Division Re-Introduces Team Advertising Rule

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Division Team Advertising Rule

The Team Advertising Rule, which was inexplicably scrapped from the Division’s rule package enacted earlier this year, has been re-introduced. The rule addresses how teams may advertise and for the first time contains restrictions on what may and may not be included in a team’s name.

Until now, the Division has not sought to regulate the content of a team’s name, rather limited its oversight to equal prominence requirements and whether agent’s advertising is generally misleading. The changes appear to be aimed at reducing consumer confusion between property licensed brokerages and unlicensed teams.

A team is a group of two or more licensees that are affiliated with the same brokerage. The team may include other non-licensed professionals, such as administrative staff and other professionals. Although unlicensed, the team advertises real estate services together in a group with a group name.

In advertising, the team must include the name of at least one licensee and display the brokerage’s name equally or more prominently than the team’s name. The names of all members of the team do not need to be displayed. If an unlicensed person’s name is included, the person must be designated as such.

The rule proposes new restrictions on words that may (or may not) be part of a team’s name. The rule mandates the word “team” or “group” be included in a team’s name and prohibits the use of the word “realty” or “associates” from the name. This change may be of considerable interest to teams that already have a name in use that violate the proposed new restrictions. Teams that have invested resources in marketing and promoting the team name, may be tasked with additional costs associated with complying with the new naming requirements.

As part of Ohio’s Common Sense Initiative (aimed at improving Ohio’s regulatory climate for businesses), the Division was required to answer certain questions about the proposed rule, including consideration of the rule’s financial impact on those regulated. The Division’s narrative omits any discussion of a grandfathering an existing team’s name or alternatively a team’s cost to change an existing name to comply with the new rule.

The proposed rule is not law yet, as there is an opportunity for public input first. A public hearing will be held on the rule on June 25, 2019, at 9:30 am at the Division’s offices at 77 S. High Street, 20th Floor, Columbus, Ohio 43215. At the public hearing, any person affected by the rule change may be heard in person, by their attorney or both, to show the proposed rule if adopted will be unreasonable or unlawful. Interested persons can also submit their arguments in writing by mailing them to the Division before January 24, 2019, at 5:00 pm.

All of the rule filings and notices are available at Register of Ohio.