Legally speaking: Stay within the ‘rules’ when advertising your real estate services
On August 12, 2013
By Peg Ritenour, OAR Vice President of Legal Services/Administration
Q: I purchased advertising on a large billboard to promote my services as a real estate agent. One of my competitors told me that this billboard violates the license law because my name is bigger than the name of my brokerage. My brokerage is a franchise and if you include the franchise name and logo along with the brokerage name my name isn’t bigger. Is my billboard ok?
A: Your competitor is referring to what is commonly called the “prominence rule” — a license law provision I see violated almost every day on yard signs, websites, print ads, etc..
This “rule” is found in Ohio Revised Code Section 4735.16(B)(3). It provides that the brokerage name must be displayed in equal prominence with the name of a salesperson in any advertisement. What is considered advertising? Anything you put out to the public that markets either real property (i.e., a listing) or your services as a real estate agent. This could include: newspaper or magazine ads, websites, business cards, yard signs, as well other signs, such as a billboard or signage on a car. It could also include blogs and social media if you are promoting your listings or real estate business on those sites.
When determining if a salesperson’s name in an ad is more prominent than that of the brokerage, the Division compares the font and type size of the agent’s name with that of the brokerage name. In doing so, the Division only looks at the brokerage name as it appears on the brokerage’s license. Because company logos and franchise names or logos are not generally part of a brokerage’s licensed name, they are not be factored in by the Division when comparing an agent’s name to that of the brokerage. Thus, whether your billboard violates the license law depends on whether your name is more prominent than the brokerage name, not taking into consideration the franchise name or logo.
Tags: legal, Legally Speaking