By Attorney Jarrod Etheridge
The Florida Real Estate Commission (FREC) has published the final version of Rule 61J2-10.026, which governs group or team advertising. This new FREC Team Advertising Rules impact office procedures and team advertising.
New FREC Team Advertising Rules go into effect July 1, 2019
Effective July 1, 2019, this rule is set to create some serious changes in the real estate industry. The reasoning behind the rule is that FREC was receiving complaints from the general public who were often being confused or misled as to who, or what they were dealing with during a real estate deal.
Group/Team names were often being mistaken to be the name of the real estate brokerage, and clients were often unable to determine whether they were dealing with an agent, a broker or brokerage. Under Florida law, only a broker is allowed to use a fictitious name. For example, Keller Williams, Coldwell Banker, Tavistock, etc. A sales or broker associate operating under a Florida entity is required to name the entity after themselves. By creating team names including certain words, FREC believes realtors are crossing this line.
What are some of the words no longer allowed in real estate team names?
Under the new rule, FREC has released an extensive non-exhaustive list of words that are no longer allowed to be included in team names. Whereas realtor teams are allowed to use the words “team” or “group,” almost every real estate team in existence uses one of the now prohibited words: (a) Agency (b) Associates (c) Brokerage (d) Brokers (e) Company (f) Corporation (g) Corp. (h) Inc. (i) LLC (j) LP, LLP or Partnership (k) Properties (l) Property (m) Real Estate (n) Realty (o) Or similar words suggesting the team or group is a separate real estate brokerage or company.
If your team name still meets the above, you are not out of the woods yet. The new rule also provides that on any advertisements containing the team name of any form, registered brokers must maintain a design where “the name of the team shall not appear in larger print than the name or logo of the registered brokerage.
All advertisements must be designed in a manner in which reasonable persons would know they are dealing with a team or group.” Check your business cards, website, mailers, etc., if your team or group advertising contains a name that is in a bigger font than the name OR logo of your brokerage, you are out of compliance with the new rules.
This is certainly a good time to be in the business of promotional items because almost every real estate agent in Orlando is going to be scrambling to get new business cards and other promotional items.
Do the new FREC Team Advertising Rules affect teams made up of agents from multiple brokerages?
For those very few teams whose names are still valid, the rule also adds a component requiring all real estate teams to be comprised of members of the same brokerage or under the supervision of the same broker. FREC is no longer going to allow agents from multiple brokerages to act under a single team.
What to do right now…
The Orlando Law Group is here to help if you need someone to review your current advertising schemes to make sure you are in compliance with the new rules. Judging by the drastic changes pushed forward with this rule, we do not recommend continuing to use any advertisements that are out of compliance starting July 1, 2019.