Release Date: 10/12/2017
QUESTION: I am forming a new firm and would like to use the term REALTORS® as part of my firm's name. I know there are some restrictions on what I can do. What do I need to know?
ANSWER: First of all, you are NOT permitted to use the term REALTORS® as part of your firm's name.
The National Association of REALTORS® ("NAR") has published a Membership Marks Manual that provides excellent guidance on the use of NAR's registered trademarks, including the term REALTORS®. The Manual can be accessed here.
The Membership Marks Manual makes it clear that individuals who hold REALTOR® membership in a Member Board may use the terms REALTOR® or REALTORS® in connection with the name of their real estate business as an indicator of their membership in the REALTOR® organization. To do so, however, the term must be separated from the business name by appropriate symbols or punctuation. The term REALTORS® may not actually be included as a part of the business name itself.
The Manual gives the following example of an appropriate use of the term REALTORS®:
S.S. Smith Realty, Inc., REALTORS®.
An example of a similar but improper use is the following:
S.S. Smith REALTORS®, Inc.
The Manual includes the following suggestion: "When selecting a firm name, members are strongly encouraged to utilize the words “Realty,” “Real Estate," or similar terms that indicate the real estate nature of their business. When these words are used in the firm name, the terms REALTOR® and REALTORS® are more clearly and easily perceived as indicators of membership and professional commitment."
NC REALTORS® provides articles on legal topics as a member service. They are general statements of applicable legal and ethical principles for member education only. They do not constitute legal advice. The services of a private attorney should be sought for legal advice.
© Copyright 2017. North Carolina Association of REALTORS®, Inc. This article is intended solely for the benefit of NC REALTORS® members, who may reproduce and distribute it to other NC REALTORS® members and their clients, provided it is reproduced in its entirety without any change to its format or content, including disclaimer and copyright notice, and provided that any such reproduction is not intended for monetary gain. Any unauthorized reproduction, use or distribution is prohibited.