All advertising-classified, display, radio, magazine, or Internet-must be under the supervision of a broker. Any person may prepare advertising copy, but the broker is liable for its content.
Use of Organization Names
A broker cannot use the names, emblems, or insignia of any club, association, or organization pertaining to real estate in such a manner as to lead persons to believe he or she is a member of said club, association, or organization, unless the broker is in fact a member in good standing entitled to use such names, emblems, or insignia.
The term REALTOR® is a registered mark of the National Association of REALTORS® (NAR). Only a member belonging to this association can use this term.
False or Misleading Advertising
A broker cannot use blind advertising. It is considered blind advertising when only a post office box number, street address, or telephone number appears. Every broker shall, when advertising real estate, clearly indicate that the advertisement is that of a real estate broker advertising in the registered name of the brokerage. Although address and phone numbers are usually included, they are not required by law to be listed.
In 2003, language was added to state statutes regarding false or misleading information:
A person may not disseminate or cause to be disseminated by any means any false or misleading information for the purpose of offering for sale, or for the purpose of causing or inducing any other person to purchase, lease, or rent real estate located in the state or for the purpose of causing or inducing any other person to acquire an interest in the title to real estate located in the state.
Licensee Names in Advertising
All advertising must state the registered name of the brokerage firm. If either a broker or sales associate wishes to use his or her personal name in an advertisement, at the very least they must use his or her last name in the manner in which it is registered with the commission.
A sales associate cannot advertise in his or her own name although that name, properly identified with the term sales associate or associate, may be included with the employer’s name. A sales associate who advertises in his or her own name may be charged with operating as a broker.
Licensee-Owned Real Estate
broker sells his or her own property, the broker may advertise either as an owner without reference to his or her brokerage activity or through his or her office acting as a broker.
If a sales associate owns the advertised property, he or she also may advertise either as an owner without reference to licensee status or through his or her broker.
In both of these situations, the licensee must inform the other party that he or she has a personal interest in the property prior to receiving an offer on the property.
FREC rules require the brokerage firm’s name to appear immediately above, below, or adjacent to any Internet advertising contact button or hyperlink-the point at which a potential prospect is asked to contact a sales professional for company information. Licensees must make sure that the company name appears on multiple pages of advertising, not just the home page of the website.
Fair Housing Poster
Real estate brokers must display a Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) fair housing poster in all places of business, including model homes in subdivisions. In addition, developments financed by the Federal Housing Administration (FHA) must undertake an affirmative marketing program to attract a cross section of the community.
Refund provisions. When rental lists are sold, 75% of the fee paid must be refunded if the information is correct, but no rental is obtained. If the information is incorrect, 100% of the fee must be refunded. Requests for refunds must be made within 30 days. The following written contract or receipt agreement must be provided to the prospective renter in boldface, 10-point (or larger) type:
PURSUANT TO FLORIDA LAW: If the information provided under this contract is not current or accurate in any material aspect, you may demand within 30 days of this contract date a return of your full fee paid. If you do not obtain a rental you are entitled to receive a return of 75% of the fee paid, if you make a demand within 30 days of this contract date.
Contract requirements. Each contract or receipt agreement must appear on one side of one page not larger than 8.5 inches by 11 inches. The type size of the balance of the terms of the contract may not be smaller than 8 points, and each rental data company must furnish a copy of the current contract or receipt agreement to the DBPR within 30 days of the use of the agreement (61J2 10.030, F.A.C.).
Failure to comply with the rental information requirements is a first degree misdemeanor.
Telephone Solicitation Laws
Residents may place their names on Florida’s Do Not Call list by notifying the Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services and paying a fee at www.800helpfla.com/nosales.html
Real estate licensees cannot legally make unsolicited telephone calls to those on the list for the purpose of soliciting purchases of real property, timeshare estates, or any services related to such properties. Violation of the Florida statute pertaining to telephone solicitation may lead to a civil penalty not to exceed $10,000 per violation as well as other disciplinary action.
In 2003, the federal government’s National Do Not Call Registry became available to consumers who wish to limit telemarketing calls they receive at home. Consumers can register at www.donotcall.gov or call toll-free, (888) 382-1222; TTY (866) 290-4236. Registration is mee. Florida’s Division of Consumer Services shares the numbers on its existing state list with the national registry. As a result, Florida consumers who have already signed up for the state list do not need to re-register to have the protections of both federal and state law.
Under the federal law, if a real estate brokerage firm or its associates make telemarketing calls, the broker must register the business with the National Do Not Call Registry. A broker can register for up to 5 area codes free of charge. Once registered, the FTC will issue an account number or SAN. The broker can then access the area codes his or her company has obtained permission to access.
For a broker to comply with the do-not call laws, he or she must:
- establish written procedures on how to comply with the do-not-call laws and all sales associates and office personnel should be trained in the procedures
- maintain a company-specific do-not-call list for any consumer who asks an associate not to call again. That phone number must be placed on the internal do-not-call list.
- regularly update the national list for phone numbers recently added
- monitor and enforce compliance with company do-not policy
The Federal regulations require the company to create an internal do-not-call policy and send a copy of it to anyone upon request even if that caller is not a current or potential client.
Telephone solicitation of sellers or lessors of real property in response to a yard sign or other form of advertisement placed by the sellers or lessors is permissible as long as the call is to make arrangements to show the property to a prospective buyer. The call may not be used to solicit a listing. Telephone solicitors who make calls to individuals not on the “no sales solicitation calls” list must immediately identify themselves by providing their first and last names and the name of the business they represent.
If a phone number appears on the national list, a licensee may sometimes call them anyway if there is an established business relationship. Licensees are considered to have an established business relationship with a consumer for up to 18 months following a transaction, or up to 3 months following an inquiry. A licensee can call these consumers even when their number appears on a state or federal do-not-call list. However, the relationship is canceled when a consumer specifically asks the company not to call them again. If this happens, the consumer should be placed on the company’s internal do-not-call list. Violations of the federal law may lead to a fine of $11,000 per violation.