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Seller Fiduciary Responsibilities When Posting A Listing To A Blog

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.

 

 

 

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Comment balloon 5 commentsSara Bonert • July 27 2007 11:18AM

Comments

Great post!  I agree that it would be a big miss in exsposure for the seller by not posting a listing in a blog.  In regards to the negative comments, if this is found to be a vindictive type of thing . . . you can also delete the comment (which I try never to do, but in that case I feel it would be warranted).  It really comes down to the same as what HGTV does with their hidden cameras during open houses does it not?  It is a great opportunity for sellers (and the listing agent) to get upfront feedback and valuable perspectives.   

I agree with your friend also that there are "lines" and responsibilities in blogging and communicating anything in regards to the industry.  We have to be careful at times.  I had an argument that got a bit out of on one of my posts and I didn't even realize it was going on until the one agent called me backing his responses.  I took all of those comments off because they were way off topic and I found them to be slanderous.  It just wasn't what I wanted associated with me.  And I guess you can argue that either way. 

There are many opinions about the role of the internet in the industry.  I love it.  It is a great avenue for many things, and allows for a providing a higher level of service.  But again, there is a responsibility that comes with that as well.  For example, we all see the media and know "negative sells".  I have come across individuals (even in my own area), who I see going that route just to create the traffic. 

Posted by Kathleen West, Flagler County & Palm Coast Realtor (Trademark Realty Group of Palm Coast) almost 13 years ago
With over 70% of the buying public starting the home search on the net, I think it is wise to have your listings out there and the more opportunities to show the home the better
Posted by Joe Adams (Major Mortgage USA/Branch Manager) almost 13 years ago
Kathy-  What a great analogy to HGTV!  That is exactly what I was talkiing about. 
Posted by Sara Bonert, Real Estate Internet Marketing (Zillow) almost 13 years ago
To take his logic a step further, you should then never hold open houses or caravan tours where more than one person views the property at a time.  Otherwise, a negative comment could sour the whole group!  Pure nonsense.  The number 1 duty we owe the seller is to sell the home.  That is done through exposure.  I just secured first page position on Google with a listing blog.  Can the harm of someone commenting that the carpet looks worn, or the family room looks small, outweigh all of the positive consequences of the increased exposure?  No.  Sounds to me like he just likes a debate, becauser this notion is silly.
Posted by Paul Slaybaugh, Scottsdale, AZ Real Estate (Realty Executives) almost 13 years ago

I haven't even HAD comments on listings I did here and in other blogs.  If you do, why not delete the comments?  Even though I don't believe in erasing comments this option is clearly available.   We all want to do right by our sellers, and the risk of someone making a comment versus not getting enough exposure for it, the results outweigh the risk.

 

Lexa 

Posted by Lexa R. Montierth, Real Estate Sales Agent and Marketer (NextHome Complete Realty) almost 13 years ago

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