You are here:  Home Professional Standards Advertising Rules for the REALTOR®
 
Advertising Rules for the REALTOR®
 
  1. 1995 HUD Advertising Guidelines
  2. TREC Regulations
  3. TREC Internet Advertising Guidelines. Click here to download the full TREC report.
  4. Use of the REALTOR® marks
  5. Use of REALTOR® marks with the Internet

As REALTORS®, we all have to follow quite a few rules regarding advertising. These rules and guidelines come from a variety of sources including the Texas Real Estate Commission (TREC), U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) and National Association of REALTORS® (NAR). Use of these guidelines insures that we continue to maintain a high standard of communication with our customers and prevent our membership from being associated with the sometimes deceptive, misleading or discriminatory practices of a few. The information below is not guaranteed to be all-encompassing, but is a good guide to follow.

 

 
1995 HUD Advertising Guidelines - Federal Fair Housing Act

In 1995, HUD distributed a publication to offer guidance regarding advertising under the Fair Housing Act. To review the complete guide, click here.

Race, color, national origin - Using racial or ethnic terms to describe the housing, current or potential residents, neighbors or neighborhood violate the act. Terms that are “facially neutral” are acceptable, including “master bedroom” and “desirable neighborhood.”

Religion - Ads containing an explicit religious preference, limitation or discrimination, such as “Christian home,” violate the act. In addition, legal names of entities that include a religious reference (“Roselawn Catholic Home”) or those that contain a religious symbol may indicate preference for a certain religion. However, if the ad carries a disclaimer such as “This home does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, religion, national origin, sex, handicap or familial status,” it will not violate the act.

In addition, ads describing properties (“apartment complex with chapel”) or specific services (“Kosher meals available”) do not violate the act because on the surface, they do not indicate a preference for people likely to use the facilities or services.

Sex - Ads for single-family dwellings or separate units in a multi-family dwelling should contain no explicit preference, limitation or discrimination based on sex. The terms “master bedroom,” “mother-in-law suite” and “bachelor apartment” do not violate the act because they are commonly used descriptions.

Handicap - Ads should not contain explicit exclusions, limitations or other indications of discrimination based on handicap. Descriptions of properties (“great view,” “walk-in closets”), services or facilities (“jogging trails”) or neighborhoods (“walk to bus”) are lawful, as descriptions of accessibility features of behavior required of residents (“non-smoking”) and descriptions of accessibility features (“wheelchair ramp”).

Familial status - Ads may not state an explicit preference, limitation or discrimination based upon familial status, including number or ages of children, or state a preference for adults, couples or singles. Again, description of properties (“two bedroom,” “cozy family room”) services and facilities (“no bicycles allowed”) or neighborhoods (“quiet streets”) do not violate the act because they are not facially discriminatory.

 

 
Texas Real Estate Commission, Texas Real Estate License Act and NAR Code of Ethics

According to the Texas Real Estate License Act, a real estate broker or salesperson cannot publish ads which are misleading. Article 12 of the NAR Code of Ethics is consistent with the requirements of the Real Estate License Act and the rules of TREC. The following is a checklist which can help you prepare ads that meet advertising guidelines of the Code and Act.*

  1. My ad is not misleading nor does it tend to create a misleading impression in any manner.
  2. My ad contains the name of my real estate firm.
  3. My ad identifies the professional or license status of everyone, including the firm and all individuals named in the ad.
  4. As a real estate salesman, my name is not the only name that appears in the ad.
  5. I have proper authority to publish or submit the ad.
  6. The price quoted is the price agreed upon by the owner.
  7. Any service being offered as "free of charge" in my ad is not tied to any service for which I am to be compensated.
  8. My ad fully describes the conditions of inducement offers.
  9. Any ownership interest I have in the property is disclosed.

*Reprinted from Texas REALTOR® magazine.

 

 
Texas Real Estate Commission Internet Advertising Guidelines

All real estate advertising over the Internet, including Web pages, e-mail, bulletin boards and other electronic publications, must display the same type of information as required in print or broadcast advertisements. For the complete text of these rules, click here.

Definition of Advertising
A general definition of the term “advertisement” was added to TREC rules to clarify that an “advertisement” is a written or oral statement which induces or attempts to induce a member of the public to use the services of the licensee. Communication from a licensee to a member of the public that takes place after an agreement has been reached for the licensee to provide services is not considered advertising.

Web Sites
Primarily, licensees must disclose their status as brokers or agents on each page of a Web site that contains a real estate ad. To ensure compliance, REALTORS® may want to place a footer at the bottom of each Web page that contains the disclosure statement. For example, “Texas Realty is a licensed real estate broker providing brokerage services in Texas since 1975.” One could also provide a link back to the TREC Web site, www.trec.state.tx.us, to show that the firm is regulated by TREC.

E-mail Messages
Real estate licensees who place other types of advertisements electronically, including e-mail (whether through e-mail discussion groups or in attachments to e-mail messages), must also include the disclosure of license status and name of sponsoring broker, if applicable, within the electronic advertisement and in any attachment that is also an advertisement. E-mail messages that are not considered to be advertisements, such as personal correspondence with established clients, are not subject to the rules. Members who respond to consumer questions on ABoR’s Web site under the “Interact” section should disclose their license status and sponsoring broker as this communication would be considered advertising.

Current TREC Advertising Rules
The Texas Real Estate License Act authorizes TREC to take disciplinary action against a licensee who is responsible for an advertisement that is likely to deceive the public, tends to create a misleading impression or fails to identify the advertiser as a licensed real estate broker or agent. Current TREC advertising rules (Section 535.154 of the Texas Administrative Code) require license status disclosure and identification of advertisers as a real estate broker or salesperson. Listing of only a salesperson’s name without the sponsoring broker’s name in an ad is prohibited; and any advertising that implies a salesperson is a broker or is responsible for the operation of a real estate brokerage is also not permissible.

TREC rules also require brokers to file an assumed name certificate with TREC if they transact business under a name other than their legal name. Any advertising under an assumed name that does not readily identify the broker as a real estate licensee must specify that the advertiser is a real estate agent or broker.

NAR Advertising Guidelines
Article 12 of the NAR Code of Ethics requires REALTORS® to present a true picture in their advertising and representations to the public, as well as clearly identify their license status in all advertising. The Code also requires disclosure of all terms when offering an inducement to do business.

 

 
Use of the REALTOR® marks

Your use of the marks indicates to the public that you are a member of the National Association of REALTORS®. To protect the exclusiveness and integrity of these marks, you have an obligation under the Trademark Protection Program to notify the public of the marks’ special meaning by your proper use of them. The marks are valuable assets, but will remain valuable only as long as they continue to distinguish members of NAR from non-members. The following are a few guidelines on use of the REALTOR® marks from NAR’s brochure titled "It’s Your Association".

Form - Use all uppercase letters. Initial caps are acceptable only when the “®” symbol is used. The uppercase letters help distinguish the mark from words of ordinary meaning in the eyes of the reader. The federal registration symbol should be adjacent to all marks in all advertisements, signs, business cards, letterheads, etc. The proper use: REALTOR®, REALTOR®, REALTORS®, REALTOR®’S, REALTORS®’.

Content - Use the marks only when referring to a member of NAR. Do not use the marks interchangeably with “real estate broker” or “real estate agent.” The term REALTOR® does not denote vocation. Proper use: Local lawyers, real estate brokers, insurance agents and bankers attended the meeting. Rotarians, Masons, REALTORS® and members of the Home Builders Association attended the meeting.

Usage - Use the marks in conjunction with, but not as a part of an assumed business name or logo. Always separate the marks from your name or firm name with punctuation. Proper use: Blackacre, Inc., REALTORS®; John Jones, REALTORS®; Sally Brown and Company, REALTORS®; Green, Inc., REALTORS®. In the body of written material, use the federal registration symbol with each mark, or at least with the first time each appears. Never use descriptive words or phrases to modify the marks, to differentiate among members, or to create the impression that a name or phrase refers to a sub-organization of REALTORS®. Improper use: Most Qualified REALTOR®, Professional REALTOR®, REALTORS® with integrity, The Family of REALTORS®, Texas REALTORS® (as the name of a firm). Most news media will not use all caps or registration symbols in news or feature articles. Acceptable in news or feature articles: Realtor, Realtors. However, all advertisements should be submitted and printed with all caps and the registration symbol.

 

 
Use of the REALTOR® marks with the Internet
When surfing the Web for real estate homepages, it's quite common to come across sites belonging to REALTORS®. If you are looking to add your own electronic presence on the Internet, it is easy to get caught up in designing your own Web page and choosing a domain name which will capture the attention of surfers and make you easily identifiable. REALTORS® often want to use the REALTOR® marks as part of their domain name or address to distinguish themselves, but they must keep in mind that there are rules governing proper use of the REALTOR® marks that must be adhered to at all times regardless of the media used. These rules are found in the National Association's Membership Marks Manual, a reference manual explaining proper use of the REALTOR® marks including examples of correct and incorrect uses. Here is a brief list of the principle rules affecting use of the REALTOR® marks in domain names:

  1. The term REALTOR®, whether used as part of a domain name or in some other fashion must refer to a member or a member's firm.
  2. The term REALTOR® may not be used with descriptive words or phrases. For example, Number1realtor.com, numberone-realtor.com, chicagorealtors.org or realtorproperties.com are all incorrect.
  3. For use as a domain name or e-mail address on the Internet, the term REALTOR® does not need to be separated from the member's name or firm name with punctuation. For example, both johndoe-realtor.com and johndoerealtor.com would be correct uses of the term as a part of domain names and jdoe*realtors@webnetservices.com and jdoerealtors@webnetservices.com are both correct uses of the term as part of an e-mail address.
  4. The REALTOR® block R logo should not be used as hypertext links at a web site as such uses can suggest an endorsement or recommendation of the linked site by your association. The only exception would be to establish a link to the National Association's web site, Realtor.com.

The public has adopted the use of all lowercase letters when writing domain names, even those containing trademarks. Therefore, for purposes of domain names and internet addresses only, there is an exception to the rule on capitalization of the term REALTOR and it may appear in lowercase letters.

Whether you use traditional print media or the Internet, it is essential to use the REALTOR® marks in accordance with the rules and guidelines of the National Association. The REALTOR® marks should only be used to denote membership in the NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS®.

 
  10900 Stonelake Blvd., Suite 100, Austin, Texas 78759        512/454-7636        FAQ        Contact Us