Regardless of whether your advertisement is written, verbal or electronic, real estate brokers must follow these basic rules and laws governing real estate advertising.
Article 12 of the REALTORS® Code of Ethics calls on all REALTORS® to be honest and truthful in their real estate advertising, marketing, and other representations. Below are the first seven of the 13 Standards of Practice listed in Article 12.
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.
The easiest way to do this is by disclosing all terms in fine print at the bottom of your advertisement.
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.
But your listing presentation and experience should be what wins over clients, not inducements.
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.
Never change a listing price without consulting your clients. Once you and your clients decide on a list price, stick with it. If the home isn’t selling, consult with your clients to determine whether a price change is necessary.
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 without disclosing the name of that REALTOR®’s firm in a reasonable and readily apparent manner.
While it is legally required, it’s also best practice to disclose both your name and your brokerage’s name on every piece of marketing material you distribute. In doing so, potential clients can more easily find your information online and hire you as their agent.
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.
Not doing so deceives potential buyers or renters. Transparency is a necessary route to take when selling or leasing a property you have ownership interest in.
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.
When you’re working with buyer clients to close a deal, it’s important to establish a professional relationship with the selling broker and respect the selling broker’s rights.
You can find the full Article 12 of the REALTORS® Code of Ethics here.