Misleading Realtor Ads

You’ve seen the ads.

The catchy headline says “Signs of the Times” (or something similar), followed by rows — and rows — of homes with “Sold signs” proudly splashed on them.

At the bottom is the Realtor’s picture and a greeting:  “Thank You For Your Business!  We’re Looking Forward to 2011.”

There’s only one catch:

The Realtor didn’t sell most — or any — of the pictured homes.

Code of Ethics

Is that kosher?


The Realtor Code of Ethics explicitly forbids deceptive advertising.

So, how come you see so many ads with this format — especially now, with home owners contemplating listing their homes this Spring?

Fine Print

If you scan the fine print, you’ll find — guaranteed — a disclaimer stating that the pictured homes represent all the listed or sold homes in a particular area for a prescribed period (like 2010) . . . but not necessarily by the Realtor in the ad. 

Just this week, I saw an ad fitting this profile that literally pictured 50 nicer, middle class homes.

Which would be quite a feat, given that perhaps only a dozen Realtors in the state sold that many homes last year, and virtually all of those were foreclosures under $100k (sometimes, a lot under).

About the author

Ross Kaplan has 19+ years experience selling real estate all over the Twin Cities. He is also a 12-time consecutive "Super Real Estate Agent," as determined by Mpls. - St. Paul Magazine and Twin Cities Business Magazine. Prior to becoming a Realtor, Ross was an attorney (corporate law), CPA, and entrepreneur. He holds an economics degree from Stanford.

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