Note – REALTORS® are licensed through the Real Estate Council of BC and this information is specifically relevant to those REALTORS® who market using the web (but the general theme is relevant for any realtor using the web)
Like most professionals, REALTORS® are overseen by governing bodies that control the quality and parameters of the work that they do. And, just like other professions, the governing body has the power to penalise where rules and standards are not met. Unlike many other professions, most realtors have a personal website to market their services and this is where there’s sometimes a breakdown.
Be sure of what the web requirements are to avoid disciplinary action. Most governing bodies adopt the sames stringent rules for web as they do for print. However, because of the more organic growth of the web, REALTORS® aren’t necessarily aware of this. If your print ad needs to list your brokerage name and contact info, contain your full name, and avoid certain language or information, you can bet that the same rules apply to your website.
If you’re a web designer, building a website for a REALTOR®, it’s in your clients best interest to bear certain things in mind. If you are a REALTOR®, it’s in your best interest:
- Are there rules that I need to follow on every page?
- How much, how, and how often do I need to display the brokerage name and logo (often it will be on every page)
- Do I need to provide the brokerage contact information if my contact information is different (often the answer will be yes)
- What information am I not allowed to display? If you’re incorporating a third party system, like a listings system, make sure that it doesn’t contravene the rules. For example, some real estate governing bodies do not allow you to advertise the listings of other brokerages without their permission.
If you’re a REALTOR® in BC, here’s an excerpt from the Council of BC Licensee Practice Manual
As a general principle, licensees should be aware that all regulations and policies respecting advertising apply equally to the Internet. This includes websites, e-mail, and any other potential online identification, representation, promotion or solicitation to the public which is related to licensed real estate activity.
In accordance with section 4-6 of the Council Rules, the name of the brokerage must appear in a prominent and easily readable form on all such advertisements, including each individual page and/or frame of a website, e-mail, e-mail discussion groups, bulletin boards, etc. Due to the global nature of Internet advertising, adequate contact information with respect to the brokerage should also be included, i.e., the brokerage’s telephone number, including area code. Where the brokerage has a company home page and/or e-mail address, links to these should also be included.
Therefore, for BC REALTORS®, this can be taken to mean that:
- The brokerage logo must be displayed on every page.
- The brokerage name must be displayed on every page. If the logo does not contain the brokerage’s name, the name must be added separately
- The brokerage address, phone number, email address,and web address, need to be available on the website and access to this information should be prominent. We suggest including this information on your contact page.