Real Estate Marketing in an On-Demand World: Considerations for Online Advertising

Real Estate Agent with Crecco Real Estate

In today’s technologically advanced society, homebuyers no longer solely rely on the Sunday classifieds
for help in their property searches. Accustomed to obtaining information whenever they want, most now
explore their housing options online. In fact, The 2008 NAR Profile of Home Buyers and Sellers revealed
87 percent of recent purchasers used the Internet in their search for a home.
As a real estate professional, it is essential that you remain up to date in this era of instant information to
remain competitive. However, it’s just as important to understand the risks of Internet marketing and how
you can help avoid them. Some of the issues you should keep in mind include:
Tell Them Who You Are.
You must disclose who you are and that you are a real estate practitioner in every online advertisement.
This requirement includes providing your name and/or firm’s legal name, office location, and license
jurisdiction(s). If you advertise on several pages within the same site, you should publish your
information on each page containing one of your advertisements.
If you discover another agent’s listing that you would like to add to your own site, you should first obtain
their consent to do so. Any such advertising should include the name of the property’s actual listing
broker and details of where and when you obtained the property data displayed on your site. You may not
alter any of the information you post about another’s listing, which is why it is important to divulge the
source of the listing.
Keep It Real.
Some of the benefits of marketing real estate online, such as full-color images and virtual tours, are also
potential pitfalls. Sellers may be able to exaggerate property features or conceal defects that would be
apparent in a physical visit. To help avoid these issues—and possible misrepresentation claims—you
should personally visit the property and urge all prospective buyers to complete an in-person walkthrough
before making an offer and hire a professional home inspector and other qualified experts. It is equally
important that you stress to sellers that all facts listed on your website (i.e. square footage, acreage, taxes,
etc.) are accurate. Even one simple typo could have potentially devastating consequences.
Change Happens.
If you learn of any changes to a property, you must update your listings accordingly. The Association of
Real Estate License Law Officials guidelines state, “any changes…should be updated online within 72
hours of the change.” If a third party controls the information, you must notify them of that change and
request that they “make needed alterations within 72 hours.” Additionally, the NAR requires that you
review the real estate marketing and advertising information on your own site “no less than every 31
days.” It is also advisable that you provide the date and time of the original posting or last update, and
always remember to remove any listings as soon as practicable after the closing.
By extending your advertising efforts to the virtual world, you could dramatically increase your
marketing results. You may gain clients from all over the country and even overseas. But if you don’t
implement proper risk reduction principles—including those listed here and that you already follow—you
could open yourself up to claims. Therefore, it is imperative that you are very cautious about
representations made on your site, that you properly document your procedures, transactions, and
communications, and remain current and compliant with all NAR guidelines and local, state, and federal
rules and regulations governing real estate advertising. By proceeding with such standards of care, you
could find the Internet to be a significant tool and powerful edge in your market.


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