DR Legal News: Advertising Properties

Advertising Properties as "Sold"

by Becky Carraher, Director of Ethics and Professional Standards

According to the Code of Ethics, in advertising, a cooperating broker and a listing broker may claim to have “sold” the property. However, the listing broker’s consent is required before a sold sign can be physically placed on the seller’s property prior to closing. 

One type of complaint being filed through the Illinois REALTORS® Ethics Citation Program involves ads containing photos or addresses of properties and words such as “Recently sold – I can sell yours too.” The average reader may interpret these types of ads to mean that the broker placing the ad did participate in the sale of these properties, either as the listing or cooperating broker. If that is not the case, the Ethics Citation Panel may determine these types of ads are misleading and a citation may be issued. 

A broker who did not participate in the sale of the advertised properties should include proper disclosure in the ad. An example of this type of ad is where a broker wishes to advertise properties that were recently sold, such as recent sales in a particular subdivision. The disclosures should be readily apparent and could include a statement that these properties were listed and sold by various real estate brokerages; the time period for the transactions; and that the information was obtained from the Multiple Listing Service. 

One way to look at these ads before publishing is: how would a member of the public interpret the ad? Is it clear that you did/did not participate in the sale of these properties? 

Another possible violation of the Code of Ethics is the advertising of sold property when a broker leaves one firm and joins another. As an example, on Broker A’s website, she lists the addresses of all the properties she sold while with her original brokerage and states “I sold these – I can sell your home too”. Once she leaves that brokerage and moves to a new firm, the list of these sold properties remains on her website. The name of her new brokerage firm is reasonably apparent on her website. At first glance it would look like Broker A sold all of these properties with her current firm. 

One way to make the above information on Broker A’s website compliant with the Code of Ethics would be to provide an obvious disclaimer. For example, Broker A might say, “Each of these properties were listed with Broker A over the past ten (10) years and for much of that time she was affiliated with another firm”. 

 

Breakout Text: 

Are you following advertising rules?

One of the top questions Illinois REALTORS® gets is about how to advertise in a way that meets state and REALTOR® Code of Ethics guidelines. The association's ombudsman program has a guide you can share with other REALTORS® which tells what to do and not to do

If you have questions regarding advertising and the Code of Ethics, please contact Becky Carraher, Illinois REALTORS® Director of Ethics and Professional Standards, rcarraher@illinoisrealtors.org.