Frequently Asked Questions

Legal Hotline FAQ

A blog of the most frequently asked questions to the Maryland REALTORS Legal Hotline.

Cindy Sellers
Cindy Sellers
Cindy Sellers's Blog

My broker has informed me that under no circumstances may I contact the owners of property following my departure from the company and that any listing I have will remain with my current broker.

Under the law, your broker is absolutely correct though each broker’s policy may vary. Unlike many other licensed professions, simply because an individual has a real estate salesperson’s license does not authorize that individual to provide real estate brokerage services to the public. Under Maryland law, only a licensed real estate broker may provide real estate brokerage services to the public. An individual who possesses a real estate salesperson’s license is authorized to provide real estate brokerage services only by and through a licensed real estate broker with whom the salesperson is affiliated.
When an owner lists a property with a broker, a listing agreement is entered into by and between the owner and the broker or in the name of the company under which the broker trades. As such, the contract is by and between the owner and the broker or the broker’s company. Even though you may be the listing agent, the lawful agent is the broker and the contract is not between you and the owner but rather, as stated above, between the owner and the broker or the broker’s company. Consequently, all listing agreements (and buyer agency agreements) are the property of your broker or your broker’s company. 

When you leave to become affiliated with another broker, you have no legal claim or right to the listings then in effect with your present broker. You are certainly permitted to notify former customers and clients of your new affiliation and your new office address and telephone number. However, under no circumstances can you contact a current owner and suggest or encourage them to terminate an existing listing agreement with respect to your former broker. To do so would constitute a violation of the Maryland Real Estate Brokers Act and could result in the revocation and/or suspension of your real estate salespersons license.
In addition, Maryland law recognizes the tort of intentional interference with contract or intentional interference with economic advantage. Should you unlawfully induce an owner to cancel an existing valid listing contract between the owner and your former broker, your broker could maintain a civil action against you for interfering with the contract and the potential economic benefit to be received by way of commissions to be paid. Any effort on your part to encourage, suggest or participate in having owners cancel valid listing contracts with your former broker could expose you to both civil and administrative proceedings and the ultimate loss of your license or the award of damages against you directly resulting from your tortious conduct.

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