"Do Not Call" - A Refresher Print

A homeowner recently complained to the RVAR office about the many phone calls she had received from REALTORS soliciting her listing. “Don’t the Do Not Call rules apply to REALTORS?” Of course they do. Perhaps a refresher is in order.

The Do Not Call Rules went into effect in the fall of 2003 and have been amended as recently as 2008. The Federal Communication Commission created a registry whereby consumers could place their residential phone numbers on the registry (though not originally covered, cell phone numbers may also be placed on the registry) to stop most telemarketing calls. Unsolicited “cold calls” to sell a product or service are prohibited to any phone number listed on the registry.

CALLS TO EXPIRED LISTINGS: REALTORS may NOT call the owners of expired or cancelled listings if the call is an unsolicited attempt to solicit a listing AND the owner’s phone number is listed in the Do Not Call registry.

CALLS TO OWNERS OF FOR SALE BY OWNER PROPERTIES: REALTORS may NOT call the owner of a for sale by owner property if the purpose of the call is to solicit the listing and the owner’s phone number is listed in the Do Not Call registry. However, if a REALTOR has a buyer interested in the property, the REALTOR may call the owner to discuss the buyer’s interest and arrange a showing.

ARRANGING SHOWINGS: REALTORS are allowed to call the owner of a listed property to arrange a showing. Such a call is not considered unsolicited and does not include an attempt to sell a product or service. The Code of Ethics already prohibits REALTORS from calling the owners of exclusively listed properties for the purpose of soliciting listings.

EXCEPTIONS: REALTORS and Affiliates may contact consumers with whom they have an existing business relationship. This applies to existing clients and customers and extends for up to 18 months after the end of a transaction. Also, if a consumer makes an inquiry, follow up calls may be made to that consumer for up to 3 months after the inquiry.

ACCESS REGISTRY: Firms may register to receive access to the registry database. Registration is restricted to firms, not individuals. Following registration, firms will receive a unique account number that may be shared with everyone affiliated with the firm. Firms are required to update their lists every 31 days and must renew their subscription annually.

PENALTIES: The fine for calling someone whose name appears on the Do Not Call registry is up to $11,000 per call. There is a “safe harbor” for inadvertent mistakes. Firms are responsible for having the necessary policies in place to meet the safe harbor requirements.

EXEMPTIONS: Those callers exempted from the Do Not Call rules are: (1) charities and tax-exempt non-profit organizations; (2) political campaigns and (3) callers taking surveys or polls.

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