Using "REALTOR®" Online -- Know The Rules!

Services for Real Estate Pros with Real Estate Pipeline, Inc.

Many of you know that I'm online a lot. A lot...

Now, I don't mean I turn on my computer and occasionally check my email or post on Facebook once a week. No...I am online ALL DAY. From the time I arrive at work until I decide it is time to leave, I am online. And, then I go home...and spend the evening online once my kids go to bed. I'm pretty much an addict.

And, one thing I continually see online is real estate agents using the power of the internet to help them promote their business.

All well and good, really. And, I'm happy to see it. I just wish more of them knew that using the word "REALTOR®" has rules attached to it...rules that, if you are found out by NAR, could cost you everything you have been trying to build online.

See, NAR is really strict about how and where you can use the word REALTOR®. Actually, very strict...(Catholic nun schoolmarm with yardstick strict.) And, a violation of the use of the word could mean that the website or social networking account in question could be shut down. (It has happened before...saw a Facebook page that had close to 50,000 fans associated with it get shut down for this very thing.)

Officially, here is what NAR says can and can not happen with the word REALTOR® online.

To summarize:

1. Anytime you use the word REALTOR®, it must refer to a member's name or firm. It can not reference an area, neighborhood, city, or any other noun you can think of...

2. You can not use it with descriptive phrases or adjectives. "" is a violation of the rules...

3. You can not use it to denote an occupation or in any combination with location or adjectives describing such. ... again, a violation.

4. You can use it in email as long as the term refers to your name and/or your firm name only. <-- That one is ok.

In other words, it must refer to a proper name of a member or a firm. Nothing else!

Seems pretty simple to me. Yet, every day I come across another or any number of "LalalandRealtor"s online on one social media network or another. There is a myriad of "TomTheRealtor"s and "RealtorBoy(or Girl)"s, "ShangraLaRealtor"s and "Your(insert adjective here)Realtor"s. All of which are not approved uses of the word.

I am not going to call anyone out on these misuses. Nor am I an agent or a member of NAR. Quite frankly, it doesn't matter to me in the least that this is happening.

But, if you are one of the people that are doing it, it should matter to you. You could lose everything you have built merely because you ignored (whether knowingly or not) the rule.

Ignorance of the law is not justification for not following it.


Feel free to contact Clint at any time on Twitter or connect on Facebook.


Re-Blogged 2 times:

Re-Blogged By Re-Blogged At
  1. Gabrielle Jeans 08/23/2011 05:47 AM
  2. Yvette Chisholm 08/23/2011 10:27 AM
Real Estate Sales and Marketing
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Show All Comments
Pat & Wayne Harriman
Harriman Real Estate, LLC (203) 672-4499 - Wallingford, CT
Broker/Owners, Wallingford CT Real Estate

@Brad Yzerman: To make the ® on a laptop, you have to make sure your Num Lock key is on before you do the ALT 0174. On minr, I hold down the Function (fn) key and Scroll/Num Lk key at the same time to activate the Num Lock, then I can do ALT 0174. Also, you have to use the keypad in the middle of the keyboard, not along the top. This means you're going to press ALT MJ7U to make the registered symbol.


1) Press fn key and num lock key to activate Num Lock

2) Hold down the ALT key and type MJ7U.

Hope that helps!

Aug 24, 2011 08:37 AM #107
Clint Miller
Real Estate Pipeline, Inc. - Missoula, MT

Bill -- Another reason this rule is so low on the totem pole...

Pat & Wayne -- Thanks! :-)

Aug 24, 2011 08:41 AM #108
Michael Fontana
Round Rock Home Stager Austin Home Staging - Round Rock, TX
@ The Stage Coach

hi, Clint: 
I want to ditto Brad's question in Comment# 104? 

As a blogger, "when I use the word REALTOR(R) to describe someone specifically or just mention real estate agents in general in a blog post, then what?"

Can anyone shed some light on this? 




Aug 24, 2011 10:38 AM #109
Mark Wheeler
Roots Realty - Portland, OR

There are a few around here who misuse the term in their company name &/or advertising. I have alerted NAR a few times through the years. Nothing's changed. I did recieve a response once from NAR basically saying that they don't have the resources to go after violators. I found this disappointing, and probably untrue.

Aug 24, 2011 12:47 PM #110
Mark Wheeler
Roots Realty - Portland, OR

Also, to Posters 106 & 107, if NAR does not police their trademark they could lose their rights to control it. Kind of like adverse possession.

Aug 24, 2011 12:50 PM #111
Dimitri Matsis-REALTOR® (818) 599-6083
Troop Real Estate Inc. Westlake Village CA - West Hills, CA

Hi Clint,

I am an online addict as well and trying to act as if I can control it. My wife is planning an intervention. Don’t feel bad.

Numbers 3 and 4 are most of the time misunderstood. Another one is, ® is supposed to follow the word and not everyone does it. What’s funny to me is, some of us who have already commented on this, still don’t have the ® after the word REALTOR®, on our sig!!...oops, there is something on my website that needs to be checked.

Thanks for the post.

Aug 24, 2011 01:21 PM #112
Ranji Singh
Century 21 Heritage Group Ltd. - Newmarket, ON

Hi Clint,


Great refresher. Amazing how many on this post challenge the NAR's merit or wisdom for being as stringent. Is not every licensed agent signed on to abide by the rules of your local association and subsequently NAR BEFORE being licensed? We make a living applying contract law. NAR's requirement is not debateable, as you rightly state, it is simply so. Learn it and be guided.





Aug 24, 2011 01:28 PM #113
Virginia OnullConnor
Realtor®, Photographer, Artist - Temecula, CA
Realtor - Temecula, Anza, SoCal
Don't get me started. As long as the usage is above board and pertains to real estate and the person is a member is good standing, NAR should leave well enough alone and appreciate the free advertising. We pay PLENTY in dues and should have a right to use the designation we earned and PAY FOR EVERY YEAR! NAR is fast becoming the 600 lb dinosaur on the block. The benefits to being a Realtor get fewer and fewer - do people need harassment over something as picayune as this? I think not. If they keep losing members at the rate they are, soon they won't have to worry about anyone but their fellow board members using the designation properly.
Aug 24, 2011 01:58 PM #114
Stacey Brown
ILM Realty - Colchester, CT

There are plenty of people out there breaking the rules. It's bad enough we need to deal with the whole concept of listing only brokers, but the BS artists out there make the rest of us look bad. NAR works hard to protect us, but we need to work harder ourselves sometimes.

Aug 24, 2011 03:38 PM #115

Great post. I couldn't agree more!



Aug 25, 2011 03:41 AM #116
Gene Riemenschneider
Home Point Real Estate - Brentwood, CA
Turning Houses into Homes

I followed the link.  It seems to refer just to ULR's and to E-mail address's.  What about the use of the term REALTOR in the title of a blog post?  In the body of promotional material or a post?  The Title of a Piece of Promotional Material?  At least from what I read there seems to be more freedom in those areas.  It would also be accurate and informative to refer to myself a Brentwood Realtor.  From what I read on the link I just cannot do that as part of the ULR or E-mail. 

Not trying to be wise guy about this.  I think clarification is important and I would like to hear on this.  When you create a blog post it creates a sub ULR that could be taken as a violation.

Aug 25, 2011 05:35 AM #117
Thomas Haught
The Russell Realty Group - Saugus, MA

Thomas Haught

Great post.  There are several such types of infractions in real estate law and organization's rules and regs.

One of the biggest I see is advertising by agents without listing the brokerage name.  I'm not going to blow the whistle on these people, but SOMEONE will!! I almost feel I should reach out to them and tell them about it to keep them from getting trouble!

Aug 25, 2011 07:14 AM #118
Barb Szabo, CRS
RE/MAX Trinity Brecksville Ohio - Cleveland, OH
E-pro Realtor, Cleveland Ohio Homes

Hey Clint, sorry if someome else already asked this but I occasionally use "brecksville ohio realtors"as a tag. Is that allowable? thanks...hope you are doing o.k., it sure looks like it:)


Aug 25, 2011 01:17 PM #119
Wendy Miller
RE/MAX Belize Property Center South
Real Estate Sales Professional

Thanks for the reminder Clint.  As a new agent, I need all the reminders of what is acceptable and what is not.  Even though I am in Canada, we have strict rules on the use of the term REALTOR as well, and they are quite similar to what you stated. 

Aug 25, 2011 03:16 PM #120
Gerard Gilbers
Higher Authority Markeing - Asheboro, NC
Your Marketing Master

In order to make sure I don't cross the line I rarely use the term. I refer to all as real estate agents since you must be one to be a REALTOR® but not all real estate agents are REALTORS®. 

Aug 25, 2011 05:45 PM #121
Dana McGary
Crye-Leike Champion Real Estate Group, Searcy, Arkansas - Searcy, AR
Realtor - White County, Arkansas

Great post!  I have had a problem on this for awhile:   I do not know how to get the trademark symbol on my laptop.  I thought I had the trick with an earlier comment:  ALT 0174, but it didn't work on my computer.   I have an HP laptop with VISTA.  Help! Anyone?  Thanks!

Aug 29, 2011 06:57 AM #122
Pat & Wayne Harriman
Harriman Real Estate, LLC (203) 672-4499 - Wallingford, CT
Broker/Owners, Wallingford CT Real Estate

Dana, see my comment here about creating the (R) symbol on a laptop. If you have any problems, let me know.

Aug 29, 2011 07:37 AM #123
Conor MacEvilly

Great post Clint. Even better that the post is based on numbers from real studies. Good to know that internet leads are better prospects than previously thought.

Aug 30, 2011 04:46 AM #124
Give me a break!

This is the sort of useless travail often observed in those communities comprised of citizens of deminished significance. They find issues of little merit or value and make issue because they can. I find these meddlers as the cause of great strife on nearly every HOA.

The mere observation of the rah-rah makes me truly want to express realtora have the shorts on too tight! Get off your rEALTOR high horse and do something that makes a difference in peoples lives....positively!  Does this addictive pattern the writer describes also identify the enablers of such behavior? Be you a realtor, ChicagoReAlTor, Realtor, REALTOR, or Realtor(r), or REALTOR(R) or real estate professional, the pettiness of this topic leads me to believe such professionals are recieving the abuse they deserve, at the hands of your peers and the 800 Lb gorilla.

You would be better served finding alternative to Realtor and it ugly sister

Aug 31, 2011 04:36 AM #125
Clint Miller
Real Estate Pipeline, Inc. - Missoula, MT

I find that last comment above completely ridiculous. Not only do you ignore the fact that this term is COPYRIGHTED and, as such, protected by whatever rules are set forth by NAR...but, you do not even lay claim to your statements by adding your name. If you have such an opinion about this subject, Own it. Don't hide behind destroys whatever credibility you were trying to establish by making the statements you made... I'm not sorry for saying the truth. I'm not sorry it touched a nerve. That was it's intent.

Aug 31, 2011 05:11 AM #126
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