I bought a property some time ago and listing photos are still online in advertising done by the seller’s brokerage. I’d like them removed, can RECO do this for me?
The Real Estate Council of Ontario (RECO) can look into the matter, if the brokerage of the seller you purchased the home from is unwilling or unable to have the advertisement taken down. Your first step should be to contact the salesperson or brokerage that oversaw the sale of the home with a request that the advertisement be removed.
There are specific rules for advertising properties for sale that salespersons and brokers are obliged to follow to ensure they are in compliance with the Real Estate and Business Brokers Act, 2002 and its Code of Ethics. Advertising rules are in place to help ensure that real estate advertisements are accurate, and consumers are not misled by false or deceptive claims. They also play an important role in helping to protect the privacy of buyers and sellers.
Most brokerages are committed to following the rules of property advertising. Sometimes an advertisement may remain active as a mere oversight. If you contact the brokerage, you can expect them to do what they can to correct the issue promptly. I suggest giving the seller’s brokerage the benefit of the doubt that they simply forgot to remove the ad after you assumed ownership of your home. A gentle reminder of their responsibility to respect your privacy will likely prompt them to have the advertising removed. If that doesn’t work, feel free to contact RECO.
For the benefit of yourself and other readers, below are some basics of property advertising and the obligations placed on brokerages.
When a home is listed for sale, the seller’s representative may market the property on listing services and websites with the seller’s permission. Once an offer has been accepted, the seller’s brokerage can then advertise that the home is now off the market and use a “SOLD” designation in their marketing.
The brokerage is allowed to run such ads until the home’s ownership changes hands. Once that happens, the brokerage can’t make any reference to the property in advertising without the new owner’s written permission. That includes posting photos of the property on the brokerage website or anywhere else.
And if the seller’s brokerage wants to include pertinent details of the transaction, such as the selling price or the closing date, it needs written permission from both the buyer and seller, regardless of who owns the home when the advertisement is published.
From a safety perspective, I will close with a little advice regarding listing photographs: salespeople typically advise that clients declutter their homes before a photo shoot to make it easier to market. In addition to decluttering, it is also good advice to depersonalize the space for your personal safety. To do this you will want to make sure your valuables, keys and confidential information (bills, bank statements, passport and other identifying and personal documents, like, family photos and computer passcodes, for instance) are safely stowed away before the photographer takes any pictures. Once the photographer has done their work, you should personally review any photos your representative wishes to post online before they are included in any advertising. Doing this will help deter any web-surfing burglars from taking interest in your property.
If you have a question for Joe about the home buying or selling process, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Joseph Richer is Registrar of the Real Estate Council of Ontario (RECO). He is in charge of the administration and enforcement of all rules that govern real estate professionals in Ontario. You can find more tips at reco.on.ca, follow on Twitter @RECOhelps or on YouTube at http://www.youtube.com/RECOhelps.