Marketing and advertising

There are rules you must follow when you are marketing a property, business, lifestyle block, company, or your agency and service. This page helps you understand what you must do to comply with the Real Estate Agents Act 2008 and provides guidance on what you need to do when marketing a property.

  • Marketing as an individual or company

  • Where to display the information

  • Marketing a property

  • Commercial advertising and marketing

  • Photography

  • Unsubstantiated representations

  • Removing marketing

  • Accurate price range

  • Disclosures in marketing material

Marketing as an individual or company

Under section 121 of the Real Estate Agents Act 2008, the holder of an agent’s licence, whether it is a company or an individual, must ensure that the required information is displayed at their office and on any signage or advertising material.

Any signs or advertising material used by salespersons or branch managers working for or on behalf of that agent must display that same information.

The required information is:

  • the name of the agent
  • the fact that the agent is licensed under the Real Estate Agents Act 2008
  • and the name the business is conducted under if it’s different to the agent’s name.

The Act does not specify what wording should be used, but examples include:

  • for a licensed agent: Jo Smith, licensed under the Real Estate Agents Act 2008
  • for a company: ABC Realty Ltd, licensed under the Real Estate Agents Act 2008.

Licensees with a salesperson's licence can describe themselves as a licensed salesperson (or simply licensee) but not as a licensed agent. It is OK for salespersons to use the term agent in a generic sense because that is the word consumers often use, but not on your marketing or advertising.

Examples for a licensed salesperson:

  • You can say: I am the real estate agent selling this property.
  • You can say: I am a licensed salesperson.
  • You can't say: I am a licensed real estate agent.

It is important to remember that correct spelling, grammar and punctuation are essential to promote a professional image.

Clarification about REA and REAA

Either ‘REA Act’ or ‘REAA 2008’ can be used by licensees to refer to the Real Estate Agents Act 2008 on signage, websites, business cards, and any other advertising material.

REA is the Real Estate Authority’s operating name and how we should be referred to.

The ‘Real Estate Agents Authority’ or ‘REAA’ is our legal name (and our name before 2018). It is only used for contracts we enter into, in disciplinary decisions from Complaint Assessment Committees, and our appearance before the Tribunal or other higher courts.

Where to display the information

The required information must be displayed prominently on all of the following, where they are maintained or produced by (or on behalf of) the agent for the purpose of agency work:

  • offices or shops
  • business websites and social media
  • notices, signage and other advertisements

letters, accounts, contractual documents, agreements and any other documents sent, handed out, entered into, or published in the course of the business.

Marketing a property

Before you begin marketing a property, it’s important to fully understand what you are selling and make sure the way you market the property matches the information you have about it.

You should:

  • obtain the record of title to see if there are any interests registered on it, such as covenants, caveats, easements etc. that should be brought to the attention of buyers (and the vendor). Read more about checking titles here
  • make sure the title information in the listing document (tenure, ownership, legal description and property description) matches the information on the title
  • find out the zoning and town planning regulations or council requirements so you can point out any restrictions that may apply to the property
  • verify any claims made by the vendor. If the vendor has made a claim about the property that you can’t verify, for example, that the property can be subdivided, we recommend you do not make the claim. If you decide to tell buyers about an unverified claim, we recommend you explain the claim is based on a statement made by the vendor and that it hasn’t been verified. You should advise buyers to seek legal or expert advice
  • point out any issue you are aware of. You should provide the information you have and recommend the buyer makes their own checks and seeks professional advice
  • keep a written record of the information you have given buyers and if you have advised them to get professional advice. It’s a good idea to follow up with an email
  • check the buyer has understood what you have told them. You may wish to ask questions to ensure they have understood the information you have provided.

If you or your agency becomes aware of new information that is contrary to what is already being advertised and promoted, you are required to take immediate action. You must withdraw any incorrect materials and notify any party you (or any of your colleagues) have had any dealings with about the property and provide them with the correct information.

If you include an aerial photograph of the property with an overlaid boundary line in advertising or promotional material, you must check the positioning of the line, to confirm whether it is accurate. Best practice is always to mention that the line is 'only indicative of the boundary'. This will help to avoid later complications if there is an encroachment over the true boundary by either the subject property or a neighbouring one.

Commercial advertising and marketing

You must be very clear about what, specifically, is being marketed.

For example, when photographs or descriptions mention a specific business that is a tenant of the property you are marketing, prospective purchasers may incorrectly interpret this to mean that the business is being offered for sale as well as the land and buildings.

Photography

Often REA receives queries from consumers who are concerned about the ownership of the photos taken of their property.

We advise consumers that although they have paid for photographs to be taken, the images usually belong to the agency or even the photographer who took them. The listing agreement and marketing plan will need to clearly outline who has ownership of these photos. 

Drone photography

Drone photography is popular in marketing campaigns because it showcases features like coastal views or sweeping grounds. There are some restrictions you must follow when operating a drone.

It is important to remember that drones are classed as aircraft, and their use is regulated by the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) under part 101 of the Civil Aviation Rules.

Part 101 of the Civil Aviation Rules state:

  • you must fly only in daylight
  • your drone must not weigh more than 25 kilograms
  • you cannot fly your aircraft higher than 120 metres (400 feet) above ground level
  • you must have consent from anyone you are flying over
  • you must have permission from the owner of any land you are flying over
  • you must not fly the drone in controlled airspace without authorisation from air traffic control and not within 4 kilometres of an airport without agreement from the aerodrome operator. A certified Unmanned Aircraft Operator Certification (UAOC) operator will have variations under this section allowing for more operating flexibility.

If you want to fly a drone that weighs more than 25 kilograms or operate the drone under a variation of the part 101 rules, then the drone operator must hold an Unmanned Aircraft Operator Certificate (UAOC) issued by the CAA under part 102 of the Civil Aviation Rules. The CAA recommends that you use a UAOC holder to operate a drone to ensure a safe and professional operation without creating a hazard. If you hire an operator, make sure you ask to see a copy of their certificate and attached Operating Specifications to outline exactly what they can do.

You should also consider the Privacy Act when taking photos from a drone. Make sure you have permission from everyone whose land you want to fly over and communicate clearly with them about when it will be taking place.

To learn more, visit the Civil Aviation Authority website(external link).

Unsubstantiated representations

An unsubstantiated representation is a claim made in trade, where the person, at the time they make the claim, doesn’t have any reasonable basis for it. In the context of agency work, it can apply to all types of representations including statements used in marketing and websites or verbal statements made by a licensee.

If a claim is made, you must have appropriate supporting evidence to back it up.

Under sections 12A and 40 of the Fair Trading Act 1986(external link), it is an offence to make unsubstantiated representations, including representations made about the sale of a property. Licensees can be held to account under the Fair Trading Act, the Real Estate Agents Act 2008 and the Professional Conduct and Client Care Rules 2012.

  • Are there any exceptions?

    You can make claims that are regarded as clearly an exaggeration and are so obvious that no-one is likely to reasonably believe them.

    An example might be ’This is the best property ever!’ It’s risky to rely on ‘puffery’ except where it is obvious that it’s not meant to be taken as fact. You may want to consider if all prospective buyers will understand the difference between ‘puffery’ and fact.

    The law is designed to catch representations which a reasonable person would expect to be substantiated. For example, ‘Home and Income' shouldn’t be used to advertise a property where there is a restrictive covenant preventing this.

  • What if a representation is unsubstantiated but true?

    A representation can be unsubstantiated regardless of whether it ends up being true or not. The law requires you to make sure you have reasonable grounds at the time of making any statement about a property or business you are marketing, before making the statement.

  • Penalties for breaches of the Fair Trading Act

    Breaching the Fair Trading Act can lead to fines of up to $200,000 for licensees and $600,000 for agencies. The courts can also grant an injunction and can order corrective advertising.

  • What this means for you

    You need to be vigilant and take steps to ensure that statements you and your agency make (whether verbally to a prospective purchaser or in advertising) are accurate, genuine and are substantiated.

Removing marketing

When an agency agreement ends, it’s important to make sure that all the marketing ceases. All media, including physical advertisements, printed media and any digital advertisements run through websites, social media etc. should be removed.

It is a key obligation to ensure that advertising is removed when the agency agreement ends. Leaving advertising on a website or social media following the end of the agency period is a breach of rule 9.6.

In a relevant decision the Tribunal commented:

'Simply put, when a listing comes to an end it is a professional responsibility of the licensee to tidy up and cancel or sever all his advertising in any form. In this case, the licensee has been too slow in cancelling advertising. It is no excuse that he may not have received a formally written instruction from a vendor to do so. If a property has been sold, it follows that advertising it for sale must cease and it is the licensee’s responsibility in most cases to effect that.'

Read the full decision here(external link).

Accurate price range

It is a requirement that when you are providing potential buyers or lessees with information about the price range of the property, it must be true and accurate. You must be clear about the acceptable price range your vendors or lessor is willing to accept.

You must:

  • carefully check all the marketing and advertising information in printed and digital media to ensure any reference made to a price or range is true and accurate
  • avoid giving inaccurate or untrue pricing information during verbal communications
  • avoid unrealistic focus on the rateable value (RV). The relevance of RV in terms of reflecting a true market value must be approached with caution. It is recommended not to use the RV in any advertisements where it does not realistically reflect market value.

Disclosures in marketing material

Advertising is a positive representation of the facts, intended to generate enquiries. While it is not expected everything about a property or business is disclosed in the advertising, you should ensure that the impression the marketing gives is a correct reflection of the property or business being marketed. The advertisement needs to create interest, but not be misleading.

Your vendor or client should pre-approve and sign off all advertising relating to their property or business to confirm they are happy with it. Your supervisor or manager should oversee all advertising before it is published.

The level of disclosure increases with the level of interest shown by a prospective buyer. Some vendors would prefer not to have confidential details given to someone making a general enquiry but would be happy for the information to be passed onto buyers who are making serious enquires.

Read more about disclosures here.

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