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Broker Business
Q My real estate corporation has two brokers, and I am one of them. I want to fire the other broker. May I notify the Department of Business and Professional Regulation (DBPR) that I’ve fired him and have him terminated as a broker for the corporation?
A No. In order to terminate a broker with DBPR, the corporation must submit a corporate amendment package with a copy of the corporate minutes or a letter of resignation from the broker.

Complaints
Q A formal administrative complaint has been filed against me for alleged violations that took place in April 2005. The complaint contains two counts. I know that as of July 1, 2006, the maximum administrative fine increased to $5,000 for each count or separate offense. If I’m found in violation of both counts and the Florida Real Estate Commission (FREC) imposes a fine as part of the penalty, could I be fined up to $10,000?
A No. Since the alleged offenses took place before the administrative fines increased, the maximum administrative fine would be no more than $1,000 for each offense.

License Law
Q Do I need an auctioneer’s license to auction real property? 
A No. You need a real estate license to auction real property. Auctioning real property is a service of real estate that must be done by a licensed real estate broker or by a sales/broker-associate working under the direction and control of a licensed real estate broker. In addition, FREC has stated in the past that the person conducting the auction (i.e., the “fancy talker”) must be a real estate licensee as well.

Q I’m a new sales associate who is being trained by a seasoned sales associate at my office. I think this sales associate is paying referral fees to unlicensed people, which I know isn’t permitted under Section 475.25(1)(h), Florida Statutes. Am I legally required to report this activity to FREC?
A No. Section 475.25(1)(a), Florida Statutes, provides that real estate licensees are exempt from having to report such violations.

Q I’m a sales associate, and I took core law once in each year of my current renewal cycle. However, the DBPR isn’t giving me credit for the second course. Why not?
A As part of your 14 hours of continuing education, you may take core law once in each year of your renewal cycle. And the DBPR should count the second core law class as specialty credit. The problem may be that the DBPR’s computer program can’t process the credit for the second course if it has the same approval number as the first course. Until the DBPR fixes this computer glitch, you should make sure your core law courses don’t have the same approval number. This might mean taking core law from two different providers. If you’ve already taken core law twice and haven’t received credit for the second course, contact DBPR’s call center at (850) 487-1395 and ask to speak with Joseph Dean (Bureau of Education and Testing) or send an e-mail to callcenter@dbpr.state.fl.us.

Mutual Recognition
Q Was the mutual recognition agreement with Connecticut ever approved?
A Yes. Florida now has mutual recognition with Connecticut, which is the 11th state with which Florida has mutual recognition. For more information on mutual recognition, visit www.myflorida.com/dbpr/re/mut_rec.shtml

Real Estate Practice
Q I represent a buyer who’s scheduled to close on a house before her divorce is final. She alone qualified for the financing and is taking title in only her name, but the lender is insisting that her soon-to-be former husband sign the mortgage agreement. Why?
A The mortgage agreement gives the lender the right to foreclose if the borrower defaults on the loan. However, a spouse who hasn’t signed the mortgage agreement may be able to assert homestead rights, making it difficult for the lender to foreclose.

So, if a property could be considered the buyer’s homestead, most lenders will require the nonowning spouse to sign the mortgage agreement for the sole purpose of waiving homestead rights.

Therefore, it’s a good idea for the mortgage to include language stating that the spouse is signing only to satisfy the spousal joinder requirement contained in the Florida Constitution and that the spouse isn’t assuming any liability or obligations in the note or mortgage. In addition, the nonowning spouse should always review the mortgage agreement carefully to ensure the terms are consistent with his/her understanding.

Q May a real estate corporation have more than one trade name? 
A No. Under FREC rules, a real estate corporation may be registered under only one trade name. 

Q An owner of an ice cream shop contacted me recently to sell the business. No land is involved. May I list and sell a business when there is no land involved?
A Yes. Section 475.01(1)(i), Florida Statutes, defines real property or real estate, in part, as “any interest in business enterprises or business opportunities … .”  Therefore, a real estate licensee may sell a business opportunity that doesn’t include land.

Search through more Q&As online in the Legal Center at floridarealtors.org.