Team advertising violations persist
On June 20, 2016
By Peg Ritenour, OAR Vice President of Legal Services/Administration
The number of agents working together as a team has increased significantly in recent years. Although the Ohio Division of Real Estate and Professional Licensing does not license such teams, it does allow licensees to advertise as a team. However when doing so, the team must comply with a team advertising regulation adopted by the Ohio Real Estate Commission. This regulation contains very specific requirements that applies to all forms of advertising by teams, whether it’s a yard sign, billboard, business card, website, brochure, or print ad. Although this regulation was adopted in 2002, non-compliance by those functioning as teams is commonplace. The Q&A below is intended to help teams and their brokers comply with the advertising requirements and avoid a license law violation:
Q: Another agent and I have formed a team called The Smith Jones Team. Can we advertise in just the team name or do we need to include both of our names in the ad along with the team name?
A: Although the license law allows licensees to use a team name in advertising, it requires that the licensed name of at least one agent affiliated with the team must appear in any ad along with the team name. Therefore while it is not necessary to include both of your names in advertising, you must include at least one of your names in all forms of advertising.
Q: So, what are our options on yard signs? My name is Jane Smith and the other agent is Mary Jones.
A: You must advertise in one of three ways in your advertising, including yard signs:
- The Smith Jones Team, Jane Smith and Mary Jones
- The Smith Jones Team, Jane Smith; or
- The Smith Jones Team, Mary Jones
Q: I have a team of four agents. I use my full name in the team name — The John Greene Team. Does this meet the license law requirement of having at least one licensee’s name in team advertising?
A: Yes. Under the advertising rule, if the team name includes the full name of a licensee as it appears on his license the requirement is met.
Q: Does the brokerage name need to be included in advertising by the team?
A: Yes. Ohio license law requires the brokerage name be included in all advertising.
Q: Can the team name be more prominent than the brokerage name in an ad?
A: No. Neither the team name nor the name of the licensees affiliated with that team can be more prominent than the brokerage name. It should be noted that individual agent and team names should be compared to the brokerage name as it appears on the brokerage license. This licensed name does not generally include the name of any franchise the brokerage may be affiliated with and would not include any logo or artwork.
Q: Our team includes two unlicensed personal assistants. Is it OK to include their names when listing the team members in our advertising?
A: Yes, however the team advertising rule requires that they must be identified as unlicensed persons.
Q: We use a team photo in our advertising. Do we need to identify every person in the photo in the ad?
A: No. It is not necessary to identify the persons in the photo as long as the team advertising rule requirements are met (at least one licensed team member’s name is included in the ad, the brokerage name is included and the brokerage name is at least equal in prominence to that of the team name and agent’s name). However if you do identify the individuals in the photo, any person in the photo who is unlicensed must be clearly identified as an unlicensed staff person.
Legal articles provided in the OAR Daily Buzz are intended to provide broad, general information about the law and is not intended to be legal advice. Before applying this information to a specific legal problem, readers are urged to seek advice from an attorney.