Realtor® Legal Tip – Do you use social media for marketing? If you do, read this post.
Author: Curtis Bullock
Many of you advertise properties and real estate services on social media. In this post I’ve summarized the relevant Utah laws and sections of the Code of Ethics you should be aware of. I will add to or amend this list if I miss anything or more clarification is needed. Any other insightful comments on best practices are welcome in the comments below.
1) Clearly and conspicuously identify the name of your brokerage in any advertisement. The Division of Real Estate often gets complaints about blind ads where the brokerage name isn’t mentioned. Avoid this. R162-2f-401h
2) When it’s not reasonable to identify the brokerage name (i.e., because of character count limitations), simply ensure that the electronic advertisement directly links to a display that clearly and conspicuously identifies the brokerage name.
3) Make sure to use the official name of the brokerage. Don’t use any abbreviations.
4) Teams must follow the same rules above in identifying the brokerage in the ad.
5) What about personal facebook pages vs. business facebook pages?
*Personal facebook pages, instagram, twitter – this would be a page where the person occasionally posts an advertisement for family and friends. The brokerage name needs to be “one click away” such that on the next page the brokerage name is “clearly and conspicuously” identified.
*Business facebook pages – the primary purpose of the page is to advertise real estate. The brokerage name should be on the page and included in each advertisement.
6) Code of Ethics Article 12, Standard 12-5 – requires disclosure of the brokerage name in a “readily and apparent manner.” In other words, this Ethics rule is the pretty much the same as Utah law noted above.
7) Code of Ethics Article 12, Standard 12-10 – be sure to present a “true picture” in advertising to the public including internet content and images. Don’t use content developed by others without attribution or without permission, and don’t use misleading or deceptive content and images.
8) Code of Ethics Article 15 – don’t make false or reckless or misleading statements about other real estate professionals, their businesses or their business practices. Facebook is dangerous grounds for this. **Even if you don’t name the person specifically, a negative statement about another person where others can reasonably guess who you are talking about can result in disciplinary sanctions. We’ve had a handful of cases on this exact point. Avoid this.
9) It is unlawful for a licensee to advertise the availability of real estate or the services of a licensee in a false, misleading, or deceptive manner. Utah Code 61-2f-401(13)
10) A licensed agent may not advertise property without the consent of the owner and if it’s listed, the listing broker. So be sure not to advertise another agent’s listings on social media or KSL, etc without their consent. R162-2f-401b
11) IDX Compliant Websites – If an advertisement of another brokers listing is placed online, as long as that ad links back to an IDX compliant website that displays the listing brokers firm name in a reasonably prominent manner, such advertisement would be acceptable. See MLS policy 18.2.12.