State and or federal laws typically govern real estate advertising rules. Rules for real estate licensees tend to be more stringent than rules for a consumer selling his own property. Some rules apply when advertising residential property, yet not when advertising commercial listings.
Laws regarding Internet advertising vary by state. Yet, there are common Internet laws regarding advertising for real estate professionals. The licensee must include her name, office address and broker, with each electronic communication. On all web pages displaying advertising, the licensee must disclose her status as broker or sales licensee and identify her broker. She must accurately represent the property advertised in both online and offline advertising. For example, digitally enhancing a photograph to improve the appearance of the property, such as removing an unsightly electrical conduit or misrepresenting a view, is not allowed.
Regulation Z implements conditions contained within the federal Truth and Lending Act, created to inform borrowers of costs associated with borrowing. Regulation Z tightened the rules in how real estate professionals might advertise, specifically when discussing mortgage costs associated with potential purchases. When an advertisement discusses reduced-interest rate mortgages or buydowns, the ad must include data to show the annual percentage rate and the limited term to which the rate applies. The timing and amount of payments, as well as minimum and maximum payment amounts, must be spelled out when advertising property offered at a variable-rate mortgage, along with a statement that the payment amount varies between the high and low amount.
Under Regulation Z, there are certain terms for real estate professionals to avoid when advertising property. These include "monthly payment," "down payment," "term of loan" or the specific amount of the finance charge. If any of those terms are included in the ad, additional information must be included, such as the required down payment, the cash price, the annual percentage rate and the specifics detailing the number of payments and payment amounts.
Advertising cannot market to or exclude a protected class, which includes race, color, religion, sex, national origin, family status or physical disabilities. Placing real estate advertisements solely in publications aimed exclusively at one segment of the protected class is discriminatory. The United States Department of Housing and Urban Development sets federal housing guidelines, which include laws applying to advertising. Real estate professionals must include the HUD Fair Housing logo on all residential advertising. Displaying the logo is not necessary when advertising non-residential commercial property.