Best practices for social media and real estate disclosure requirements

This post relates directly to Texas Real Estate Commission (TREC) guidelines.  Other states may vary.

Your website

Whether this is a personal website that you have set up yourself or through outside sources, the free one through Century 21, or a website you have arranged to purchase through one of our vendors:

  • Include the word “agent” or “Realtor®” after your name on every page of your website.
  • Include the CENTURY 21 Judge Fite name and logo on every page of your website.

On Facebook, LinkedIn, Google + and etc.

Facebook

  • Have a Facebook business page that is separate from your personal Facebook page.
  • List the name of your business page to be something similar to “John Doe, Realtor® with CENTURY 21 Judge Fite” or “John Doe, Denton real estate agent for CENTURY 21 Judge Fite Company”
  • Use this business page ONLY to post work-related messages and information.
  • A Facebook business page is a best practice for multiple reasons, one of which is the ability to track traffic and interaction through the “insights” tab, and ability for customization.

If for some reason you cannot or refuse to have a Facebook business page, or for other sites such as LinkedIn or Google+ where you do not have option of a separate business page, you MUST do one of these two options:

  • Instead of your name being John Doe, it must be changed to something like “John Doe, Realtor® with CENTURY 21 Judge Fite”, which will automatically show the requirements every time you post and therefore help keep you covered; or
  • EVERY status update, post on your wall, or post or comments on other people’s walls, and anything that might potentially be considered as being posted in an effort to promote yourself or increase business, you must manually add “John Doe, Realtor® with CENTURY 21 Judge Fite” to the post/comment if your profile name is not listed that way.

Twitter

If you are ever going to use Twitter for any type of communication with the public that would be considered an advertisement per TREC:

  • you MUST include a hyperlink named “TREC DISCLOSURE” which links to a page containing the information that would have normally been included in something like “John Doe, Realtor® with CENTURY 21 Judge Fite”, or must directly contain the words like “John Doe, Realtor® with CENTURY 21 Judge Fite”.
  • This link must be an ACTIVE hyperlink.  It cannot be a shortened URL, it must contain the entire words TREC DISCLOSURE.

For Twitter, which limits your characters to 140, the above name/broker example would take 45 characters (more if your name is longer).  This would leave only 100 characters for your tweet, which is extremely limited.  Your Twitter screen name is not long enough to allow you to post even your name much less the designation (agent/realtor etc) and broker (Judge Fite) information.

So your tweet would have to look like one of the two following:

Real estate is GREAT at CENTURY 21 Judge Fite!  Ask me why now is a great time to buy!  John Doe, Realtor®                (112 characters)

Just listed a beautiful home, 3/2/2, on 1.5 acres with a pool and it’s at a price that you can’t beat! Click here. TREC DISCLOSURE                (130 characters).

  • Notice that the words TREC DISCLOSURE in this tweet would be required to be an active hyperlink.  If you don’t know how to do this – you should not be posting this tweet that is too long to contain the full required disclosure information.
  • The TREC DISCLOSURE takes away from the contents of the tweet, making it less than ideal.

 

And the best practice of all …if you’re not sure, ASK before you post!

This is in no way meant to provide legal advice, just some best practice guidelines.  Always check requirements yourself as they do change time to time, and with all things legal always consult the advice of an attorney.

CENTURY 21 Judge Fite Company, http://www.c21jfc.com

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