring that the content and operation of the blog conform to the standards established in the Code of Ethics
8. REALTOR® must be notified of any offer of compensation to the Agent for real estate related services communicated or established through the blog
Use of Third-Party Social Media Sites (Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, etc.)
There are hundreds of providers of social media services in which real estate agents may participate. The purpose of this policy is to provide guidelines intended to provide both agents and the brokerage with legal liability risk management and to protect the brokerage’s reputation and good will in the community. Like with blogging, the scope of this policy is intended to relate to use of social media in connection with the real estate business, but regardless of the social media service being used, when related to the real estate business the Agent should observe these guidelines.
Agents are required to read and be familiar with the policies and requirements of any site on which they participate and to comply with the requirements of that site. In particular, Agents should know the privacy practices and policies of the sites. Where options are provided, the Agent shall / may select an option which provides a level of protection to Users of Agent’s social media site consistent with the level of protection afforded by the brokerage at the brokerage’s web site.
Agents should remain aware that items posted on social media sites may be forwarded or used for purposes other than originally intended. Agents should be aware of this when making decisions as to what to include on their social media sites.
Posting of Professional Contacts/Qualifications (e.g., LinkedIn)
1. Agent is responsible for assuring that any listing of qualifications, credentials or training contained on the site is current, accurate and not misleading. Any changes to the foregoing shall be promptly revised on the site.
2. Agent shall not falsely claim association with any person or group
3. Notwithstanding any provision herein, Agent remains responsible for complying with the license laws and regulations governing the conduct of licensees and all applicable local, state and federal laws.
4. Agent is responsible for assuring that the content conforms to the standards established in the Code of Ethics
Posting of text (e.g., Facebook, MySpace, Twitter)
1. All text shall be the Agent’s own and not plagiarized or copied from another party without that party’s permission. This shall not prohibit the use of reasonable quotations from the writings of others or writing for which the Agent has received permission to use or using writings consistent with the practices of the site (e.g., retweeting). No content which infringes the rights of any third party may be used.
2. Agent may/may not write regarding the listings of other licensees within the brokerage
3. Agent may /may not write regarding the listings of other brokerages
4. Agent shall assure that writings do not contain unauthorized disclosures of confidential information of clients, customers or REALTOR®
5. Agent is responsible for assuring that the use of the site is consistent with the Code of Ethics, local, state and federal laws and all applicable real estate license laws and regulations, including where necessary identifying Agent.
Posting of comments to social media pages of others
1. Any statement regarding the brokerage shall clearly disclose the Agent’s relationship to the brokerage
2. The Agent shall disclose his/her status as a real estate professional as a part of any real estate related statement
3. Agent may/may not accept compensation for placing a comment on a site
4. Agent is responsible for assuring that the use of the site is consistent with the Code of Ethics, local, state and federal laws and all applicable real estate license laws and regulations, including where necessary identifying Agent.
Posting of photos
1. Agent is responsible for assuring that that Agent is authorized to use any photo posted to the site (to avoid copyright issues)
2. Agent shall secure permission to post for marketing purposes the image of another person on the site
3. If an image has been materially altered in any way by Agent, the fact that the image is altered shall be disclosed
4. Agent is responsible for assuring that the use of the site is consistent with the Code of Ethics, local, state and federal laws and all applicable real estate license laws and regulations, including where necessary identifying Agent.
Posting of audio/video (YouTube)
1. Agent is responsible for assuring that that Agent is authorized to use any audio/video posted to the site (to avoid copyright issues)
2. Agent shall secure permission to post for marketing purposes the image of another person on the site
3. If an image has been altered in any way by Agent, the fact that the image is altered shall be disclosed
4. Agent is responsible for assuring that the use of the site is consistent with the Code of Ethics and all applicable real estate license laws and regulations, including where necessary identifying Agent.
Anything not covered on this policy, please contact the designated Broker for any questions not answered here except accounting procedures, and check our iOffice. Never act any way in which you have doubts that you are doing the right thing as a licensed real estate agent. It never hurts to ask if you have doubts, we recommend it!