If you’re a Texas realtor, you know how much work you’ve done to establish your expertise, to get to know your market, to grow a clientele, to strike out on your own. And you are well aware of the role of advertising in your ability to continue to practice your career. But it can come as a nightmare when your realtor’s license comes under fire because of accusations that you’ve violated the rules governing real estate service advertising in Texas.
As with any business, realtors must have some way to induce members of the public to hire you for your services. Yet both the Texas Real Estate Commission (TREC) and the National Association of Realtors (NAR) have laid out guidelines and rules that a realtor must follow in producing advertisements in order to be in line with the norms of the profession.
Article 12 of NAR’s Code of Ethics declares that realtors must “be honest and truthful in their real estate communications and shall present a true picture in their advertising, marketing, and other representations.” In order to do so, they “shall ensure that their status as real estate professionals is readily apparent in their advertising, marketing, and other representations, and that the recipients of all real estate communications are […] notified that those communications are from a real estate professional.”
As such, realtors are limited in how they use the term “free” in advertising; they must be up-front and candid about terms and conditions in the offering of premiums, prizes, or other “inducements to list, sell, purchase”; and must adhere to many other elements aimed at ensuring they “present a true picture” in their advertisements. Importantly, all of the NAR ethical guidelines apply to website representations as well as to analog media.
Texas Occupations Code Section 1101.652 (b)(23) grants TREC the authority to strip a realtor’s license if the realtor “publishes or causes to be published an advertisement, including an advertisement by newspaper, radio, television, the Internet, or display, that misleads or is likely to deceive the public, tends to create a misleading impression, or fails to identify the person causing the advertisement to be published as a licensed broker or agent”. TREC’s definition of a deceptive advertisement can be found in TREC Rule Section 535.155(d)—a list of twenty potential causes of violation.
If you have received notice that you are suspected of violating any of these listed provisions in your advertising materials, you should contact a qualified and experienced professional license defense attorney like us here at BERTOLINO LLP. The more time we have to craft a response, the better. And the earlier in the process we are involved, the more likely you are to achieve a positive outcome—up to and including a dismissal of the complaint. But we can’t help if you don’t contact us.
The attorneys at BERTOLINO LLP are prepared to represent you at every stage of the complaint process. With offices in Austin, Houston, and San Antonio, we represent funerary professionals across the entire State of Texas. Our honest, experienced attorneys will fight aggressively on behalf of your license and reputation.
Contact us today or call (512) 717-5432 and schedule a free case evaluation.