Using a Business Name, Is my Legal Name Viewable to Public?

9 Replies

I know many people use a DBA/LLC name as an agent, I like the idea for privacy.

However, what if someone looked up my license number on the state Real Estate website, like California Bureau of Real Estate, will it display my real legal name to the public? Will it still show my legal name and indicate that I am using a DBA name?

If a client of mine knows me by my DBA name "Joe Larry", and could look up my License # and see my real name is "Billy Bob". Simply curious to what extent a LLC name anonymizes a real estate agent.

Thanks

Originally posted by @Mike Miller :

I know many people use a DBA/LLC name as an agent, I like the idea for privacy.

However, what if someone looked up my license number on the state Real Estate website, like California Bureau of Real Estate, will it display my real legal name to the public? Will it still show my legal name and indicate that I am using a DBA name?

If a client of mine knows me by my DBA name "Joe Larry", and could look up my License # and see my real name is "Billy Bob". Simply curious to what extent a LLC name anonymizes a real estate agent.

Thanks

Depends on the state you create your LLC in. Some states are full disclosure some are not. You also can create an LLC that has an LLC that owns an LLC , etc if you are really into it. Also, you can create an LLC in any state even if you don't live there.

Hmm. So you think there's some states that will completely hide your leela name from public view if you use an LLC? This is what California's DRE website looks like. Seems to show their real name, and then there's a DBA section

Yes, if someone looks up your California license number it will show your real name and mailing address. Also, if you have an LLC/Corp in California, it is very easy to look up information. Simply go to: sos.ca.gov, click on Business name search/look up and type in the name of the LLC, Corporation name or individual names. You will see the registration docs, signatures, addresses and the names of the mangers or registrants.

You can do the multiple LLC's, put your LLC into a corporation or get one in another state like mentioned above. However, I would recommend not using your home address or home phone number for anything that may have the potential to be public, like a state license or LLC. Get a mailing address and VoIP line to give yourself a little privacy.


Originally posted by @Toi H. :

Yes, if someone looks up your California license number it will show your real name and mailing address. Also, if you have an LLC/Corp in California, it is very easy to look up information. Simply go to: sos.ca.gov, click on Business name search/look up and type in the name of the LLC, Corporation name or individual names. You will see the registration docs, signatures, addresses and the names of the mangers or registrants.

You can do the multiple LLC's, put your LLC into a corporation or get one in another state like mentioned above. However, I would recommend not using your home address or home phone number for anything that may have the potential to be public, like a state license or LLC. Get a mailing address and VoIP line to give yourself a little privacy.

LLC's are easy to mask though, because you can use an attorney or LegalZoom as your contact agent, and PO Boxes, so when people look it up, your name and info is not on any of the registration documents. The real ownership names are within the private documents that only they have and the state.

But as far as being a real estate agent and registering with the DRE, that's what I'm trying to figure out. Can we register under a DBA name and not reveal our legal name publicly. I know the DRE themselves would know my real legal name of course, but just publicly is what Im trying to figure.

With todays technology it is a waste of time trying to hide your identity. If someone wants to find out your name they will.

Secrecy only makes you appear dishonest.

^ Of course, no doubt. I'm only wondering about this specific scenario though. How DBA/LLC name's function with public visibility through DRE

From what I understand, the CBRE (used to be called the DRE) keeps records of all licenses carried by all persons.  Persons carry these licenses, not business entities.  If you do something that warrants taking your license, they want to be able to take YOUR license, not a business entity's license.  That way you don't just open up a new entity each time CBRE shuts you down for unethical practice.  Even large brokerages have to have individual persons designated as the practicing brokers.

This is really important if you think about it. If YOU were screwed over by an unscrupulous Realtor, you'd want to be able to easily identify the person (not some random LLC!) so you could notify CBRE and have that PERSON (not some LLC) have their license at stake or otherwise sanctioned, right?

So... to answer your question about anonymity with CBRE: no.  Or as they say on the east coast "FUGET ABOUT IT"!

Max Gradowitz, Attorney
Originally posted by @Max Gradowitz :

From what I understand, the CBRE (used to be called the DRE) keeps records of all licenses carried by all persons.  Persons carry these licenses, not business entities.  If you do something that warrants taking your license, they want to be able to take YOUR license, not a business entity's license.  That way you don't just open up a new entity each time CBRE shuts you down for unethical practice.  Even large brokerages have to have individual persons designated as the practicing brokers.

This is really important if you think about it. If YOU were screwed over by an unscrupulous Realtor, you'd want to be able to easily identify the person (not some random LLC!) so you could notify CBRE and have that PERSON (not some LLC) have their license at stake or otherwise sanctioned, right?

So... to answer your question about anonymity with CBRE: no.  Or as they say on the east coast "FUGET ABOUT IT"!

Well you would still be easily identifiable. The LLC name is unique by law. So if someone wanted to report me, they could just go by my LLC name and the DRE could look it up to match it to me. You would not need my legal name to report me.

It's like LLC's, the actual Secretary of State's office has your real info, they can pull it any time. It's just not viewable to the public.

Basically all I am trying to say in a nutshell, is I was hoping that the DRE allowed agents to use a unique DBA name, and hide their legal name from the public. But clearly that is not how the DRE is set up. Legal name will be displayed online to the public no matter what. Got it.

@Mike Miller   - The straight forward answer is no, no way to hide your "real name" in the license CalBRE database.    I would highly recommend contacting the Board directly to discuss your concerns.  

There are many other agents who have the same concern about the safety of their identity and there seems to be no real way around it. In Calif, when you sign up with a brokerage, you do have the option to use a DBA and when you have a listing your DBA name can show on it. The only way someone will know "Mike Miller" is not your real name is by looking up your license. For the most part, no one is going to look up your license information unless you've given them reason to question your practices. I hope you find the responses to your post useful; I would highly recommend contacting the Board directly.

Join the Largest Real Estate Investing Community

Basic membership is free, forever.