Advertising Guidelines

Guidelines
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house with for sale sign
  • Guidelines

    BCFSA’s Guidelines provide a practical application of the information and give suggested best practice guidance to assist real estate professionals. These guidelines provide BCFSA’s interpretation of RESA and all other applicable legislation.

    In addition, BCFSA’s Guidelines may be a useful information source for the general public looking for information about standards of conduct for real estate professionals.

Purpose

Advertising is a key way real estate professionals attract new clients. Advertising can take many forms including print, radio, television, and direct mail. If done right, advertising can influence who a consumer hires when they need services.

Consumers rely heavily on the content of advertisements, so it is important that any information you include is truthful, accurate, and not misleading. Consumers must also be able to readily identify who the advertisement is for so the brokerage name must be included in a clear, prominent, and easily readable way.

  1. Be clear who is providing real estate services.
  2. Ensure your advertising is truthful and accurate.

Guidelines

Be Clear Who Is Providing Real Estate Services

You must remember that the obligations under the Real Estate Services Rules (“Rules”) to ensure your brokerage name is clearly indicated, and that you only advertise your name as approved by BCFSA in all print advertising, there are many other forms of advertising that you must ensure is compliant.

(a) Radio Advertising

The obligation for the brokerage name to be clearly indicated remains when advertising on the radio. You must ensure that your name is advertised the same way it appears on your licence or a short form of your name that is approved by BCFSA.

BCFSA will consider the prominence of the brokerage’s name in relation to the rest of the advertisement and the relative ease with which a consumer can identify the brokerage.

(b) Social Media

If you are using social media for business purposes, you must include the name of your related brokerage on your profile screen. Each post is not required to contain the name of the brokerage.

All social media platforms that you use to market your services or properties must follow the same guidelines as all other print advertising.

(c) Co-listings

When co-listing properties for sale, all advertising in relation to that property must clearly include both brokerage’s names. If a brokerage address is also used, then it must be clear which address belongs to which brokerage. You and your co-lister must ensure that it is obvious to any consumer who belongs to which brokerage.

(d) Teams

All team names used in advertising must be approved by BCFSA. When submitting a team name for approval, you must also include the names of all members who will be a part of the team.

Teams may identify themselves by team name in advertisements, but the brokerage name must also be prominently displayed and must be easily readable in relation to the rest of the advertisement. All advertising that includes the names of unlicensed team members must identify them as being unlicensed.

Read the regulatory information on agency

(e) Foreign Language Advertisements

Translations of brokerage names into other languages is not acceptable. Your name and the name of your brokerage and personal real estate corporation/team must be reflected as registered by BCFSA.

Ensure Your Advertising Is Truthful and Accurate

You must never publish any advertising, in any format that you know, or ought to, know is false or that could potentially mislead a consumer.

(a) Keeping Information Current

Listing information must be kept current and accurate. You must ensure that when listings have expired, they are immediately removed from websites. Similarly, if property information changes during a listing period, the information posted on websites should be changed.

You should not advertise other real estate professional’s listings directly on your own website without permission from the listing agent. If this permission is given, you should not alter any of the listing information without approval of the listing agent. If linking to an outside database of available properties, it should be clear to consumers which listings are yours and which are not.

If you are a member of a real estate board, you should check for any specific advertising requirements in addition to BCFSA’s guidelines.

(b) Safeguard Client Information

As with all other aspects of providing real estate services to a client, the Real Estate Services Rules require that you always maintain your client’s confidentiality. This is true when advertising as well.

Advertising your client’s motivation for selling or their bottom-line price, without their permission, would be a violation of the Real Estate Services Rules and leave you subject to sanction. If you believe that indicating personal information or motivation in an advertisement would be to the benefit of your client, you can get their permission to include such statements. To protect yourself in case of a future complaint you should get that permission in writing.

It is also advisable to have your clients review all advertisements before they are published. Having them sign off on your marketing will protect you and ensure that they are able to verify any claims made.

(c) Promises or Offers

If a promise or offer is made in any advertising, any conditions or limitations must be clearly indicated. Additionally, full written details of the terms, conditions or limitations of the promise or offer must be available.

(d) Comparative Claim / Business Volume / Honour or Award

If a comparative claim, business volume, honour or award is noted in any advertising, the basis of the claim/volume/honour/award, (e.g., the source, date, and qualifying information) needs to be included to avoid misleading the audience.

(e) Photo-enhancing Software

Photo-enhancing computer applications make it easy to manipulate photographs in a variety of ways. When using photographs in advertising materials, you must use caution so as to not alter or enhance photographs in any way that would misrepresent aspects of the property.

While editing out such items as a garbage can or an automobile parked in a driveway would be acceptable, removing nearby power lines or changing any physical characteristic of a property such that it results in a misrepresentation would not be acceptable.

Relevant Cases

Case #1: Advertising as Unregistered Team; Advertisement Included Unlicensed Individual Without Identifying Them as Unlicensed

The licensee contravened BCFSA’s advertising requirements by

a.) Advertising under a team name that had not been registered with BCFSA;

b.) Including an unlicensed individual in the advertising without identifying her as an unlicensed assistant; and

c.) Advertising an individual as providing mortgage services as part of the team when he knew or ought to have known that individual was not licensed to provide those services.

Contraventions: Section [False or misleading advertising prohibited] of the Rules, among other provisions

Read the full case

Mr. X., the ex-husband of the licensee’s client, was the registered owner of the property. The licensee stated that his client told him that she was the beneficial owner of the property, that Mr. X held the property in trust for her, and that she was granted a power of attorney by Mr. X to deal with the sale of the property. In fact, at the time that the listing agreement was entered into and at the time the listing for the property was published on MLS®, this was not the case. Legal authority to deal with the sale of the property was eventually granted by Mr. X to the licensee’s client, but only after the listing for the property had already been published on MLS®.

The licensee was found to have failed to take reasonable steps to verify that an individual who purported to have the authority to deal with the sale of the property actually had the legal authority to do so. Furthermore, the licensee was found to have published real estate advertising, in the form of a listing for the property on MLS®, without obtaining consent of the registered owner of the property or an authorized agent of the registered owner.

Contraventions: Sections [Act honestly] and [Advertising in relation to specific real estate] of the Rules

Read the full case

Case #3: Incorrect Square Footage on MLS® Listing

The MLS® listing for the property represented that the total square footage of the property was 1,375 square feet. After the completion of the purchase and sale of the property, the buyers were advised by their insurance company that the property was only approximately 1,000 square feet, not 1,375 square feet as represented on the listing. Having been advised of this, the buyer’s representative measured the property and determined that it was indeed 1,032 square feet. The licensee stated that the perimeter which he had on file for the property was 22x47, which yields a square footage of 1,034 square feet. The buyer’s representative was unsure how this error occurred but surmised that when the property was listed on the MLS®, the perimeter was entered in error as 22x67 which, less the staircase which is approximately 99 square feet, would equal 1,375 square feet.

Contraventions: Sections [Act honestly and with reasonable care and skill] and [False or misleading advertising prohibited] of the Rules

Read the full case

Failure to Include Licensee and Brokerage Name in Advertisement

The licensee published advertisements for rental properties on Craigslist that did not include the licensee’s name or the name of their brokerage. The licensee stated that they were only trying to assist the owners of the properties, as the owners did not speak English and they were often out of the country, and that the licensee did not receive any remuneration from the owners of the properties for real estate services. However, none of those factors relieved the licensee from complying with the requirement to clearly indicate the licensee’s name and display the name of her brokerage in a prominent and easily readable way, in the advertisements.

Contraventions: Sections [Licensee names must be indicated] and [Restrictions and requirements related to advertising generally] of the Rules, among other provisions

Read the full case

Managing Broker Considerations

As a managing broker you must ensure your real estate professionals are aware of the obligations when it comes to advertising any services and properties they may be listing or renting. All advertising that your real estate professionals create is done on behalf of the brokerage and you are responsible for ensuring it is compliant.

You can help keep advertising requirements front of mind for everyone at the brokerage by having regular meetings which discuss specific advertising and pitfalls. You may also wish to create a set of brokerage policies around advertising that all real estate professionals must follow.

Once a real estate professional leaves your brokerage for any reason (e.g., transfers to another brokerage or retires), you are responsible for ensuring that any ongoing advertising campaigns are terminated. This would include sale signs on a brokerage client’s property. Reminding all real estate professionals of their obligations to terminate their advertising once they cease being licensed with your brokerage will make this easier.

Applicable Section of RESA/Real Estate Services Regulation/Real Estate Services Rules

  • Section 37, Real Estate Services Rules, Restrictions relating to home and other personal offices
  • Section 40, Real Estate Services Rules, Restrictions and requirements related to advertising generally
  • Section 41, Real Estate Services Rules, False or misleading advertising prohibited
  • Section 42, Real Estate Services Rules, Advertising in relation to specific real estate

Definitions

Publish: in relation to real estate advertising, includes:

  1. causing or permitting real estate advertising to be published, and
  2. displaying real estate advertising, or causing or permitting real estate advertising to be displayed

“real estate advertising” means any form of identification, promotion, solicitation, or representation relating to:

  1. real estate,
  2. a trade in real estate, or
  3. the provision of real estate services,
  4. including a sign or other notice relating to real estate, a trade in real estate or the provision of real estate services