After successfully completing this topic, you will be able to
• list the requirements for a brokerage office,
• describe the legal requirements for a branch office, and
• list the information that is required on a brokerage firm’s entrance sign.
Florida brokers must open and maintain a principal office that is registered with the Division of Real Estate (DRE). The office must be of permanent, stationary construction with at least one enclosed room. So, a mobile home anchored to a foundation is fine, but the DBPR will not register a motor home with wheels or a houseboat.
A broker’s office can be in the broker’s residence if it doesn’t violate local zoning ordinances and is permitted by the homeowners’ association or condominium association. Home-based brokerages must still meet minimum office requirements and brokers’ signage requirements.
A broker may have an office in another state provided the broker agrees to cooperate with any investigation of the DBPR.
Brokers must keep books and records so that the DBPR to can determine that the broker is complying with the law. The records should include listing agreements, sales contracts, leases, as well as relevant emails, letters, and other communications between the parties. The required business records may be paper-based or electronic.
Brokers may keep business records outside the office, but they must be made available to DBPR in case of an audit. Brokers who maintain electronic records should make regular backups. The broker is not required to have a telephone, desk, or bank account.
Sales associates must work under the direction and control of the employing broker. The sales associate can manage a real estate office owned by a broker. Sales associates may not register their own office with the DBPR. Sales associates may work from home, but customers should be directed to the brokerage office.
A broker may open one or more branch offices anywhere in Florida. Every place of business must be registered with FREC as a branch office. All branch offices must have the same corporate or trade name as the primary office.
The broker does not need to register a temporary shelter. The broker would register a branch office if sales associates are regularly assigned there, sales supplies are on hand, or transactions are negotiated there. Brokers should register a model home if sales associates work there.
The DBPR will not transfer branch office licenses. The broker must close the old branch and register the address of the new branch office. However, if a broker closes a branch office, then later decides to reopen the same branch within the same license period, there is no fee.
The broker must place a sign at the entrance to the office that can be easily observed and read by persons entering the office.
The sign must have the name of the active broker, and the words “licensed (or lic.) real estate broker.” A corporation or partnership sign must also put the name of the firm on the sign. The broker need not put the address or phone number on the sign.
The broker can add the names of other members of the firm, but the appropriate title for sales associates or broker associates must be added. A space must be added between the brokers’ names and the sales associates’ names.