A broker’s office must be of permanent, stationary construction with at least one enclosed room.
Sales associates may not open their own offices. They must work at an office registered in the name of a broker or owner-employer.
Every place of a broker’s business must be registered with FREC as a branch office.
Branch office licenses are not transferable. Old branches are simply closed; a new branch license must be issued.
A broker’s entrance sign must have the name of an active broker, and the words “licensed (or lic.) real estate broker.”
Persons may not advertise property or personal qualifications in a false, misleading, or deceptive manner.
All advertising by a brokerage firm must include the name of the firm or it will be a violation called a “blind ad.”
When licensees use their personal names in an ad, they must use their last name as registered with FREC.
The brokerage firm’s name must appear below, above or adjacent to the point of contact information in the web site where it first appears.
“Team or group advertising” shall mean a name or logo used by one or more real estate licensees who represent themselves to the public as a team or group. FREC rules prohibit the use of certain words in the group names.
The National Do Not Call Registry is a list of phone numbers of consumers who may not be contacted by commercial telemarketers. Telemarketers who violate the law face substantial fines.
Brokers must hold customer’s funds in an escrow account not commingled with any of the broker’s personal or business funds.
A broker may put up to $1,000 of the broker’s funds into a sales escrow account, or up to $5,000 into a property management account.
A broker’s escrow account must be in a Florida commercial bank, credit union, or savings association.
Brokers may also place deposits with a title insurance company or with an attorney.
Funds received by a sales associate must be given to the broker by the end of the next business day.
Brokers must deposit the funds no later than the end of business on the third business day after the customer has given the funds.
Brokers must ensure that the escrow account is reconciled and sign and date the reconciliation each month.
A broker may not hold escrow funds in an interest-bearing account without the written consent of the parties.
Disputes Over Escrowed Funds
Buyers have legal control over escrowed funds until the offer is accepted, when both parties have control.
When both parties claim the deposit, it is called conflicting demands.
If a transaction has not closed and the broker doesn’t know who the deposit belongs to, it is called good-faith doubt.
If a broker has good-faith doubt, or there are conflicting demands for the escrowed funds, the broker must, within 15 business days, give written notice to the FREC.
A broker who has notified the FREC about good-faith doubt or conflicting demands has 30 days to institute the FREC settlement procedures (MEAL):
Mediation, a process that helps the party find agreement, but is not binding.
Escrow disbursement order is issued by the FREC directing the broker on who is entitled to the deposit.
Arbitration results are legally binding on the parties.
Litigation lets the courts sort it out.
A broker may legally disburse the funds without notifying the FREC in only three situations
The 3-day condominium cooling-off period.
If a buyer can’t get the financing that was required in the contract.
HUD’s Agreement to Abide in a contract.
Brokers must retain brokerage records for at least five years.
Persons who sell rental lists must be brokers and provide a contract for a refund of:
75% of the fee if the buyer of the list fails to find a rental, or
100% of the fee if the list is not current or accurate.
Real Estate Commissions
All commissions must be paid to the broker.
Sales associates can receive a commission only from the broker and cannot sue a customer for a commission.
Licensees may not pay any part of a real estate commission to an unlicensed person, unless it is the seller or buyer of the property.
Unlicensed persons who receive a payment for performing a real estate service may be charged with a third-degree felony.