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Legal Hotline: The Questions Asked Over and Over Again

Print this. Stick it on the fridge. Read it weekly. Realtors often forget or ignore certain issues unless there’s a problem, and then they call Florida Realtors Legal Hotline. While attorneys are here to help, they spend a lot of time explaining these seven oft-asked questions.

ORLANDO, Fla. – Florida Realtors’ attorneys are here to help with their advice free as part of your Realtor membership through Florida Realtors Legal Hotline. But certain issues keep coming up over and over again.

With the State of Florida welcoming roughly two thousand new real estate licensees each month, questions are inevitable, and there are no stupid questions. However, certain topics keep repeating themselves. If these issues look familiar, thank you – they’ve appeared in print before. If they’re new to you, memorize the answers. It may save you time later.

  1. When a member calls Florida Realtors’ Legal Hotline – a free benefit included in your Realtor membership – an attorney will answer the phone. You will need to confirm your name and/or license number. Additionally, if you call in with another agent, all phone participants will be asked to confirm their license numbers before assistance is given. Remember, this is a service for members only. We can’t offer buyers or sellers legal advice.
     
  2. Florida Realtors offers three residential sales contracts: two of them are Florida Realtors/Florida Bar (FR/Bar) Contracts (the ASIS FR/Bar and the standard FR/Bar). The main difference between the two FR/Bar versions lies in the inspection and repair section of those contracts, primarily covered in paragraph 12. The  Contract for Residential Sale and Purchase (CRSP) is the third residential contract offered by the association.
     
  3. Each of those types of contracts has its own riders/addenda: the CRSP uses the CRSP addenda, and the FR/Bar contracts use the Comprehensive Riders (CR).

    The respective addenda and riders should not be used between the contracts as many times the content of an addenda/rider refers to specific paragraphs within the contract it is supposed to go with. And, since the contract paragraphs are different, it can cause confusion. To avoid this issue, parties should proceed with extreme caution if they choose to use a non-corresponding addenda/rider with a contract.
     
  4. The only Florida Realtors/Florida Bar contracts Florida Realtors offers are the ASIS FR/Bar and the standard FR/Bar. The Commercial Contract, Vacant Land Contract and Florida Supreme Court-approved leases are not types of FR/Bar contracts.
     
  5. Florida Realtors is not the Florida Real Estate Commission (FREC).

    Many times, a Legal Hotline caller thinks they’re calling the “FREC legal hotline.” Remember, Florida Realtors is the largest trade association in the state with a mission to advance “Florida’s real estate industry by shaping public policy on real property issues; encouraging, promoting and teaching consistent standards for ethical practice and professionalism; and building on the efforts of local Boards/Associations to provide the information and tools members need to succeed.”

    In other words, Florida Realtors is your professional trade association. FREC is a division of the State of Florida and “administers and enforces the real estate license law, Chapter 475, Part I, Florida Statutes.” FREC “is also empowered to pass rules that enable it to implement its statutorily authorized duties and responsibilities.” In other words, FREC is the state licensing enforcement entity for real estate licensees.
     
  6. Local association? MLS? Florida Realtors? While Florida Realtors works to support the real estate industry in conjunction with various local associations/MLSs, Florida Realtors is autonomous and has no authority concerning the operation of a local Realtor association in Florida or any MLS. Local boards may choose to come up with their own rules, and those can vary from MLS to MLS.

    Additionally, many local associations have their own forms for their members’ use. Just because you see a form in whatever platform your office uses, it might not be a Florida Realtors document. If a caller to Florida Realtors’ Legal Hotline has a concern regarding an ethics hearing, arbitration or a particular MLS rule, the attorney may be unable to answer the question. If that happens, they’ll refer the caller back to the local association and MLS.
     
  7. Finally, we’ve mentioned this in many articles, but remember: How time is calculated is controlled by the contract – not based on any law. So be sure to check, then double check, the time section of your contract to clarify how it’s calculated since times can vary by contract.

Meredith Caruso is Associate General Counsel for Florida Realtors

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