Section 498.024, Florida Statutes 2007
(1) Notwithstanding s. 498.023, prior to filing an application for registration pursuant to s. 498.027, a subdivider may file an application for a reservation program which shall be approved by the division if the following conditions are met:
(a) The subdivider has established an escrow account with an escrow agent;
(b) The subdivider has filed and received approval for all advertising, promotional material, reservation agreements, and escrow agreements; and
(c) The subdivider obtains an order of registration prior to any release of funds, except those made to prospective purchasers. Should the offer or property be exempt pursuant to s. 498.025(1), (2), or (3), the subdivider shall notify the division of the exemption, prior to the release of funds.
(2) Approval of a reservation program shall not be unreasonably withheld, and the division shall render a decision within 20 days from the date it receives adequate information, unless the subdivider extends the time limit in writing.
(3) The provisions for an acceptable escrow account pursuant to this section shall be as follows:
(a) The subdivider shall give the prospective purchaser a receipt for and shall deposit all reservation deposits into an escrow account established with an escrow agent within 5 business days after receipt.
(b) The escrow agent shall notify the prospective purchaser that the reservation deposit was received within 7 business days after receipt by the escrow agent. The notice shall state that the funds are being held and will be released only in accordance with this section.
(c) The funds may only be placed in accounts and financial institutions that are insured by an agency of the United States Government. The funds may be placed in an interest-bearing or non-interest-bearing account, provided, the funds shall be available for withdrawal in full by the escrow agent at all reasonable times.
(d) The subdivider shall maintain separate books and records for each reservation program in accordance with good accounting practices.
(e) Upon the written request of a prospective purchaser, the escrow agent shall immediately and without qualification refund in full all moneys deposited by the prospective purchaser. Any applicable interest shall be paid to the prospective purchaser, unless otherwise provided in the reservation agreement.
(f) The escrow agent may release reservation deposits to the subdivider only upon adequate showing that the prospective purchaser has entered into a binding contract or agreement for purchase of the subject lot, parcel, or unit. Any applicable interest shall be paid to the prospective purchaser, unless otherwise provided in the reservation agreement.
(g) The reservation deposit shall be held by the escrow agent for a maximum of 180 days, after which time it shall be distributed to either the prospective purchasers or the subdivider as provided for in this section, unless the reservation program is extended with the written approval of the division and the purchasers are given notice of the right to receive a refund if they so request. This time limit is suspended for the period in which a registration application for the subject subdivided lands is pending with the division.
(4) The lot, parcel, or unit sales price to a person holding a reservation shall not be increased from the price stated in the reservation program for that unit, unless the possibility of a variance is fully disclosed in the reservation program.
(5) Any subdivider who willfully fails to comply with the escrow requirements of this section is guilty of a felony of the third degree, punishable as provided in s. 775.082.
History.--ss. 5, 21, ch. 81-177; s. 36, ch. 83-215; s. 3, ch. 83-265; s. 2, ch. 87-50; ss. 12, 33, 34, ch. 88-90; s. 4, ch. 91-429; s. 573, ch. 97-103; s. 7, ch. 97-192.