Advertising: Real estate

Rules for using assumed names in advertising

If you have an assumed name license

You may use the assumed name in advertising, or use both the complete firm name and assumed name as licensed. You may not use only part of either the firm name or the assumed name. For example, if your firm is “Sunshine Realty, Inc.” and you have an assumed name license for “John’s Group,” you may advertise as “John’s Group,” or “Sunshine Realty, Inc., John’s Group,”, but not as “Sunshine John”s Group.”

If you don’t have an assumed name license

You may advertise a title, group, team, or brand name without getting an assumed name license if the advertisement always displays the firm’s licensed or assumed name clearly and conspicuously.

  • The advertising must use color, contrast, size, or audibility to ensure the firm’s name is readily noticeable and understood.
  • The recipient of the advertising must be able to clearly distinguish the licensed firm name from the name of the unlicensed group, team, or brand.
  • The advertising can’t include wording that:
    • Suggests a legal entity separate from the real estate firm, such as “Inc.,” “LLC,” or “Corp.”
    • Is commonly understood to reference an entire firm or office, such as “realty,” “realtors,” “firm,” or “real estate.”
  • Affiliated licensees who want to use an unlicensed title or brand must get advance written approval from their firm’s designated broker. This written permission should be available to our auditors or investigators upon request.

Websites and advertising

The current economic situation can kindle an innovative and creative entrepreneurial spirit in real estate licensees to generate new leads for their business. Along with this entrepreneurial spirit, you have new tools at your disposal. However, you must remember the laws and rules that apply to your activities.

Real Estate licensees are also subjected to media, such as YouTube videos that may encourage licensees to generate leads without identifying the firm name. Failing to include the firm name would be an advertising violation.

The Washington Real Estate Licensing Law (WAC 308-124B-210: Advertising) requires advertising in any manner to include the firm’s name, or assumed name as licensed, in a clear and conspicuous manner. In addition, advertising can’t be false, deceptive, or misleading. A real estate licensee who uses an “unbranded” or misleading website not only subjects their license to disciplinary action, but also the licenses of their delegated managing broker, designated broker, and even the firm.

We’re occasionally asked, “Are URL’s advertising?” The website URL is an internet address and we don’t consider it advertising. However, once the website opens up, the firm name or assumed name must be clear and conspicuous.

Before employing or using a website, we highly recommend you have your delegated managing broker or designated broker review and approve it.

For details about using advertising on the internet and social media see, Washington State Guidelines for Internet Advertising and Social Media on the Internet.

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