Illinois Real Estate Advertising Laws are Changing in 2020 and What this Means for Agents and Their Teams
As you may already know, in Aug. 2019 Gov. J.B. Pritzker signed the revised Real Estate License Act (RELA or The Act) into law. The goal of the RELA is to enhance consumer protections and strengthen rules for training and professionalism. The original version of the licensing law was set to end in 2019. This is due to statutes that require licensing laws to be revised every decade to reflect upon industry changes. But rather than completely do away with the RELA of 2000, a task force came together to rewrite the current law that will go into effect in 2020. Over a very short period of time and through the efforts of several different team members at both Illinois Realtors and IDFPR, the revised bill, Public Act 101-0357, was signed and will be effective in 2020.
One of the newest focal points of the RELA, was to position the Real Estate industry to best serve its consumers in the new decade ahead. There have been 5 broad category changes in the RELA, some of which include Consumer Protection, Business Changes, Paperless Technology, Licensing/Management, and our main focus: Teams and Advertising.
First and Foremost
“Team”, in regard to the RELA, is now defined as: “Any two or more licensees who work together to provide real estate brokerage services, represent themselves to the public as being part of a team or group, are identified by a team name that is different than their sponsoring broker’s and sponsored by the same sponsoring broker.” In this sense, “Team” does not mean an isolated, separately organized or legal entity.
So What Does This Mean
While it may seem clear to those who work in the industry, the public isn’t always aware that a Real Estate team is a group that works within the sponsoring brokerage company. In order to remain transparent with consumers, the RELA wants to ensure that the public knows when and if they are dealing with a licensed real estate brokerage company. This means that “Teams” should avoid the appearance that they are their own, entirely separate company when they are in fact a part of a sponsoring brokerage company.
The new licensing law forbids any advertising that is fallacious, faulty, or deliberately meant to deceive. Therefore, resulting in many existing Team names now being considered deceptive and factually violating the newest version of the RELA. The law is now banning terms that are ambiguous because they imply the team is in fact, the sponsoring brokerage. So how will this affect agents? Ultimately, team names will need to be adjusted if they include certain vocabulary and word usage. Terms that are no longer permitted in team names are Real Estate, Realty, Company, Agency, Associates, Brokers, Properties and Property.
Moving on to changes as far as Advertising is concerned, there is now a demand in which was unanimously approved and recommended by the Illinois REALTORS® Board of Directors, that any licensee or team name that appears in an advertisement must include the sponsoring broker’s company name/logo. In addition, the team logo/name cannot appear any larger than the sponsoring broker’s company name/logo. This rule did in fact previously exist but since being removed from the RELA, the company name of the sponsoring broker has become increasingly smaller and less visible on advertisements. However, since the team cannot operate without their sponsor, all advertisements should not appear that the team itself IS the sponsoring company. In addition, it is still a requirement under the rewrite that the designated managing broker has to identify themselves where their name is used in ads. However, if a licensee holds a managing broker license, they can now identify themselves as the managing broker on advertising materials since that is the level of education and licensing they earned.
The “One-Click” Rule
Last but not least in this digital driven new decade we’re approaching, The RELA will now incorporate the “one-click” rule. Summarized best as that a real estate licensee or brokerage can create a link or electronic information portal so long as all of the required information is incorporated in the content that populates on the device being used as a result of that “one click”.
Not to worry, there is no need to scramble if changes need to be made for you personally. The IDFPR has assured Illinois Realtors leeway with any provisions that are set to take effect immediately upon the licensee and/or their sponsoring company proving to show that they are taking the appropriate steps to come into compliance as soon as it is feasible. Illinois Realtors has created a page that includes additional law updates, as well as an in-depth analysis of the RELA changes put together by their legal team.