TALLAHASSEE, Fla. â€“ Nov. 2, 2011 â€“ For some reason, 2011 has seen an unprecedented number of crime allegations against licensed real estate agents, as well as accusations against unlicensed agents.
Darla Furst, a member of Florida Realtors who sits on the Florida Real Estate Commission (FREC), calls it â€œa horrendous situation.â€
Floridaâ€™s Department of Business and Professional Regulation (DBPR) oversees licensee crime in the state, but itâ€™s having trouble keeping up with the upswing in cases. In February 2011, DBPR had 600 investigations into rogue real estate agents. In nine months, that number has surged to 2,100. The number of cases against non-agents performing unlicensed activity has also gone up. Two years ago, DBPR had 531 cases about unlicensed activity; today they have 1,452.
Lawyers within DBPR handle real estate licensee complaints. Once they have the facts in hand, DBPR lawyers do one of three things: They send it to FREC, which can decide to discipline the licensee; they send it state lawyers who can press criminal charges; or they can dismiss the complaint.
A St. Petersburg Times investigation found that the increased number of cases has caused a backlog, and it takes about 18 months for a new case to makes its way through the system.
Source: St. Petersburg Times, Oct. 31, 2011, Mark Puente