The new law does place some limits on what can be required of agents. TREC can’t require references to the commission itself or the person’s license number in advertising. The broker’s name has to be shown in print at least half as large as the largest text referencing the license holder, the team, associated brokers or any sales agent that’s included in the ad.
There are exceptions included for ads posted on social media platforms. Those advertisements will be considered in compliance so long as they include links to the pertinent information, either within the ad itself or through a link to the account profile.
“It’s a win for all license holders and consumers on advertising,” Harpold says. “It provides clear direction to the broker as well as to the sales agent on advertising under, essentially, one’s legal name, and it gives the consumer the legal or registered name of the person or entity they are seeking to contact or engage. Thus, the consumer will be better informed about the license holder’s name from an advertisement.”
Another part of the law is aimed at correcting oversights in how people who are wholesaling real estate can operate. Wholesalers have worked by negotiating directly with homeowners to purchase distressed properties that are not suitable for including in a multiple listing service. They would then enter into a purchase agreement with the homeowner before selling that contract to someone else, such as a rehabber or a developer. Wholesalers do not need a license to carry out these transactions.
The practice remains legal in Texas, but the law has been tweaked to make it harder for sales agents to misrepresent themselves – intentionally or unintentionally – as licensed real estate brokers in their advertisements and marketing materials. Sales agents who imply that they are the broker when they are not will be in violation, as will those that imply that a sales agent is in charge of a brokerage when such is not the case.
TREC formally adopted the rules in November. The group sets out several examples of language that could be construed as a violation of this rule. Agents who use titles such as “president” or “owner” would be in violation. Teams that use language implying they are brokerages or provide brokerage services are also in violation. This includes usage of language such as “associates,” “brokerage,” “company” and “realty.”