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More DUH Moments in Online Real Estate

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I don’t know about you, but we’ve been hearing about so many people getting scammed on-line with vacation and regular rentals and I hate to point a finger, but most of them are coming from Craigslist.

People finding agents and sending deposits to then find themselves with arms up in the air wondering what they were thinking.  DUH!!  In Miami we have another type of scam, this one not so serious, but very common nonetheless.  We have agents advertising our listings on Craigslist even if the MLS reads “do not advertise“.  We used to love for other agents to advertise for us until we found ourselves showing up to our listings and the clients would express feeling cheated thinking the listing belonged to the person advertising on Craigslist.

Today we hit a new high – an agent advertising one of our “do not advertise” rental listings, calling us to bug us about 15 times per day, doing everything wrong and after having an executed Lease loosing the client over amateur incompetency.  We found out because after the prospective tenant walked, they called us directly to help them out.  The prospect had been reading Miamism and didn’t know it was our listing, and after getting fed up with her agent, ended up finding out that the listing was ours to begin with.

I know the logistics can be complicated – but can’t we do something about these Internet scams?  Unqualified agents not only making our lives impossible, but making us and our clients loose time as well.  I’m so over it!  May listen to my friend now and open up Ineslist.com……NOT!

The worst part is that even though this is a rant about incompetency and wasting time, it ultimately is about misinterpretation of information which hurts the client directly.   I still try to understand the logic behind people who don’t want to work with agents, choose to be unrepresented and end up getting cheated.

Rant over

Disclosure:  my dis is not against Craigslist directly, but those that choose to misuse the medium

Ines is all Miami, all the time. A Miami Beach Realtor® with Majestic properties, Ines authors Miamism.com, PrimeMiamiBeach.com, and MiamismPix.com and is always on communication's leading edge. She goes out of her way to engage and be engaged, often using Mojitos to keep the mood light and give everything she does a Miami flavor. You can find her goofing off or instigating trouble at Twitter, Flickr, Facebook or LinkedIn.

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20 Comments

20 Comments

  1. Joe Loomer

    October 13, 2009 at 7:16 am

    I guess the broker reciprocity rules must be different down there, Ines. Here listings have the option of “IDX share” yes or no. Not sure if that would prevent what’s happening there. Assume you’ve gone the regular route of complaining to the agents’ brokers, so I won’t bother suggesting that avenue.

    Is this something the Florida Real Estate Commission should be aware of?

    Navy Chief, Navy Pride

  2. Mack Perry

    October 13, 2009 at 8:14 am

    If memory serves me correctly, and at my age that is somewhat difficult, I believe it is an ethics violation to advertise another agent’s listing without written permission from the listing broker.

  3. Ines Hegedus-Garcia

    October 13, 2009 at 11:00 am

    Joe, the rule here is to check the MLS and see if it reads “OK to advertise” or “NOT” and in this case it is a no and agent violated that. We have complained to the brokers in many instances but it is getting old, happens too often and don’t have time to police our listings on Craigslist. I do think it’s an issue the Florida Real Estate Commission should be aware of though.

    mack – you don’t need written permission, but need to check the MLS for what the agent allows.

  4. Keith Lutz

    October 13, 2009 at 4:49 pm

    Just like there are all those social links and links for reporting spam, someone needs to come up with a link that reports back to the proper MLS board violatiors. Sounds do-able, but beyond any skill-set I have.

  5. Ines Hegedus-Garcia

    October 13, 2009 at 5:11 pm

    Keith, I think that’s exactly it – if they would make it easier to report, then more people would take the time.

  6. Paula Henry

    October 14, 2009 at 7:39 am

    Ines – I have had people call me devastated they were ripped off by someone advertising a rental and know Realtor’s whose listings are being used as bait. With all the advertising venues out there, it would be hard to track.

    In Indy, our board does have a report violation link on each MLS page, but outside the MLS, it’s almost impossible to catch everyone who might be advertising another agents listing. It really comes down to ethics. People are ethical or not, unfortunately.

  7. Matt Thomson

    October 14, 2009 at 9:41 am

    Seth Godin wrote a good blog about “What if Craigslist cost $1.” Would solve that type of problem, but I suppose they’d just find somewhere else to advertise. Here in the Seattle area, our MLS levies a pretty good fine if you advertise another agent’s listing without written permission.
    I’m all for advertising my listings in print or somewhere that I don’t advertise, but I want control over them online. I’ve been fortunate I guess in that I don’t know of any incompetent agents stealing mine.

  8. Louise Scoggins

    October 14, 2009 at 4:35 pm

    Interesting read, Ines. I know here in Atlanta we have a “Broker Reciprocity Agreement” that allows other agents to advertise my listings via a MLS search on their website, but I haven’t heard of other agents advertising someone else’s listings on Craigslist. Sneaky. I personally advertise my resale and rental listings on Craigslist, so it’s something I will be on the lookout for from now on.

  9. Portland Real Estate

    October 15, 2009 at 3:22 pm

    Its like having a site automatically try to guess and assign a value to a home that you are trying to sell. Thank you very much but no, I dont want you to advertise your estimated value of the home because the number is so far off of reality. It makes clients pretty irritated when other websites fill them with crap information and you get to be the one that tells them otherwise.

    -Tyler

  10. Marlow

    October 16, 2009 at 3:03 am

    Perhaps you need to urge your MLS to instigate stiff fines for those who break the rules.

    Here in the Pacific Northwest, advertising someone elses listing can result in a fine of $10,000.00 or more, and they are enforced. And then the MLS announces all of the rule breakers and fines on the front page of the website!

    Believe me, this tends to keep people in line.

  11. Terry@Charlotte Homes

    October 23, 2009 at 5:35 pm

    Devils Advocate here – Isn’t not allowing other Brokers the right to advertise a listing one of the prime FTC complaints- ie if we are actually acting as an Agent acting in the Seller best interest, don’t we want all advertisement possible? Many home sellers think so.

    That said, I almost fell victim with my daughter to a CL scam… a rent too good to be true at college in Memphis. “Unfortunately just have to send you the keys because I didn’t leave them with anyone”… full of “God Bless you” and other colloquial English , it was quite believable,and my daughter exchanged 3- 4 emails before we discovered the fraud-andthey had “borrowed” a local new condo sellers identity.

    don’t know the answer on policing listings…

  12. Ines Hegedus-Garcia

    October 23, 2009 at 9:15 pm

    Terry, we actually allow for others to advertise our listings – when they are not rentals (somehow rentals are more open to scams) – and what’s the point to advertise the same rental in the same medium, like CL?

    CL has rules against double advertisement – so that’s a double whammy on those agents’ side. “buyer beware” could not apply more in these cases

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Business Marketing

How Instagram’s latest redesign is more sinister than it seems

(MARKETING) Instagram’s latest updates have all but repurposed the app into an online mall – one that tracks everything you see, say, and buy on it.

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Woman in hijab taking photo on her smartphone for Instagram, affected by the redesign.

Instagram started the new year off with a makeover in their latest redesign. The notifications button teleported to the top of the screen in the app’s new design, and now the “Shopping” button is in its place.

It’s a subtle yet insidious switch. You’re much more likely to select the marketplace out of habit, by accident, when searching your next dose of online validation.

The app has always been a vital tool for artists, craftspeople, and small businesses to promote their work — including myself. And the new redesign is intended to boost the visibility of those groups. At least, that’s Instagram’s argument.

In an article for The Conversation, Nazanin Andalibi of the University of Michigan School of Information provides a glimpse of what’s going on behind the scenes.

“By choosing to make the Shop tab central to its platform,” she writes, “Instagram is sending its users a message: This platform is a business, and interactions on this platform are going to be commodified.”

As an advertiser, Instagram’s popularity has exploded in the last decade. Even big pharma is in on the surge, with seventy pharmaceutical companies purchasing ads on the app in 2020. (That made it the fastest growing pharma advertiser of the year.)

As we know, Instagram not only runs ads, but also uses user information to filter who sees what advertisements. Now, shopping is explicitly a central function of the app. It sometimes feels like a digital mall… And that’s not really what people signed up for.

I’ve had my account for since I was a teenager, and the experience I have using the app today is totally different from what it once was. For one, it’s increasingly difficult to differentiate paid ads from regular user content on Instagram.

And second, I use Instagram to promote my work, but I don’t feel comfortable sharing personal details about myself anymore.

Because, to use Anadalibi’s words: “Sharing or seeking information about a difficult, personal experience on a social media platform and then having the platform capitalize on an algorithmic understanding of the experience–which might or might not be accurate–is problematic.”

That goes doubly so for youth, who may not be fully aware of that engineering.

For instance, a teenager searching for body positive posts might receive personalized ad results for weight loss programs. A human would probably realize that’s an inappropriate, even triggering suggestion. But algorithms don’t think that way.

Alongside the redesign update, Instagram has also faces recent criticism for their Community Guidelines, which prevent suggestive and explicit images and speech.

And whether you agree with the guidelines or not, don’t be fooled. Instagram isn’t concerned with uplifting its creators, or protecting its young users. Their only goal is protecting their new bottom line, and staying as ad-friendly as possible.

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Business Marketing

Ghost Reply has us asking: Should you shame a recruiter who ghosted you?

(BUSINESS MARKETING) Ghost Reply will send an anonymous “kind reminder” to recruiters who ghost job candidates, but is the sweet taste of temporary catharsis worth it?

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Stressed woman at a laptop with hands on head, considering if she should send a Ghost Reply.

People hate to get “ghosted” in any situation, personal or professional. But for job seekers who may already be struggling with self-esteem, it can be particularly devastating. Ghost Reply is a new online service that will help you compose and send an email nudge to the ghoster, sending a “kind reminder” telling them how unprofessional it is to leave someone hanging like that.

Ghost Reply wants to help you reach catharsis in all of this stressful mess of finding a job. Almost all of the problems and feelings are compounded by this confounded pandemic that has decimated areas of the workforce and taken jobs and threatened people’s financial security. It is understandable to want to lash out at those in power, and sending a Ghost Reply email to the recruiter or HR person may make you feel better in the short term.

In the long run, though, will it solve anything? Ghost Reply suggests it may make the HR person or recruiter reevaluate their hiring processes, indicating this type of email may help them see the error of their ways and start replying to all potential candidates. If it helps them reassess and be more considerate in the future and helps you find closure in the application/interview process, that would be the ideal outcome on all fronts. It is not likely this will happen, though.

The Ghost Reply sample email has the subject line “You have a message from a candidate!” Then it begins, “Hi, (name), You’re receiving this email because a past candidate feels like you ghosted them unfairly.” It then has a space for said candidate to add on any personal notes regarding the recruiter or process while remaining anonymous.

I get it. It’s upsetting to have someone disappear after you’ve spent time and energy applying, possibly even interviewing, only to hear nothing but crickets back from the recruiter or HR person you interacted with. It’s happened to me more than once, and it’s no bueno. We all want to be seen. We all want to be valued. Ghosting is hurtful. The frustration and disappointment, even anger, that you feel is certainly relatable. According to several sources, being ghosted after applying for a job is one of the top complaints from job seekers on the market today.

Will an anonymous, passive-aggressive email achieve your end? Will the chastened company representative suddenly have a lightbulb go off over their heads, creating a wave of change in company policy? I don’t see it. The first sentence of the sample email, in fact, is not going to be well received by HR.

When you start talking about what’s “unfair,” most HR people will tune out immediately. That kind of language in itself is unprofessional and is a red flag to many people. Once you work at a company and know its culture and have built relationships, then, maybe, just maybe, can you start talking about your work-related feelings. I believe in talking about our feelings, but rarely is a work scenario the best place to do so (I speak from experience). Calling it unprofessional is better, less about you and more about the other person’s behavior.

However, it’s unclear how productive Ghost Reply actually is. Or how anonymous, frankly. By process of deduction, the recipient of the email may be able to figure out who sent it, if it even makes it through the company’s spam filters. Even if they cannot pinpoint the exact person, it may cast doubts on several applicants or leave a bad taste in the recruiter’s mouth. It sounds like sour grapes, which is never a good thing.

There may be any number of reasons you didn’t get the job offer or interview, and they may or may not have something to do with you. Recruiters answer your burning questions, including why you may have been ghosted in this recent article in The American Genius.

Ultimately, you will never know why they ghosted you. If it makes you feel better or at least see the issue from both sides, the amount of job candidates ghosting recruiters after applying and even interviewing is equally high. Some people simply either have awful time management skills or awful manners, and at the end of the day, there’s not much you can do about that.

Focus on your own survival while job hunting, instead of these disappointing moments or the person who ghosts you. It will serve you better in the long run than some anonymous revenge email. There are other ways to deal with your frustration and anger when you do get ghosted, though. Try the classic punching your pillow. Try taking a walk around the block. If it helps to put your frustration into words, and it very well may, then do so. Write it on a piece of paper, then burn it. Or type it all in an email and delete it. For your own sake, do NOT put their email address in the “To” line, lest you accidentally hit “Send.”

The sooner you can let it go, the sooner you can move on to finding a better job fit for you.

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Business Marketing

Free shipping is everywhere… how can small businesses keep up?

[BUSINESS MARKETING] Would you rather pay less but still pay for shipping, or pay more with free shipping? They may cost the same, but one appeals more than the other.

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Person standing over pacakge, sealing with masking tape.

When it comes to competing with huge corporations like Amazon, there are plenty of hurdles that smaller businesses have to cross. Corporations can (and do) undercut the competition, not to mention garner a much larger marketing reach than most small businesses could ever dream of achieving. But this time, we want to focus on something that most people have probably chosen recently: Free shipping.

How important is free shipping to consumers? Well, in a 2018 survey, Internet Retailer discovered that over 50% of respondents said that free shipping was the most important part of online shopping. In fact, when given a choice between fast or costless shipping, a whopping 88% of those surveyed chose the latter option.

Part of this has to do with the fact that shipping costs are often perceived as additional fees, not unlike taxes or a processing fee. In fact, according to Ravi Dhar, director of Yale’s Center for Customer Insights, if it’s between a discounted item with a shipping fee or a marked up item with free shipping, individuals are more likely to choose the latter – even if both options cost exactly the same amount.

If you’re interested in learning more, Dhar refers to the economic principle of “pain of paying,” but the short answer is simply that humans are weird.

So, how do you recapture the business of an audience that’s obsessed with free shipping?

The knee jerk reaction is to simply provide better products that the competition. And sure, that works… to some extent. Unfortunately, in a world where algorithms can have a large effect on business, making quality products might not always cut it. For instance, Etsy recently implemented a change in algorithm to prioritize sellers that offer free shipping.

Another solution is to eat the costs and offer free shipping, but unless that creates a massive increase in products sold, you’re going to end up with lower profits. This might work if it’s between lower profits and none, but it’s certainly not ideal. That’s why many sellers have started to include shipping prices in the product’s overall price – instead of a $20 necklace with $5 shipping, a seller would offer a $25 necklace with free shipping.

This is a tactic that the big businesses use and it works. If you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em, right?

That said, not everyone can join in. Maybe, for instance, a product is too big to reasonably merge shipping and product prices. If, for whatever reason, you can’t join in, it’s also worth finding a niche audience and pushing a marketing campaign. What do you offer that might be more attractive than the alluring free shipping? Are you eco-friendly? Do you provide handmade goods? Whatever it is that makes your business special, capitalize on it.

Finally, if you’re feeling down about the free shipping predicament, remember that corporations have access to other tricks. Amazon’s “free” prime shipping comes at an annual cost. Wal-Mart can take a hit when item pricing doesn’t work out. Even if your business isn’t doing as well as you hoped, take heart: You’re facing giants.

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