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.
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.
A broker’s office can be in the broker’s residence provided that 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’ entrance sign requirements.
A broker may have an office in another state provided the broker agrees to cooperate with any investigation of the DBPR.
Sales associates may not open their own offices. They must work at an office registered in the name of a broker or owner-employer. The sales associate can manage a real estate office owned by a broker.
A broker may open one or more branch offices anywhere in Florida. Every branch office must have the name of the principal office as registered with the FREC. 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.
A temporary shelter need not be registered. The test to determine whether it must be registered is whether salespeople are regularly assigned there, sales supplies are on hand, or transactions are negotiated there. Brokers should register a model home if sales associates work from there.
Branch office licenses are not transferable. Old branches are simply closed; a new branch license must be issued. 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 have a sign on or about the entrance to all offices in a manner easily observed and read by anyone about to enter the office.
The sign must have the name of an active broker, and the words “licensed (or lic.) real estate broker.” A corporation or partnership sign must also have the name of the firm on the sign. The broker’s address or phone number is not required to be on the sign.
Other members of the firm (including brokers and sales associates) may be added, but the appropriate title for salespeople must be added. A space must be added between the brokers’ names and the sales associates’ names.