§ 1011.25 Misleading sales practices.
Generally, promotional statements or material will be judged on the basis of the affirmative representations contained therein and the reasonable inferences to be drawn therefrom, unless the contrary is affirmatively stated or appears in promotional material, or unless adequate safeguards have been provided by the seller to reasonably guarantee the occurrence of the thing inferred. For example, when a lot is represented as being sold by a warranty deed, the inference is that the seller can and will convey fee simple title free and clear of all liens, encumbrances, and defects except those which are disclosed in writing to the prospective purchaser prior to conveyance. The following advertising and promotional practices, while not all inclusive, are considered misleading, and are used to evaluate a developer's or agent's representations in determining possible violations of the Act or regulations. In this section “represent” carries its common meaning.
(a) Proposed improvements. References to proposed improvements of any land unless it is clearly indicated that the improvements are only proposed or what the completion date is for the proposed improvement.
(b) Off-premises representations. Representing scenes or proposed improvements other than those in the subdivision unless
(1) It is clearly stated that the scenes or improvements are not related to the subdivision offered; or
(2) In the case of drawings that the scenes or improvements are artists' renderings;
(3) If the areas or improvements shown are available to purchasers, what the distance in road miles is to the scenes or improvements represented.
(c) Land use representations. Representing uses to which the offered land can be put unless the land can be put to such use without unreasonable cost to the purchaser and unless no fact or circumstance exists which would prohibit the immediate use of the land for its represented use.
(d) Use of “road” and “street.” Using the words “road” or “street” unless the type of road surface is disclosed. All roads and streets shown on subdivision maps are presumed to be of an all-weather graded gravel quality or higher and are presumed to be traversable by conventional automobile under all normal weather conditions unless otherwise shown on the map.
(e) Road access and use. Representing the existence of a road easement or right-of-way unless the easement or right-of-way is dedicated to the public, to property owners or to the appropriate property owners association.
(f) Waterfront property. References to waterfront property, unless the property being offered actually fronts on a body of water. Representations which refer to “canal” or “canals” must state the specific use to which such canal or canals can be put.
(g) Maps and distances.
(1) The use of maps to show proximity to other communities, unless the maps are drawn to scale and scale included, or the specific road mileage appears in easily readable print.
(2) The use of the terms such as “minutes away,” “short distance,” “only miles,” or “near” or similar terms to indicate distance unless the actual distance in road miles is used in conjunction with such terms. Road miles will be measured from the approximate geographical center of the subdivided lands to the approximate downtown or geographical center of the community.
(h) Lot size. Representation of the size of a lot offered unless the lot size represented is exclusive of all easements to which the lot may be subject, except for those for providing utilities to the lot.
(i) “Free” lots. Representing lots as “free” if the prospective purchaser is required to give any consideration whatsoever, offering lots for “closing costs only” when the closing costs are substantially more than customary, or when an additional lot must be purchased at a higher price.
(j) Pre-development prices. References to pre-development sales at a lower price because the land has not yet been developed unless there are plans for development, and reasonable assurance is available that the plans will be completed.
(k) False reports of lot sales. Repeatedly announcing that lots are being sold or to make repetitive announcements of the same lot being sold when in fact this is not the case.
(l) Guaranteed refund. Use of the word “guarantee” or phrase “guaranteed refund” or similar language implying a money-back guarantee unless the refund is unconditional.
(m) Discount certificates. The use of discount certificates when in fact there is no actual price reduction or when a discount certificate is regularly used.
(n) Lot exchanges. Representations regarding property exchange privileges unless any applicable conditions are clearly stated.
(o) Resale program. Making any representation that implies that the developer or agent will resell or repurchase the property being offered at some future time unless the developer or agent has an ongoing program for doing so.
(p) Symbols for conditions. The use of asterisks or any other reference symbol or oral parenthetical expression as a means of contradicting or substantially changing any previously made statement or as a means of obscuring material facts.
(q) Proposed public facilities. References to a proposed public facility unless money has been budgeted for construction of the facility and is available to the public authority having the responsibility of construction, or unless disclosure of the existing facts concerning the public facility is made.
(r) Non-profit or institutional name use. The use of names or trade styles which imply that the developer is a nonprofit research organization, public bureau, group, etc., when such is not the case.