Advertising

RECA has specific requirements in place surrounding advertising as a professional.

Advertising includes any activity, public notice, or representation an industry professional makes, or that someone makes on behalf of an industry professional, that promotes an industry professional or their services.

Important updates: “clearly indicated” brokerage names and team advertising

For more than a decade, RECA has required a “clearly indicated” brokerage name in industry advertisements. Council recently made important clarifications to this requirement to ensure advertising does not mislead consumers.

On October 1, 2019, the following changes will take effect:

1. “clearly indicated” means: the brokerage name must be similar in size or larger than other identifiers, and immediately adjacent to other identifiers in advertising.

2. RECA has an existing requirement that industry must “trade in real estate/deal in mortgages only in the name that appears on that individual’s licence”. As it relates to “team” advertising, Council expanded this requirement to include “the name of at least one licensed team member, as it appears on the individual’s licence, must appear in any team advertising.”

3. Council has prohibited specific words and terms that may suggest to consumers, or create the impression, the team is a brokerage.

  • The prohibited terms include: Agency, Associates, Brokerage, Brokers, Company, Corporation, Corp., Inc., Ltd., LLC, LLP, Mortgage,* Properties, Property, Realty,* Mortgages,* Real Estate*

*Exceptions: “Mortgages,” “Mortgage,” “Real Estate,” and “Realty” may be used in team names only when followed immediately by one of two terms; either “team” or “group.”

While these clarifications will take effect on October 1, 2019, RECA will give industry professionals and teams six additional months (until March 31, 2020) during which they may advertise with “formerly known as.” After this, RECA will take a zero-tolerance approach.

Brokerages should have detailed policies and procedures for how individuals or teams registered with the brokerage should advertise the brokerage name and branding. Associates should have their broker review and approve their advertisements. Franchised brokerages may also have specific brand guidelines for advertisements.

The brokerage name must appear exactly as it is on the brokerage licence on all advertisements. You must not abbreviate the brokerage name in advertisements.


Misleading advertising about who consumers will actually be hiring, whether intentionally misleading or not, is a serious issue in the industry in Alberta.

Consumers must know who they are hiring, or potentially hiring. They must understand the role of the brokerage, the role of the brokerage representative or designated agent, and the role of the “team,” if any.

Do you need some general guidance on the clarified guidelines? Contact us at info@reca.ca.

 

Compliance tools

RECA has a variety of tools to help industry comply with the advertising guidelines:

visual examples of what’s acceptable or not acceptable across advertising products

 a step-by-step process to ensure your advertisements meet the latest guidelines

 brokers can request a presentation to your brokerage by contacting our practice advisors

 

Team and personal brand advertising

A team is two or more real estate or mortgage broker professionals who work together on a regular basis, represent themselves to the public as one entity, and typically designate themselves a name that indicates they are a team or group.

Words like Agency, Associates, Company, Corporation, Inc., Ltd., Mortgages, Property, Realty, etc. give the impression of a brokerage. Teams or individuals with these terms in their branding can lead consumers to believe the team IS a brokerage.

When your team name is Your Name & Associates, it implies that the “associates” in the team work for and are licensed with the team, with the team leader as broker. But in reality, all the team members, including the team leader, are part of the larger brokerage.

If your personal branding is Jane Doe Real Estate, it implies your company is a brokerage, and it could mislead consumers into thinking they are hiring Jane Doe Real Estate, when they are in fact hiring Jane Doe’s brokerage.

Avoid using these terms in your team names and personal branding, and you will not mislead the public into thinking your team or your personal brand is a brokerage.


General Advertising & Personal Brands: A Reminder

  • If you include a name in industry advertising, it must be your name as it appears on your licence. Reminder: if you’d like to use an “AKA” name, be sure to register this name with RECA through your myRECA account.
  • If you use any identifier other than your brokerage name (e.g. personal brand, username, nickname) you must also include your name as it appears on your licence.

Social Media

  • The advertising guidelines apply to social media.
  • If you mention your industry affiliation/services/activity on your social media, RECA considers this advertising. Social media profiles that are strictly for personal use (i.e. do not include any industry information) do not apply.

Profile pages:

If you communicate about your industry affiliation/services/activity on social media, your social media profile page must include:

  1. Your brokerage (clearly indicated)
  2. Your name as it appears on your licence (social media platforms require user identification)
  3. If you’re in a team, the name of at least one licensed professional on the team

Best practice: where possible, include your brokerage in your username, and/or use a banner image that includes your name & your brokerage branding.

Posts:

  • Social media posts need to include your brokerage if the post includes content that promotes your industry affiliation/services/activity (e.g. listings, incentives).
  • Social media posts that are personal in nature, or that promote other services, do not need to include your brokerage (e.g. industry news, trend data, non-industry information/services).

In other words: if a consumer can act upon your post in a way that furthers your business as an industry professional, include your brokerage in that post. For instance, if a consumer can contact you directly from that post, or visit an open house or listing with the property address in the post, include your brokerage. If your post is simply informational and requires another click to get to any relevant information about your business as an industry professional (and your brokerage information is included where they land after clicking), you don’t require your brokerage in the post.

Multimedia & Digital Ads:

  • Videos must include your brokerage (clearly indicated), and if you are an individual and choose to include a name or personal brand, you must include your name as it appears on your licence. If you are advertising as a team, you must include the name of at least one licensed team member.
  • Any paid digital advertising, including boosted social media posts, must have your brokerage (clearly indicated), and if you are an individual and choose to include a name or personal brand, you must include your name as it appears on your licence. If you are advertising as a team, you must include the name of at least one licensed team member.

advertising on social media


RECA understands that effective oversight in different business models may require brokers to delegate some of their duties and responsibilities to competent and qualified individuals in their brokerage. These models must comply with the standards set out in the Real Estate Act Rules, and brokers must consistently apply the proper procedures when delegating authority.

To be clear: when a broker delegates duties and responsibilities, they do not delegate the broker’s accountability for the conduct of the delegate, or the conduct of the licensed professionals or employees of the brokerage. The delegate—team leader or otherwise—does not become the broker.

For more information, read the Information Bulletin, Brokers—Delegation.


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What does RECA consider an advertisement?

Advertising includes any activity, public notice, or representation an industry professional makes or that someone makes on behalf of an industry professional that promotes an industry professional or their services.

More specifically, advertisements are commonly:

  • Print ads, including flyers and home listing documents
  • Brochures
  • For sale signs
  • Billboards
  • Websites
  • Business cards
  • Bus benches
  • Digital/social media ads

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Can I advertise myself as part of a "team?"

Yes. RECA allows industry professionals to advertise themselves as part of a team, group or partnership as long as the advertisements do not create the impression the team is a brokerage, do not include the prohibited terms, and include at least one person’s name as it appears on their licence.

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Can an individual brand themselves using the prohibited terms?

Only if by using the terms they do not mislead consumers, intentionally or not, into thinking the individual is the brokerage.

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Do the prohibited terms apply to slogans?

In some cases, yes. In other cases, no.

For example, “Catherine James—Your Local Real Estate Expert,” is an acceptable slogan even though “Real Estate” is a prohibited term. However, “Catherine James Real Estate” creates the impression that Catherine James has her own brokerage and therefore would not be compliant with the requirements.

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Does the clearly indicated rule apply to my website?

Yes. Your brokerage name must be clearly indicated on all pages of your website. An efficient way to do this is to have the brokerage name on the header of your website. In this case, the header should remain the same on all pages of your website so the brokerage name is visible on each page.

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Do the requirements apply to website domain names?

No. That said, please keep in mind that website domain names are not allowed to be the primary identifier in any industry advertising, unless your registered brokerage name is a website domain name.



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