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DOL Real Estate Commission issues guidelines for internet advertising and social media

Our friends at the Northwest MLS passed along some new guidelines from the Washington State’s Department of Licensing.  These guidelines cover internet advertising, email, and social media.  The full set of guidelines can be found here.

Its important as a consumer that you are familiar with these guidelines. Being familiar with them means you can more easily identify real estate companies that are acting legally and ethically.  If you find a company that doesn’t take the time to be familiar with the laws and guidance of DOL (or doesn’t follow them when they are familiar), you shouldask if yourself if they are willing to follow any of the other rules that protect you.

Here is the main set of guidelines:

Guidelines for on-line disclosure
All Internet related advertising that consumers can view or experience, as a separate unit, (for
example, email messages or Web pages) should require full disclosure. The burden of proof of
such full disclosures falls on the licensee, the firm, and designated broker (licensed entities) when
addressing a consumer complaint. This disclosure does not apply once an agency relationship has
been established with a buyer or seller. Examples of online communications are listed below:

  • The Web
    Whenever a licensed entity owns a website or controls its content, every viewable page
    should include full disclosure. (A “viewable page” is one that may or may not scroll
    beyond the borders of the screen and includes the use of framed pages.) If you give
    permission for a 3rd party to advertise your listings maintain regular and thorough
    oversight to ensure the information is correct. Adhere to copyright laws.
  • Email, Newsgroups, Discussion Lists, Bulletin Boards
    Such formats should include a full disclosure at the beginning or end of each message.
    This would not apply to communications between a licensee and a member of the public
    provided that the member of the public has sent a communication to the licensee and the
    licensee’s initial communication contained the disclosure information required above.
  • Instant Messages
    Full disclosure is not necessary in this format if the licensed entity provided the written
    full disclosure via another format or medium (e.g., e-mail or letter) prior to providing, or
    offering to provide licensable services.
  • Chat
    Full disclosure prior to providing or offering to provide licensable services during the
    chat session or in text visible on the same webpage that contains the chat session.
  • Social Media
    Full disclosure should be prominently displayed and easily understood and be no more
    than one click away from the viewable page. Each real estate firm should have and
    maintain a written policy regarding their licensee’s use of social media.
  • Multimedia Advertising (e.g. Web based, executable e-mail attachments, etc.)
    Full disclosure should be visible as part of the advertising message.
  • Banner Ads
    Should link to a webpage that has full disclosure that is a single click away from the viewable page, unless the banner ad has such full disclosure.

 

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