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Case Interpretation Regarding Article 12--
Exaggeration in Advertising
(Reaffirmed Case #19-4 May, 1988. Transferred to Article 12 November, 1994. Revised November, 2001 and May, 2017.)

Prospect A noted REALTOR® B’s advertisement on his website describing a home with five acres “about 20 miles from the city” giving directions to the “modern 3-bedroom home, well maintained, and set in a charmingly landscaped site.”

After visiting the property, Prospect A filed a complaint with the Association of REALTORS® complaining of the gross exaggeration contained in the advertisement, which had induced him to waste time and money in inspecting the property. The property, he said, was actually 36 miles from the city limits. Its wood-lath support for plaster, which was visible in many large breaks in the walls, indicated it to be 80 years old or more. There was no evidence of painting in recent years. Several windows were broken, half of the back steps were missing. The house was located at the end of a crude dirt road in a small cleared area that had become densely overgrown in weeds— a picture of extreme neglect.

REALTOR® B was notified of the charge of misleading advertising, and a hearing was held. REALTOR® B criticized the complainant for bringing the matter to the Association, pointing out that Prospect A had failed to mention that the property was priced at only $90,000; that at such a price it was an exceptionally good buy to anyone looking for a small place with a few acres; that to get attention to such properties it was necessary to do a bit of “puffing” to attract attention in advertising; that as a matter of fact the general lines of the house were similar to many of modern design; that the house had been well enough maintained to be salvageable by anyone who would do a reasonable amount of work on it; and that, in his opinion, the site was truly “charming” in its rugged simplicity.

The Hearing Panel concluded that REALTOR® B had used gross exaggeration in his advertisement and was found in violation of Article 12 of the Code of Ethics.
We hope you enjoyed Issue #13 of Ethics Exchange 2021 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 [email protected]).