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Legally speaking: What can I say in an advertisement?

By Peg Ritenour, OAR Vice President of Legal Services/Administration

The OAR Legal Assistance Hotline receives an array of real estate-related legal questions — including license law issues, disclosure, contract law, ethics and commission problems, among others. In an effort to help you work “within the law,” we’ve launched a new “Legally Speaking” feature exclusively on the OAR Daily Buzz that spotlights some of the timely questions that are being asked by REALTORS. This one concerns what’s permissible in advertising…

I want to run an ad that compares the sales volume of my brokerage to that of other brokerages in the area. Are there any restrictions on this type of advertising?

A: Both the license law and the NAR Code of Ethics contain sections that prohibit false or misleading advertisements. Therefore, the first and most obvious requirement for this type of ad is that it must be accurate. This means that if you are challenged by your competitors — and you probably will be — you must be able to substantiate your claims or figures if a complaint is filed.

Secondly, if you are basing your comparative advertising in whole or in part on information provided by your Local Board of REALTORS or an MLS to which you belong, the MLS rules probably require that you indicate in the ad the period of time over which your claims are based. These rules most likely also require you to include in your ad a statement similar to the following: “Based on the information from the Board/Association of REALTORS (or MLS) for the period (date) through (date).” Therefore, you should check the rules of your MLS if you are utilizing its “sold” comparable or statistical reports as the basis for the claims you make in any ad.

Tags: legal