Can you give away a branded bottle of water at an open house?
Can you put out cookies or other snacks?
Can you give away a $25 gift certificate in a drawing for people who have recently like your social page?
These questions have tormented REALTORS® for years. And for years the answer from the Oklahoma Real Estate Commission has been, “no,” because the law did not allow real estate licensees to provide prizes or any other items of value to influence a purchaser or prospective purchaser of real estate.
That is, until TODAY (November 1, 2019) of this year when a new law takes effect. So, what happened? How did we get here? And what does it mean for your business?
Looking at the old law, the major issues are “any other item of value” and “prospective buyer.” Both of those terms could be, and have been, interpreted in such a broad manner that they could apply to the simplest of items (like a bottle of water) or any person who might someday buy a house (including a child).
Obviously, these laws have caused problems for REALTORS® to grow their businesses in ways that are afforded to nearly every other industry. So, beginning late last year, we set out to make a change for our industry, and making this change became a top priority in our Legislative Agenda for 2019. Fortunately for us, the Oklahoma Association of REALTORS® has 11,000+ members, and when we make something a priority and use the power of our members, we can make quite a splash.
Our government affairs team set out to find like-minded Legislators who understand our issues and could be authors of the bill that would be necessary to make the changes to the current law. It didn’t take long to find two members of the Oklahoma Legislature who would be the perfect authors of the new law: Senator Paul Rosino and Representative Mark VanCuren are both REALTORS!
Senator Rosino took the lead first and the bill originated in the Senate giving it the bill number SB 104. After he moved it masterfully through the Senate, Rep. VanCuren promptly moved it through the House of Representatives, and in April, Governor Kevin Stitt signed the changes into law, which took six more months before they went into effect.
The new law still maintains that “inducing buyers” is illegal, but the statute clearly outlines that giveaways for marketing purposes are permitted as long as receiving the item is not contingent on individuals making an offer or purchasing a specific property.
So, go back to the top, and ask those same questions again.
Water bottles? Drink up!
Cookies? Bake away!
Gift card drawings to increase your social media presence? Go for it!
How about that for a change that impacts your business? And all because an organization you are already a part of, utilized its potential to impact the industry for better. Of course, this is the short version, too. What you didn’t see are the long hours at the State Capitol or the late nights spent talking to Legislators and members and policy experts about how to ensure the best for you, our members.
And if you didn’t know, we did this two more times last session alone, giving us a perfect record in getting our request legislation passed in 2019.
And if you ask me, that’s a performance worthy of one of those delicious cookies you’ll baking for your next open house.
JESSICA M. HICKOK, GRI, RCE, CAE
Chief Executive Officer
Oklahoma Association of REALTORS®
P.S. – Want to know more about the law and hear more examples? Check out the Talking Real Podcast wherever you subscribe to podcasts where we have even more information.