Promoting the Other Guy

Get authorization before you place that ad.

February 1, 2009

Q: Is it a violation of the Code of Ethics to advertise another broker's listing in print or on the Internet without permission from the listing agent or company? I plan to indicate the listing broker for each property in my ads, but I'll provide my company's name and contact info as well.

A: Article 12 of the Code of Ethics requires that REALTORS® be truthful in all advertising they do, and Standard of Practice 12-4 states clearly that "REALTORS® shall not offer for sale/lease or advertise property without authority."

As a listing broker, you obtain authority from the seller to advertise the property. But if the property isn't your listing, you would need to obtain authority from the listing broker before you promote the home, even if your ad gives credit to the other company as the listing agent. There may also be license law requirements in your state that prohibit you from advertising another broker's listing in print, even if you have authority from the listing broker.

The same principle holds true for displaying another broker's listings on your Web site, with one big exception: If you obtain another broker's listings as part of your MLS's Internet Data Exchange system, that means the broker already agreed to give other brokers the authority to display all of those listings.

Each MLS has rules that specify the process and format for displaying other brokers' listings on the Web. For example, your MLS's IDX rules may require that the listing broker's name appear in the online ad and that you display a particular "IDX logo" on other brokers' listings. As long as you're using your MLS IDX system and you're following your MLS's rules, you have the authority to display other brokers' listings on your Web site. If this is what you're planning, you're not in violation of Article 12 of the Code.

Bruce Aydt

Attorney Bruce Aydt, ABR, CRB, SRS, is a national real estate educator, a Missouri real estate broker, and past chair of the National Association of REALTORS® Professional Standards Committee.