Attention Newport Beach, Costa Mesa and Orange County consumers, as well as REALTORS®, Teams and Brokers, there are key real estate advertising rules often being violated. One need only open a newspaper’s real estate advertising supplement, or read a recent letter or flyer received at home from an agent “with buyers looking for a home like yours,” to see everyday violations of critical advertising and soliciting rules, some worse than others. Even among seasoned and established agents, mistakes happen and some rules may slip through. As consumers or professionals, please keep the below rules in mind to easily identify complying professionals and continue to assist in promoting public confidence and professional identification:
2) Brokerage / Firm Name. Your Brokerage or Firm name must be readily apparent on your advertising. If applicable, any Fictitious Business Names (or DBAs) of the Brokerage or Firm must be filed with the applicable County and the BRE prior to use.
3) REALTOR®. It is only REALTOR® or REALTORS®, in all uppercase, with the federal registration symbol “®” at the end. Uniformity is the purpose of a trademark and key to brand recognition. Realtor or realtor do not suffice and could be a violation of the trademark. Likewise, “your local REALTOR®,” “number one REALTOR®” or other modification or misuses of the trademark are explicitly prohibited.
4) Team names. A team is different than a Brokerage or Firm, which must be identified (see no. 2). If desired, you may include a team name as well, provided the team name has a properly filed Fictitious Business Name Statement with both the applicable County and the BRE prior to use. The advertising still must contain your BRE number and the name of your Brokerage or Firm. Additionally, when using a team name, a recent BRE publication suggests that the BRE number of your employing Broker must be included as well (so just include both yours and your employing Broker’s to be safe).
5) DRE v. BRE. Current materials using “Department of Real Estate” or “DRE” are acceptable to deplete within a reasonable time. There is no set time limit, but certainly any new orders should be uniform to assist consumer understanding using “Bureau of Real Estate” or “BRE.” Update your web page and social media now.
These rules are fixed and require strict compliance. These rules apply to any first point of contact, such as business cards, your web page, blogs (Facebook too), flyers, mailers, advertisements, etc., anything that you expect the public to see first. If more than one REALTOR® is on the advertisement, these rules apply to each.
Maintaining simple aboveboard compliance is an easy way to support public confidence and professional identification while avoiding fines or worse. Brokers should review and provide guidance for Associates, Associates should check with Brokers, and teams (especially teams, which are a target of the BRE right now) should carefully review all rules with their Brokers and fellow teammates.
Sources: Cal Bus. & Prof. Code §§ 10140.6, 10159.5 and 17910; BRE Publication RE 858; Real Estate Commissioners Regulations §§ 2770, 2731 and 2773(a); National Association of REALTORS® (NAR), Code of Ethics and Standards of Practice § 12-5; NAR Membership Marks Manual; BRE Publications “Advisory to Licensees Regarding the use of ‘DRE’ When Disclosing Licensing Identification Numbers on Solicitation Materials or After July 1, 2013” (6/20/2013); BRE Publication “The Department to Issue Fictitious Business Names that Include the Names of Salespersons and ‘Team Names’” (6/7/2013).
Author Devin R. Lucas is a Real Estate Attorney, Broker and REALTOR®, specializing in Newport Beach, Costa Mesa and Orange County, serving individual, investor and small business interests in real estate. Active with the Newport Beach Association of REALTORS® and Costa Mesa Chamber of Commerce, Devin R. Lucas Real Estate is an independent real estate brokerage and law practice located in Newport Beach, California.
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