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Unlicensed real estate activity in Florida?

November 24th, 2009
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Florida consumers who wish to utilize the MLS (Multiple Listing Service) for a flat fee need to be aware that a growing number of online FSBO marketing firms that sell flat fee MLS to Florida consumers do not maintain a Florida brokerage license. These companies might be in violation of chapter 475, Florida Statutes, given the fact that they are soliciting real estate brokerage services from Florida consumers/sellers for a fee without a real estate brokerage license. Search for a Florida real estate licensee.

The following cases stand for the proposition that a foreign real estate broker is not authorized to take part in the procuring of sellers and/or buyers for a fee in the state of Florida without first obtaining a Florida license.

1) Where a foreign broker acting on his own procures a client from his own jurisdiction to purchase property in Florida, he is not entitled to collect a fee. Paris v. Hilton, 352 So.2d 534 (Fla. 1st DCA 1977). In Paris, this court held unenforceable a promissory note given by the Georgia purchaser to a Georgia broker because the note was given as consideration for brokerage services performed in Florida in connection with the sale of Florida land, the Georgia broker not being licensed in Florida.

2) However, where a foreign broker, acting as cobroker with a Florida broker, procures a client within his own jurisdiction, the fact that part of his services were performed in Florida will not preclude him from enforcing his contractual right to a fee if he has performed good faith services within his own jurisdiction. Tassy v. Hall, 429 So.2d 30 (Fla. 5th DCA 1983).

3) Where one cooperating broker is under a disability to recover a commission because of being non-registered, this infirmity affects the validity of the entire contract and no recovery is permitted. Harris v. McKay, 176 So.2d 572 (Fla. 3rd DCA 1965).

4) CITE: 502 So.2d 1317 PREVIEWS, INC., a Florida corporation, and Guy Eberhardt, Appellants, v. J.T. MURFF, Sr., J.T. Murff, Jr., and Murff and Company Inc., d b a M-K Ranches, Appellees. … “We do not have a situation where the foreign broker performed good faith services within his own jurisdiction. On the contrary, this foreign broker s activities were directed towards the solicitation of a purchaser in Florida. The inescapable conclusion is that Eberhardt engaged in brokerage activities in this State within the meaning of Section 475.01(1)(c). Inasmuch as Eberhardt s activities were in violation of the laws of this State, his cobrokerage agreement with the Florida broker does not furnish a basis for the enforcement of a right to a fee for his services. That is, Eberhardt has not brought himself within the above quoted provisions of Section 475.25(1)(h). Were we to hold otherwise, we would, without justification, be providing a way by which Florida brokers could sublet their Florida licenses to foreign brokers. Neither is Previews, Inc. entitled to a fee.”

475.42  Violations and penalties.


(a)  A person may not operate as a broker or sales associate without being the holder of a valid and current active license therefor. Any person who violates this paragraph commits a felony of the third degree, punishable as provided in s. 775.082 or s. 775.083, or, if a corporation, as provided in s. 775.083.

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