Information taken from the Georgia Real Estate Commission:
For most licensees the only thing worse than an advertisement which violates the law is a competitor’s advertisement that make the licensee feel that he or she must match it in order to be competitive. The most frequent complaints that the Commission receives about advertising involve ‘blind ads,” advertisements that fail to fully disclose financial terms, and advertisements that offer prizes or rebates to prospects.
THE BASIC RULES
Rule 520-1-.09 (1) Media. This rule regulates advertising whether done personally by a licensee or through any media. The term “media” includes, but is not limited to, print, photographic, broadcast, and computer media including, but not limited to, such examples as newspapers, magazines, flyers, posters, business cards, billboards, radio, television, signs (including, but not limited to, office, directional, for sale, for lease, sold, or vehicle signs) , newsletters, and the Internet.
[Editor’s Note: (New language is underscored. Deleted language is
struck through . Unchanged language is not marked.)
Required that when licensees advertise a specific property or properties for sale, for rent, or for exchange, the name of the licensed firm offering the property must appear in equal or greater size, prominence, and frequency than the name or names of any affiliated licensees or groups of licensees.
Rule 520-1-.09 (7) Firm Names and Telephone Numbers in Advertising. In advertising a specific property or specific properties for sale, for rent, or for exchange in any media:
(a) all firms must include in the advertisement a name of the firm that is registered with the Commission and a telephone number for the firm, except when complying with lawful restrictions (such as covenants or local governmental ordinances) that forbid the use of the firm’s name on a particular type of sign;
(b) the name of the licensed firm offering the property for sale, for rent, or for exchange shall appear in equal or greater size, prominence, and frequency than the name or names of any affiliated licensee or groups of licensees;
(c) the firm’s telephone number shall appear in equal or greater size, prominence, and frequency than the telephone number of any affiliated licensee or groups of licensees, and it must be a number at which the public can reach the broker or a manager without going through the affiliated licensee(s) listed in the advertisement;
(d) whether contained in a logo or standing alone, the name of the firm as registered with the Commission must be in equal or greater size, prominence, and frequency than the name of any affiliated licensee or group of licensees; and
(e) a block advertisement in any print media that advertises various listings of a brokerage firm and includes the name of the listing agent next to each listing shall be in compliance with this rule if the name of the brokerage firm appears only once at the top of the advertisement in equal or greater prominence and print size than any of the listing agent’s names. The firm’s name may be located in other positions in such block advertisements if the firm name appears clearly larger and more prominently than the name of any other licensee in the advertisement.
Note: The broker may always impose more stringent requirements as company policy.
The Commission decided to require the firm’s name and telephone number for a variety of reasons including, but not limited to, the following. First, since the firm is the legally responsible party, the public should know the legally responsible party with whom it is doing business. Second, including both the firm’s name and telephone number as well as the individual agent’s name and telephone number on the sign gives the public both the initial contact person to call and an alternative if that person is not available. Both the seller and the prospective purchaser would therefore have better opportunities for quicker service. Third, customers dissatisfied with the individual agent’s service can more easily contact the broker.
Generally, the Commission has its clearest authority to regulate the first of these types of advertisements, “blind ads.” A “blind ad” is one in which a licensee does not make clear that a real estate firm is acting for the owner. Many “blind ads” are unintentional. The printer prints the advertisement and telephone number and inadvertently omits the brokerage firm name. Thus, when a licensee suspects that an advertisement is a “blind ad,” he or she should consider contacting the firm running it in order to call attention to the fact that the name of the firm does not appear in the advertisement. (Addresses and phone numbers are optional.) If the firm does not correct the advertisement promptly, the licensee may want to request that the Commission investigate the matter and take appropriate disciplinary action.
The information contained in this article is believed to be current and accurate. The GREC staff reviews the contents periodically and updates it when appropriate. If you have questions or comments about this article, you may contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org .