Write your ads, but take care to follow the law

Posted by on Friday, November 7th, 2014 at 12:33pm.

If you've been following the steps, you're almost ready to begin marketing your home. But before you do, become familiar with the laws that govern real estate advertising. The last thing you need right now is a lawsuit.

The Americans with Disabilities Act and the Fair Housing Laws say that you must not discriminate against anyone.

Considering what you hear in the news every day, you probably know that your advertisements can't contain any kind of references to race or national origin. But realize that people sue for discrimination about other factors as well.

Discrimination based on gender, sexual orientation, familial status, religion, disabilities, and age are all prohibited. So while you may think yours is the perfect home for a large family, you can't come right out and say that. What you can say is that you've enjoyed raising your 6 children in that home and in that neighborhood.

Regarding age, the only discrimination allowed is for senior citizen communities. Otherwise, the only requirement you can make of your buyers is that they have the money or can get a loan within a time frame acceptable to you.

You need to be careful in writing your ads, because even while you don't intend to discriminate, you could do it accidentally if you word your advertisements incorrectly. And believe me, it is extremely easy to make a mistake on this.

You'll want to say something like "You can walk to the bus stop," but you must not. Instead, you can say the home is only 2 blocks from the bus stop. You must not assume that anyone can walk, talk, see, hear, or smell. Don't suggest that they can in your advertisements. Don't assume that people have families, either. Replace the words "your family" with "your household."

When writing your ads, you do want to paint a beautiful word picture of life in each room of your home, and if it applies, your garage and yard. But be careful of the adjectives. Look at each one and ask yourself "Can anyone do this?" If the answer is yes, you're OK.

One more caution - avoid saying things like "safe neighborhood." If your new buyers are assaulted or the house is burglarized, they'll sue you for misrepresentation.

Call me if you have questions.

P.S. Next time I write I'll give you some advice on marketing - because a sign in the yard and an ad in the newspaper are NOT enough any more.

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