Real Estate Listings: False Advertising

I started to write a blog post about all the different ways real estate brokers and agents can get in serious trouble due to advertising, fair housing, and many other laws.  These are things that you probably will never think about when looking at real estate, but they terrify those of us in the industry.

I compiled such a long list of topics that I decided it be best to break it into several future posts. Other than banking and financial services, I cannot think of another industry that is hamstrung with so many legal hoops to jump through than real estate.   When you sit through real estate classes, they will scare you, but in real life – these scenarios can cause you to lose sleep.  It is important for you to hear the other side of the equation, because unless you are in the real estate business yourself, then you have no idea how many rules and regulations we must abide by that effect the way we advertise and market your property. 

I will not interpret any of these laws for you, because that would be practicing law without a law license… 
So read away if you are interested:

Laws/Regulations in Place to Protect Consumers from False Advertising

Deceptive Trade Practices
Source: Texas Attorney Generals Office with regards to The Deceptive Trade Practices Act

NAR Code of Ethics
Source: National Association of Realtors

Federal Truth-In-Lending
Source: Federal Trade Commission

I am not naive. 
I was simply born, raised, and live in a rural community where people trust and rely on others’ opinions, and we like to think no one would intentionally misrepresent facts.  And those who do, will not pass our BS meter.  We tend to give people the benefit of the doubt until they prove otherwise.  And for those of use that want to ‘do the right thing’ and work hard for their clients, we will not run the risk of losing our business, livelihoods, and well, everything…

How These Laws Effect Your Listing or Representation

    We pull this information straight from the CAD; but yes, they can be incorrect in certain instances.  We are all human, we make errors, but this is the most reliable source.  In some rare instances, we might use a third-party appraisal finding for the listing.  ONLY if the appraiser physically measured the improvement or land, and you have that appraiser’s written permission to utilize his findings for public advertising, would I ever consider deviating from the CAD.  Under no circumstances would I ever physically measure any of these myself, and use that as facts for the listing.

    Same thing applies here as with the above.  When the home, patio, barn, etc. was built gets pulled straight from the CAD.  If the Seller has documentation to prove otherwise, then we can use what the seller provides.

    Opinions on physical characteristics of the property such as condition of fencing, a water well, a roof, an air conditioning unit, or foundation will be kept to myself. We (you) should rely on experts in their field to give you their assessment.

    It is required by law that we clearly sate who the broker is, who the agent it, the name of our brokerage, what state we live in.  Cori, why do you always type “Cori Radley – Broker/Owner, Cori Radley & Co., LLC, Texas” …We know it’s you!  We are on the WWW and if I do not add this language to the bottom of every Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, YouTube post when I am trying to “sell” you something – then I can get into trouble.  It is considered an “advertisement,” and I must properly identify myself.  

I am not saying these laws or regulations do not pertain to rural areas, that we are in anyway exempt.  I am just pointing out that our level of trust in others might be a tad different than other areas of the State, Country, and World.

So, What Does This Mean For Buyers and Sellers?

In a nutshell – you sign more disclosures or your listing might lack certain details you would think should be included. 

READ THOSE DISCLOSURES.  ASK YOU REAL ESTATE PROFESSIONAL why your listing has or is missing certain details.  A lot of this comes second nature to us, and sometimes we forget to pass the details along to Buyers and Sellers. If you have a question about it – JUST ASK.

There are instances where people have been downright fraudulent and have intentionally broken the laws by being deceptive.  I am not downplaying that reality.  It happens, and it makes me sick to hear of someone being treated in this manner.  However, it is those of us who are in real estate that merely want to sell a property the best we can and work as hard as we can for our clients so they don’t ever have to experience this.

If you think you have been the victim of fraud, then follow the links above to the Texas Attorney General’s Office and Federal Trade Commission.  They have the steps you need to take in order to file and actual complaint.

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- Cori Radley


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