Real Estate Agents Could Be Conducting Illegal Activities Unknowingly!

By
Services for Real Estate Pros with Creative Web Concepts USA.COM

 You Could Be Involved In Illegal Activities. Does Your Social Media Manager Know The Law? Do you think it is important for your digital marketer to keep up on your industry laws and information? A resounding "YES!" Especially if you are in the industry governed by state and national laws and the Department of Finance or the Department of Professional Regulation.

If you are in the Real Estate industry and outsource your social media services to a social media manager, they may be managing more than your social media, they are managing the legal risks and liabilities of your business. Is your social media assistant capable of doing that? As a professional in the industry of Title, Real Estate, marketing and compliance I not only manage social platforms and presence for Real Estate agents, I am a consultant, speaker and Fox News social media panelist.

If an agent, broker or Title Insurance provider uses different social media tools or services to assist him/her in their real estate brokerage business, he/she must comply with the Real Estate requirements on a state level (all states have them) and the National REALTOR® Code of Ethics.

For example, when advertising a new listing on Facebook™, in some states the broker should keep in mind that his or her  brokerage company’s name must appear on the “ad” that is being posted. Our Company Creative Web Concepts USA has trained professionals who are fully versed and knowledgeable of the laws and codes in all 50 states, as well as the national code. We manage social media services of Real Estate agents and brokers  all over the nation as well as title insurance companies, insurance companies, accountants and lawyers. This means we are responsible to know the Department of Finance laws in all of these industries as well as the BAR for each state.

I'm wondering why more Realtors do not share the same concerns that I do. Why is it that agents and brokers alike allow their business to remain vulnerable to legal risks by outsourcing social and other marketing services to general social media persons, rather than a qualified and experienced industry specific marketer. 

  Realtors continually innovate and improve their marketing efforts. New technology and products enhance marketing and add to the consumer experience. With new technology comes risks and this must be taken seriously. The number one mistake most agents make is allowing access of their social media accounts to people that should not have it.

Misinformation or embellished/enhanced posts on social media accounts, carelessly created status updates, and discriminating comments about religion or politics can be distributed on agents’ accounts without their knowledge. How do agents and brokers get in trouble? They have a marketing assistant handle things or share accounts with fellow agents who make errors. That means you be 100% confident about anyone who has your  social media login information. Your best bet is entrusting a qualified professional to help you keep up with publishing content and answering questions or comments.

Let's look at February 9, 2016. A seasoned, experienced and industry knowledgeable social media manager would know about the following: The Florida Department of Financial Services, Division of Insurance Agent & Agency Services, hereby provides Notice of Final Adoption of Rule 69B-186.010, Florida Administrative Code, titled Unlawful Inducements Related to Title Insurance Transactions. The final rule version will become effective on February 9, 2016.

The ruling details practices and activities that are deemed unfair and unlawful. Some of the activities listed include:

  • Providing membership in any organization, society, association, guild, union, alliance or club at a discount, reduced rate, or at no cost to a referrer of settlement service business.
  •          Providing or paying for cellular telephone contracts for a referrer of settlement service business.
  •          Providing simulated panoramic home and property tours to real estate brokers or real estate sales associates that they utilize to promote their listings.
  •          Providing or paying for gift cards or gift certificates to or for a referrer of settlement service business or to a purchaser or prospective purchaser of title insurance.
  •          Sponsoring and hosting, or paying for the sponsoring and hosting, of open houses for real estate brokers or real estate sales associates to promote their listings.
  •          Providing or paying for food, beverages, or room rentals at events designed to promote the business of a referrer of settlement service business other than the title insurance agent or agency.
  •          Paying advertising costs to advertise and promote the listings of real estate brokers or real estate sales associates via publications, signs, emails, websites, web pages, banners, or other forms of media.
  •          Providing an endorsement, designation of preferred status, approved status, or featured partner status on publications, signs, emails, websites, web pages, banners or other forms of media promoting the business of real estate brokers or real estate sales associates.

While some of the mentioned activities are vague, the FDFS makes the seriousness of each offense known.

To read the full list of illegal activities and the ruling, click BELOW.

Source of the above information  https://www.flrules.org/gateway/ruleNo.asp?id=69B-186.010

Let's specifically talk about the last item on this list. Let's define "Providing Endorsement" or giving recognition and kudos for Real Estate agents in posting on social media sites, websites, emails and other forms of digital media is now illegal according to this new law change.

Do you think this includes giving endorsements on LinkedIn? Yes it does. This new law is only a portion of the entire Code that agents and brokers must adhere to. Each state and nationally, there are regulations about all phases of posting on social media. Honestly speaking, most agents we talk to are not aware of the laws or codes. They get a real estate license, slap up a Facebook page and start posting their listings.

We see so many agents putting up listings using enhanced media tools or over descriptive copy to attract social media users. It is illegal to do that. It is against the law to Embellish Listing Features or Business Information. Posting pictures and information for your real estate listings is perfectly fine and in compliance- even encouraged on most social platforms like Facebook, Instagram, and Pinterest. However, some agents take these social updates too far and exaggerate features or even doctor photos of them to make them more appealing. This brings me to the topic of digital staging. Is digital staging illegal? Is it legal to take a photo of an empty home and doctor it in Photoshop or digital staging computer software for use on digital media or email marketing?

 

Many agents are not aware that this violates the National Association of REALTORS®’ Code of Ethics, enhancing media of listings will lead to trouble for agents and put their character into question. It's best not to modify listing information or images altogether, especially for the purpose of posting to social media.

You Could Be Involved In Illegal Activities. Does Your Social Media Manager Know The Law? Do you think it is important for your digital marketer to keep up on your industry laws and information? A resounding "YES!" Especially if you are in the industry governed by state and national laws and the Department of Finance or the Department of Professional Regulation.

If you are in the Real Estate industry and outsource your social media services to a social media manager, they may be managing more than your social media, they are managing the risks and liabilities of your business.

For more information on social media services visit our website. Please read the Bio of our company CEO.

http://www.creativewebconceptsusa.com/realtors-social-media-marketing/

Shelley Costello
#1 Amazon International Best-Selling Author

Professional Social Media Strategist and Manager

Speaker Endorsed by Emmy Award Winner, Les Brown

 FOX 35 News Social Media Expert

17 years in marketing & compliance in the Real Estate & Title Insurance Industry
(407) 308-0184
CEO / President Creative Web Concepts USA

SKYPE ID:  shelley.costello

shelleyacostello@gmail.com
Facebook   Linkedin    Twitter  Pinterest 

 

Comments (1)

David Barr
Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Florida Realty - Sarasota, FL

Social media rule #1:  Short and concise.

This is why I do not hire social media "managers".

Feb 10, 2016 10:46 PM