Advertising Requirements for Real Estate Brokers
The Commission is still receiving complaints about teams who use “realty” and “real estate” in their names.
We continue to receive complaints about how real estate brokers advertise their services or the properties they have listed. Specifically, the Real Estate Commission (the “Commission”) continues to receive complaints about real estate brokers who don’t include the name of the brokerage firm with which the broker is licensed on their advertisements, particularly on the marketing materials for listed properties. The Commission is still receiving complaints about teams who use “realty” and “real estate” in their names. The Commission has received multiple complaints about brokers advertising on websites, such as Craigslist or Zillow, in a manner that conceals the identity of the real estate broker. In some instances, brokers are using the websites to mislead the public as to the availability of certain properties. For example, a property is advertised for sale on Zillow. When a consumer contacts the person offering the property, the consumer learns that the contact person on the advertisement is actually a licensed real estate broker. The broker then informs the consumer that the property is not actually for sale, so the consumer is not able to view the property. The aforementioned practices may result in license discipline.
In light of these issues and as a reminder, Commission Rule E-8 sets forth the following requirements:
1. Pursuant to C.R.S. § 12-61-103(10), no broker shall be licensed to conduct real estate brokerage services under more than one brokerage firm, and no broker or brokerage firm shall conduct or promote a real estate brokerage business except in the name under which that broker or brokerage firm is licensed. However, a brokerage firm may use a trade name in addition to or instead of the brokerage firm’s legal name with the permission of the owner of such trade name. The trade name must be filed with the Commission.
2. No broker shall advertise so as to mislead the public concerning the identity of the broker or the broker’s brokerage firm.
3. All advertising must be done clearly and conspicuously in the name of the broker’s brokerage firm. A broker who advertises property owned by the broker which is not listed for sale or lease with the broker’s brokerage firm, is exempt from advertising the broker’s property in the broker’s brokerage firm’s name.
4. A brokerage firm may use a trademark in conjunction with the brokerage firm’s legal name or trade name with permission of the owner of such trademark.
5. A brokerage firm that uses a trade name or trademark owned by a third party is required to use the following legend, which must appear in a clear and conspicuous manner so as to attract the attention of the public:
“Each (insert general trade name) brokerage business is independently owned and operated.”
Upon written request, this legend may be modified with consent of the Commission.
6. No brokerage firm shall use more than one trade name, however upon written request and with the consent of the Commission, a brokerage firm may use more than one trademark. Use of the trademark(s) is only acceptable if the brokerage firm has obtained permission of the registrant of such trademark.
7. No broker or brokerage firm will use a professional designation in advertising unless the broker or brokerage firm is in good standing and the designation is easily verifiable by the public and the Commission. A broker or brokerage firm that advertises an award, membership or achievement must be able to provide verification of the validity of such claims.
1. General advertising which recaps sales activity over a period of time in a given subdivision or geographical area must:
(i) Cite the source of the data;
(ii) Include a disclaimer that all reported sales were not necessarily listed or sold by the broker; and
(iii) Are intended only to show trends in the area or shall separately identify the broker’s own sales activity.
1. The broker is responsible for ensuring that all advertising is accurate and complies with copyright laws.
2. When a broker owns a website or controls its content, every viewable page must include the broker’s name, or if applicable the team name, and the broker’s brokerage firm name. Any expired listings must be removed from the broker’s website within three days of the listing expiring.
3. If a broker authorizes a third party to advertise on behalf of the broker, the broker is responsible for ensuring that the information provided to such third party is accurate. The broker must submit a written request to the third party to have an expired listing removed from the website within three days of the listing expiring.
4. A broker, who communicates through email, chat, instant messages, newsgroups, discussion lists, bulletin boards, blogs or other similar means for purposes of advertising the broker’s real estate brokerage services must use the broker’s name, or if applicable the team name, and the name of the broker’s brokerage firm. However, once a broker has disclosed the broker’s name and the broker’s brokerage firm to a specific client or customer, the broker is not required to continue to make the same disclosure to the specific client or customer.
5. When it is not reasonable for a broker to disclose the broker’s name, or if applicable the team name, and brokerage firm name in electronic advertising because space is limited (i.e. Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, banner advertisements, etc.), the broker will disclose clearly and conspicuously on the broker’s webpage to which the advertising links, within the first click of the mouse.
1. Brokers who form a team shall not advertise in a manner that misleads the public as to the identity of the team’s brokerage firm. Teams are prohibited from using the following terms in the team’s name:
(ii) Real estate,
(ix) LP or LLP
(x) Or any other term that would imply a separate entity from the brokerage firm with which the team brokers are licensed.
2. All team advertising must include the legal name or trade name of the brokerage firm.
3. If requested by a consumer, the Commission, another brokerage firm or a broker, the brokerage firm will provide the names of the brokers that belong to any team advertising as being licensed with the brokerage firm.
4. Brokers may not allow the use of the team name to other brokers outside the team’s brokerage firm.
Director Marcia Waters
About the Director
Marcia Waters has been with the Colorado Division of Real Estate since August 2005. Marcia started with the Division as a Criminal Investigator for the Real Estate Commission and was promoted to Chief Investigator in 2006. In 2007, she was promoted to the position of Investigations and Compliance Director. In that capacity, she managed the investigatory and settlement programs for the Division. On October 15, 2010, she was promoted to the position of Division Director. The Division of Real Estate licenses and regulates approximately 50,000 real estate professionals. Ms. Waters serves as the administrator for the Real Estate Commission, the Board of Real Estate Appraisers, the Board of Mortgage Loan Originators, the Conservation Easement Oversight Commission and the HOA Information and Resource Center. Ms. Waters manages the Division’s $6.5 million budget, oversees a staff of approximately 57 full-time employees, and establishes the direction of Division programs based on market and industry trends.