Topic 5.2: Guidelines for Advertising

Learning Objectives


After successfully completing this topic, you will be able to
• describe the requirements for advertising real estate properties,
• define the term “blind ad,”
• describe the requirements for a brokerage firm’s Internet advertising, and
• list the team advertising names that are not legal.

False Advertising

Persons may not advertise property or personal qualifications in a false, misleading, or deceptive manner for the purpose of inducing any other person to purchase the property or employ the services of the advertiser.

For example, a broker may have a listing for a house that has a large apartment building directly behind it. The broker looks at the property photo and digitally alters the photo so that the apartment building no longer appears. This would be a violation of the law.

Blind Ads      

An advertisement that does not have the name of the firm is an illegal advertisement, called a “blind ad.” All advertising by a brokerage firm must include the name of the firm. Even handouts such as key rings must have the name of the firm if the sales associate’s name is included.

Sales associates cannot advertise or conduct business in their own names. When licensees use their personal names in an ad, they must use their last name as registered with FREC. Licensees who want to use a nickname in advertising,  should include it in quotation marks after their first name or first initial. For example: Lawrence “Larry” Lancer or J. “Jimmy” Washington.

Internet Advertising

When brokers or sales associates advertise with a web site on the internet, the brokerage firms’ name must appear below, above or adjacent to the point of contact information where it first appears. Point of contact information could be a brokerage or licensee’s mailing and/or physical addresses, email address, and telephone, cell phone or fax numbers or any other means by which an individual would contact the brokerage or individual licensee.

Team Advertising

The team advertising rule was enacted because consumers had, in some cases, been led to believe that “teams” in real estate offices were registered brokerage firms. The rule was designed to make advertising more transparent. The text of the rule is shown below.
(1) “Team or group advertising” shall mean a name or logo used by one or more real estate licensees who represent themselves to the public as a team or group. The team or group must perform licensed activities under the supervision of the same broker or brokerage.
(2) Each team or group shall file with the broker a designated licensee to be responsible for ensuring that the advertising is in compliance with Chapter 475, Florida Statutes, and division 61J2, Florida Administrative Code.
(3) At least once monthly, the registered broker must maintain a current written record of each team’s or group’s members.
(4) Team or group names. Real estate team or group names may include the word “team” or “group” as part of the name. Real estate team or group names shall not include the following words:

(a) Agency
(b) Associates
(c) Brokerage
(d) Brokers
(e) Company
(f) Corporation
(g) Corp.
(h) Inc.
(i) LLC
(j) LP, LLP or Partnership
(k) Properties
(l) Property
(m) Real Estate
(n) Realty

or similar words suggesting the team or group is a separate real estate brokerage or company
(5) This rule applies to all advertising.
(6) Advertisements containing the team or group name shall not appear in larger print than the name or logo of the registered brokerage. All advertising must be used so that reasonable persons would know they are dealing with a team or group.
(7) All advertisements must comply with these requirements no later than 12 months following the effective date of this rule.

Telemarketing

Do-Not-Call rules regulate telemarketing.

The National Do Not Call Registry is a list of phone numbers of consumers who do not want to be contacted by commercial telemarketers. Do-not-call rules cover the sale of goods or services by telephone. Some nonprofit organizations such as charities, and political orga­nizations are exempt from the do-not-call rules.

Generally, a sales agent may call a consumer, even if that consumer is on the reg­istry, for no more than 18 months after that consumer’s last purchase, delivery, or payment; or three months after that consumer makes an inquiry or submits an application to the company. If the consumer asks the company not to call again, the company must honor the request. In addition, a real estate licensee can contact a for-sale-by-owner only if the licensee has a bona fide prospect for that property.

Persons who violate the federal do-not-call rules are subject to substantial fines.

Florida also has a do-not-call list that allows licensees to call for-sale-by-owners regardless of whether the licensee has a prospective buyer. The fines for violating Florida’s law are substantial.