During our social media risk management classes, we’re frequently met with some surprise when we mention that, according to NAR policy, the word Realtor cannot be used in a Web address if it appears with a geographical term or descriptive phrase.  For example, the Web addresses AwesomeRealtor.com and ArlingtonRealtor.com would be unauthorized uses of the Realtor mark.

Readers may be equally surprised to learn that the same rules apply to social media handles or usernames on sites like Flickr, Twitter, Facebook, and so on. So the Twitter handles @ArlingtonRealtor or @AwesomeRealtor would be unauthorized uses of the Realtor mark.

In fact, the rules require the Realtor marks to be used with the name of a member or with the legal name of a member broker’s real estate business and apply to any use of the word Realtor, whether in print or online.

There’s a caveat, though: According to NAR trademark staff, as long as the descriptive phrase or geographical term doesn’t appear directly adjacent to the word Realtor, the use is permissible. Here are some examples to illustrate the point.

Acceptable uses:

  • RealtorJoeAlexandria.com
  • @ArlingtonJoeRealtor
  • AwesomeJoeRealtor.com

Unacceptable uses:

  • ArlingtonRealtorJoe
  • JoeRealtorArlington
  • ArlingtonVirginiaRealtor
  • AwesomeRealtorJoe

Visit NAR’s Trademark/Logo Rules section at Realtor.org (login required) for more information and examples and visit it each time you register a new username or Web domain to refresh your memory on the rules. When in doubt, contact trademark@Realtors.org.

Also note that the rules only apply to the use of the word Realtor. Therefore, you may use descriptive phrases or geographical terms in conjunction with the words Agent, Broker, and so on without violating NAR’s rules about use of the Realtor mark. None of the following would violate NAR’s Realtor mark rules:

  • @AwesomeAgentAndy
  • ArlingtonAgent.com
  • @BristowBroker
  • VirginiaHomesExpert.com