Wow, this really is the era of pushing the limits. Every single day it seems I see another agent’s email signature, flyer, Facebook page, YouTube video or other media clearly showing their name, their team name, their cell phone number and little else. I’m here to warn you, this cannot last.
The Kansas Real Estate Commission and the Missouri Real Estate Commission have a set of rules we all learned when we got our licenses. One of those rules states we must clearly state our brokerage on all forms of advertising.
Here’s the Kansas rule:
(b) Except as specified by subsection (c), all advertising conducted by a licensee shall: (A) Be conducted under the direct supervision of the supervising broker or branch broker; (B) include the name of the supervising broker’s trade name or business name by prominently and conspicuously displaying or announcing the supervising broker’s trade name or business name in a readable and identifiable manner; and (C) include any other information that the supervising broker or branch broker considers necessary.
And here’s Missouri’s:
(3) Every advertisement of real estate by a licensee where the licensee has no interest in the real estate shall be made under the direct supervision and in the name of the broker or firm who holds the licensee’s license. If the licensee’s name or telephone number, or both, is used in any advertisement, the advertisement also shall include the name and telephone number of the broker or firm who holds the licensee’s license.
In school, we learned this was for the protection of the consumer. The consumer needs to clearly understand we are licensed real estate agents working under a certain brokerage. Why? Isn’t this just another blog post warning about those stupid rules? Why do I need to follow those? It’s just something my broker created so I can advertise them instead of me!!! It’s my business, my leads belong to me and if I put the company’s name on anything, those leads will be lost through the office.
Don’t get me wrong. I’m all for agent branding, niche marketing, personal websites, Facebook business pages and all facets of creative real estate marketing. However, I really think we should all try to protect the consumer. Here’s the issue. If a consumer is working with us and something goes wrong, they have no idea there’s a bigger company behind that agent, and in turn, feels there’s nobody to turn to about an issue. <—-That, my friends, is a BIG problem. We’ve spent 102 years creating a better profession. 102 years of becoming better, more ethical, more protective of the people we serve.
And now, after 102 years, everyone decides they want to build their personal brand and disregard the rules set forth by the real estate commissions. It’s misleading which also makes it unethical, which means you’re freely using the distinction of being a REALTOR that subscribes to the Code of Ethics while blatantly going against it.
Not only that, a large majority of agents belong to a company that’s part of a larger franchise. Our company agreements with those franchises clearly state the company name under which we operate. Manipulating that company name for your personal use by leaving off or rearranging words violates that franchise agreement. Who cares? Well, I bet the franchise cares. The broker definitely cares.. YOU should care. You see, manipulating the name of the company DILUTES THE BRAND. Why did you choose the company in the first place? The reputation of the brand? The popularity of the brand? The size of the brand? And here you come along and do anything you want to dilute that message Lets take a brand like Starbucks and consider the thought of every single Starbucks store creating their own Facebook page. One employee names their page Starbucks Coffee Store, another one types it in wrong and goes by Storbucks, another goes by Your KC Starbucks, how about Starbucks Local….. You get the point. It dilutes the brand. Unfortunately and fortunately, the real estate world operates differently. Agents are allowed and encouraged to create a brand within a brand. (As long as it meets the company guidelines and the real estate commission guidelines and the NAR Code of Ethics)
Dear consumers, on behalf of the real estate community, I truly apologize. We’ve let this issue get so far out of hand, we’ll need to fight hard to find our way back. Please know, it’s okay to ask an agent about the company they’re associated with. It’s okay to find out the name of their managing broker. After all, this was created for your protection.
I’ll get off my soapbox now, but not without warning. More rules are coming. Stricter protection of the rules will happen. Tell me, what’s really the harm in complying? What’s the harm in having a chat with your broker about what’s right and wrong? Wouldn’t you rather boost the power of the brand you’ve chosen instead of diluting it? Be Better. Talk to your friends, say something at a sales meeting, invite a trainer into your office. Take a stand and make it right. Protect your friends, while protecting your office, while protecting your brand…all while protecting those wonderful consumers. It’s an incredibly professional decision, 102 years in the making.