REALTOR® P was a non-principal broker licensed with XYZ, REALTORS® whose forte was listing residential property. Noted prominently on REALTOR® P’s website was the banner: “Sold by REALTOR® P!” Under that banner were addresses of nearly a hundred properties REALTOR® P had listed, and which had been sold either through REALTOR® P’s efforts or through the efforts of cooperating brokers.
Seeking new opportunities, REALTOR® P ended his relationship with XYZ and affiliated with ABC, REALTORS®. REALTOR® P promptly revised the information on his website to prominently display the name of his new firm in a readily apparent manner. He also continued to display the lengthy list of properties that he had listed, and which had sold, while REALTOR® P was affiliated with XYZ.
His departure from XYZ had been on good terms, so REALTOR® P was taken aback to receive a complaint brought by his former principal broker, REALTOR® D, alleging that REALTOR® P’s website display of sold listings violated Article 12, as interpreted by Standard of Practice 12-7.
At the hearing, the complainant noted that Standard of Practice 12-7 provides, in relevant part, “Only REALTORS® who participated in the transaction as a listing broker or cooperating broker (selling broker) may claim to have ‘sold’ the property.” “It was XYZ, REALTORS®,” REALTOR® D added, “that was the listing broker in these transactions, not our former sales associate, REALTOR® P. His advertising of our listings and sales under the banner of his new firm ABC, REALTORS®, is unauthorized and misleading to consumers who will get the impression that ABC was involved in these transactions when that is simply not true.”
REALTOR® P defended himself and his website pointing out that he had listed each of the properties displayed on his website, and the only thing that had changed was his firm affiliation. He directed the hearing panel’s attention to the disclaimer at the end of the list of properties that read, “Each of these properties was listed by REALTOR® P over the past seven years. For much of that time, I was affiliated with another firm.”
The hearing panel agreed with REALTOR® P’s defense, noting that consumers would understand that some of the sales had occurred while REALTOR® P was affiliated with a different firm. Consequently, REALTOR® P was found not in violation of Article 12.