Agent teams banned from using ‘real estate’ in names by another state

Rules enacted in South Carolina are part of nationwide push to rein in teams
  • South Carolina has banned the use of 'real estate,' 'realty' and related terms in team names.
  • The ban has floored some agent teams, who say it was added, along with other rules governing teams, to a state real estate bill at the last minute.
  • Supporters of the advertising restrictions for teams say they're necessary to protect consumers from being mislead.
  • The South Carolina team rules were reportedly added at the insistence of the state real estate commission.

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Stephen Cooley says he's sunk millions of dollars into marketing his team, the “Stephen Cooley Real Estate Group," for 20 years. The name appears on his team's moving truck, billboard and myriad paraphernalia. But a bill recently passed by South Carolina is threatening to undermine the brand he’s worked so hard to build and, he says, could cost him tens of thousands of dollars. It includes a ban on the use of “real estate," "realty" and related terms in agent team names. Like similar rules enacted by some other states in recent years, the ban is designed to protect consumers, who some in the industry say are increasingly duped into thinking that some teams are brokerages. But other stakeholders say the rule is draconian and underlines a nationwide push by traditional brokerages to curb the growth of teams -- which some of the old guard allegedly perceives as a threat. Some real estate interests "have lobbied to make it as difficult on teams to grow as...