May I advertise my role in sales after leaving a firm?
QUESTION: I’ve recently changed firms. I was with my last firm for a long time and I was involved in the sale of many properties while I was there. Those properties are displayed on my website. Of course, I’ve changed my website to clearly show the name of my new firm. My question is, can I continue to display the properties I helped sell while I was affiliated with my old firm since I’m no longer there?
ANSWER: Yes, provided that viewers would understand that some of the sales had occurred while you were affiliated with a different firm. This could be accomplished by the addition of a prominent disclaimer at the end or beginning of the display stating that you were affiliated with a different firm for much of the time during which the displayed properties were sold.
There are two “Case Interpretations” in the NAR Code of Ethics and Arbitration Manual that directly address a REALTOR® advertising his or her role in sales after changing firm affiliation. They are Case Interpretations 12-25 and 12-26. The Case Interpretations of the Code of Ethics help REALTORS® understand the ethical obligations created by the Code of Ethics, and as a reference work for Grievance Committees, ethics and arbitration Hearing Panels, and Boards of Directors. They present specific situations involving charges of alleged unethical conduct by REALTORS® which are reviewed by a hearing panel and in which decisions as to ethical conduct are reached. The Manual is available on the NAR website by clicking here. Case Interpretations 12-25 and 12-26 are on page 330.
If you read Case Interpretations 12-25 and 12-26, you’ll see that in one case the REALTOR® respondent was found in violation of Article 12 of the Code of Ethics, while in the other case with nearly identical facts she was not. In the first case, the hearing panel ruled that the REALTOR®’s display of sold properties on her website was misleading and a violation Article 12 because it might reasonably be concluded that all the sales had been made while the REALTOR® was affiliated with her new firm. However, in Case Interpretation 12-26, the hearing panel found that the REALTOR® had not violated the Code. The difference-maker? The addition of a disclaimer making it clear that many of the sales had taken place while the REALTOR® had been with a different firm.
This article is intended solely for the benefit of NC REALTORS® members, who may reproduce and distribute it to other NC REALTORS® members and their clients, provided it is reproduced in its entirety without any change to its format or content, including disclaimer and copyright notice, and provided that any such reproduction is not intended for monetary gain. Any unauthorized reproduction, use or distribution is prohibited.