I promised to investigate the “NAR and Blogging” issue and give my perspective on this growing controversy. As a lot has already being said, I will not repeat it. You can find a lot of information in the following posts:
NAR Looking at Blogs and NAR looking at Blogs Part2 by Monika McGillicuddy~ N.H. Real Estate Broker & Trainer
Ride the Blogging Wave by Bryant Tutas
Bloggers: Be Afraid of the Big, Bad Broker (or Bank) by Brian Brady
A few websites picked up on the issue as well (NAR Wisdom – it is anonymous!) and you can read about the issue in the Inman Blog as well (NAR caught in blogger crosshairs), so it looks as NAR and Blogging became the topic of the day.
Here is my quick summary: it is all about possibility that NAR might issue guidelines on compliance that might limit agents’ freedom to blog. In my personal opinion there is a lot of confusion out there.
Why? Agents are independent consultants, but brokers are liable for their performance. Does it mean that brokers have to or should restrict agents’ ability to blog in name of the compliance? Just the opposite!!! I believe that it is in brokers’ best interest to have best agents working for them, agents who can market themselves and be innovative. Brokers are responsible for everything agents do today, so that agents additionally blog does not change anything! I don’t think that brokers need to change any of the existing compliance rules at all. They just need and should use existing compliance rules.
Does it mean that it is going to happen and NAR will issue new compliance rules? It might. Is it necessary or needed? ABSOLUTELY not! We have innovative brokers and conservative brokers, as we have conservative and innovative managers in the corporate world. Being innovative usually gives you an edge; however, every now and then “conservative forces” take an edge. Brokers need to be careful and make sure that they properly supervise agents, bu do we need new rules? I don’t think so.
To summarize: Can NAR limit agents’ ability to blog? I don’t believe so as long as agents stay within existing compliance guidelines. Can franchises and big brokers limit this ability? This depends on the existing set of “rules and regulations” within a franchise. Some might, some won’t, but I cannot see any major “crack down” coming from the top. Can individual brokers limit blogging? They certainly can, as it is their duty to set up policies within their organizations. Some will limit blogging as the will believe that this only way they can enforce compliance. Is it necessary or wise? Opinions are much divided as you can see in the posts I referred to above. What should agents who blog should do if they are told by their brokers to stop? First, they should try to educate their brokers. And if this doesn’t work? It is a big world out there.
Personally I have recently become a big believer in blogging and am helping our agents to embrace it. It is not easy as San Mateo County , CA is one of the most conservative real estate places in the US (and there are good reasons for this). Yes, in our brokerage we have policies and we are very particular about compliance issues. But I want our agents to be innovative and productive as well as follow the guidelines (agents have to agree to do follow the guidelines before they join us). Blogging is a great tool and I will continue encouraging it and promoting it. There is no need whatsoever to create new guidelines to deal with agents blogging activities. It is all in the existing compliance guidelines and broker - associate contracts.