The Texas Real Estate Commission met on Monday and adopted amendments to existing rules and proposed several more. View the meeting materials packet, which provides more details about all the changes, on TREC’s website. Here’s a breakdown of the adoption and proposals that relate to advertising. Find a list of other rule changes proposed by TREC here.
A change to your advertising rules …
You’re no longer required to include the terms broker, agent, or a similar designation or term in your advertisements. This change is effective September 1 as a result of a law passed during this year’s legislative session. This law passed thanks to legislative efforts from the Texas Association of REALTORS®. TREC made an emergency adoption of this rule during the meeting to comply with the law.
You can’t publish an advertisement that implies a sales agent is responsible for the operation of a brokerage or that fails to include the name of the broker for whom the license holder acts, which can be the licensed name, assumed name, or trade name of the broker as authorized by law and registered with TREC.
Keep in mind that Article 12 of the NAR Code of Ethics still requires you to ensure that your status as a real estate professional is readily apparent in your advertising. According to NAR’s Professionalism in Real Estate Practice publication, “this may be accomplished by including the terms REALTOR® , REALTORS®, or REALTOR® Associate, or by disclosing their status as a licensed broker, appraiser, property manager, or other real estate professional.” Violations of Article 12 are determined by a Professional Standards Hearing Panel.
… and a new advertising rule proposal
TREC proposed repealing and replacing Section 535.154, Advertising, to align with statutory changes adopted by the 85th Legislature and splits the current rule into two separate rules.
Here are some highlights of the proposed rules:
Registration of alternate, team, and assumed business names with TREC. Before using an alternate, team, or assumed name in advertising, the license holder, broker sponsoring a team, or broker using an assumed business name must first register the name with TREC on a TREC-approved form. Registration is not a change from the current rule, but the new rules define and distinguish between these names.
New provisions about team names. The proposed rules define team names and explain how they can be used in advertising. The proposed rules mention the following:
- A team name may not include any terms that could mislead consumers into thinking the team is offering brokerage services independent of the sponsoring broker. Team names can’t use certain terms, such as realty, brokerage, company, and associates.
- A team name must end with the word “team” or “group”.
- An ad needs to include the broker’s name—which is not a change from the current rule—but a team name is not considered a broker’s name.
Social media and texting clarification. Proposed Section 535.155(c) states, “For an advertisement on social media or by text, the information required by this section may be located on a separate page or on the account user profile page of the license holder, if the separate page or account user profile is:
- readily accessible by a direct link from the social media or text; and
- readily noticeable on the separate page or in the account user profile.”
The “information required by this section” means the name of the license holder placing the ad and the broker’s name.
Addition to what is considered deceptive or misleading. The proposed rules add that sales agents’ advertisements that use titles such as owner, president, CEO, COO, or other similar titles would be considered a deceptive or misleading ad.
These are just a few items in the proposed new rules. See Agenda Item 26b-c starting on page 315 of the TREC Meeting Materials packet for all proposed changes.
When would new advertising rules go into effect?
The earliest these proposed rules could be adopted is during the next TREC meeting, scheduled for November 13. If adopted, TREC has recommended that the effective date be six months after the rules’ adoption date, so license holders have time to comply.
Share your feedback on proposed rule changes with TREC
You can provide comments about these proposed rule changes for at least 30 days after they are published in the Texas Register by emailing email@example.com. Enter “Texas Real Estate Commission” in the Agency Name field on this page to find TREC rules published in the Texas Register.
Comments made on this blog post will not be read by TREC and do not count as official feedback on proposed rule changes.
But wait … there’s more
TREC covered a lot of topics during its August 7 meeting. Stay tuned for more blog posts in the coming days that will detail additional takeaways from the meeting by signing up to receive Advice for Texas REALTOR® blog emails to get notified when new posts are available.
Other adopted or proposed rule changes from TREC:
- Does your linked IABS form comply with TREC rules? New proposal aims to clarify what’s required
- Proposed changes to requirements for the Consumer Protection Notice
- Proposed limits for when lawyers can draft contracts for principals who aren’t their clients
- Rule amendment that would affect availability of TAR forms
- TREC proposes two new forms
- Changes to earnest money and other paragraphs proposed
- Broker-related rule changes adopted
- TREC proposes changes to statements for BPOs and CMAs