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Advertising for REALTORS® has taken on a whole new meaning in recent years with the growth of social media. The hotline receives many questions on how to properly advertise on Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIN, etc. The most important thing to remember is that Tennessee Real Estate Commission (TREC) rules governing advertising apply fully to social media. The latest iteration of the Advertising Rule,1260-2-.12, went into effect October 18, and includes [paraphrased, emphasis added]:

— “Advertising”

Advertising means “sources of communication available to the public such as signs, flyers, letterheads, e-mail signatures, websites, social media communications, and video or audio recordings transmitted through internet or broadcast streaming,” but does not include “promotional materials such as hats, pens, notepads, T-shirts, name tags, business cards, and the sponsorship of charitable and community events.” (1)

“Firm name”

-Firm Name means the entire name as licensed with TREC, or the d/b/a name as licensed with the Cole Commission. (2)

— DON’T “advertise to sell, purchase, exchange, rent, or lease property in a manner indicating that the licensee is not engaged in the real estate business.” (3a)

— DO have all advertising directly supervised by the principle broker. (3b)

— DO include the firm name and telephone number on file with TREC. (3b)

— DO make the firm name the most prominent name in the advertising, and the firm’s phone number the same size or larger than the phone number of any individual licensee or group of licensees. (3c1-2)

— DON’T post any sign advertising property for sale, purchase, exchange, rent or lease, without written authorization from the property owner or the owner’s agent. (3d)

— DON’T advertise property listed by another licensee without written authorization from the property owner, evidenced by a statement on the listing agreement or any other written statement signed by the owner. (3e)

— DON’T advertise in a false, misleading, or deceptive manner. (i.e. listing only franchise name, not firm name; a “team, group, or similar entity within a firm” advertising themselves using terms such as “Real Estate, ” “Real Estate Brokerage,” “Realty,” “Company,” “Corporation,” “LLC,” “Corp.,” “Inc.,” “Associates,” or similar terms; linking from a web page to an unlicensed entity’s website engaged in activities requiring TREC licensure). (3f1-3)

— [Franchise or Cooperative Advertising Groups] DO clearly indicate in the advertisement your name, firm name and firm phone number (as registered with TREC) for specific properties advertised for sale or lease; when advertising other than specific properties for sale or lease, DO state: “Each [Franchise Trade Name or Cooperative Group] Office is Independently Owned and Operated”. If using a franchise trade name on business cards, contracts, or other documents relating to the transaction, DO clearly indicate name and firm phone number and the fact that the office is independently owned and operated. (4a,b,c1-2)

— DO apply this rule to Internet advertising, including social media. List firm name and phone number on each web page; state that some or all listings on a website may not belong to the firm whose website is being visited; keep listing information current and accurate, for “First Generation” content placed by the licensee. (5a-c)

Avoiding the Advertising Police