The term ‘REALTOR®’ is a trademark that describes a real estate licensee who works in the real estate business and is a member of the National Association of REALTOR® and abides by its Code of Ethics. All too often, real estate agents misuse the word ‘REALTOR®’ in their domain name and get their attention called by NAR. The term “Realtor” simply indicates that you are a licensed member of NAR, and improper use of it can be misleading to the uninformed. For example, a site that proclaims they are the “best Realtor in town” is like saying they are the “best member of NAR” – which doesn’t make sense.
Given the competitive landscape of the real estate business, most find ways to use the REALTOR® mark as part of a domain name or address to distinguish themselves from the competition. However, there are rules governing proper use of the REALTOR® mark that must be followed at all times and apply to all types of media.
To minimize improper use of the term, correct use of the REALTOR® mark are clearly explained in The National Association’s Membership Marks Manual. Following is a summary of the basic rules with regard to the use of the REALTOR® mark in domain names:
- The term REALTOR®, whether used as part of a domain name or in some other fashion must refer to a member or a member’s firm.
- The term REALTOR® may not be used with descriptive words or phrases. For example, Number1realtor.com, numberone-realtor.com, chicagorealtors.org or realtorproperties.com are all incorrect.
- The term REALTOR® should never be used to denote an occupation or business. Do not combine words like “your,” “my,” “our” or any descriptive words or phrases between your name and the membership mark. JaneDoeMyRealtor.com and YourChicagoRealtorJohnDoe.com are all examples of improper use.
- For use as a domain name or e-mail address, the term REALTOR® does not need to be separated from the member’s name or firm name with punctuation. For example, both johndoe-realtor.com and johndoerealtor.com would be correct uses of the term as a part of domain names, and email@example.com and firstname.lastname@example.org are both correct uses of the term as part of an e-mail address.
- The REALTOR® block R logo should not be used as hypertext links in a website, as such uses can suggest an endorsement or recommendation of the linked site by your Association. The only exception would be to establish a link to the National Association’s web site, REALTOR.org, or its official property listing site, REALTOR.com.
Another noteworthy point is that although the manual stipulates that the REALTOR® mark should always be capitalized, it is acceptable for it to appear in lower case for domain names and web addresses only.
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