Real Estate Advertising Ethics 101 - Superior School of Real Estate (2024)

Real Estate Advertising Ethics 101 - Superior School of Real Estate (1)

Real estate advertising ethics is abig problem in other countries with non-regulated real estate industries. Not so in the U.S. However, even in the well-regulated U.S. industry, real estate advertising ethics rules can be confusing. This article outlines several resources and tips that will help make the ethical guidelines more clear.

Where to find guidance on real estate advertising ethics

NAR Code of Ethics

When researching what real estate advertising ethics are required, the first place you should look is theNational Associaton of REALTORs® (NAR) Code of Ethics. Even if you are not a Realtor®, these are the industry ethics and standards of practice when dealing with all parties in real estate transactions. Follow these rules to stay out of trouble.

NAR Code of EthicsArticle 12requires honest and truthfulness in all real estate marketing and advertisem*nts. NAR’sAdvertise Ethicallyemphasizes a “true picture” with all advertisem*nts being “accurate and honest.” Standard of Practice 12-5 goes even further by requiring Realtors® to disclose the name of the firm when advertising real estate services or listed property in any medium. According to NAR’s5 Everyday Ethical Dilemmas, an advertising tagline like “The No. 1 Real Estate Agent For You” could violate Article 12—unless the Realtor® actually is the number one broker and can prove it.

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Federal and state laws

Besides NAR’s Code of Ethics, every state has its own Consumer Protection laws protecting consumers, and real estate laws covering brokers’ and agents’ conduct. While these laws vary among the 50 states, they all agree that false, misleading, and dishonest advertisem*nts are illegal. The lawyer who authoredConsumer Protection Laws and Your Businessclaims both state and federal laws make a misleading or deceiving ad unlawful even if it doesn’t fool anyone. In addition, there is a federal Consumer Protection law enforced by theFederal Trade Commission(FTC). The FTC investigates deceptive, unfair, and fraudulent business practices and files lawsuits against people and companies breaking the law.

Guidelines for advertising on your website

NAR’sInternet Advertising Policyrequires a Realtor® who is authorized to advertise or market real properties and/or real estate brokerage services on internet sites must provide the following information:

  • the name of the Realtor®;
  • the name of the brokerage with which the Realtor® is affiliated as that brokerage name is legally registered;
  • the city and state/province in which the Realtor® office is located; and
  • the regulatory jurisdiction(s) in which the Realtor® holds a brokerage or salesperson license.

Don’t advertise without authority

NAR considers advertising a property appearing in an MLS by a non–listing agent to be unethical. In NAR’sDon’t Advertise It Without ‘Authority,’the Standard of Practice 12-4 requires “authority” to advertise a listing coming from the listing agent who has a written listing agreement with the seller. There is an exception for Internet Data Exchange (IDX) rules from a Realtor®-operated MLS allowing listing brokers to provide blanket authority to all MLS members to advertise their listings on their websites. However, the IDX rules do not apply to other advertising media, like newspapers.

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Unethical real estate advertisem*nts lead to trouble

If you are a Realtor® and publish false, misleading, or deceitful ads, you can be disciplined by NAR or your local Board of Realtors®—resulting in fines or ejection from the board. In addition, whether you are a Realtor® or not,the injured parties can file lawsuitsagainst you and your brokerage firm in state and federal courts, which will cost you a lot of money. In addition, the FTC and your state Consumer Protection agency can investigate your ads and file lawsuits against you and your brokerage if they do not comply with their laws.

Real estate advertising ethics rules can be confusing. Aside from what you can’t advertise, follow these basic rules of thumb:

  • Only advertise listed properties with authorization from the listing agent.
  • Identify yourself as a real estate agent and include the name of the brokerage firm you work within all advertising.
  • Be totally honest in your advertising by avoiding exaggerations and misrepresentations about the property.
  • Follow the IDX rules for your MLS by only advertising listings on your website and not in newspapers or other media without authorization.

Real estate advertising ethics require authorization, honesty, and 100% transparency. The CCIM sums it all up, urging agents toDo the Right Thing “even if there isn’t a clear legal code in question.” They recommend strictly following NAR’s Code of Ethics, which imposes duties beyond what the federal and state laws require. Thus, you can avoid costly lawsuits while advertising in a manner that obtains results.

Real Estate Advertising Ethics 101 - Superior School of Real Estate (2024)


How often do you have to take an Ethics course for real estate in NC? ›

Brokers who are members of NAR are required to complete Code of Ethics Training once every triennial in order to remain in good standing as a REALTOR®. The course must include at least 2.5 hours of instructional time and is offered in distance format, via synchronous courses, or in-person.

What is the basic rule of advertising in real estate? ›

Only advertise listed properties with authorization from the listing agent. Identify yourself as a real estate agent and include the name of the brokerage firm you work within all advertising. Be totally honest in your advertising by avoiding exaggerations and misrepresentations about the property.

What are the three major sections of the Code of Ethics in real estate? ›

The Code of Ethics is divided into three major sections, "Duties to Clients and Customers," "Duties to the Public," and "Duties to REALTORS."

Who was known as the vulture of real estate? ›

Through graft and corruption, Boss Tweed became the third largest landowner in New York City. He defrauded thousands of real estate owners and cost the city of New York millions of dollars. In political cartoons he was often depicted as the “vulture of real estate.”

Is the NC real estate course hard? ›

The requirements for obtaining a North Carolina real estate license are some of the most challenging in the country. You want to make the most of what you learn in your coursework so you can pass your exam. Taking any test can be stressful, especially one that impacts your career.

What is the pass rate for the NC REALTOR exam? ›

If you decide to retake the exam, use this as a guide for your studies. The passing rate for the North Carolina Real Estate Provisional Broker Exam is 71%. This test is purposefully difficult, but not impossible. Be sure to pay attention during your pre-license course and take studying seriously.

What words are not allowed in real estate advertising? ›

“Oh yeah, in real estate advertising, you'll definitely pay fines if your ad includes words like empty nester, no children, perfect for two, golden age, mature, cripple, religion or religious . . . and there are others,” she answered.

What is the 1 rule in real estate? ›

The 1% rule of real estate investing measures the price of an investment property against the gross income it can generate. For a potential investment to pass the 1% rule, its monthly rent must equal at least 1% of the purchase price.

What is unethical Realtor behavior? ›

Unethical agents will often use fraudulent misrepresentation to win a listing, sell a property faster, or push for a property to sell faster. Such actions violate ethical standards and are illegal in many jurisdictions.

What is an ethical violation in real estate? ›

Code of Ethics Violations. Common real estate ethics complaints can include: Not acting in the best interests of clients. Revealing private or confidential information. Advertising a listed property without disclosing their Realtor status.

What is the Article 2 of the Realtor Code of Ethics? ›

REALTORS® refrain from exaggeration, misrepresentation, or concealment of pertinent facts related to property or transactions.

Who is the biggest real estate person? ›

While Ross' wealth declined, it's been a good year for Orange County, California-based Donald Bren, who remains the wealthiest real estate billionaire in the U.S. Bren's net worth is now estimated at $18 billion, up from $17.4 billion in 2022.

What is article 11 of the Code of Ethics? ›

Article 11 of the Realtor Code of Ethics states that realtors are obligated to provide their clients with competent services within the scope of their licensing. In the real estate industry, competence is critical. It involves a realtor being able to present their clients with factual information and recommendations.

Who is the most powerful leader in real estate? ›

The top 25 leaders in real estate for 2024
  • Ryan Schneider, President and CEO, Anywhere Real Estate.
  • Gary Keller, Co-Founder and Executive Chairman, Keller Williams Realty.
  • Gino Blefari, President and CEO, HomeServices of America.
  • Glenn Sanford, Founder and CEO, eXp World Holdings.
Jan 9, 2024

How often do you have to take the code of ethics? ›

Existing REALTOR® members must complete 2.5 hours of ethics training, meeting specific learning objectives and criteria, within three-year cycles.

What is the continuing education requirement in Ethics for agents in NC? ›

24 hours of Continuing Education, including a 3-hour Ethics course every Compliance Period.

How many hours of continuing education in Ethics must agents complete? ›

Complete a minimum of 24 continuing education (CE) credit hours for the license type, which shall include three hours of ethics CE training during each two-year license term.

How many times can you fail the NC real estate exam? ›

How many times can I take the exam in my 180-day eligibility? Applicants are not allowed to retake the license exam for at least 10 calendar days following a failed or missed exam. Other than that waiting period, there is no limit to the number of attempts during the 180-day eligibility period.


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