Please refer to Chapter 27 of Title 34, Code of Ala. 1975 and the rules promulgated by the Alabama Real Estate Commission.
Here is what the License Law says about advertising. It is as violation of law to:
Section 34-27-36(6) Publish or cause to be published any advertisement which deceives or which is likely to deceive the public, or which in any manner tends to create a misleading impression or which fails to identify the person causing the advertisement to be placed as a licensed broker or salesperson.
Section 34-27-36(15) If a qualifying broker or company, to allow a salesperson or associate broker licensed under him or her to advertise himself or herself as a real estate agent without the name or trade name of the qualifying broker or company appearing prominently on the advertising; or if the licensee is a salesperson or associate broker, advertising himself or herself as a real estate agent without the name or trade name of the qualifying broker or company under whom the salesperson or associate broker is licensed appearing prominently on the advertising.
Paragraph 6 is clear that advertising cannot deceive the public, cannot be misleading and must identify the licensee causing the advertisement to be placed.
Paragraph 15 says that a salesperson or associate broker must include the name or trade name of the qualifying broker or company under whom they are licensed, and that the name or trade name must appear prominently. So, what does that mean? It means that the licensee can use the qualifying broker’s name, the legal company name or the trade name of the company.
For branch offices, use either the company name with the branch identifier such as ABC Realty East Branch or the company name without the “East Branch” identifier. A salesperson at a branch can put either ABC Realty on the sign or ABC Realty East Branch. The qualifying broker of the company for ABC Realty is as responsible for the actions of this salesperson as is the qualifying broker at ABC Realty East Branch. The main office can always refer a customer to the East Branch if necessary.
What about franchise names? If you just put ReMax, Coldwell Banker, Century 21, etc. on your advertising but your company license name is ReMax ABC Realty, Coldwell Banker ABC Realty or Century 21 ABC Realty, then obviously using just the franchise name does not help a consumer know which company is being identified. In this case, use the ABC Realty with your franchise name. Suppose your company is licensed in reverse as ABC Realty DBA Century 21? Can you just use Century 21 in this case? Under the law, yes. Common sense would tell me that I would include the ABC Realty part to distinguish my company from other Century 21 companies.
Finally, don’t forget the prominent part. Don’t make the company name, trade name or QB’s name so small it can hardly be seen. Use your judgment and if you are unsure, send a picture to the Commission and we will evaluate it for you. Usually, if you need to ask, then it likely is not prominent. Right?
Please call us if you have any additional questions on advertising or any other legal topic at +1 334-242-5544.