"But I did stay at a Holiday Inn Express!" - Blog Tips for Rain Drips

Real Estate Agent with Fathom Realty West Sound WA State 52404

I came across something on our beloved network the other day that was a bit disconcerting.

Whenever I log onto ActiveRain, one of my regular habits is to access both the 'Referrals' and the 'Q&A' sections. Since I am only currently licensed in the State of Washington, I only respond to referrals and questions posted within my respective State.

Someone had left a question (I'm assuming that it was a 'consumer') regarding selling a property with mold issues.

Now I don't know about you, but here in the Pacific Northwest, mold issues can be pretty serious stuff, sometimes even life threatening. So it's not an issue to be taken lightly.

 An AR member had already responded to the question and started their response by stating, "I'm not a real estate agent, but"....

Excuse me? What's wrong with this picture? Not only was this respondent not licensed within our State, but they weren't even qualified or experienced in the right field!

Why do people find it necessary to respond to questions that they have no right to answer? It seems to me that we do a tremendous disservice to our network and to valued consumers by offering up half-baked answers to their genuine, legitimate questions.


As such, allow me to make a couple of recommendations:

  • If you're not licensed or regularly doing business within a particular State, DON'T respond to questions there.
  • If the question subject matter deals with a topic/issue that is outside your area of expertise and knowledge, DON'T respond.

Now, granted, there are those questions that come from within our own membership, and deal with aspects of our network. By all means, feel free to respond to those inquiries.

But for our highly esteemed consumers, let's give them the best advice/counsel that this amazing platform can offer!

(If you enjoyed this article, take time to read my corresponding post entitled "Well, actually, they're more like Guidelines"....)

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Rich Jacobson is a licensed real estate professional providing knowledgeable empowerment and relentless representation for his clients of residential properties and vacant land throughout all of Kitsap County WA and portions of Pierce, Mason, and Jefferson Counties. You can also find him at KitsapLife.com, SOUNDBITEBLOG and Crabbing in the Hood, or e-mail:  kitsapagent@gmail.com

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Rich Jacobson is a District Director for Fathom Realty and a licensed REALTOR®; an avid Crab Hunter, Clam Digger, and Oyster Shucker, He is the Social Media Evangelist for Life on the Kitsap Peninsula & The Western Puget Sound in scenic WA State.


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Renée Donohue~Home Photography
Savvy Home Pix - Allegan, MI
Western Michigan Real Estate Photographer
LOL I love the title, so fitting.  I have strayed FARRRRR from there because of the liability of implied agency.  Too little in the question, how do you not know it is loaded?  Stupid people who have nothing better to do like to play games with agents these days.  I don't play games :)
Oct 16, 2007 07:22 AM #39
Lane Bailey
Century 21 Results Realty - Suwanee, GA
Realtor & Car Guy

While I basically agree with you, there is one point I would disagree with.  "I am not an auto mechanic, but..."

I would respond that I have more expertise in many areas of automobilia than many certified techs.  Of course, there are others that I would be well down the list of qualified responders.  It comes down to knowing what you know.  And being quiet when you don't.   

If your brother's wife's cousin's barber's niece had a similar problem, you might do better to hold off on answering.   

Oct 16, 2007 07:25 AM #40
Dan Weis
Comey & Shepherd Realtors - Cincinnati, OH

Hi Rich,

I agree with you about the seriousness of unqualified people answering Q & A questions.

I believe Q & A should be removed from AR all together!

It's really not even smart to answer questions within your own state, because rarely do you hear the whole story, you may be violating agency laws and your advice may be considered practicing law.

Stay away from responding.  I rarely go to it anymore and if I do, I stop myself from writing answers.

If it's in writing, anyone has access to it...now or in the future!

Oct 16, 2007 07:39 AM #41
Robert and Lisa Hammerstein -201-315-8618
Keller Williams Valley Realty - Hillsdale, NJ
Bergen County NJ Real Estate
Bob Here;
I agree with Jay and you. Do it well or delete. Too many "experts" that really aren't and are giving dangerous info out I'm afraid. Great post. You sure it wasn't a Motel  8 Express? haa haa
Bob Hammerstein
Oct 16, 2007 09:35 AM #42
Rich Jacobson
Fathom Realty West Sound - Poulsbo, WA
Your Kitsap County WA Real Estate Broker

Dan - I appreciate and respect your answer here. But I respectfully disagree. I don't think the feature should be removed. It simply needs greater attention and additional controls. There are consumers out there that have legitimate concerns. The whole purpose of Localism is to give consumers a platform to make meaningful connections with local real estate professionals. The 'Q&A' feature should be one more valuable tool for helping to accomplish that goal. If I sense that the story isn't complete, I ask the consumer more questions, or I put a disclaimer in with my response. But at least the consumer now has a qualified professional in their specific area who is providing them with a valued response.

Oct 16, 2007 09:37 AM #43
Neal Bloom
eXp Realty - Weston, FL
Realtor CRS-Weston FL Real Estate
I went there once maybe a year ago...if I'm not licensed in the state ... I wouldn't even read it..as a matter a fact I wont even go to that section any longer...how would I know the price of tea in China. It makes no sense to think you are a no it all in a state you do not practice in and I wouldn't even want the liability. I have enough questions to answer hear in Florida...thank you for mentioning this and hope those no it alls follow this as well.
Oct 16, 2007 09:40 AM #44
Rich Jacobson
Fathom Realty West Sound - Poulsbo, WA
Your Kitsap County WA Real Estate Broker
Bob????...you mean there really IS a Bob???...wow, I feel so honored! And all this time I've just been flirting with your better half!...Yes, do it well or don't do it at all. That's where we're at with this feature. I think the Boys in Bellevue have other things on their plate more important than this issue. Nice to see you commenting!...Say "Howdy!" to Lisa...
Oct 16, 2007 09:41 AM #45
Rich Jacobson
Fathom Realty West Sound - Poulsbo, WA
Your Kitsap County WA Real Estate Broker
Lane - I understand what you're saying. But in our business, we need to maintain the lines of our respective disciplines. I've been in this business long enough to know a lot about mortgage lending, title work, home inspections, etc., but I will only respond to questions that are specifically related to my area of expertise, residential real estate.
Oct 16, 2007 09:43 AM #46
Monika McGillicuddy
Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Verani Realty - Hampstead, NH
Southern NH & the Seacoast Area

Oh man Rich...the liability alone is HUGE! I'm a agent and I wound'nt want to answer some of those questions.


Oct 16, 2007 10:33 AM #47
Rich Jacobson
Fathom Realty West Sound - Poulsbo, WA
Your Kitsap County WA Real Estate Broker
Moni - our liability is HUGE when we're sleeping. There's a potential lawsuit everytime we breathe. I used to work for a small Midwest Corporation. Part of my job was being the liason between sales and engineering. Sales always wanted to freedom to do whatever was necessary to get the sale. Engineering was only concerned with liability issues. Somehow, there needs to be a middle ground.
Oct 16, 2007 11:17 AM #48
Donna Harris
Donna Homes, powered by JPAR - TexasRealEstateMediationServices.com - Austin, TX
Realtor,Mediator,Ombudsman,Property Tax Arbitrator
Rich, I completely agree with you!  I blogged a couple of months ago about how horrible the Q&A section was, and all of a sudden there was new verbiage on the main page about only answering questions that you know the answers to... but that hasn't helped one bit.  I have noticed that a couple of "regulars" have stopped answering questions, so it might have helped an iota of a bit, but not much.
Oct 16, 2007 01:18 PM #49
Keller Williams Select Realtors-Buy a home in Washington DC. Sell a home in Washington DC - Bowie, MD
I don't make promises.I deliver results.SOLD HOMES

I agree with you. I've learned that if you don't really know something,then don't say that you do. People will respect you even more for being honest instead of lying. Great post.

Oct 16, 2007 02:20 PM #50
Mohamed Mekhimar - Accredited Buyers Rep , E-Pro - Richmond Virginia Real Estate
RE/MAX Commonwealth - Richmond, VA
You are right with your concerns regarding the Q & A section. Thank you! Well said.
Oct 16, 2007 04:12 PM #51
Bob & Carolin Benjamin
Benjamin Realty LLC - Gold Canyon, AZ
East Phoenix Arizona Homes
It is annoying isn't it. People comment on issues in states they don't live in where the rules are most certainly different. Some answers seem to border on practicing without a license it seems.
Oct 16, 2007 05:58 PM #52
Cynthia Tilghman, Realtor® Onslow County NC Home Specialist
Kingsbridge Realty, Inc - Hubert, NC
Hi Rich,
I've stopped checking the Q&As.  People from all over the US were answering the questions asked people in NC.  I think that one should only be able to respond to question in their area.  Maybe this is something we need to push with the AR gods.
Oct 17, 2007 12:52 AM #53
Ginger Wilcox
Sindeo - San Francisco, CA
Like many (who I know are great agents!),  I don't even go there. Sad but true.  I think consumers do need someone intelligent answering the questions, but the fear of liability looms in my head.  And more to the point, the quality of the responses if often so bad I don't want to be affiliated with them!
Oct 17, 2007 01:38 AM #54
Abe Do
Olympia, WA

Nice article Rich.....wish we could convince some people that they are not always helping when their mouth or keyboard is running rampant.

Although do we want to discourage people from attempting to help?  Understandably without knowledge or any contacts to assist it makes little to no sense but encouraging people to clam up unless they are experts may not create the ideal situation either. 

Needless to say I agree to the article but not sure where the line is.

Oct 17, 2007 05:43 AM #55
Rich Jacobson
Fathom Realty West Sound - Poulsbo, WA
Your Kitsap County WA Real Estate Broker

Hey, Guys! Thanks for generating some really excellent conversations here.

The very unfortunate part of all of this is that we have consumers asking genuine, legitimate questions. People NEED our help! But some YAHOOS are throwing out 'unqualifed' fly-by-the-seat-of-their-pants' answers. And then, the rest of us who could truly provide professional and qualified answers refuse to become involved.

Easy solution? If everyone would simply access the 'Q&A' feature in their respective state each day, the problem would correct itself very quickly.

Just MHO...

Oct 17, 2007 06:08 AM #56
Kris Wales
Keller Williams Realty - Lakeside Market Center - Macomb, MI
Real Estate Blog & Homes for Sale search site, Macomb County MI
Rich, I just left a comment this morning in the Q & A section to an agent who was advertsing/trolling for business.  I also flagged it, although I don't know how that works in getting the post removed.  Oh, one other thing.  This agent doesn't appear to be a member of AR.  Sheesh!
Oct 18, 2007 10:49 PM #57
Gayle Ross
Rich,  I also agree that those not qualified to answer questions should stay out of it.  We, in Texas, are so litigation conscious that we pre-empt everything with...."I'm not an attorney".  We teach all of our agents to NEVER offer an opinion about something they are not qualified to answer.  Therefore, we do a lot of referring to attorney's, inspectors, HVAC companies and the like.  It keeps us all out of trouble. 
Oct 19, 2007 10:09 AM #58
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