Welcome to Issue #22 of Ethics Thursday brought to you by the Greater Milwaukee Association of REALTORS ® (GMAR).
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).
With the advent of social media and it's growing prevalence, our industry is seeing some agents advertising properties on Craigslist, Facebook and other social media platforms without a listing contract which is unethical industry practice. Agents who conduct their business in this manner are putting their interest before that of their client which violates the National Association of REALTORS ® Code of Ethics. If found in violation, those individuals could be fined up to $15,000 and that fine does not include other penalties which may be imposed by the Department of Safety and Professional Services. 

It doesn’t take long for other agents who witness these practices to call the GMAR office and report the issue(s). In this inventory-challenged market, homebuyers see the “For Sale” sign and contact the agent they are already working with who are directly involved with that listing. In follow up, the agent refers to the MLS only to discover that the property is not listed there. These actions are an obvious attempt to circumvent the spirit of cooperation, which also violates MLS rules. This is a reputation business, and agents behaving badly, will earn the reputation they deserve. 

In the State of Wisconsin, real estate licenses are also required to have a current, valid listing contract in place before a property is advertised. In addition, an agent/broker must include the name of the firm and status as a real estate broker.  

Standard of Practice 12-5
REALTORS® shall not advertise nor permit any person employed by or affiliated with them to advertise real estate services or listed property in any medium (e.g., electronically, print, radio, television, etc.) without disclosing the name of that REALTOR®’s firm in a reasonable and readily apparent manner either in the advertisement or in electronic advertising via a link to a display with all required disclosures.  (Adopted 11/86, Amended 1/16)

For more information on this subject, here is a link to advertising regulations from the Wisconsin Realtors® Association.