Team Names for California Realtors®

Under a new California law passed in 2014 (AB 2018), licensed real estate salepersons can now represent themselves to the public as a “team” without having to file a fictitious business name statement.

Previously, the law required that Realtors® wishing to market themselves as a ‘group’ or ‘team’ had to file a fictitious business name statement with the county clerk and pay the associated fees. Now, pursuant to the criteria in this infographic (or the full text of the law), real estate professionals can market themselves under a “team name”, so long as that name does not imply or suggest a separate entity from the responsible broker.

Check it out below!

SuperBowl Team Names

 

2015 New California Law: AB 2018

Existing California Bureau of Real Estate rules define a fictitious business name as any name that is not the name of the Realtor® or broker. Recently, a trend has emerged where teams of real estate agents are marketing themselves under a “team name”.

Prior to 2015, the law classified these team names – i.e the “Smith Team” for Nancy Smith and Jeff Smith – as a fictitious business name and specified certain requirements for the appropriate use of team names, such as filing a fictitious business statement with the county clerk, paying fees, and following certain marketing and advertising rules. Previous BRE regulations also prohibited the use of fictitious business names unless the name included the employing broker’s name within the propsed team name. Violations of these rules, with regard to the fictitious business name, constituted a misdemeanor under previous law.

Effective January 1, 2015, Realtors® may now market themselves under a “team name” without filing a fictitious business name statement. As per the amended California Business and Professions Code Chapter 892, Sections 10159.5 – 10159.7, a qualified “team name” must meet the following criteria:

  1. it must include the last name of at least one of the licensed members of the group
  2. it must contain the terms “associates,” “group,” or “team”
  3. it must not contain “broker” or “brokerage”
  4. it cannot suggest or imply the existence of a separate real estate entity from the broker

“Team Names” that meet the above criteria are no longer considered fictitious business names, as of the passage of AB 2018. However, entities using a “team name” under the new criteria must still abide by marketing and advertising rules, such as including the responsible broker’s identity in a manner equally as prominent as the team name and displaying the licensee’s name and license number in a conspicuous manner. It is also no longer a misdemeanor for violating the provisions of the fictitious business name rule.

The amended law is included below:

Chapter 892, Section 10159.5 of the Business and Professions Code:

  • (a) Every person applying for a license under this chapter who desires to have the license issued under a fictitious business name shall file with his or her application a certified copy of his or her fictitious business name statement filed with the county clerk pursuant to Chapter 5 (commencing with Section 17900) of Part 3 of Division 7.
    1. A responsible broker may, by contract, permit a salesperson to do all of the following:
      • File an application on behalf of a responsible broker with a county clerk to obtain a fictitious business name.
      • Deliver to the bureau an application, signed by the responsible broker, requesting the bureau’s approval to use a county approved fictitious business name that shall be identified with the broker’s license number.
      • Pay for any fees associated with filing an application with a county or the bureau to obtain or use a fictitious business name.
      • Maintain ownership of a fictitious business name, as defined in paragraph (2) of subdivision (a) of Section 10159.7, that may be used subject to the control of a responsible broker.
  • (b)
    1. A salesperson using a fictitious business name authorized by subdivision (a), shall use that name only as permitted by his or her responsible broker.
    2. This section does not change a real estate broker’s duties under this division to supervise a salesperson.
  • (c) A person applying to a county for a fictitious business name pursuant to subdivision (a) may file his or her application in the county or counties where the fictitious business name will be used.
  • (d) Marketing and solicitation materials, including business cards, print or electronic media and “for sale” signage, using a fictitious business name obtained in accordance with subdivision (a) shall include the responsible broker’s identity in a manner equally as prominent as the fictitious business name.
  • (e) Notwithstanding subdivision (b) of Section 10140.6, advertising, including print or electronic media and “for sale” signage, containing a fictitious business name obtained in accordance with subdivision (a) shall include the salesperson’s name and license number.
  • (f) Notwithstanding Section 10185, a violation of this section is not a misdemeanor.

Chapter 892, Section 10159.6 of the Business and Professions Code:

  • All of the following apply to use of a team name, as defined in paragraph (5) of subdivision (a) of Section 10159.7:
    • (a) Notwithstanding subdivision (b) of Section 10140.6, advertising that contains a team name, including print or electronic media and “for sale” signage, shall include the licensee’s name and license number in all advertising, and shall be displayed in a conspicuous manner.
    • (b) The responsible broker’s identity shall be displayed as prominently and conspicuously as the team name in all advertising.
    • (c) The advertising material shall not contain terms that imply the existence of a real estate entity independent of the responsible broker.
    • (d) Notwithstanding Section 10185, a violation of this section is not a misdemeanor.

Chapter 892, Section 10159.7 of the Business and Professions Code:

  • (a) For the purposes of this article, the following definitions shall apply:
      1. “Broker identity” means the name under which the broker operates or conducts business and may include a sole proprietorship or business entity name.
      2. “Fictitious business name” means a professional identity or brand name under which activity requiring a real estate license is conducted and the use of which is subject to approval by the bureau pursuant to Section 10159.5.
      3. “Ownership of a fictitious business name” means the right to use, renew, and control the use of a fictitious business name obtained in accordance with Section 10159.5.
      4. “Responsible broker” means the broker responsible for the exercise of control and supervision of salespersons under Section 10159.2, or a licensee subject to discipline under subdivision (h) of Section 10177 for failure to supervise activity requiring a real estate license. The supervision of a salesperson required under this part is limited to regulatory compliance and consumer protection.
      5. “Team name” means a professional identity or brand name used by a salesperson, and one or more other real estate licensees, for the provision of real estate licensed services. Notwithstanding any other law, the use of a team name does not require that a separate license be issued for that name pursuant to Section 10159.5.

    A team name does not constitute a fictitious business name for purposes of this part if all of the following apply:

      • (A)The name is used by two or more real estate licensees who work together to provide licensed real estate services, or who represent themselves to the public as being a part of a team, group, or association to provide those services.
      • (B) The name includes the surname of at least one of the licensee members of the team, group, or association in conjunction with the term “associates,” “group,” or “team.”
      • (C) The name does not include any term or terms, such as “real estate broker,” “real estate brokerage,” “broker,” or “brokerage” or any other term that would lead a member of the public to believe that the team is offering real estate brokerage services, that imply or suggest the existence of a real estate entity independent of a responsible broker.
  • (b) Nothing in this section changes a real estate broker’s duties under this division to supervise a salesperson.

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