Legal FAQs for REALTORS®
Advertising and Social Media
If I advertise my services using social media, am I still required to comply with advertising rules and regulations? (Updated Jan. 16, 2014)
Yes. Remember that an advertisement is any written or oral statement or communication which induces or attempts to induce a member of the public to use the services of the real estate licensee. Therefore, if you are advertising your services using social media, you must still comply with the advertising rules and regulations, such as including a designation to clearly identify the licensee, including the name of your broker (in a clear and conspicuous manner), and avoiding deceptive or misleading advertising.
How do I include the required information in social media advertising when there is a character limit? (Updated Jan. 16, 2014)
If the required information would consume more than 10% of the available character limit, the real estate licensee may include a direct hyperlink containing the words “TREC DISCLOSURE” which links to the required information. Note: Where it is not possible to create a hyperlink on the words "TREC DISCLOSURE" (such as on Twitter), you may include the words "TREC DISCLOSURE" followed by a link to the required information.
The Code of Ethics also requires that REALTORS® disclose the name of the REALTORS®’s firm in a reasonable and readily apparent manner. However, if disclosing the name of the firm in an electronic display of limited information is not practical when advertising using social media, the advertisement may link to the required disclosures.
How can I determine if my Facebook posts are considered real estate advertising? (Updated July 11, 2014)
The Texas Real Estate Commission does not specifically address advertising on Facebook. However, Facebook posts may fall under TREC’s advertising rules, which say an advertisement is a statement or communication that induces or attempts to induce a member of the public to use the services of the real estate licensee.
Despite the lack of guidelines, certain posts are more likely to be construed as advertisements than others. For example, a Facebook post that contains a listing with the text “I sold this home in five days. Contact me at 555-1212 to list your home” seems to meet the criteria set for by TREC’s definition of advertising. However, the rules are less clear regarding a post commenting on the statewide housing market.
If my Facebook posts are considered advertising, what should I do to comply with real estate-advertising requirements? (Updated July 11, 2014)
TREC requires you to include your broker’s name in a clear and conspicuous manner and a designation that clearly identifies you as a real estate agent, such as agent, broker, or REALTOR®, in your advertisements. You should also avoid deceptive or misleading advertising.
Neither TREC rules nor TREC’s enforcement division specify where you should put the required information on Facebook—just that it must be in the ad.
To avoid any violations of Article 12 of the Code of Ethics, REALTORS® shall be honest and truthful and present a true picture in their advertising and ensure that their status as real estate professionals is readily apparent in their advertising.
Legal Disclaimer: The material provided here is for informational purposes only and is not intended and should not be considered as legal advice for your particular matter. You should contact your attorney to obtain advice with respect to any particular issue or problem. Applicability of the legal principles discussed in this material may differ substantially in individual situations.
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