I am preparing a farming letter to solicit listings in a subdivision. What are the rules regarding advertising to a neighborhood in which properties are already listed for sale by another agent?

Standard of Practice 16-2 clarifies that the Article 16 prohibition against engaging in any practice inconsistent with the agency relationship of another REALTOR® is not intended to prohibit general announcements to prospective clients, even though some of those announcements reach other REALTORS®’ clients. General announcements include advertisements addressed to all possible prospects in a given geographical area.

What is prohibited by Article 16 are solicitations not part of a general mailing but directed toward owners identified through current listings, signs, or other sources of information required by Article 3 or MLS rules.

While there is no ethical rule requiring that farming letters that otherwise satisfy the requirements of Standard of Practice 16-2 include a disclaimer, many REALTORS® do include some form of disclaimer to make it clear to owners and their listing brokers that their general solicitation of listings was not intended to solicit the current listings of another REALTOR®.

I’m sending a farming letter to a neighborhood where I’ve sold a home. Can I include the MLS sale price information of properties in the neighborhood in my letter?

The answer will depend on your MLS Rules, specifically Section 13 of the Model MLS Rules, which is a mandatory rule.

Your local MLS can adopt either of two options in Section 13. One option allows an MLS participant to use sale price information from the MLS in advertising. The second option has limitations, and does not allow an MLS participant the right to include information about specific properties listed or sold by other participants.

Both options require the advertisement to include the time period for the information and where it was obtained from using the following, or substantially similar, format:

Based on information from the (local) association of REALTORS®/from the (local) MLS for the period (date) through (date).

Be sure to check with your local MLS to find out what your MLS Rules entail. Texas is a non-disclosure state, but that only means that sale price isn't public record. Your MLS dictates how sale-price data is used.