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Can you blog about a development or property if it's not your listing??





Well...I did it again.

I managed to have one of my comments deleted from another member's post because of what I said.

Most of you know by now that I'm not one to offer "Atta Girl's" or simply agree with the original poster in the name of political correctness. If it seems wrong, I can't bring myself to type "You Go Girl" and instead will present my honest opinion on where something possibly went wrong.

Today's topic?

Blogging about a new development or another agent's listing without permission.

With Localism on the rise, there's a tendency to want to blog about all current happenings in the community. New developments, custom homes being built, active listings...etc. But do you need permission to blog about them???

My take on the situation is...YES, ABSOLUTELY!!!

As a Realtor, when you blog about anything...you're wearing your Realtor hat. You have certain obligations and rules to follow. It's not the same as being a nurse talking about a new high-rise development you saw this weekend. Or a plumber who's blogging about a custom home that's being built. You're a real estate agent, bound by a Code of Ethics and MLS policies which may undermine your seemingly innocent blogging efforts.

A recent post discussed an agent's blog from 18 months ago. It was about a new development which this agent had seen...and liked...so she blogged about it. After all, it was a new development in the community and obviously would be of interest. It was positive and contained nothing derrogatory. No harm, no foul.

Fast forward to today. That old post is still circulating around the internet and coming up in search engines. It still includes the old photos even though the project is now complete, and the agent doesn't want to go back and update the blog. She had been invited by the new lead agent on the development to tour the property, but that was last year. She never did, although it was on her list of things to do.

Here's where it gets sticky.

The developer has the property listed on the MLS, but is very unhappy about the old blog (to the point of being unwilling to work with the agent or allow her access to the property). The developer is even telling other agents how unhappy they are about this particular blog. The agent who blogged about it 18 months ago is generating phone calls from prospective buyers...and wants to figure out how to work with the developer.

Most of the comments on that post revolved around things like "I guess the developer's not happy that you know how to generate leads better than they do"....or "Why aren't they sending you thank you's for trying to sell their property and for the free advertising?" Or.."It's in the MLS, so you should be able to do what you want to help get the property sold. After all, isn't that the seller's goal?"

The reality of course, is much different. If you're blogging about another agent's listing, whether it's a new development, an individual property, or raw land...(without their consent)....you are in violation of a whole bunch of stuff. You're advertising the property. Period. Plain and simple. Sure, you may consider it to be "only a blog"...but if you're a Realtor....and generating phone calls from buyers...I guarantee every arbitration board or court is going to consider it as advertising.

As such, you're bound by established rules and policies governing that sort of thing. Local MLS's have policies, your state's Real Estate Department has policies...and NAR has policies. As an example, here is one MLS's (Pacific West Association of Realtors) published policy in this regard:

MLS Committee's Guide to Advertising another Agent's Listing
Purpose
The purpose of this guide is: (1) To highlight the specific sections in our MLS Rules and Regulations ("MLS Rules") that govern the advertising of another agent's listing; (2) To provide explanations of the advertising rules so that you have a better understanding of what you can and cannot do; (3) To give examples of what can and cannot be done.

Summaries
Here are summaries of the specific sections of the MLS Rules that apply to advertising another agent's listing.

Sec.12.8
Listings may not be advertised by any MLS participant, except the listing broker, without prior consent (except on the internet covered in Section 12.16).

Sec 12.9
The truthful use of the current listing information from the A.O.R.'s "statistical report" or "comparable report" by a Participant for showing market share is alright. However, it may NOT Include the address of the property and must clearly state the time period covered for the claims. It must also include a "Based on...where...& when..." disclaimer.

Sec. 12.11, 12.15.1 & 12.15.5
The purpose of the MLS is to market properties to bona fide prospective purchases, to offer compensation to other participants, to support market evaluations for bona fide sellers & for appraising. Other uses of this information are expressly prohibited.

Sec. 12.12
The AOR leased MLS information is confidential and must be controlled at all times.

Sec. 12.13
Current listing information may not be given to real estate professional who do not belong to the A.O.R.

Sec. 12.16
Other broker's listing may be posted on a website if they clearly state the listing broker's name. It must show the source of the information and be updated at least every 7 days.

In addition of the PWR MLS Rules, the Department of Real Estate maintains rules and regulations and the National Association of REALTOR® Article 12, Code of Ethics, governs advertising. It is suggested that all rules and regulations which regulate advertising should be reviewed in full.


12.16 is obviously the most pertinent. It must clearly state the listing broker's name and be updated a minimum of every 7 days.

Hmmm...no wonder the developer of the project is upset. Old photos, old information, and the agent herself is generating buyer leads without their consent to even advertise the property. Some comments on that agent's post implied that it's against the MLS rules to NOT cooperate with the agent since the property was in the MLS.

Not true.

If an agent is in obvious and direct violation of so many policies, the listing agent nor seller on a property is under any obligation to do business with her or her clients until the violations are cured. Even then, I'm not sure I'd count on getting any actual offers accepted under the circumstances.

Alas, if you're going to blog about another agent's listing (no matter what kind of property it is)...you better get their consent (I'd get it in writing)...and you better be familiar with what your state and MLS's rules are for governing that kind of thing. To suggest in public to "Just send those buyers to the property with another agent" is just furthering the embarrassment and low regard for our industry (yes, many agents suggested that tactic on the other blog.)

The right thing to do is always easier...and I apologize to those who felt my truthful and direct comments were impolite, discourteous, rude or otherwise. In response to my commentary, some even wrote "No wonder he's an EX Realtor who now only sells flyers and postcards". Wow, you wanna talk rude?? LOL!!

I sold real estate for 10 years as a top agent in my area. I averaged 8-12 transactions per month, so I'm fairly well-versed in real estate. I now run a marketing firm doing "flyers and postcards" with annual sales of close to $3,000,000. I love what I do...and it seems unnecessary to have to continue reading things like "I appreciate your opinion but you're just a flyer guy". (Sorry for the rant).

 
Dave

Comment balloon 0 commentsTim Maitski • August 31 2008 12:25PM

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