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House in hand
Code of Ethics

Q I’m a Realtor® representing a buyer (as a single agent) who’sinterested in a property listed with another agent. I submitted my buyer’s offer to the listing agent several days ago; however, I’m concerned that he hasn’t presented the offer to the seller. I’ve been unsuccessful in reaching the listing agent. May I contact the seller directly? 
A No. Pursuant to Article 16 of the Code of Ethics, a Realtor working as a buyer’s agent may communicate with the seller only through the listing office, unless he or she has permission from the listing agent to communicate with the seller directly. It’s recommended that the buyer’s agent obtain permission from the listing agent or broker in writing.

Q I’m a sales associate listing my own property for sale with the brokerage where I have my real estate license. Must I disclose my license status to prospective buyers and provide an agency disclosure?
A If you’re a member of a local Board of Realtors®, you must disclose your license status to prospective buyers, in writing prior to the signing of any contract, when selling your own property or when you have any ownership interest in property, as per the Realtor Code of Ethics, Article 4, to which the National Association of Realtors (NAR) requires you to adhere.

Because you’re acting in your licensed capacity in selling this property, you must comply with the agency disclosure requirements under Section 475.278, Florida Statutes. Thus, you may need to provide a prospective buyer with the No Brokerage Relationship Disclosure, per Section 475.278, Florida Statutes, if the party isn’t represented. Florida law requires a real estate licensee who has no brokerage relationship with a potential seller or buyer to disclose his or her duty to the seller and the buyer. The real estate licensee disclosure requirements apply to all residential sales unless an exemption applies, per Section 475.278(5)(b)(2), Florida Statutes.  

Commissions
Q I’m a broker who recently represented a buyer in a purchase and sale contract. After closing, the buyer requested that I share my commission with his church in exchange for future referrals. May I do that?
A No. Per Section 475.25(1)(h), Florida Statutes, a licensee may not share compensation with a person not properly licensed as a broker, broker-associate or sales associate under the laws of the state of Florida for the referral of real estate business.
 
Disclosure
Q I’m a sales associate and I’ve listed a property where a murder occurred. If a prospective buyer doesn’t ask whether the property had been the site of a killing, must this fact be voluntarily disclosed?
A No. Pursuant to Section 689.25, Florida Statutes, a homicide, suicide or death needn’t be disclosed to a prospective buyer in a real estate transaction because it’s not a material fact that requires disclosure.     

Real Estate Practice
Q I’m a sales associate and have entered into a listing agreement with a seller, but failed to provide a legible, signed, true and correct copy of the listing agreement within 24 hours of obtaining the written listing agreement.  Is the listing agreement enforceable?
A The listing agreement is still enforceable between the listing agent and the seller.  However, per Section 475.25(1)(r), Florida Statutes, the Florida Real Estate Commission may discipline a licensee for failing to provide a principal with a copy of the legible, signed listing agreement within 24 hours. A principal is defined, pursuant to Section 475.01(h), Florida Statutes, as a party with whom a real estate licensee has entered into a single agency relationship.

Q I’m a broker advertising an open house for one of my listings. At the open house, I’m planning to have a $500 cash drawing. Is this legally permissible?
A No. As stated in Section 849.11, Florida Statutes, anyone who promotes a game of chance for the disposal of money or other thing of value shall be guilty of a misdemeanor in the second degree. A broker who wants to have a cash giveaway may do it only by choosing the winner based on demonstration of a skill rather than by chance.

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