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Legal Issues Forum Q&A: Ohio’s advertising requirements

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

At the recent Ohio Association of REALTORS Annual Convention & Expo, Cleveland attorneys Cindy Lammert, Jon Deegan and Mark Rodio put on another jammed pack risk reduction program addressing a variety of topics including team advertising, breach of fiduciary duties, service animals, inspection issues, and more. If you weren’t there you missed a fantastic program!

Although there wasn’t enough time to answer everyone’s questions, OAR legal staff is using the OAR Daily Buzz to address some of the issues that were raised. Many of the questions submitted concerned Ohio’s advertising requirements and the prominence rule, including:

Q: Can the name of an agent or team be larger or bolder that the brokerage name?

A: No. Neither the team or an agent’s name can be more prominent than that of the brokerage.

Q: I was told that my brokerage name is required to be larger than my agent’s name in advertising. Is that true?

A: No. The license law only requires the brokerage name to be displayed in at least equal prominence with that of the agent’s name. It does not have to be larger.

Q: What is considered advertising?

A: Advertising is defined in the license law as any manner, method or activity  by which a licensee makes known to the general public, properties for sale or lease or any services that require a real estate license. It includes newspaper, magazines, radio television, yard and other signs, websites, business cards, billboards, car placards, postcards, etc.

Q: My team has its own website. I understand that the brokerage name must be somewhere on the website. Is it sufficient if the brokerage name is only on the home page?

A: No, that is not sufficient. The brokerage name must be displayed in at least equal prominence on all viewable pages of the team’s website.

Q: Does a team ad have to include the names of all the team members?

A: Ohio license law permits the use of a team name in advertising as long as the name of at least one licensed team member is included. If the team name includes the full licensed name of a team member this requirement is met. For example if the team name is The John Jones Team, and John Jones is the licensed name of a team member, this requirement is met. On the other hand, if the team name is The Jones Team, the name of John Jones or some other licensed team member must be included in all advertising by the team, including yard signs, website, print ads, business cards, etc.

Q: So, using the  example above, does this mean that in addition to “The Jones Team”  the name of an agent must also be included on a yard sign and other advertising?

A: That is correct. In addition to The Jones Team, the yard sign must include either the name John Jones or the licensed name of one of the other agents in the team.

Q: Can the team name be more prominent than that of the brokerage?

A: No.

Q: Can the team name be more prominent than the agent’s name?

A: Yes.

Q: On my Facebook page I have a photo of my team and the names of the team members are “tagged.” Some of those team members are unlicensed assistants. Do I need to indicate that those persons are unlicensed?

A: Yes. If you identify the team members in a photo you are required to indicate those individuals that are not licensed.

Q: I see the prominence rule violated by agents and teams all the time. Who enforces the prominence rule and other advertising laws?

A: The license law is enforced by the Ohio Division of Real Estate and Professional Licensing. If you believe the license law is being violated, you can contact the Division’s enforcement section.

 

 

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. 

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