Release Date: 02/14/2017
QUESTION: My firm conducts brokerage activities across a large area that includes 3 different counties. I have decided to lease another office space in one of these counties to give my agents a desk and a copier to use when they are away from the firm’s main location. Does this new office space need a BIC if the agent is not going to conduct client meetings or receive trust money there?
ANSWER: We believe the answer is “no.” Unless otherwise exempted, every principal office and branch office must have a broker-in-charge under 21 NCAC 58A .0110(b). This rule defines “office” as “any place of business where acts are performed for which a real estate license is required or where monies received by a broker acting in a fiduciary capacity are handled or records for such trust monies are maintained[.]” This rule further states that a “branch office” is “any office in addition to the principal office of a broker which is operated in connection with the broker's real estate business,” and that a “principal office” is “the office so designated in the Commission’s records by the qualifying broker of a licensed firm or the broker-in-charge of a sole proprietorship.”
The North Carolina Real Estate Commission has said that in determining whether a location is an “office” or a “branch office” under section .0110(a), it will look at the following factors: (1) whether the location’s address is advertised in any manner including business cards or letterhead; (2) whether licensed agents use the location to meet the public and perform any aspect of brokerage services; (3) whether the location is operated on a permanent or indefinite basis with regular hours; (4) whether the location is regularly staffed by agents; (5) whether files, records, trust accounts, or transaction records are kept there; and (6) whether the location is designed and furnished to facilitate brokerage.
Applying at these factors to your new office, we think that it is unlikely that the Commission would consider your new office an “office” or a “branch office” requiring a BIC under 58A .0110(b). As long as your agents are not conducting brokerage activities, receiving trust monies, maintaining trust records, advertising, meeting the public, or keeping files at your new office, then your new office would not need a separate BIC.
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