I recently had an interesting conversation about posting listings on a blog, or anywhere that consumers have an opportunity to comment, with a Realtor that is very intelligent and web savvy. Seriously, he really gets it - which is why our conversation is going over and over in mind. But I can't bring myself to agree with him.
He does not believe in posting listings on blogs. His reason was that anytime you opened up a listing to be commented on by the public, you are not representing your fiduciary responsibilities to the seller to always paint the listing in the most positive light. If someone were to make a negative comment, he felt he would be violating these responsibilities.
Since I am writing this on a blogging community website, I am going to assume we all the know the benefits of blogging and how this can help your SEO, so I am going to leave that alone. He is obviously missing out on this, but didn't feel the benefits outweighed the potential downside.
So, what if someone said something negative? Let's say someone posted the house reeked of dog odor. I can only assume that as a good Realtor, this would be something you would have discussed upfront. And since the house still smelled, the owner didn't listen to you or didn't think it was bad enough to take action. Maybe seeing this comment from a third party will make the owner take some corrective measures. And the beauty of letting people comment on your blog is that you can comment back. So you can say- "this issue has been taken care of by...." or "owner will give a $5000 carpet credit". Maybe the person that initially wrote or toured the home will see this and reconsider since a major obstacle has been removed from their selection process.
And then thinking about the "fiduciary responsibility" an Agent has to the seller, the Agent's duty is to sell the house as quickly as possible as the best price they can get. Dog odor can be something serious that makes a house sit on the market for months, and the longer the house sits, the further off the asking price it is likely to come down. By exposing issues that might be hampering the house's sale up front and having the opportunity to address them (either in writing or by taking action) it might make the house seller faster and at a better price. Sure, the home owner's feelings might get hurt when they read such comments, but I am sure a check at closing will make those feelings melt away.
Today consumer's expect transparency when research anything online, even a house. In fact, when everything I read about something is all positives, I get suspicious that the comments have been planted by someone with a financial interest. Conversations about pet odor or bad layouts in houses are happening every day in Realtor offices, and now these conversations are just migrating online. At least there you have an opportunity to see what people are really saying and address it head on.
Of course there is always the vindictive neighbor or ex-spouse that may abuse the post, but again, you have the opportunity to respond directly. I think people can see what is going on with those situations and make decisions accordingly. But as a good Agent you must be aware of the comments that are happening on your posts and address them. To let them go would indeed be a violation of duty.
A final note on comments on listing posts. I have monitored a lot of comments on such posts, and it seems that most people's comments revolve around why they should or shouldn't go physically tour the house. Not many people are going back and commenting once they have already actually seen the home. I know when I go out with Realtors on home searches, we see so many homes and the last thing I want to do when I get home is go online and find blogs about them to comment on. I either liked the house a lot (which I don't want to let people know because I don't want to create a larger market) or I didn't and I have already moved on. However, I do a lot researching on the front end in my efforts to qualify or unqualify a home to most effectively manage my time, and thus may make comments.
So, if I am missing something, let me know! Otherwise I am going stick with my opinion that blogging about listings is a great marketing platform.