by Alicia Angstadt
To simplify this article, REALTORS® are to be honest and truthful in all of their real estate related communications including advertising, marketing, emails and any other representations. REALTORS® have to clearly disclose their status as a real estate professional in all communications to ensure that all recipients are openly notified.
This article further breaks down into 13 different Standards of Practice
*REALTORS® may use the term “free” or similar terms in their advertisements and other representations, so long as all the terms describing the availability of the offered free product or service is clearly disclosed at the same time.
*REALTORS® may represent their services “free” or at no cost even if they are to receive compensation from a different source other than their client, so long as any potential benefit from a third-party is clearly disclosed at the time of the offer of free services.
*REALTORS® when offering any inducements or incentives to list, sell, purchase or lease, any such advertising needs to clearly define all the terms and conditions of the offer. However, these inducements to do business are subject to the limitations or restrictions of state law and the ethical obligations established by the applicable standard of Practice.
* REALTORS® shall not offer or advertise for sale or lease property without authority, nor quote a different price from what was agreed upon with the seller or landlord.
*REALTORS® should not advertise or permit any person employed or affiliated with them to advertise any real estate services or advertise listed property without disclosing the name of the REALTORS® firm clearly in the advertisement with a pronounced link to all required disclosures.
* Even when advertising unlisted real property for sale or lease, if a REALTOR® Has ownership interest In the property they shall disclose their status as both the owner/landlord and as a real estate licensee.
* A REALTOR® who participated in a transaction as either the listing broker or cooperating broker may claim to have “sold” the property. Cooperating brokers can only put a sold sign on the property prior to closing with the consent of the listing broker.
* Any information on a REALTORS® website needs to present a true representation to the public. REALTORS® shall use reasonable efforts to ensure that all information on their website is current and when it becomes apparent that it’s no longer accurate information, the REALTORS® shall promptly take corrective action.
*REALTORS® firm websites and any REALTOR® and Non-member licensees websites affiliated with the REALTOR® firm shall disclose the firm’s name and state of licensure in a reasonable and readily apparent manner.
* The obligation for REALTORS® to present a true picture in their advertising and other representations to the public on the Internet prohibits them from unauthorized framing of other brokerage websites, citing listing information or other content developed by others in a misleading manner, deceptively using methods to drive or divert internet traffic, presenting content developed by others without giving credit or getting permission and misleading consumers in any other way including misused photos.
*Any REALTORS® intending on selling consumer information gathered on the internet shall make their intentions readily apparent to the consumers.
*REALTORS® Shall not register or use any URLs that would be misleading or present less than a true picture.
*REALTORS® Shall only use and display any designations, certifications or credentials they are legitimately entitled to.
Common Complaints Heard by the Grievance Committee
The main complaints received by Grievance that site Article 12 typically stem around REALTORS® with expired listings that continue to keep marketing signs on the property or keep Internet advertising active, REALTORS® who have ownership in property and licensure or ownership is not disclosed in the sales contract and REALTORS® that have third-party companies developing and servicing their personal websites without the REALTOR’S® oversight in addressing any errors on the website.
Read below for the full Article 12 of the REALTOR® Code of Ethics
Article 12 (Case Interpretations for Article 12)
REALTORS® shall be honest and truthful in their real estate communications and shall present a true picture in their advertising, marketing, and other representations. REALTORS® shall ensure that their status as real estate professionals is readily apparent in their advertising, marketing, and other representations, and that the recipients of all real estate communications are, or have been, notified that those communications are from a real estate professional. (Amended 1/08) [listen]
- Standard of Practice 12-1
REALTORS® may use the term “free” and similar terms in their advertising and in other representations provided that all terms governing availability of the offered product or service are clearly disclosed at the same time. (Amended 1/97)
- Standard of Practice 12-2
REALTORS® may represent their services as “free” or without cost even if they expect to receive compensation from a source other than their client provided that the potential for the REALTOR® to obtain a benefit from a third party is clearly disclosed at the same time. (Amended 1/97)
- Standard of Practice 12-3
The offering of premiums, prizes, merchandise discounts or other inducements to list, sell, purchase, or lease is not, in itself, unethical even if receipt of the benefit is contingent on listing, selling, purchasing, or leasing through the REALTOR® making the offer. However, REALTORS® must exercise care and candor in any such advertising or other public or private representations so that any party interested in receiving or otherwise benefiting from the REALTOR®’s offer will have clear, thorough, advance understanding of all the terms and conditions of the offer. The offering of any inducements to do business is subject to the limitations and restrictions of state law and the ethical obligations established by any applicable Standard of Practice. (Amended 1/95)
- Standard of Practice 12-4
REALTORS® shall not offer for sale/lease or advertise property without authority. When acting as listing brokers or as subagents, REALTORS® shall not quote a price different from that agreed upon with the seller/landlord. (Amended 1/93)
- Standard of Practice 12-5
Realtors® shall not advertise nor permit any person employed by or affiliated with them to advertise real estate services or listed property in any medium (e.g., electronically, print, radio, television, etc.) without disclosing the name of that Realtor®’s firm in a reasonable and readily apparent manner either in the advertisement or in electronic advertising via a link to a display with all required disclosures. (Adopted 11/86, Amended 1/16)
- Standard of Practice 12-6
REALTORS®, when advertising unlisted real property for sale/lease in which they have an ownership interest, shall disclose their status as both owners/landlords and as REALTORS® or real estate licensees. (Amended 1/93)
- Standard of Practice 12-7
Only REALTORS® who participated in the transaction as the listing broker or cooperating broker (selling broker) may claim to have “sold” the property. Prior to closing, a cooperating broker may post a “sold” sign only with the consent of the listing broker. (Amended 1/96)
- Standard of Practice 12-8
The obligation to present a true picture in representations to the public includes information presented, provided, or displayed on REALTORS®’ websites. REALTORS® shall use reasonable efforts to ensure that information on their websites is current. When it becomes apparent that information on a REALTOR®’s website is no longer current or accurate, REALTORS® shall promptly take corrective action. (Adopted 1/07)
- Standard of Practice 12-9
REALTOR® firm websites shall disclose the firm’s name and state(s) of licensure in a reasonable and readily apparent manner.
Websites of REALTORS® and non-member licensees affiliated with a REALTOR® firm shall disclose the firm’s name and that REALTOR®’s or non-member licensee’s state(s) of licensure in a reasonable and readily apparent manner. (Adopted 1/07)
- Standard of Practice 12-10
REALTORS®’ obligation to present a true picture in their advertising and representations to the public includes Internet content, images, and the URLs and domain names they use, and prohibits REALTORS® from:
- engaging in deceptive or unauthorized framing of real estate brokerage websites;
- manipulating (e.g., presenting content developed by others) listing and other content in any way that produces a deceptive or misleading result;
- deceptively using metatags, keywords or other devices/methods to direct, drive, or divert Internet traffic; or
- presenting content developed by others without either attribution or without permission, or
- otherwise misleading consumers, including use of misleading images. (Adopted 1/07, Amended 1/18)
- Standard of Practice 12-11
REALTORS® intending to share or sell consumer information gathered via the Internet shall disclose that possibility in a reasonable and readily apparent manner. (Adopted 1/07)
- Standard of Practice 12-12
REALTORS® shall not:
- use URLs or domain names that present less than a true picture, or
- register URLs or domain names which, if used, would present less than a true picture. (Adopted 1/08)
- Standard of Practice 12-13
The obligation to present a true picture in advertising, marketing, and representations allows REALTORS® to use and display only professional designations, certifications, and other credentials to which they are legitimately entitled. (Adopted 1/08)