Ethics in Advertising

By
Real Estate Agent with Coldwell Banker Ellison Realty, Inc

Just a quick question.The popular site Trulia offers free ads, but only for licensed Real Estate Professionals.  Yet there are numerous feeds they receive where they just list the name of the website that it came from, not the broker's name.  I did not know that "postlets.com" was a licensed real estate broker!  This is a no no under the Code of Ethics and State Law.  Why aren't brokers and agents being more careful with their advertising?

I noticed one listing I clicked on and the broker was shown as "coldwellbanker.com" not a registered broker. I could however click back through the feed from coldwellbanker.com to the Coldwell Banker website, and then back to the actual brokerage information that by state law and the code of ethics should be included on all Internet advertising including the ad I originally selected on the public search page of Trulia.com.

I know that these ethical and legal violations are throughout Truliabut the biggest violator of the COE and state law is by Coldwell Banker Corporate which requires Realtor(R) membership of its brokers and agents, yet has no problem putting these Brokers and agents at risk.

I also find it patently unfair that Trulia runs blind ads for agents, but will not accept ads from FSOB sellers.  This smacks of anti-trust and racketeering.  Is Trulia a broker acting in a brokerage capacity?  If they are just an advertising co they are doing the same thing the DOJ is going after NAR for - limiting the market place and anti-trust violations.  Shame. Shame.

This is an illustration of brokers and agents not taking ownership of their listings.  By sending these feeds out to Truia Coldwell Banker who is large enough that they should know better, is thumbing its nose at the law and at its brokers and agents.  Brokers and agents need to stand up to these corporate criminals and gang leaders - or since this is a planned corporate policy and this type of advertising is not legal - can we call it organized crime?

People can and do sell their homes on their own all the time - without the help of a broker or salesperson.  It is not fair exclude them from the advertising market while at the same time  violating state law and being unethical. 

Bottom Line:  Just because Internet advertising is cheap and easy dosen't mean it does not have to be legal and ethical.

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ETHICS and the REALTOR
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Front Porch Majority
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Rainer
13,478
Matthew Heavener
ERA Heavener Realty Co. - Jacksonville, FL
Very interesting, thanks for raising this issue.  I will have to keep an eye on my listings also.
Apr 20, 2008 01:33 PM #7
Rainmaker
491,132
Daniel J. Brudnok, REALTOR
Berkshire Hathaway Home Services Fox & Roach, REALTORS - Exton - PA License #RS-225179-L / Delaware License #RS-0025038 - Downingtown, PA
SRES, e-PRO,ABR,GREEN,CSP

Dan,

Where does the responsibility end when the Broker / office (or even management of these BIG agencies) handle the submission.....the agent......the office ......the Broker......the Company?

Apr 21, 2008 02:21 AM #8
Rainer
150,370
Steve Homer
The HBH Group (Keller Williams affiliate) - Round Rock, TX

In Texas and according to legal counsel for The Texas Association of REALTORS®, it comes down to who "owns" the listing DATA, not the listings.  When you place a listing in your friendly local MLS, they now own that data and can IDX it anywhere they please for fun and profit, and they do.  Honestly, that is the reason that you see all the national brokerage firms starting their own national listing services, so they can own the data.  The days of the 3" x 5" card box are over and with the brave new world of the Internet you can't hope to keep control of where data is shared.  Since in Texas dual agency is severely frowned on, I don't see this as a problem really since I want all the buyer's agents that I can to see my listings and bring me buyers!  As listing agents we should recognize that our roles are changing to that of marketers of property through the brave new world of electronic mass media.

Another discussion topic that I just commented on was related to letting other agents advertise your listings and whether or not that is illegal or unethical.  CLICK HERE to read my ramblings on that issue.

Thanks for listening to my $0.02!  Steve

Apr 22, 2008 12:17 AM #9
Rainmaker
234,580
Patricia Beck
RE/MAX Properties, Inc., GRI, CDPE - Colorado Springs, CO
Colorado Springs Realty
You make very good points in your post, I have noticed the same thing on the internet.  I just wonder who would address this, NAR?? 
Apr 22, 2008 01:17 AM #10
Rainer
60,640
Dan Homan
Coldwell Banker Ellison Realty, Inc - Ocala, FL

Matthew - Thanks for the comment.

Dan - If the broker owns the listings they should have the ultimate responsibility.  by hiring agents and affiliating with a franchise they are taking on a vicarious liability for the actions of others.

Steve - Does the desire for other agents to show your property and get it sold in these tough times grant you the right to ignore ethical and legal concerns and just do with a nod and a wink?  That is the question of this post.

Patricia - NAR has too many "real" problems to deal with to bother with ethics and law.  They have relegated these complaints to local boards, so if an out of area broker does something wrong in your area, you need to file a grievance with their board even if it is 2000 miles away.  Fat chance of that happening.

Apr 22, 2008 01:41 AM #11
Ambassador
1,509,412
Renée Donohue~Home Photography
Savvy Home Pix - Allegan, MI
Western Michigan Real Estate Photographer

You know, this is very interesting.  I was under the ASSumption that my templates that I make up keep my information.  I skipped over to Trulia after reading this and BB's post and found that they take that info out!  Just like you said, sorry I didn't believe you :(

I guess I will be "un" checking the trulia box from now on!

Apr 22, 2008 02:00 AM #12
Rainmaker
46,682
Rudy Bachraty
Director, Communications & Partner Strategies, WellcomeMat - Fort Collins, CO

Hi Dan!

Thanks for your feedback. It's interesting to hear your perspective.

However, I can confidently say we operate our business to the highest ethical and legal standards and are very confident that we are not violating any state laws.

That said, I can't speak to what others may be doing but rest assured we work extremely hard everyday to make sure we deliver the best experience and products for consumers, agents and brokers. 

Rudy

Social Media Guru at Trulia.com 

 

Apr 22, 2008 02:04 AM #13
Rainmaker
46,682
Rudy Bachraty
Director, Communications & Partner Strategies, WellcomeMat - Fort Collins, CO

Hi Renee!

The link on your listing on Trulia, Read more at reneeburrows.vflyer.com, takes you directly to your listing on vFlyer.

Rudy

Social Media Guru at Trulia 

Apr 22, 2008 02:08 AM #14
Rainer
141,840
Karen Luke
South Metro Property Management, LLC - McDonough, GA
Henry County Real Estate

I'm a Keller Williams agent. Imaging my surprise when my listing showed on Yahoo's real estate site. I had now idea. I scroll down to see what a consumer would see. Imagine my surprise when it shows a Prudential agent's name, number, and photo for contact information. Not mine.

So, I call and ask for a showing to see how this plays out. It amazes me that she is giving out information on my listing as if she is the listing agent.

Okay, who is responsible if she gives our erroneous information?

After hanging up, I was dumbfounded and realized we are definitely headed into dangerous territory here.

Apr 22, 2008 06:11 AM #15
Rainmaker
595,381
Lisa Hill
Florida Property Experts - Daytona Beach, FL
Daytona Beach Real Estate

It's my understanding that since our broker's own the listings, it's up to them to decide if the brokerage listings are allowed to be distributed elsewhere.

But as far as Trulia goes, I figured they could choose whatever business model they wanted. It's all about profit. They must have determined that they could make more money from agents who want to upgrade the presentation of their listings, than from FSBOs. 

Apr 22, 2008 11:02 AM #16
Rainer
60,640
Dan Homan
Coldwell Banker Ellison Realty, Inc - Ocala, FL
Renee - Thanks for visiting.  I guess the question is that if everybody is doing it does it make it right?
Apr 23, 2008 02:32 AM #17
Rainer
61,214
Lisa Lambert
The Law Offices of Elisabeth A. Lambert - Fresno, CA
Esq. 1031 Exchange Expert
I absolutely agree. You need to take ownership of your listings.
Apr 23, 2008 05:27 PM #18
Rainmaker
807,401
Lanre-"THE REAL ESTATE FARMER" Folayan
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 don't have no problem with my lisitings be on more real estate websites besides the one that I advertised it on. Don't it increase our chances of finding a buyer for our listings. But when people advertising non-office listings,there is a problem. Not good. Thats just me. Great post.
Apr 25, 2008 12:12 PM #19
Rainmaker
94,324
Sharon Harris
Keller Williams Keystone Realty - Hanover, PA
Realtor
Your listings are yours. I agree that no one else should have any rights to it.
Apr 26, 2008 03:35 AM #21
Rainer
224,606
Find a Notary Public needAnotary
QEC Internet Services - Long Beach, CA

Pick up any newspaper in the USA and I guarantee you that you will find a mortgage ad that is deceptive and falsely advertise a loan product. It is a shame when dollars trumps values!

Jun 17, 2008 08:15 AM #22
Rainmaker
151,354
Aida Pinto
United Associated Brokers - Long Beach, CA
Real Estate Broker (562) 884-6196

I agree--never compromise your ethics, not bad ethics are in short supply

Jun 17, 2008 12:50 PM #23
Rainmaker
183,837
Stella Barbour
NoVa Brokers LLC - Vienna, VA
Principal Broker, Serving Virginia and Maryland

I find my listings on sites that I did not even know existed.  Not sure what I can do about it.

Jun 18, 2008 12:42 AM #24
Rainmaker
173,453
June Lewis
Northwood Realty Services - New Castle, PA
Realtor Northwood Realty - New Castle,Pa Lawrence Co 7247304571

I appreciate this post.  I did a search on the search engines to see where Trulia, homes .com and others that captivate the top 10 placement on search engines.  The fact that someone has a web page designed to capture my leads on my listings -( then they wants to sell me back my leads) drives me up a wall.  That is why I never buy leads. I will be happy to pay referrals and welcome them. I wonder if these sites are even legitimate real estate professionals.

 

  When ever I write a blog i always link my page on my company site.  They go to my page then can easily access my company site. I am thinking after reading this post if that creates any sort of an issue.

 

We as real estate agents do not own the listings the Broker does.  I think we have to be careful how we represent our Broker and our Company. Their reputation has a lot to do with how we act as professionals.

Think about it, if a customer gets upset they usually blame  the agency. It is not   ( Jane Doe)  handled this badly.  I wont't use them again  istead it's   XYZ realty handled this badly Don''t use them  We hear this all the time and usually through new customers complaining that a real estate agent messed up

Jun 19, 2008 02:05 AM #25
Rainmaker
173,453
June Lewis
Northwood Realty Services - New Castle, PA
Realtor Northwood Realty - New Castle,Pa Lawrence Co 7247304571

I appreciate this post.  I did a search on the search engines to see where Trulia, homes .com and others that captivate the top 10 placement on search engines.  The fact that someone has a web page designed to capture my leads on my listings -( then they wants to sell me back my leads) drives me up a wall.  That is why I never buy leads. I will be happy to pay referrals and welcome them. I wonder if these sites are even legitimate real estate professionals. 

When ever I write a blog i always link my page on my company site.  They go to my page then can easily access my company site. I am thinking after reading this post if that creates any sort of an issue.

We as real estate agents do not own the listings the Broker does.  I think we have to be careful how we represent our Broker and our Company. Their reputation has a lot to do with how we act as professionals.

Think about it, if a customer gets upset they usually blame  the agency. It is not   ( Jane Doe)  handled this badly.  I won't use them again  istead it's   XYZ realty handled this badly Don''t use them  We hear this all the time and usually through new customers complaining that a real estate agent messed up

Jun 19, 2008 02:05 AM #26
Rainer
12,877
Dick Winefield
NH Real Estate Exchange - Nashua, NH

It is not unethical for Trulia to refuse FSBO advertisements. Think of a wholesaler, they will not sell you a gallon of milk but instead sell in volume to the grocery stores.

As far as complying with proper advertising rules it is the agents reponsibility to make sure the info is included. I use Trulia heavily and have never had a problem

Jul 26, 2008 04:48 PM #27
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