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.
For more information, review RECA’s Advertising Guidelines.
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.
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.
It’s about consumer protection
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.
Not sure if your advertisements comply? Contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
RECA has a variety of tools to help industry comply with the advertising guidelines:
Team and personal brand advertising
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.
Proper broker delegation: a reminder
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.
Frequently Asked Questions
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:
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.
Only if by using the terms they do not mislead consumers, intentionally or not, into thinking the individual is the brokerage.
In some cases, yes. In other cases, no. “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.
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.
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.