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Social Media is Not a Get Out of Jail Free Card When it Comes to Advertising Rules
Too often, agents are advertising listings on Facebook, but are not including their firm name. Firm names must be clear and conspicuous in all advertising, including social media. State law requires the firm’s name to be clear and conspicuous in all advertising. 

To comply with the Code of Ethics, advertisements must include:
  • Your firm’s name, in a reasonable and readily apparent manner. (SOP 12-5). 
  • Your status as a real estate professional.
  • On websites, the state where you hold a real estate license in a reasonable and readily apparent manner. (SOP 12-9). 
  • On websites, these disclosures may be made available via a link to a website that displays the required information. (SOP 12-5). 

452.136 Advertising by licensees.
(1) False advertising. A licensee may not advertise in a manner that is false, deceptive, or misleading.
(2) Disclosure of name.
(a) Except for advertisements for the rental of real estate owned by the licensee, a licensee shall in all advertising disclose the firm's name exactly as printed on the license of the licensed individual broker or licensed broker business entity or disclose a trade name previously filed by the firm with the department and shall in either case clearly indicate that the firm is a business enterprise and not a private party.
(b) Except for advertisements for the rental of real estate owned by the licensee, a licensee associated with a firm shall advertise under the supervision of and in the name of the firm. The firm's name as used in advertising shall be clear and conspicuous. This paragraph does not apply to a licensee engaged in independent practice as provided in s. 452.30 (6).
(c) Notwithstanding pars. (a) and (b), a licensee may advertise the occasional sale of real estate owned by the licensee or may engage in the occasional solicitation of real estate for purchase by the licensee without complying with pars. (a) and (b), provided that the licensee clearly identifies himself, herself, or itself as a real estate licensee in the advertisement.
Pathways to Professionalism
While the Code of Ethics and Standards of Practice of the National Association OF REALTORS® (NAR) establish objective, enforceable ethical standards governing the professional conduct of REALTORS®, it does not address issues of courtesy or etiquette. Based on input from many sources, the Professional Conduct Working Group of the Professional Standards Committee developed the following list of professional courtesies for use by REALTORS® on a voluntary basis. 

1) RESPECT FOR THE PUBLIC
  • Follow the “Golden Rule” – Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.
  • Respond promptly to inquiries and requests for information.
  • Schedule appointments and showings as far in advance as possible.
  • Call if you are delayed or must cancel an appointment or showing.
  • If a prospective buyer decides not to view an occupied home, promptly explain the situation to the listing broker or the occupant.
  • Communicate with all parties in a timely fashion.
  • When entering a property, ensure that unexpected situations, such as pets, are handled appropriately.
  • Leave your business card if not prohibited by local rules. Do not leave behind business cards that contain advertisement.
  • Never criticize property in the presence of the occupant.
  • Inform occupants that you are leaving after showings.
  • When showing an occupied home, always ring the doorbell or knock – and announce yourself loudly – before entering. Knock and announce yourself loudly before entering any closed room.
  • Present a professional appearance at all times; dress appropriately and drive a clean car.
  • If occupants are home during showings, ask their permission before using the telephone or bathroom.
  • Encourage the clients of other brokers to direct questions to their agent or representative.
  • Communicate clearly; don’t use jargon or slang that may not be readily understood.
  • Be aware of and respect cultural differences.
  • Show courtesy and respect to everyone.
  • Be aware of – and meet – all deadlines.
  • Promise only what you can deliver – and keep your promises.
  • Identify your REALTOR® and your professional status in contacts with the public.
  • Do not tell people what you think – tell them what you know.

2) RESPECT FOR PROPERTY
  • Be responsible for everyone you allow to enter listed property.
  • Never allow buyers to enter listed property unaccompanied. Never give out a lock box combination.
  • When showing property, keep all members of the group together.
  • Never allow unaccompanied access to property without permission.
  • Enter property only with permission even if you have a lockbox key or combination. Alert the listing agent immediately if the lock box does not open or malfunctions.
  • When the occupant is absent, leave the property as you found it (lights, heating, cooling, drapes, etc). If you think something is amiss (e.g. vandalism) contact the listing broker immediately. 
  • Be considerate of the seller’s property. Do not allow anyone to eat, drink, smoke, dispose of trash, use bathing or sleeping facilities, or bring pets. Leave the house as you found it unless instructed otherwise.
  • Use sidewalks; if weather is bad, take off shoes and boots inside property. Consider the use of shoe covers in inclement weather.
  • Politely remind parents to keep track of their children’s activities as children can wander unoccupied, or handle the sellers’ personal property.          
                   
3) RESPECT FOR PEERS
  • Identify your REALTOR® and professional status in all contacts with other REALTORS®.
  • Respond to other agents’ calls, faxes, and e-mails promptly and courteously.
  • Be aware that large electronic files with attachments or lengthy faxes may be a burden on recipients.
  • Notify the listing broker if there appears to be inaccurate information on the listing.
  • Share important information about a property, including the presence of pets; security systems; and whether sellers will be present during the showing.
  • Show courtesy, trust and respect to other real estate professionals.
  • Avoid the inappropriate use of endearments or other denigrating language.
  • Do not prospect at other REALTORS®’ open houses or similar events.
  • Return keys promptly.
  • Promptly provide showing reports to the listing agent.
  • Carefully replace keys in the lockbox after showings.
  • To be successful in the business, mutual respect is essential.
  • Real estate is a reputation business. What you do today may affect your reputation – and business – for years to come.
We hope you enjoyed Issue #10 of Ethics Exchange 2020 brought to you by the Greater Milwaukee Association of REALTORS® (GMAR). The GMAR created this newsletter, each issue dedicated to a unique issue, because the REALTOR® Code of Ethics, on which our industry is built, is the foundation of what it means to be a REALTOR®.
Your proactive support of the Code of Ethics will assure your fellow REALTORS®, as well as members of the public, that every member of GMAR operates under the highest ethical standards.
Questions, comments or concerns regarding this issue can be directed to
Scott Bush at the GMAR Office (414-778-4929 or scott@gmar.ws).