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Commissions

Q I’m a sales associate. For no reason, my broker is refusing to pay me a commission on one of my transactions that recently closed. If I notify the Florida Real Estate Commission (FREC) about this issue, will FREC force my broker to pay me my commission?
A No. A commission dispute between a broker and a salesassociate is generally a matter that can be resolved by a civil court. However, the sales associate’s independent contractor agreement may require some other form of dispute resolution such as arbitration or mediation.

Brokerage Disclosure Law

Q I’m a broker-associate acting as a transaction broker for the buyer of a pet store. Am I required to provide the buyer with a transaction broker relationship disclosure?
A No. Section 475.278 (5)(b)2, Florida Statutes, provides that the requirement to provide the real estate brokerage relationship disclosures doesn’t apply to nonresidential transactions.

Section 475.278(5)(a), Florida Statutes, defines a residential sale for the purpose of providing the real estate brokerage relationship disclosures as “the sale of improved residential property of four units or fewer, the sale of unimproved residential property intended for use of four units or fewer, or the sale of agricultural property of 10 acres or fewer.”

Therefore, the pet store transaction wouldn’t be considered residential, and the buyer wouldn’t have to be provided a real estate brokerage relationship disclosure. However, if no real estate brokerage relationship disclosure is provided, Section 475.278(1)(b), Florida Statutes, states, a real estate licensee will be presumed to be operating as a transaction broker unless a single agent or no brokerage relationship is established, in writing, with the customer.

Contracts

Q I’m a transaction broker for both the buyer and the seller. The property is located in Osceola County, but both parties want the closing to take place in Orange County. Does a real estate closing have to take place in the county in which the real property is located?
A No. There is no Florida law that mandates that a real estate closing must take place in the county where the real property is located. However, many sale and purchase contracts will include preprinted provisions indicating where the closing must take place. Both the FAR/BAR-7 and the FAR-8 sale and purchase contracts have preprinted provisions that state the closing will occur in the county in which the real property is located.
 
If using either the FAR/BAR-7 or the FAR-8 sale and purchase contract, the buyer and seller may amend the contract to state that the closing will take place in a county other than the one where the real property is located.

Escrow

Q I’m a sales associate, and I have a buyer who is anticipating that he’ll make an offer on a house within a few weeks. The earnest money deposit will be held in my real estate brokerage company escrow account. The buyer gave me the check for the earnest money deposit but doesn’t want me to deposit the check until he actually makes an offer on a property. May I wait until the offer has been made to deposit the check?
A No. Rule 61J2-14.009, Florida Administrative Code (FAC), provides that when a sales associate receives an escrow deposit, he or she must deliver it “to the broker or employer no later than the end of the next business day following receipt of the item to be deposited. Saturdays, Sundays and legal holidays shall not be construed as business days.”

Then, according to Rule 61J2-14.010(1), FAC, the broker must immediately deposit the escrow depositin the escrow account. Rule 61J2- 14.008(3), FAC, defines “immediately”  as “… the placement of a deposit in an escrow account no later than the end of the third business day following receipt of the item to be deposited. Saturdays, Sundays and legal holidays shall not be considered as business days.”

Q I’m a broker. When I do a monthly reconciliation of my real estate brokerage’s escrow account, is there a legally required form that must be used?
A No. However, Rule 61J2-14.012(2), FAC, provides in part that “… the minimum information to be included in the monthly statement-reconciliation shall be the date the reconciliation was undertaken, the date used to reconcile the balances, the name of the bank(s), the name(s) of the account(s), the account number(s), the account balance(s) and the date(s), deposits in transit, outstanding checks identified by date and check number, an itemized list of the broker’s trust liability, and any other items necessary to reconcile the bank account balance(s) per the broker’s checkbook(s) and other trust account books and records disclosing the date of receipt and the source of the funds.

The broker shall review, sign and date the monthly statement-reconciliation.” The Florida Association of REALTORS® (FAR) has forms that may be used for the monthly reconciliation: “Monthly Reconciliation Statement Real Estate Trust Account” (MSR-5) and “Monthly Reconciliation Statement Real Estate Trust Account Addendum” (MSRA-1). FAR members may download them free via FAR’s Web site, www.floridarealtors.org.

Residential Landlord/Tenant

Q I’m a sales associate who’s listed a condominium unit that’s being rented. The tenants have been uncooperative about allowing entry to the unit for showing to prospective buyers. May the tenant do this?
A No. Per Section 83.53(1), Florida Statutes, the tenant must not unreasonably withhold consent to the landlord to enter the dwelling from time to time to show it to prospective or actual buyers. The statute specifically uses the term landlord.         

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