Advertising Rules for Realtors®

As a Realtor, there are several rule and laws that govern a Realtor’s actions. The Code of Ethics should always be forefront in a Realtor’s mind, but state law and administrative rules are in some ways more important as they govern the actual real estate license. The Hawaii Administrative Rules provide the basis of advertising rules that govern real estate licensees in Hawaii. Specifically, Hawaii Administrative Rule 16-99-11.

There are new proposed rules that will be addressed later in this article, for now let’s examine the current rules. HAR 16-99-11(a) states: “All real estate advertising and promotional materials shall include the legal name of the brokerage firm or a trade name previously registered by the brokerage firm with the business registration division and with the commission.” While this seems obvious, it does mean that the brokerage firm’s name must be present in all advertising, including if the advertising is just for a single Realtor.

HAR 16-99-11(b) states: “No licensee shall advertise “For Sale by Owner,” “For Rent by Owner,” “For Lease by Owner,” or “For Exchange by Owner.”” This prevents Realtors and licensees from advertising a “FSBO” or something like looks like one and confusing the public.

HAR 16-99-11(c) states: “Current individual real estate licensees, whether active or inactive, shall disclose the licensee’s status as a real estate licensee in all advertising and promotional material.” Not much explanation is needed for this.

HAR 16-99-11(d) states: “A leasehold property advertised for sale in any medium shall be identified by the word “leasehold.”” There is concern from the State of Hawaii that many people in the public do not understand the difference between a leasehold and a fee simple property, so additional disclosure requirements are placed on leasehold properties.

HAR 16-99-11(e) states:

(e) All advertising and promotional materials that refer to the individual licensee’s name, including but not limited to business cards, shall:

(1) Include the licensee’s legal name, name as licensed by the commission, or sole proprietor’s trade name as licensed by the commission;

(2) Identify the licensee with the licensee’s associating or employing brokerage firm; and

(3) Specify that the licensee is a broker (B), or salesperson (S), or if a current member of the Hawaii Association of Realtors, Realtor (R) or Realtor-Associate (RA).

This requirement goes hand in hand with 16-99-11(a) which states that the brokerage firm’s name must be present on all advertising. In additional, there’s a requirement for Realtors to use their legal or trade name as registered with the Real Estate Commission as well as specify the licensee’s status as an agent or a broker, and Realtors would use (R) for Broker and (RA) for Realtor-Associate instead.

Lastly HAR 16-99-11(f) states: “If the address of any unregistered place of business is included in advertising materials, then the street address of the principal place of business or the branch office, as the case may be, shall be included and respectively identified as such.” This means if a Realtor advertises another place that he or she does business in, the brokerage firm’s office’s address must also be provided. This is to prevent confusion on the address of record for the brokerage firm.

Taking all of these rules into account, a Realtor should check their advertising to see if current advertising complies with all of these rules as well.

Currently the Real Estate Commission has issued proposed rules, a comparison between the current rules and the proposed rules can be viewed here

There are proposed rules about team names and advertising that will not be examined in this article. The key takeaways are that either brokerage firm’s license number or the individual licensee’s license number may be required to be placed on advertisements. However, these are only the proposed rules and they may change in the future as the process continues on.

This should be considered as just an overview of the advertising rules for real estate licensees in Hawaii, and there may be more rules or laws that govern advertising. For Realtors, the Code of Ethics should also be carefully examined to see what is required when a Realtor advertises to the public. Additionally, county ordinances and rules may also be applicable if a Realtor is advertising in a public space, or in front of a house.