We are starting to see more jurisdictions addressing the issue of advertising by real estate “teams.”
In addition to pending legislation in California , New York has amended its advertising rules to specifically cover real estate teams. It is absolutely essential under both state’s rules that the name of the brokerage appear whenever there is a real estate ad in the name of a team.
On our regular neighborhood bike ride last week, Saul pointed at a For Sale sign that named the broker and also contained a rider that instead of saying, say, “The Reilly Team” said “The Reilly Office” — under the New York rule cited below, that would be a violation.
Let’s highlight some of the key final-advertising-regulations on 19 NYCRR section 175.25 Advertising that went into effect in January 2014:
* “Team” means two or more persons, one of whom must be an associate real estate broker or real estate salesperson, associated with the same real estate brokerage who hold themselves out or operate as a team.
* Team names shall either: (i) include the full licensed name of the real estate brokers, associate brokers or real estate salespersons who are part of said team, or (ii) if the names are not included, the team name must be immediately followed by “at/of [full name of the broker/brokerage].” Team names shall use the term “team.” The use of any other terms besides “team,” such as “associate,” “realty” or “group” is prohibited. The use of the name of a non-licensed individual in a team name is prohibited. For twelve months after the adoption of this regulation, teams that have changed their name to comply with this provision shall be entitled to state in advertisements under their new name that they were ‘formerly known as’ their prior team name.
If any unlicensed individuals are named in advertising for a team, the advertisement must clearly and conspicuously state which individuals are real estate licensees and which ones are not.
* Only a real estate broker is permitted to place or cause to be published advertisements related to the sale or lease of property. Advertisements placed or caused to be published by an associate real estate broker, a real estate salesperson or a team for the sale or lease of property listed with or represented by a real estate broker are not permitted except where the property is listed with or represented by the real estate broker with whom the associate real estate broker, real estate salesperson or team placing the ad is associated and said real estate broker approved placement of the advertisement.
* Where an advertisement includes the name of an associate broker, real estate salesperson or a team, the name of the real estate broker and/or real estate brokerage must also be printed in the advertisement.
* Logos. A real estate team, associate real estate broker or real estate salesperson may use a logo different from that of the real estate broker or real estate brokerage with whom they are associated, provided that the name or logo of the real estate broker or real estate brokerage is also printed in the advertisement. “Logo” means a graphic mark used to identify a real estate broker, associate broker, salesperson or team, but not a photograph of a real estate broker, associate broker, salesperson or team contained in an advertisement.
* Web-based advertising — Websites created and maintained by associate real estate brokers, real estate salespersons and teams are permitted, provided that said associate real estate brokers, real estate salespersons and teams are duly authorized by their supervising real estate broker to create and maintain such websites and such websites remain subject to the supervision of the real estate broker with whom the licensees are associated while the website is live. Every page of such a website shall include the information required by these rules and regulations. In addition, a link to the broker or brokerage website with whom the associate broker, salesperson or team is associated is required on the homepage of the associate broker, salesperson or team website unless the broker or brokerage does not have a website.
Also, here’s an interesting part of the New York law that might be directed at pre-MLS ads: Advertisements referencing property not listed with broker — Any advertisement that references or includes information about a property that is not listed with the advertising broker or was not sold by the advertising broker shall prominently display the following disclaimer: “This advertisement does not suggest that the broker has a listing in this property or properties or that any property is currently available.” Such advertisement: (i) shall not suggest, directly or indirectly, that the advertising broker was involved in the transaction and (ii) shall not refer to property currently listed with another broker absent consent…”
The pending legislation in California that is likely to pass shortly addresses a concern that the increased use of team names made it difficult for consumers to identify who were the actual responsible parties of real estate activity conducted by agents affiliated with a team. All marketing material and “for sale” signage using the Team Name must include the broker’s identity in an “equally as prominent” format. California brokers will need to take this pending law into consideration as they evaluate purchasing signs for next year.