Media Contact: Eric Berman - 781-839-5507 - eberman@marealtor.com

Notes from the MAR Legal Hotline: Social Media Marketing Smarts

by Michael McDonagh, ESQ. - MAR General Counsel & Justin Davidson, ESQ. - MAR Legislative & Regulatory Counsel | Feb 28, 2017
Your clients live in their social media feeds, so that’s where you want to be too. However, when it comes to using social media for marketing your properties, there are some dos and don’ts you need to be aware of.
Q: My company wants to start advertising our listings on social media. How can I be sure that I am making the proper disclosures?

A: Whether the property is being promoted in a newspaper or on the internet, brokers must disclose the name of their brokerage, as well as their status as a real estate professional. Massachusetts Regulation 254 CMR 3.00(9) states that, “A broker shall not advertise in any way that is false or misleading,” and “all advertisements shall include the name of the real estate broker.” The Realtor® Code of Ethics states
that:

“Realtors® shall be honest and truthful in their real estate communications and shall
present a true picture in their advertising, marketing, and other representations. Realtors® shall ensure that their status as real estate professionals is readily apparent in their advertising, marketing, and other representations, and that the recipients of all real estate communications are, or have been, notified that those communications
are from a real estate professional.” 

Standard of Practice 12-5 goes on to say that:

“Realtors® shall not advertise nor permit any person employed by or affiliated with them to advertise real estate services or listed property in any medium (e.g., electronically,
print, radio, television, etc.) without disclosing the name of that Realtor®’s firm in a reasonable and readily apparent manner.” 

Standard of Practice 12-5 of the Realtor® Code of Ethics was amended in 2011 to address social media and advertisements. Specifically, it states: 

“This Standard of Practice acknowledges that disclosing the name of the firm may not be practical in electronic displays of limited information (e.g., “thumbnails”, text messages, “tweets”, etc.). Such displays are exempt from the disclosure requirement established in this Standard of Practice, but only when linked to a display that includes all required disclosures.”

Therefore, in each social media advertisement, you must be sure to include a link to another page, most likely your firms website, which includes the name of your
brokerage. 

You should also keep in mind that Massachusetts License law prohibits salespersons from advertising under their own name. Therefore, it is recommended that salespeople who wish to advertise their listings via social media should do so in a manner that clearly identifies their status as a real estate professional, as well as the name of their brokerage.

Q: I am a buyer's agent and want to showcase some other brokerages' listings on my social media page to attract buyerclients. I think this is a win-win, because I will help the sellers get exposure, and I will also attract clients. Is this an acceptable practice?

A: Probably not. Advertising another firm's listing on your social media page could be construed as misleading to prospective buyers, because they might assume that the
listing is your own. Furthermore, Standard of Practice 12-4 prohibits Realtors® from advertising without authority. If the seller's agent and their client did not give you
permission to advertise this listing, this is likely a violation of Article 12, and possibly of Massachusetts regulations.