Building a Web Presence and Oregon’s Rules for Internet Advertising for Real Estate Brokers and Property Managers

 Oregon requires marketing via electronic media, such as Internet, web pages, email, blogs, and bulletin boards, to include specific content not required for other types of advertising

By Jeff Sorg, OnlineEd Blog

canstockphoto11747877internet advertising(December 17, 2015) –  The Oregon Real Estate Agency requires marketing via electronic media (e.g. Internet, web pages, email, blogs, etc.) to include specific content not required for other types of advertising. This requirement applies to Facebook, Craigslist, LinkedIn, Twitter, and electronic bulletin boards and social networking sites used to advertise professional real estate activity.

The Internet is broadly used to communicate with others through email, to do research, for entertainment, and as a method to buy and sell goods. In today’s competitive real estate brokerage industry, a good web presence facilitates accomplishing the following strategic objectives:

  • Creating and maintaining a competitive edge
  • Improving client satisfaction and service
  • Keeping pace with the competition
  • Reducing operating costs
  • Making the time spent by a licensee to develop their business more effective
  • Improving agent/client communication

The following are some brief suggestions as to how this can be accomplished:

  • Establish a web presence through a site geared for that purpose:
    • Use an existing website that lists multiple real estate websites such as www.realtor.com
    • Establish one’s own web presence using the name of the principal broker or the broker’s company’s name. This usually requires the licensee to obtain a domain name to which Internet traffic would be directed.
  • Use email as an effective communication tool with the client.
  • Maintain a visitor’s database.
  • Find free websites and subscribe to them to promote yourself and your web page.
  • Learn how to increase your ranking in search engines.

When a licensee is engaged in the ongoing electronic exchange of information with a client or customer, the following information must be included in the first exchange (a link to the licensee’s home page containing the following information is sufficient):

  • That the individual sending the information is a real estate licensee.
  • The first and last name of the licensee.
  • The telephone numbers or other contact information of the licensee.
  • The name of the principal broker and/or brokerage.
  • The franchise name of the brokerage in which the licensee is licensed.

An advertisement on the Internet should be considered continuous and ongoing, unlike a one-time published ad in print media. Because the REA requires all advertising to be current, licensees must continuously review the advertising and marketing information on the web to ensure that it is current and not misleading.

Advertising, whatever its form, cannot be misleading. This means that software programs that alter or enhance photographs should be used sparingly. Any enhancement should be limited to enhancing clarity of photographs, but should never be enhanced to the point the enhanced image could be considered a misleading representation of the property. A misleading enhancement is one that materially changes the appearance of the property or changes or deletes a significant feature of the property or the surrounding area.

A photograph of a house located next to a large apartment building that is altered to remove the apartment building would be considered a misleading enhancement. To change the sky from Oregon gray to California blue would probably not be deemed a misleading enhancement of the photograph, but rather an alteration that is designed to enhance the clarity or appeal of the property. Any enhancements to photography should be discussed with the principal broker, since the principal broker needs to approve all advertising.

The Internet provides a licensee with the ability to transmit, display, and distribute information about properties listed by other licensees through the licensee’s website or other electronic means. This transmission of information is permitted under the following circumstances and conditions:

  • The licensee must have authorization from the listing principal broker. This authorization may be express written permission or automatically authorized under the rules of an MLS reciprocity agreement.
  • The licensee must not alter any informational part of the listing of the listing licensee.
  • The licensee must disclose the name and telephone number of the listing principal broker or brokerage and the name and telephone number of the listing broker, along with a statement that the information is available from the website of the listing broker.
  • The licensee may not use any meta tags or other coding or programming means to misdirect Internet traffic from another licensee’s site to their own.

Advances in technology have made it possible to provide virtual tours over the Internet. A virtual tour features the inside and the outside of a listed house. This technology, on the positive side, has provided buyers with the ability to view a property over the Internet to determine whether the property should be physically toured. However, this technology has also created the potential for abuses relating to client privacy and security. As a result, any display of a property by means of a virtual tour must have the written permission of the owner, and the virtual tour should be designed to protect the privacy of the client.

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For more information about OnlineEd and their education for real estate brokers, principal brokers, property managers, and mortgage brokers, visit www.OnlineEd.com.

 All information contained in this posting is deemed correct as of the date of publication, but is not guaranteed by the author and may have been obtained by third-party sources. Due to the fluid nature of the subject matter, regulations, requirements and laws, prices and all other information may or may not be correct in the future and should be verified if cited, shared or otherwise republished.

Jeff Sorg

About the Author

Jeff Sorg is a co-founder of OnlineEd®, a Web-based vocational school founded in 1997 where he also serves as Corporate Secretary, Chief Operating Officer, and School Director. Sorg holds vocational instructor licenses in Oregon, Washington, California, and Nevada and has authored numerous pre-licensing and continuing education courses. Sorg was awarded the International Distance Education Certification Center's CDEi Designation for distance education in 2008. OnlineEd® provides real estate, mortgage broker, insurance, and contractor pre-license, post-license, continuing education, career enhancement, and professional development and designation courses over the Internet.