A significant shift in the real estate landscape has resulted from the New York State Department of State’s recent move to adopt new advertising regulations for Real Estate. The regulatory changes primarily target real estate brokers who use lead generation platforms such as Zillow, Trulia, StreetEasy, among others. The main focus is to ensure enhanced clarity in disclosures, especially for those advertising on these popular property-search platforms. Overall. lets begin by unpacking the new NYS internet advertising regulations for Real Estate.
Before delving into the regulations themselves, it is crucial to understand the jargon associated with them.
- Advertising and Advertisement refer to any promotion or solicitation tied explicitly to licensed real estate activity. This includes many forms of communication such as mail, telephone, websites, emails, business cards, signs, billboards, or flyers.
- Team refers to two or more individuals, where at least one person is a licensed real estate salesperson or associate broker. These individuals are associated with the same real estate brokerage and operate or hold themselves out as a team.
- Real Estate Brokerage is a real estate company represented by a real estate broker.
- Logo represents a graphic mark differentiating a real estate broker, associate broker, or salesperson. Note that it does not include their photographs contained in an advertisement.
- Property refers to either the real property or shares of stock in a cooperative corporation.
- Placement of advertisements Only a real estate broker is permitted to place or
cause to be published advertisements related to the sale or lease of property.
Placement and Content of Advertisements
A large part of the advertising regulations for Real Estate is about the placement and content of advertisements. The rules clearly state that only a real estate broker is allowed to place or cause published advertisements of a property. Other licensees, such as real estate salespersons or associate brokers, can place ads only in instances where the property listing is approved and represented by the broker they are associated with.
Other essential elements concerning the content of advertisements include the name of the real estate broker, contact details, property description, licensee’s nicknames, and license type. In addition, advertisements must clearly state whether the real estate broker, associate broker, or real estate salesperson possesses a license.
New Protocols for Advertisement Placement
The advertising regulations for Real Estate also establish guidelines for collecting and using proprietary information, such as photographs of a property. The law prohibits the use or reproduction of photographs from a broker’s website without written permission from the copyright holder.
Moreover, any reference to a property under exclusive listing by another broker should be accompanied by concise and conspicuous acknowledgment of that broker.
The regulations also require that all advertisements be placed in a manner that is consistent with the law. For example, if an advertisement is placed on a website, it must include the name of the real estate broker or salesperson who placed it. If a newspaper ad does not include this information, then it will be considered an illegal advertisement under New York State law.
Are You Covered Under the Regulation
As a real estate professional, it’s crucial to understand and comply with advertising regulations for Real Estate outlined by the Department. Failure to do so may lead to sanctions, including license revocation or suspension, fines, and restitution. Note that these rules apply equally to residential and commercial brokers. The examples below, although not exhaustive, demonstrate how advertising regulations apply:
General Advertising Examples
Example 1: John Smith, a licensed real estate salesperson, switches brokerages and advertises in local newspapers and a roadside billboard. While not mentioning a specific property, Section 175.25 still applies due to the solicitation of business.
Example 2: Jane Smith, a licensed broker, advertises an exclusive listing on a third-party website. Section 175.25 applies to this advertisement as well.
Email and Website Advertising
Section 175.25 includes provisions related to emails and internet websites. Always ensure advertising complies with the Department’s regulations, even on third-party platforms.
Remember to obtain authorization before advertising another broker’s exclusive listing. Include the listing broker’s name, and ensure the advertisement is identified as such.
Examples of violations include:
On a paid website, omitting the licensee’s relationship to listed properties.
Displaying an “advertisement” label without clearly attributing it to the licensee.
Sending an email soliciting clients without including the sponsoring broker’s information.
Advertising an exclusive listing via a mobile app without necessary disclosures.
Logos, Nicknames, Teams, and Titles
Advertisements should be clear and transparent. Examples of prohibited practices include:
Using an incorrect or misleading title.
Using a nickname without including the licensee’s full name.
Creating a team name without including “team” and not mentioning the sponsoring brokerage.
Using a team logo without including the sponsoring brokerage’s logo or name.
The content of advertisements must be honest, accurate, and not harmful to the public.
Some examples of unlawful content:
Using unauthorized photographs of a property.
Failing to disclose legal requirements for a rental property.
Advertising listings on a licensed brokerage’s website that do not belong to the website operator; Section 175.25 applies to all advertisements.
By adhering to these guidelines and maintaining transparency, licensees can ensure they maintain ethical and legal advertising practices.
Navigating Web-based Advertisements
The new regulations lay down the law for web-based advertising as well. Websites maintained by associate brokers, salespersons, and teams are allowed, provided they have the necessary permissions from the supervising broker. Every page of the site, including those displaying multiple properties, should contain the required information as per the rules and regulations. In addition, an initial email from a real estate entity to a client or potential client should provide the requisite information per the regulations.
The regulations also require that any website maintained by a real estate entity be updated within 30 days of any changes to the information contained therein. This includes changes in contact information, business hours, or any other details that may have been provided in the initial email.
The Role of Teams in Advertising
Teams also have specific rules that they need to follow. Team names must include full licensed names of real estate brokers or salespersons part of the team, or the team name must be immediately proceeded by “at/of [full name of broker/brokerage].”
Teams must also include a link to the team’s website on their advertising materials. This is to ensure that consumers can easily find more information about the team and its members. The team name should be displayed in a way that is clearly distinguishable from other information on the advertisement. Such as contact information or property details.
The Bottom Line
In essence, these regulations seek to safeguard consumer interests. Promote transparency, and ensure a level playing field in the digital realms of real estate advertising. All real estate industry stakeholders, including real estate firms, brokers, and teams, need to modify their online advertising practices accordingly.
While the New York State Department of State’s fresh regulations can seem overwhelming. Understanding and incorporating them into daily practices will ultimately benefit brokers, teams, and consumers alike. You find the Checklist for Real Estate Advertising at the NYS Division of licensing. This checklist will help you advertise properly so that you can comply with state laws and regulations relating to your business. Following these rules may help you avoid fines or other discipline and help protect the public from misleading or inappropriate advertising. The Manfred School recommends you evaluate your advertising periodically.
Consequently, those sticking to these rules will hold a competitive edge while ensuring compliance with the legal framework – a win-win situation for all parties involved.