Florida statute mandates that each active broker maintain an office that is located in a building of “stationary construction.” The law further mandates that only brokers can own and maintain an office. Sales associates and broker associates may not have their own offices.
Brokers’ offices must be registered with the Department of Business and Professional Regulation (DBPR). The office must include at least one enclosed room and have space to conduct private transactions. Additionally, the broker is required to keep any real estate files and records (physical or electronic) in the office so they are immediately available for inspection by the FREC or other governing authority.
A broker may have an office that is located outside the state of Florida if the broker agrees in writing to cooperate with any investigation conducted in accordance with Florida statutes and rules. The broker must also register the out-of-state office with the DBPR.
If local zoning allows, the broker may set up the office in a residential location, such as the broker’s home, as long as all office requirements are met, including display of the broker’s sign.
According to law, a brokerage office is considered public accommodation and a commercial facility. Consequently, the office must comply with federal and state laws regarding accessibility for the physically or mentally disabled. The office will need clearly marked handicapped parking spaces and wheelchair accessible ramps and doorways. These requirements also apply to residential offices.
Branch offices If a broker conducts business at a location other than the main office, the broker may be required to register the additional office as a branch office and pay the required registration fee for each such office. All branch offices must be registered.
Additionally, if the broker or brokerage’s name or advertising is displayed on an office other than the main office in such a way as to lead the public to believe the office is owned or operated by that same broker, then that office must be registered as a branch office.
If a broker decides to close a branch office and open a new branch office at a different location, the broker must register the new office and pay the registration fee for that office. The registration for the closed branch office may not be transferred to the new branch office. If the broker decides to re-open the closed branch office within that office’s license period, no additional fee will be required.
Entrance sign requirements
Every office, whether main or branch, is required to display a sign at the entrance which can be seen and read easily by anyone entering the office. The sign can be on the exterior or interior entrance of the office. Florida law requires the sign to contain the broker’s name and any trade name. If the brokerage is a partnership or corporation, the sign must contain the partnership or corporation’s name or trade name as well as at least one of the brokers. The words “Licensed Real Estate Broker” or “Lic. Real Estate Broker” must be included on the entrance sign of any real estate brokerage or business entity.
The law does not require that sales or broker associates’ names be included on entrance signs. If the broker chooses to include them, the names must be below the broker’s name with space between the broker’s name and the associates’ names. The associates’ names must also include “Sales Associate” or “Broker Associate,” as appropriate.
Brokers sometimes set up a temporary shelter on a subdivision being sold by a broker to protect associates and customers. If the shelter is to be deemed temporary, associates may not be permanently assigned there and transactions may not be closed there. In that case, the shelter need not be registered as a branch office. However, the permanence, use, and type of activities that are conducted at the shelter will determine whether or not it must be registered. If, for example, transaction closings take place within the shelter, then it must be considered a branch office and be registered as one.
Sales associate officing
At initial licensure, a sales associate must be registered with an employing broker. The sales associate must work under the direction, control, and management of the specified broker or an owner-developer. The associate must work out of an office maintained by that same broker. The sales associate may be registered under only one broker at a time and may not operate as a broker or operate for any other broker who is not the associate’s registered employing broker.