Article 12, Part 2
Betty Broker, a REALTOR® affiliated with Betty Broker Realty, placed a full page ad in her local newspaper. The ad included pictures of two properties in the Fairfax Crossing neighborhood. Next to one picture it stated, “Just Sold” and next to the other, “Just Listed.” The ad also listed Betty Broker as the “#1 REALTOR®” and “#1 REALTOR® in your area” and to call her for details of obtaining your own home.
Agnes Agent, a REALTOR® in Betty’s Board, saw the ad and was concerned. Agnes submitted the ad to the Board’s Citation Program to review the matter and determine if a citation was in order. Agnes claimed that Betty was not the #1 REALTOR® in the area and that Betty’s claim was false and misleading. Additionally, Agnes claimed that Betty did not participate in the sale of the first “just sold” picture and had not listed the second “just listed” picture. Agnes felt that the ad could lead a consumer to think that Betty sold and listed the properties advertised. Finally, Agnes claimed that Betty was not an ABR as she clearly represented in her ad and that Betty also failed to place her company name anywhere in the ad. Agnes provided the ad, the listing sheets of the two properties advertised, statistical information of the Fairfax Crossing neighborhood from her local MLS, documentation showing that Betty has failed to renew her ABR Designation as well as a narrative to the Citation Panel alleging violations of Article 12, as interpreted by Standards of Practice 12-4, 12-5, 12-7 and 12-13. The Citation Panel agreed and cited Betty for each violation totaling, $1,500.
Betty appealed the fine and requested a hearing on the matter. At the hearing Betty defended her ad by claiming that she was simply providing information related to the current market for the benefit of the consumer. While she had not sold or listed either of the property she felt that this type of ad was common in her marketplace. Betty claimed that she had her own method to pulling up local statistics and that her estimations were not as clear cut as Agnes's. She uses an internal system and provided those statistics to the Hearing Panel. In terms of the ABR Designation, Betty claimed that she was an ABR at one time but that she has failed to pay her dues. She uses a template for her advertisements and has made the correction for any future postings. Finally, Betty made a point to tell the Hearing Panel that when you Googled her name, Betty Broker Realty was the first link that appeared. Betty Broker is synonymous with Betty Broker Realty.
The Hearing Panel found Betty in violation of Article 12 as interpreted by Standard of Practice 12-4 as she was not the listing agent for the “just listed” picture represented in her ad. Betty did not have the right to advertise property without the authority of the listing office or seller. The Hearing Panel found Betty in violation of Article 12 as interpreted by Standard of Practice 12-5 as she failed to disclose her company name in a reasonable and readily apparent manner. The Hearing Panel found Betty in violation of Article 12 as interpreted by Standard of Practice 12-7 as she did not participate in the sale of the “just sold” picture represented in her ad. The Hearing Panel believed that Betty’s ad claiming “just sold” could lead a reasonable consumer to think that Betty had represented the seller or buyer in the transaction. Finally, the Hearing Panel found Betty in violation of Article 12 as interpreted by Standard of Practice 12-13 as she was not legitimately entitled to use the ABR Designation.
The Hearing Panel recommended the following sanctions: $1,500 fine, a Code of Ethics C.E. Course, and a Letter of Reprimand which will remain in her Membership File.
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