AND There Goes Facebook Targeting... Just Like That...

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All it takes is one complaint to HUD? Wow! Really? 


HUD filed a complaint against Facebook last week. 


"HUD claimed the social network’s advertising platform allowed users to discriminate against prospective renters and buyers by being able to limit who saw their ads based on the users’ race, color, religion, sex, family status, national origin, disability, ZIP code, and other factors." ( From REALTOR® Magazine) 


This is interesting because I don't know even one REALTOR® who uses Facebook ads to discriminate. 

Every single person I know who is a member of NAR and runs ads, runs ads to reach their niche audience, their targets- this is called advertising. This has nothing to do with discrimination. 


I doubt any of the employees of the HUD department have ever had to make a living selling  products, services, or real estate. 


My team was starting an ad campaign for an agent this week and we could not target: 


Homeowners have been removed. 


Tell me, HUD and NAR---- 


If you are a listing agent how in the world is it discriminating to target ONLY homeowners. After all, if we are running a home value ad, why would I want to waste our money on getting our ad in front of 20 years olds who are first time home buyers??? Or renters?  It makes no sense to offer home values on your property to those who don't own property! 


You have to pay for impressions. This means that your ads just got a lot more expensive becuase of the ignorance of the powers that be at NAR who so quickly run to support these complaints. I highly doubt they have asked any of us what we are doing with our ads. 


Why are they jumping so fast to say they love that Facebook deleted all our targeting?? 


We are running another ad campaign for another agent --- and guess what--- yep! The Zipcode targeting is gone!!! 


Now, I know that some people say that zip code advertising is discriminating but then why oh why... does the U.S. own government company the United States Postal Service allow us all to target our direct mailing by zip codes?????? 


So does this mean that SMART ZIP has to stop doing business with Realtors? 

If the post office can allow us to use zip code marketing... why can't Facebook???? 


Now, the reason that this agent had to do zip code targeting is because his city is too small, he had  to go larger, but not so large as the next big city. 


Also, many times... the subdivisions you work in.. are not listed in the towns and cities in Facebook so you use your zip code!!! This is not discrimination!!!! 


I am so tired of NAR speaking for all of us but not talking to all of us before they speak!!! 


If we have a million dollar listing we don't want to waste money on ads going to people who only make $20,000! It is not discrimination, it is common sense marketing. We want to put our listing in front of the best possible buyers who can afford this listing. 


How did Facebook respond? 


Of course, they did not take our backs. They went back with their tail between their legs and got rid of over 5,000 targets we all use in Facebook advertising. Facebook already makes you agree that you are obeying the Fair housing laws when you run real estate ads. Why did they not just fight on this? 


I then went to the NAR website and see the title to their article about this and the title is: 


Realtors® Applaud HUD Decision to Target Online Housing Discrimination

Interesting title since there was NOTHING In the article listing ANY realtor who was applauding this decision except for the NAR President:  


'National Association of Realtors® President Elizabeth Mendenhall, a sixth-generation Realtor® from Columbia, Missouri and CEO of RE/MAX Boone Realty, issued the following statement in support of HUD’s aggressive enforcement of the Fair Housing Act:

“In 2018, as America recognizes the 50th anniversary of the Fair Housing Act, the National Association of Realtors® strongly supports a housing market free from all types of discrimination. However, as various online tools and platforms continue to transform the real estate industry in the 21st Century, our understanding of how this law is enforced and applied must continue to evolve as well. Realtors® commend the Department of Housing and Urban Development and Secretary Ben Carson for taking decisive action to defend fair housing laws, and for working to ensure its intended consumer protections extend to wherever real estate is marketed.” '


So where in this article are the many realtors who are so applauding wasting money on needless impressions... and making our ad cost go up way higher! 


What needs to happen in cases like this, is for NAR to do an investigation, survey, roundtables, etc. with local agents around the country and find out what kinds of ads they run on Facebook, how they target, and why. Then take that data to HUD, and explain to HUD, about marketing and advertising.


Take our backs; will you!!!! 


Because in actuality how many of those NAR presidents and committees on those higher levels are running Facebook ads daily to get listings and buyers? 


And that is my rant for the day... I am livid!!! 


UPDATE CORRECTION: So the NAR Realtor magazine says this: 

HUD filed a complaint last Friday against Facebook that claimed the social network’s advertising platform allowed users to discriminate against prospective renters and buyers by being able to limit who saw their ads based on the users’ race, color, religion, sex, family status, national origin, disability, ZIP code, and other factors.


So when were creating the ads for an agent- my tech guy tells me that insights has no zip code info. I heard him wrong because I had JUST read this statement. So I heard him wrong. I thought he said that zip codes don't work anymore for ads. But they do work still. I am sorry about my mistake. I own it! 




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Jamie King
Hoty Enterprises, Inc. - Huron, OH
Sandusky, OH

Katerina, you still have a valid point. NAR is not always the voice of the agents it's intended to represent. Their attempt at redesigning the logo is a perfect example.

Sep 01, 2018 04:35 AM #22
Amanda S. Davidson
Amanda Davidson Real Estate Group Brokered By eXp Realty - Ashburn, VA
Alexandria Virginia Homes For Sale

Katerina, I was angry yesterday and still am today. This entire thing is beyond ridiculous. NAR is a worthless association and I can't remember the last time they stood up for agents. What about the other companies that use targeting? Unreal that this happened. 


Sep 01, 2018 05:30 AM #23
Chris Lima
Atlantic Shores Realty Expertise - Port St Lucie, FL
Local or Global-Allow me to open doors for you.

I am not at all shocked.  This is not the first and I suspect that it won't be the last maneuver the NAR will pull to "protect" the public from being victimized. Meanwhile, the agents continue to pay for and suffer from their blunders.  I need my safe room!

Sep 01, 2018 05:45 AM #24
Dennis J. Zisa & Associates, Inc.
Dennis J. Zisa & Associates, Inc. - Camden, NJ
28 years in So. Jersey and the Greater Camden area

Kind of makes you wonder what we are paying all these membership fees for....thanks for your eye-opening insights!

Sep 01, 2018 07:25 AM #25
VIcky Hertzfeldt
JLA Realty - Crosby, TX
Real Estate agent serving Houston and surrounding

Great input....I totally agree.  What's interesting is that yesterday I attended a marketing class and the program that I was using had the "drill downs" that we aren't allowed to use in Facebook any longer.  It's just crazy!!!!

Sep 01, 2018 07:31 AM #26
Paula Hathaway, REALTOR, LBA
Douglas Elliman Real Estate - Southampton, NY
...The Most Informed Agent In The Hamptons!

...All tangled up in the morass (more asses, that is!) of political correctness! When do you think the world is going to see that any and all attempts to control what we say, what we do and who we do it with will one day be SO controlled that we can't function any longer? Life used to be so simple; now the most simple thing is being second guessed, by every living organism and even those who are not living (algorithms)! Great post Katerina--I am ready to boycott NAR-and not pay my dues!--Oh wait! I can't even do that; they will just cut me off!

Sep 01, 2018 08:21 AM #27
John Henry
John Henry Masterworks Design International, Inc. - Orlando, FL
Residential Architect, Luxury Custom Home Design

This obviously has gone too far.  We need a free press, free social media platforms and freedom of speech to say what we want to... unless it threatens physical harm to someone.  I think we are getting tired of the PC mentality...

Sep 01, 2018 08:28 AM #28
Tni LeBlanc, Realtor®, J.D.
Mint Properties, Lic. #01871795 - Santa Maria, CA
Tenacious Tni (805) 878-9879

Great thought provoking post, Katerina, as usual.  

My thought was "wow!" as well when seeing those options vanish overnight.  Obviously some of the targeting options were totally legitimate and helpful. And, of course this same type of targeting can be done on other (less popular?) platforms.  The problem as I see it is that our profession constantly has a lot of amateurs involved.  That seems to be a consistent problem and thread throughout many of the dificulties in this profession -- IMO.  

I, like everyone else, saw that you could use the ads to discriminate.  Facebook could have easily solved it by placing a warning message when race, etc. was selected for real estate pages or ads that the back end of advertising was being reviewed by HUD for compliance and fines (which it obviously now is) and BOOM, I think the majority of the illegal discrimination would have gone away.  Just a reminder to the amateurs that they had not entered a penalty-free zone.

To answer those who are asking why HUD did not pursue individual agents, well I think the answer was that there simply was too much of it and it was more expedient to go after facebook.  It was likely rampant unfortunately.  So, here we are.  Insofar as NAR is responsible for our industry constantly being flooded with amateurs that can't successfully navigate a facebook ad campaign without illegally discriminating, yes they are responsible.  They had no choice but to support HUD (and applaud them) because what could they do to stop it even though many of  those participating were likely dues paying members?  That's right nothing.  Nothing as long as they support a 6 - 8 week course of study to sell real estate. 

So, those who were complying are being punished and losing powerful tools that could help us as smaller fish.  Gee thanks.  But it's just another penalty box in an industry that is flooded with amateurs by design.

Sep 01, 2018 08:47 AM #30
John Wiley
Right Move Real Estate Group- EXP Realty - Fort Myers, FL
Lee County, FL, ECO Broker, GRI, SRES,GREEN,PSA

I am seeing less and less value in NAR and FB.

Sep 01, 2018 08:58 AM #31
Pat Starnes-Front Gate Realty
Front Gate Real Estate - Brandon, MS
601-991-2900 Office; 601-278-4513 Cell

This is ridiculous. We aren't discriminating when we use search criteria to reach a certain segment of the population. We are spending our advertising dollars WISELY! Will I still be able to target a geographic location, such as an apartment complex? BTW, removing "homeowners" and "renters" from the search criteria is NUTS!

I don't (didn't) advertise a lot, because I share a lot of my posts in groups for free, like Tammy Lankford, but now I have to be extra careful about any FB promotion due to new rules put in place by our state Real Estate Commission.

Can you clarify the zip code ruling? Was it yanked, or can we still target market by zip? Thanks.

Sep 01, 2018 01:14 PM #32
Michael Rasch
Florida Home Sales and Investments - Hallandale Beach, FL
Michael Rasch 305-741-1819

My dislike for NAR is rather large, but I looked at what you wrote, some of your replies and got a good laugh at most of it. I don't think they sold us a bill of goods on this. So let get to it is shall we...

You said "This is interesting because I don't know even one REALTOR® who uses Facebook ads to discriminate."  that's really interesting, Because if you did, you would be required to report them to the board of ethics and I don't know anyone but myself who has filed ethics complaints and shown up to battle.

I find that when I do some door knocking, prospective sellers or landlords have said "no blacks" which at that point I've raised my hand and said, " That's illegal and I am out of here" and While you may not have encountered realtor discriminating, I've seen well-targetted ad's that prevented others from seeing what I have on my screen. 

Facebook killing off certain aspects of the way to advertise. They are a business, their job is to maximize revenue. they just found a legal way to waste more of your realtor money without oversight. Congrat's to them. sad for us. 

Free speech, only the government can prevent you from saying something unless it's specifically stated as the law that you can't ( famous yelling fire rule ). So facebook got the law to say "hey you can't do that" and now they are following the rules. BUT when you sign into facebook, you give them the right to run a set of rules on-top of the government rules, so, if they choose to block your speech, it's ok, you can go to another social media platform. Don't forget, they are not a public utility. 

Targeting: zip's are ok ( you cleared that up ), targeting gay's, you can do ( they are not a protected class ), but you can not target religion in real estate, we have established rules that go back at least 25 years detailing why.

In reference to your Rabbi client: the rules are easy, take out your checklist of all house's of worship on a map, hand it over, and ask your client to check off what zone he want's. That's not a violation. He's telling you that he wants to be by that house of worship.   If you need a better understanding of it ( and why you should use a checklist of all the houses of worship )    Now if you don't have a checklist, you need to tell them "hey you are kinda on your own because the law says you need to tell me" 


Sep 01, 2018 02:08 PM #33
Matthew Klinowski, PA
Downing-Frye - Naples, FL
Golf Community Real Estate Specialist

Thanks for sharing.  I have actually migrated quite a few of my marketing dollars away from Facebook.  It is a combination of lack of options for narrowing to a specific demographic which we used to be able and I'm also getting a lot of highly inappropriate friend requests.

Sep 01, 2018 06:37 PM #34
Steve Loynd
Alpine Lakes Real Estate Inc., - Lincoln, NH
800-926-5653, White Mountains NH

You know the saddest part of being limited to where you can advertise, means places like Zillow will be able to make us pay for listing leads on our own listings. Buyers should be able to find the listing agent, with out the listing agent paying for that.

Sep 02, 2018 07:32 AM #35
Winifred Smith, CRB SFR AHWD RENE
RE/MAX Advance Realty - Kendall, FL
VP - Training & Education

This has been in the works for a while. It didn't start last week and wasn't about one complaint. Hete is just one of the articles in the news about how they went aftet FB creator, Mark Zucketburg.
I don't blame him for taking action. What we need to look at is the definition of discrimination itself. We, as a Realtors, are held to high standards. Fine. Discrimination has come to be synonymous with "treat differently" and as such we cannot exclude anyone from marketing. Forget that it is in the best interests of sellers that we understand which individuals would be interested in a property and market towards the potential buyers. Forget that HOA communities are LEGAL restrictive and will not allow children. We can NOT exclude due to familial status. It is bad business to project our own tastes and presume that a property would not be attractive to some groups of people because you never know. But, limiting ads for a $5M property to people of a higher income bracket is not discriminating until we throw out the financing requirement of a transaction. There are housing ordinances in many counties regarding the numbet of people in a unit according to the size of the unit, or for rentals - the number of unrelated individuals in a property. Yet we cannot advertise that a 1 bedroom property would be great for empty nesters. Things have gotten out of hand. But it isnt FaceBook that started this. I am a firm believer that we should NOT discriminate against another person because they are different. But I understand discrimination as being to add restrictions otherwise not included in a person's access to enjoyment of life and our liberties and rights as human beings in the United States. There are restrictions that life gives us that I personally do not feel others have a responsibility to accommodate. And I know I need to tread lightly her as this may be taken badly by some. Let me start by saying that I am a 60+ woman with an incurable disease, and some very limiting disabilities. I do not do well with stairs, but do not expect that a facility should be required to provide me with ramps or elevators. I will just frequent facilities that fit my needs. I live in a home that fits my needs and will move when it does not. I will look for a place that allows my pets, and not try to claim that all of them are emotional support animals even though they do make my life more fulfilling. When the time comes when I am no longer able to perform my job, I expect to leave. I do not believe that my employer should have to accommodate my reduction in abilities. Nobody can ever make me young or healthy again. It isn't their responsibility. I do not believe that I should be shunned, or refused an opportunity that I am fully qualified for. THAT would be discrimination.

Sep 02, 2018 09:52 AM #36
Damon Botticelli
Silver State Realty & Investments - Las Vegas, NV
Realtor - Las Vegas Real Estate

What HUD has failed to recognize, which NAR should have strongly made the case for, is that ANYONE, regardless of the marketing categories can view the posted content. The posted content (ad) is visible for EVERYONE to see on the Facebook page where it was created and other pages where it was "shared".  The choice to target additional advertising dollars and promote to groups (e.g. location, financial, etc) that are most likely to produce the best ROI does not limit or restrict access to the source material by any group and should not be considered a fair housing violation.

Sep 02, 2018 11:11 AM #37
Diana Dahlberg
1 Month Realty - Pleasant Prairie, WI
Real Estate in Kenosha, WI since 1994 262-308-3563

Finding all the responses to this very well thought out.  Frustration seems to abound whenever I read anything about NAR and FB these days.

Sep 02, 2018 03:30 PM #38
Jan Green
Value Added Service, 602-620-2699 - Scottsdale, AZ
HomeSmart Elite Group, REALTOR®, EcoBroker, GREEN

So glad that zip codes are still intact. Our Phoenix Metro Area is over 400 square miles.  We HAVE to use zip codes in our marketing as I'd never want to advertise the wrong information to the wrong audience.   Fresh off the presses.  Thank you.

Sep 02, 2018 09:03 PM #39
Paula Zaluski
Action Realty - Sebastian, FL
20 years of Real Estate Experience.

After years of nixing F.B. I just started a business account "Great". Perhaps its best to just opt back out. There are a ton of avenues to market on, generally not for free. 

What's up with NAR and HUD? We don't discriminate....on F.B. or off F. B. REALTORS JUST DON'T. 

Sep 07, 2018 12:29 PM #40
Lisa Von Domek
Lisa Von Domek Team - Dallas, TX
....Experience Isn't Expensive.... It's Priceless!

Katerina Gasset NAR lost all credibility when they sold our name and gave us no control over  They continued down the dumb road opening our listings to Z, T, etc...  This is just another example of how poorly our dues represent us, the agents.

Sep 14, 2018 06:34 PM #41
Lynn B. Friedman
Atlanta Homes ODAT Realty Call/Text 404-939-2727 Buckhead - Midtown - Westside -- and more ... - Atlanta, GA
Concierge Service for Our Atlanta Sellers & Buyers

Katerina Gasset Thanks for your usual thorough reporting on an issue that effects so many of us!! I offered my suggestions in the NAR CEO contest earlier in the year. All the best - Lynn

Sep 29, 2018 09:18 PM #42
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