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NAR, DBPR, FREC – Who Does What?

From NAR to DBPR, the real estate industry is riddled with acronyms for different organizations. It can be challenging to separate the specific products and services each organization provides – and to understand how those interlocking products relate to each other.

ORLANDO, Fla. – Here’s a quick reference guide that highlights key roles each organization plays. Click the link next to each organization if you want to take a closer look at any of the organizations.

Florida Real Estate Commission (FREC)

The Florida Real Estate Commission (FREC) is the state organization that educates and regulates real estate licensees. There are seven commissioners appointed by the Governor of Florida and confirmed by the Senate. Five of the commissioners must hold real estate licenses, while two of the commissioners must be people who have never been licensees. Each of these commissioners is appointed for a four-year term.

There are two centerpieces to FREC’s work. One is the education courses required to obtain and maintain a real estate license. The second is regulation. Florida law contains rules real estate licensees must follow, found in Chapter 475 of the Florida Statutes and Section 61J2 of the Florida Administrative Code. FREC enforces these rules for all licensees. If FREC determines a violation of license law has occurred, it can issue a range of sentences, from a letter of warning, to a fine, to revoking a real estate license.

There is an additional layer between FREC and DBPR called the Division of Real Estate (DRE). The DRE regulates both FREC and the Florida Real Estate Appraisal Board (FREAB).

Department of Business and Professional Regulation (DBPR)

The Department of Business and Professional Regulation (DBPR) is the parent agency of FREC. It licenses and regulates all sorts of businesses and professionals in the state of Florida, including veterinarians, barbers, alcoholic beverages and tobacco, and many more.

Local Association of Realtors

Once someone obtains a Florida real estate license, they are eligible to join one or more boards of Realtors®. Unlike FREC and DBPR, which are governmental organizations, Realtor organizations are private. A local board of Realtors is your key connection to the Realtor world. It’s where you’ll go when you first sign up, and the staff at your local board can provide you with all sorts of information about the wide range of products and services they provide.

One service all local boards will provide is a system to field ethics complaints and arbitration requests. The purpose of ethics hearings is to investigate complaints and determine if a Realtor has violated one or more of NAR’s Code of Ethics. While this code has a similar set of rules to those FREC enforces at the state level, there are a few important differences that ensure all Realtors are held to a higher standard of conduct than state licensees. If a local board determines a violation of NAR’s Code of Ethics has occurred, it can issue anything from a letter of warning, to a fine, to suspension of Realtor status.

If a Realtor brokerage firm has a dispute about whether it is entitled to compensation from another Realtor brokerage firm, it can always settle the dispute through discussion. However, if the firm wants to fight over the compensation through mandatory, binding arbitration, it would be heard at the local board of Realtors. Similar to ethics hearings, there are multiple procedural steps, as described in NAR’s Code of Ethics and Arbitration Manual.

In addition to holding ethics and arbitration hearings, local boards offer many additional products and services. These vary by board, so check with yours to make sure you’re taking advantage of all the practical and educational things they offer to help you and your business.

Local Multiple Listing Service

There are many multiple listing services within the state of Florida. They are subject to NAR’s core MLS rules, but are otherwise independent of one another. There are various types of relationships they might have to local boards, so check with any MLSs you are a participant in for specific rules and information.

Florida Realtors

Florida Realtors® provides a wide range of products and services to local boards within the state of Florida and to all members. It is the largest professional trade association in the state and the third-largest Realtor organization in the country.

Its products and services are too numerous to list here, but if you’d like to make sure you’re not missing out on some of the key benefits available to all Florida Realtors, click here. One additional example of a member benefit is this article you’re reading right now!

National Association of Realtors

The National Association of Realtors® (NAR) maintains the Realtor Code of Ethics, which is applicable to all Realtors nationwide. It sets a core group of policies and procedures each of the Realtor organizations must follow. From state associations to local associations to MLSs, NAR lays the groundwork for each. That said, since each organization is its own independent organization, you will notice some differences between boards and MLSs. NAR also provides a robust set of services, described in more detail on its website.

Joel Maxson is Associate General Counsel for Florida Realtors

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