PART 1: Rule Overview
Administrative rule 61J2-10.026, voted into rule by the Florida Real Estate Commission (FREC), dictates new guidelines about how teams within a real estate brokerage must advertise.
Here are the most disruptive changes
- Team Names may include the word ‘team’ or ‘group’ in the name. *These words were required in past drafts but is not required in the final rule.
- Team names cannot include the following words: Agency, Associates, Brokerages, Brokers, Company, Corporation, Corp., Inc., LLC, LP, LLP, Partnership, Properties, Property, Real Estate, Realty, or similar words suggesting the team or group is a separate real estate brokerage or company.
- The Team name cannot be larger than the brokerage name on any advertisements.
- A designated licensee, most likely the team leader, will be responsible for team advertising.
- The broker must keep a current record of each team and all its members.
- Any agent that is not working under only their legal first and last name is considered to be working under a team name and all of these rules apply.
part 2: How we got here
Until this year, FREC only had rules about individual agent advertising, and when teams started advertising years ago, they had few rules to follow. As our industry colleagues are aware, team advertising turned into a mess. The confusion this caused among consumers is the main reason FREC created the new rules.
The 2007 advertising rule was out of date, here is the jist of it.
- If an agent uses their first name in advertisements, then they must use their last name
- The brokerage name must appear near the agent’s name and contact information
- … And that’s about it!
Let’s make a few things clear about teams
- Teams are not legal entities.
- Teams have no tax ID number.
- Teams don’t have a real estate license.
- Teams are not allowed to register fictitious names
- Teams are completely unverifiable! By any other business standard, it’s a wonder that real estate teams can operate at all
part 3: What is a team to do?
These proposed rules will be incredibly disruptive to real estate teams that are currently not compliant with the new rule.
Agents will be asking themselves:
- If I have to rebrand my team to meet the new name restrictions, is it worth rebranding at all? It will cost a lot of time and money, but we are still dealing with the bigger question…
- Why would I have a team brand if my company brand must be predominant?
- If my company’s brand must be predominant, am I proud to stand behind my company’s brand, or should I consider changing companies?
With these changes, it’s crucial to remember that you are the brand. Team brands often overpower an agent’s personal brand to the agent’s detriment. Teams microbrands simply don’t have the market share, reputation and recognition of brokerages. Most importantly, people want to work with you and your team brand isn’t what matters to them. While it might not be right for everyone, it could be a good time to reclaim your personal brand to simplify your advertising and make it clear that you are the expert agent.
Part 4: Imperfections of the Rule
Although the New Team Rules are a big step in the right direction, there are still several huge loopholes and limitations to the rule. Those concerns include:
Teams are Poorly Defined: The definition of a team is poorly defined as a “name or logo used by one or more real estate licensees who represent themselves to the public as a team or group.” It would be more clearly defined as “one or more people who represent themselves to the public using a name which is not the name of a individual real estate licensee.” If an individual does not represent themself a team, but advertises with a name other than their legal first and last name, they should adhere to the team rules, despite the definition.
No Proximity Rules: There is no requirement that the team and brokerage logo or name need to be near each other. For instance, on websites, videos, and double-sided prints, a team logo could be so far away from the brokerage logo that they cannot be seen simultaneously.
Timeline of Events
FREC amends the rule regarding the print size of team and brokerage names, and removing the requirement of logos.
New subparagraph 61J2-10.026(6): In a
Advertisements containing the team or group name, the team or group name shall not be appear in larger print than the name or logo of the registered brokerage. All advertising must be in a manner in which reasonable persons would know they are dealing with a team or group.
The new FREC rule for team advertising was approved and goes into effect on July 1, 2019.
FREC votes to approve the most recent version of the draft rule. The Joint Administrative Procedures Committee (JAPC), which oversees executive branch actions to ensure they have an “adequate statutory basis” along with other requirements.
FREC proposes version four of the draft rule and agrees that it will likely be the final version for vote in December.
FREC meeting was cancelled due to hurricane Irma and the September agenda was pushed to the October meeting.
FREC amends the original draft rule and proposes version two of draft rule.
FREC resumes the topic of team advertising and proposes version one of the draft rule. FREC determines it does not need to pass legislation and can instead create a rule through vote.
FREC holds its first workshop on team advertising and initially suggests that they will propose legislation to change team advertising.