Hey Realtors - learn to spam on your own and stop asking the company to do it!

Services for Real Estate Pros

I would love to know why so many Realtors feel its "ok" to send flyers, open house notifications, broker's opens, new hire announcements, and other such email nonsense to other Realtors.

Last time I checked, unsolicited email that I or other agents DIDN'T SPECIFICALLY ASK FOR...is lawfully S P A M.   The fact the Realtor you are emailing is related to your business field as another licensed Realtor has no bearing on your ability to send people this garbage.  The CAN SPAM LAW doesn't recognize that little tidbit so many agents thinks should apply.SPAM

"Well they are a Realtor too, they should WANT my emails!!!" 

I mean for Pete's sake, am I missing something?   I've been to our NAR site, PAR (Pennsylvania Association of Realtors), and every other site I could find....I read the law, their policies...etc.  Is there some exception for Realtors spamming other Realtors??? 

As the company I.T. guy working for our brokerage, it never fails...about once every month or so I get cornered by an agent who gets an emailed flyer or announcement from some other Realtor in our area....and they look at me and say, "Hey...the company should be doing this....for me...for us...." Etc..etc...etc.

It's never, "Hey Nick, can you show me how these people are sending me these announcements?  I'd really like to learn how to do this." At least not where I am.

Why is there this unbelievable assumption that the company should be doing the individual marketing of an agent's business, especially when it comes to certain technology?  Aren't you all INDEPENDENT CONTRACTORS????  The email marketing technology that is available now for your use is MIND-NUMBINGLY easy in many cases and, wake up for this one, isn't made for an entire agency to use in the manner you want it used.....FOR SPAMMING.  

These services, when used properly, are MADE FOR INDIVIDUAL USE ONLY.  I'll bet many with this mindset think the broker should just have a single staff member post every new listing on Craigslist???  Under one account???

How is this so hard to understand, that in the case of spamming your entire local Realtor MLS membership, it's ILLEGAL without gaining each and every agent's permission??? And cmon, working with these professional email marketing services via their point and click websites, if you use the system correctly, is PAINFULLY easy.  Especially if you have 15 minutes to spare, can use a computer mouse, and have the ability to sit at a computer.

Oh...I know...no one has any free time any more. The market is just so busy.

What was I thinking?

What I find staggering about the email flyer mindset that I encounter, is when I explain the CAN-SPAM LAW to the Realtor and how as a company we can't get involved in this effectively, I might as well be speaking in some other language.   There is no care or concern for what's right or wrong with spamming...because, "Hey, XYZ Realty and Agent SoandSo is constantly sending me open house and price reductions!!    The company needs to be doing this!!!"

NEVER MIND the fact that 99% of these emails are sent out via harvested email lists (that site should be F'ing ILLEGAL) or agents who scour the MLS rosters sucking up all of the publicly printed email addresses.  Never ONCE have I received an Egomaniacemail from any ‘said' agent in our area because I signed up (OPT-IN) for a list of theirs. NOT ONCE.

...but isn't amazing that when you get the flyer or announcement, at the bottom is some un-subscription request to unsubscribe to the list you are a member of???  WHHHHAT?

How many of you are constantly signing up for email announcements lists from your other Realtors in your area?   I bet about .07% of you.

I know for a fact these people and brokers are either buying lists or using some service to proliferate the crap via harvested data.   It is truly amazing.   Especially when, as the I.T. guy, it gets shoved down my throat that this form of marketing is "NEEDED" and we "HAVE TO BE DOING THIS" as a company.

How am I supposed to sit there and argue can-spam laws when local agents or BROKERS are doing the same nonsense????

How am I supposed to explain how sending emails to other Realtors without their explicit permission is agains the law when sites like this, this, and THIS, are allowed to operate??!?!?

Again...is there a LOOPHOLE in the CAN-SPAM LAW that allows those sites legal rights to do what they do???

Someone, please enlighten me if there is!

It's a true joke and while it's gotten much better over the years, virtually any legitimate service you now see available to agents, legitimate services such as ICONTACT.COM and CONSTANTCONTACT.COM all have STRICT rules against sending email to someone who didn't opt-in to your list.

These services are fantastic, but the proper way to email market is to gather email addresses of people who have specifically requested to receive your email.   To provide a method for them to actually want your announcements.

I can sit here and think of a few ways each and every realtor could do this....but of course, that would mean you had to sit and work and create a way to gather permission....

...whoops..I forgot...the market is on fire and there's no time for an agent to do such work.

Just find the I.T. guy and he'll make it all better. 


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Jeff Payne
The Payne Group at Keller Williams Success Realty - Panama City, FL
Panama City Real Estate

Our MLS has a list of those that don't want to get email from other agents.  I for one don't understand why you just can't hit delete?  You never know when that just listed or price reduced email will be the property that your buyers are looking for and you miss out on it because you don't want to be bothered with an email.  

If staying on top of the market means getting real estate related emails, then so be it.

Nov 17, 2008 04:34 AM #2
Nick Ruta
Whitehall, PA

Jeff - You're missing my entire point.  SPAMMING other Realtors isn't justified by what you are saying.  The law is the law.  If people realized that fact, we wouldn't have an internet teaming with 89% of the bandwidth being eaten by crap emails 99.9% of people don't care for.

I don't need anything other than our MLS system.   Realtors sending me 76 emails every other day is a waste of my time.  Hitting delete actually takes TIME and no one has any, remember?  Besides, your flyer just repeats what the MLS system already has shown me 5 seconds after the agent signed in and dropped the price at 2am on a Saturday morning.

Also, if my market is $200,000 to $350,000....why do I need to see $800,000 flyers???   It's not productive for me to again, waste my time reading listing information I don't ever need.

As much as people berate MLS systems, they do have their powerful uses. Our MLS system allows all members to setup saved auto-prospecting searches for clients.  Anytime a price drops on a home and either is in my criteria for my client or pushes it down into my client's range, I'm instantly emailed the listing.  Without all the BOLD text, PDF file attachment, or rediculous PRICED TO SELL 'buy me now' nonsense.

Nov 17, 2008 04:54 AM #3
Thomas Santore Lic Associate Real Estate Broker
Coldwell Banker Realty/Coldwell Banker Commercial NRT - Yorktown Heights, NY
RealtorĀ®-ABR-Land, Residential & Commercial Sa

I get those emails constantly and have never signed up, but I figured out how to get back at them!!

I add their name to an email list and then I send out emails to the people who have been sending me them. The funny thing is some of them, asked to be removed from this special list of Spammers.

Nov 17, 2008 04:59 AM #4
Nick Ruta
Whitehall, PA

Thomas- NICE!   But if you really want to be a pain, take note if they use any official service (icontact, constantcontact).  If so, and you didn't sign up for their crap, don't unsubscribe...go to the service website, find the abuse department email contact, and then forward the email to them with your concerns.

It's quite amazing how you never get an email again from that person or entity.

Nov 17, 2008 05:02 AM #5
Jeff Payne
The Payne Group at Keller Williams Success Realty - Panama City, FL
Panama City Real Estate

Nick, our MLS has a reverse prospect also but it is not instant as yours is.  It is the next day and in our market, the next day on a killer price is too late.  I will continue to hit delete and read the ones that I want to read.   Keep unsubscribing to your fellow realtors emails and before long you will have exactly what you want, no emails.

Nov 17, 2008 05:29 AM #6
Nick Ruta
Whitehall, PA

Jeff - Your point is taken, but it doesn't provide legitimate reasons for Realtors to engage in spamming practices. You may have a few people who do it in a professional manner, but it's still wrong if I never asked for it.  My biggest gripe, as an I.T. professional working in the industry, is when other agents see these emails...so many of them then look to me or the company to provide the same service, without a care of how it's done and whether or not you should.

If an agent wants to do such a thing, they do so without our approval.  Especially if it's from simply hand-picking recipients who never asked to be emailed.  Again, I understand your point, but there's never been an exception for Realtors to spam their flyer's and announcements.

I would love to see your local board rules and regulations regarding their viewpoint on spamming Realtors...if they even have one.  I've found out that ourlocal board and it's MLS system really wants no part of enforcing how agents follow those spam laws, it's the broker's responsibility in their eyes.

Our MLS only has an email opt-out policy for sent emails from the board, it's not a blanket opt-out for realtors in general.  What kills me is they still print email rosters for anyone to convert into an Excel spreadsheet in under 5 minutes...if you are technically savvy or have access to a good OCR program.

Again, I understand why you want the emails, and how they could affect your business...but I still do not approve of how Realtors go about getting their information to others via this spamming method.

Nov 17, 2008 07:21 AM #7
Tom Lyons
makingyoufindable.com - Belleville, ON
Making You Findable

That's a gerat post.  It's amazing how it's eems completely ignored.  I offered a seminar once, and this came up in discussion.  The answer I got back form one agent was, "I get two a or three deals a year, so what if some hate it, I'm making money".


How do you even debate with a mindset like that!

Nov 17, 2008 08:56 AM #8
Nick Ruta
Whitehall, PA

Tom - You can't.  There's no way.  That mindset though does show you just a tiny piece of why and how we are in the spam fix that we are, around the globe.  People don't care, they are greedy, and it doesn't matter the cost of making a buck....from a small Realtor sending out 10 flyers to the King Spammer sending out BAJILLIONS.  They both think the same...sooner or later I'm going to get some idiot to click the link....or open the flyer.

Nov 17, 2008 09:27 AM #9

I simply remowed my e-mail from MLS. And I still am receiving span on e-mails I used before.

Sometimes I was asking the spamer if he knows what would happen if all members of MLS would start sending similar e-mails every day to each other If he/she knows about existence of MLS and That I am quite capable to find any property on my own. And that they should invest some energy in real advertisement outside Realtors Circle.

I do not answer right now to feedback requests. Simply deleting this junk.

Preople think that I have nothing else to do than fill out their forms etc. Sorry mayby I should but it takes too much of my time. And nobody pays for it.

Nov 17, 2008 11:41 AM #10
Julie A. Black
KAUAI DREAMS REALTY Kauai Real Property Specialist - Kapaa, HI
CLHMS, CRS, GRI, Realtor, Broker

Hi Nick; I'm sorry but I have to agree with Jeff Payne. Its easy to hit delete or Opt out. I believe by belonging to our MLS system you agree to have a business association with the other Realtors and therefore the email spamming laws may not apply. Our mls area is small. I can see how it could be annoying if you received a large amount daily.  Our MLS also has classes. This is the best place to send agents when they start asking "how to" questions. I enjoyed your post and the comments. It is thought provoking. Aloha Julie

Nov 17, 2008 03:07 PM #11
Doug Wolfe
Long and Foster Real Estate, Inc. Phoenix, MD - Phoenix, MD

The one item of value I have gained from these SPAM things is that a few of them contain some great photos and.....oh wait, this is the Ethics group, and there is that intellectual property thing, but if SPAM is stupid then "intellectual" is a stretch, but I digress.

Nov 17, 2008 03:55 PM #12
Chris Dowell
ReeceNichols Olathe - Olathe, KS
Dowell Family Team

I have my gmail setup to send e-mails that are sent to 25 or more people to go directly to my spam folder. Once a week I browse through my spam just to make sure I didn't miss something. Rarely do I find something that is worth opening.

I think this type of marketing falls in the line of showing the seller you are doing something. Most sellers get impressed seeing marketing.


Nov 17, 2008 05:16 PM #13
Christopher Bonta
The Bean Group - Londonderry, NH
Realtor, Integrity and Honesty

Nick, read your post and I also read the responces and here is what I think. I support your point 100%, unfortunately the other Agents who disagree with you are just wrong and they don't get it.

There is an old saying that things are not just "Black and White" which implies that many things are in the "Grey". This may be so, but I think that people tend to view things to much in the Grey and not enough in the Black and White. If you read your laws and PAR guidelines which you stated that you  did and can find no exception to the Spam Law, then people spaming you are doing so illegally, case closed!

Nov 18, 2008 12:10 AM #14
Mary Strang
Viroqua, WI

I guess I can see both sides and it is situational, we traditionally market to other agents, and many rely on this type of marketing to make sure cooperating agents are aware of a new listing or price change. What I do not care for personally is marketing that comes from out of the area, other states, across the state, not in my direct market. That is when it becomes spam to me.

Nov 18, 2008 12:45 AM #15
Sandy Nelson
Riley Jackson Real Estate Inc. - Olympia, WA
your Olympia area Realtor


I'm constantly annoyed with the property flyers and Brokers Open Invitations in my inbox. On a bad day I simply send these mailing to my "Junk" file, but I worry that if I end up in a transaction with any of those spamming Realtors, I won't receive their transaction related communication. Hmm, I guess it should be them who should be worried about that.


Nov 18, 2008 02:53 AM #16
Bill Schwent
Casa Tierra Realty - Santa Fe, NM
Santa Fe Broker

Nick and your supporters,

If you object to receiving this information from your fellow/sister Realtors, join your MLS Committee and creaty the necessary rules and regulations to control or stop the practice.  I know it is easier to complain than to do, but give it a try.

Nov 19, 2008 12:27 PM #17
Nick Ruta
Whitehall, PA

Julie -I would love to see your MLS rules and regs on that specific statement. The federal laws for CAN-SPAM have no exceptions, including if a STATE decides to write their own rules.  The fed laws always win.  What constitutes a business relationship between two people is clearly written in the law.  I strongly suggest you read it.  Realtors are no exception simply due to their title or the fact others share a business career with them. With a tiny MLS system, maybe it works, but when you have thousands of members, forget it.  The abuse is rampant.

Chris- Excatly.  It amazes me how "we have to do this for the seller" comes up.  How about you educate the seller and inform them how stuff like this is a total waste of time?  But...most will not, because it causes confrontation and most have now clue how to properly explain technology. (hence why soooo many still pitch newspapers as a successful advertisement medium)

Mary - Isn't that why there is an MLS system??  Any agent "up on their stuff" should have bleeding edge skills with their own MLS and how to track changes and updates associated with the listing information needs of their clients.  Getting spammed flyers and stupid PDF attachments wastes my time, floods my inbox with crap, and wastes more time for those who actually spend time creating them.

Sandy - I hear ya. 

Bill- Way ahead of you, say about 13 months.   I quote (roughly) "The MLS association is not in the business of enforcing spam laws.  We provide the information necessary for agents to do their work and it's the responsibility of the broker to train their agents to work within the law".    Ya see...no one wants to properly enforce, what I feel is an extreme nuisance to most Realtors, especially ones in large populated MLS areas of coverage.  I even called a lawyer, multiple times out in PAR and it got no where.  He basically reiterated the same stuff.   One funny thing did come out of that conversation, "Nick, I get phone calls from Brokers who actually have the nerve to ask, 'Do I need to make our agents give out a consumer notice?'"    I couldn't believe it...Spam is obviously the least of his worries.

Nov 20, 2008 01:57 AM #18
Danny Thornton
R & D Art - Knoxville, TN
WordPress Guru

Nick, I can agree with what you are saying in theory for the most part. Typically, I hate to delete the 100 spams that I get in a day.

Nov 20, 2008 05:03 AM #19
Chad O'Donnell

Nick, it amazes me how many people go off on rants about the CAN-SPAM act, yet do not know the act themselves. You state "...is there a LOOPHOLE in the CAN-SPAM LAW that allows those sites legal rights to do what they do???


Someone, please enlighten me if there is!"


I am here to enlighten you :) There is NO PROVISION IN THE CAN-SPAM ACT THAT STATES YOU MUST OPT-IN. That is a common misconception and you are getting confused with EU directive which applies to email in Europe. The CAN-SPAM law states that if you're not using an opt in list then you must provide 1) an opt out option, 2) clearly state that the email is an advertisement and 3) have your physical address in the email. If you have an opt-in list you can disregard the above mentioned criteria.


Some References for you:


http://www.ftc.gov/bcp/edu/pubs/business/ecommerce/bus61.shtm - ftc explanation

http://www.spamlaws.com/federal/108s877.shtml - actual law - pay attention to section 5(a)(5)(A)(i))




Mar 29, 2010 06:31 PM #20
Dean Woods

A complete web marketing, and prospecting solution for you. A complete web marketing, feedback and prospecting solution for every one of your agents. All connected into a powerful advertising, feedback and prospecting system.

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