The Financial and Consumer Services Commission (FCNB) has received a significant increase in complaints about social media advertising in the real estate industry.
Agents, and the managers and salespersons who work for agents (licensees), must ensure that all advertising, including on social media and the Internet, complies with the Real Estate Agents Act (the Act).
All advertising by licensees to promote trade in real estate must clearly indicate the agent’s name. This includes advertising by managers and salespersons working for agents. The agent refers to the real estate company or individual licensed as the agent. The specific requirements for advertising can be found in the Act.
As a best practice, the name of the agent should be prominent and easy for consumers to find on all Internet and social media advertising. The name of the agent should be clearly displayed at or near the top of a website or social media page.
If a social media account is for both personal and professional purposes, licensees must make sure that each post/message relating to a trade in real estate meets the advertising requirements.
The Act prohibits licensees from using false, misleading, or deceptive statements in advertising materials.
Teams can advertise a team name or “brand” only if it appears in addition to the agent’s name, which needs to be clearly indicated and easy for consumers to see. As teams are not licensed agents, they should be careful to avoid any behaviour, including their choice of team name, branding and advertising activities, that could mislead consumers by giving the impression the team is a licensed agent. Generally, teams will not be permitted to use the words “Real Estate” or “Realty” in their team advertising.
The Facebook image below shows some best practices:
- The agent’s name is displayed in a fixed location, and in the ideal location: the “intro section”
- Including the franchise logo in pictures is ideal, but not enough. In addition to the logo, the name of the agent is also clearly indicated (as required by the Act).
All advertising carried out by licensed individuals – and their teams – must include the name of their licensed agent. As a best practice, we recommend that each agent has a team advertising policy so industry professionals can understand the regulatory requirements. As well, teams should ideally be getting their agent’s review and approval before creating or launching any branding or advertising campaigns. It is our expectation that anyone in a manager’s role would be working with salespersons and their teams to ensure advertising complies with the Act.
Financial and Consumer Services Commission
Consumer Affairs Division
Director of Consumer Affairs
3 August 2023