License Law on General Advertising

Q 1: Can I advertise the commission rate that I charge?

A: Yes. There is nothing in the Code of Ethics, license law, or antitrust laws that prohibits such advertising.

Q 2: Can a broker’s listing fee be included in the broker’s newspaper advertisement?

A: Yes.

Q 3: In the area in which I list properties there is one school district which is very desirable. Is there a fair housing problem if I establish a policy of only advertising the school district for my lisings that are in the desirable school district and not advertise the school district on my other listings?

A: There is a potential steering issue. Steering is the channeling of buyers or tenants to a particular area on the basis of race, color, religion, national origin or other protected class. This practice is prohibited by the Fair Housing Laws. If you want to advertise the desirable school district, the cautious approach would be to advertise the school district on all your lisings. It is best to advertise the school district on all your listings or none of them.

Q 4: My agent wants to send a letter to residents of a certain area listing the homes she sold in that neighborhood. Can she claim to have “sold” houses where she was the listing agent as well as those listed by another broker, but on which she was the selling agent?

A: Yes. Standard of Practice 12-7 of NAR’s Code of Ethics provides that only REALTORS who participated in the transaction of the listing broker or cooperating broker may claim to have “sold” the property. As the agent participated in these sales as the listing or selling agent, she can use the term “sold” in her promotional letter.

Q 5: As a buyer’s broker on another company’s listing, can I put a sign in the yard after the transaction closes that says, “Sold by XYZ Realty?”

A: Yes. Assuming you have the purchaser’s consent, as the cooperating broker you can place a sold sign on the property.

Q 6: When advertising a property, can handicap accessibility features, such as a wheelchair ramp be advertised?

A: Yes. For fair housing purposes, you want your ad to describe the property you are marketing not the buyers or tenants you are looking for. If a property has a wheelchair ramp or any accessibility feature the fair housing laws do not prohibit including this feature in your ads for the property.

Q 7: What words are prohibited under Fair Housing Laws?

A: Any word can be discriminatory depending upon context and usage. Words descriptive of race, color, sex, religion, creed, national origin, familial status or disability should never be used. Words suggestive of an intent to unlawfully exclude any person or group should be avoided. It is always best to err on the side of caution; “close calls” should be handled by brokerage management, in consultation with legal counsel.

Q 8: I am a sole proprietorship and my brokerage license is issued in the name “Smith Realty.” I will be canceling my brokerage license next month. I own several rental properties which I run as Smith Realty. Can I continue to use the name Smith Realty on my rental properties after I cancel my broker’s license?

A: Yes. A business does not have to be a real estate brokerage to use the tern “realty.”

Q 9: I represented a buyer in purchasing a home. The transaction will close today and the buyer will take possession upon closing. The buyer has consented to me placing a “sold” sign in his yard. Can a buyer broker use the term sold on a yard sign?

A: Yes. Standard of Practice 12-7 provides that only REALTORS who participated in the transaction as the listing broker or cooperating broker (selling broker) may claim to have “sold” the property. As you are the selling broker you are permitted to use the term sold on your yard sign.

Q 10: I had a listing which was sold by another brokerage acting as a subagent. The selling brokerage has placed an advertisement in the local paper which includes a list of homes they have recently sold. This ad includes my listing as a home sold. Can a subagent advertise they “sold” a property?

A: Yes. Standard of Practive 12-7 permits the cooperating broker, whether a buyer broker or a subagent to use the term sold.

Q 11: I have a listing which was sold by a buyer broker. The transaction closed yesterday but the seller has possession for 30 days after closing. Today the seller called to tell me that the buyer broker has put up a sold sign and that the buyer had given him permission to put up the sign. In this situation is it the buyer or the seller who’s approval must be obtained to place a sign on the property?

A: Absent a specific agreement regarding this issue between the buyer and seller, it would be the buyer, the current title holder who controls the signage on a property.

Q 12: If my agent is selling or leasing her own property, does she have to include the brokerage name in the advertisement?

A: The name of the brokerage should only be included in the ad if the property is listed with the agent’s broker. If it is not being offered through the brokerage, only the agent’s name should appear. In that case the agent must be sure to identify herself as a licensed agent. An example of proper identification would be “Mary Jones, owner/real estate agent.”