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How not to behave in someone else’s home


This one is worth sharing and I know everyone has their own rules regarding what they let people see on their sites and whether or not the consumer should sign up to browse your IDX …..yadayadayada

We have tried different approaches to our IDX system on our website. We’ve had it totally available and without sign up requests, and now we have made a conscious decision to include call to action buttons on where the consumer can actually see some information from the MLS, but if they want more, they would have to sign up. Once done, they can choose whether or not to be included in certain campaigns and receive emails from us on a regular basis.

Here’s the deal – our website is our house. We built it, we decide what information we provide, we have a business from it, we own it, we pay for it, we work for it, and we make the rules. If people don’t like our rules they have 3 choices:

  1. don’t come back
  2. ask nicely if we will make an exception
  3. be difficult (can’t write what I really wanted to write for option 3)

Take a look at what someone wrote to us this past weekend (in bold and all caps as if screaming at us):


So let me get this right.  This person is visiting MY home and setting rules for me?  So because I sell real estate, this person thinks that they have the right to scream at me?  (I swear I’m laughing while I’m writing this but isn’t it a bit absurd?)  This person wants to use my system, that I pay for and make a living from, but does not want me to contact them?

I’m leaving it here, haven’t decided what to do with it yet.

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Written By

Ines is all Miami, all the time. A Miami Beach Realtor® with Majestic properties, Ines authors,, and 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.



  1. Anita

    June 29, 2009 at 8:24 am


    You make some good points and though I agree with your concept “it’s your house you make the rules” by the same token, different people, different houses, different rules. I think some agents go overboard with the follow up of online leads. They set up the automatic drip mail campaign, send constant emails and phone calls. Using your analogy, it’s the equavalent of the hostess who is constantly checking on her guest every few minutes….

    Can I get you something to drink? ……. Have you tried the jalapeno dip? It’s incredible!……. Did you see what we did with the guest bedroom?…… How are you doing? Everything ok?…… You have to try the jalapeno dip! It’s a new recipe……. Are you still working on that same drink?…….. Come sit on the patio, we have a new firepit………. Here, try my mojito……

    You get the idea. I can understand the buyers frustrations having been in their shoes. I was trying to help a family member find a home in another state so started doing a little research on line. I had to sign up to see property information so I did, clearly stating in my comments that I was a real estate agent doing preliminary research. I got bombarded with 3 automatic drip emails within 24 hours, along with an email from the agent who obviously didn’t read my comment or even looked at the homes I was previewing, an email from the agent’s assistant who also didn’t read my message, a phone call from the assistant following up the email she sent (which went to voicemail since she obviously didn’t bother to check what time zone I was in).

    Capturing leads isn’t about how quickly or how often you respond.

  2. Erion Shehaj

    June 29, 2009 at 8:46 am

    Hi Anita

    The guest house analogy is a bit off. The correct analogy would be if someone came to your store and started demanding the number of your wholesale provider, screaming that you should drive him/her to their warehous and insisting that you MUST buy them a sandwich on the way there.

    It’s ironic that someone who’s demanding information is not willing to reciprocate.

  3. Anita

    June 29, 2009 at 9:28 am


    In my analogy the guest is buyer, hostess is agent. The perspective is from buyers point of view. Using your store analogy it would be like going to the store and having a sales person following you around pointing out different things you should be looking at, offering to find you a different pair of jeans in your size, and oh btw what size are you, telling you about a great sale they are having on t-shirts, buy one get one 1/2 off, waiting outside the dressing room to give you feedback on how you look or to get you that same dress in a different size and then bringing back a couple of other dresses that they thought you might like to try on, etc.

    Some people like that level of “service” others find it intrusive. Let’s keep in mind that the buyer visiting your website is a potential future client. One whom you invited by offering them the opportunity to search for homes on your site. It is up to you to decide who you want to work with (which Ines is doing by requiring information up front) and what your business style will be. Then work with the buyers who fit your style. But don’t knock the buyers who don’t fit your style. I’m not a big fan of giving away my personal information online to someone or some entity I don’t really know anything about.

    I do not find it ironic that people do not want to give you their personal information in reciprocation of the nonpersonal property data you will provide. Do you provide your home phone number and address on your website? In this day and age when identity theft is rampant, we can’t just expect people to give us their personal info without a thought, online, and for most agents, not necessarily through a secure means.

    Going back to the guest analogy, it’s one thing for the hostess to say “let me take your hat and coat” another thing to say “here fill out this 2 page questionnaire about your likes and dislikes so I can make sure your stay is comfortable”. The intentions may be good but may just be a bit much for some people.

    Ok, I know my analogies may be a little extreme, just trying to make a point.

  4. Joe Spake

    June 29, 2009 at 9:39 am

    Or the “guest in my home” behavior that I hate most: The little bread and butter note that goes something like this: “….thanks for all the great information; you have an awesome site, and your emails have been very informative. It has been extremely helpful in our home search, and I told our agent that again as we were writing an offer on our dream home. Thanks again…..”

  5. Benn Rosales

    June 29, 2009 at 10:39 am

    Here’s the thing, Anita is correct in her analogy, and I get what she’s saying with “there has to be some middle ground.”

    On the other hand, the real question becomes, do we decide, or does consumer demand decide? It’s almost like setting a sales price- you set it at the ultimate make you happy scenario, and wait for offers, if none come, you adjust downward to find the middle.

    I think Ines you make the right decision ultimately, and knowing you, you’ll adjust your sales price until you hit the sweet spot- at the end of the day, what good is all you’re doing, and what you own if you’re so inlove with it, no offer is good enough- that’s never been your style.

  6. Erion Shehaj

    June 29, 2009 at 11:07 am


    I’m not for bombarding the prospective clients with incessant phone calls and relentless email. My basic point is this. A Realtor is in the business of helping buyers and sellers get what they want and they make a living in the process. When an agent (or company) makes the investment to offer a search platform for their clients, she does so with the intent of generating more business. When I spoke of reciprocity, I was referring to the basic premise that if the agent is offering a prospect a tool, they earn the right to see if they can offer their value to the transaction just like a consumer reserves the right to refuse it. When consumers search for Houston Real Estate, I ask for a phone number when they register but also offer the opportunity to say “Just Browsing”. I have a problem with the entitlement mentality of someone who takes advantage of your investment with ZERO intention of giving its provider an opportunity to offer their help. Ultimately, abuse is wrong on both sides.

  7. ines

    June 29, 2009 at 11:09 am

    I am not arguing that there are some aggressive sites there that can drive anyone insane – but I do think it’s their right to apply whatever business strategy works for them. I think the beauty of New Media is that we can attract like minded individuals and those that fit “our style”. My question here is how you ask for things.

    Don’t go on my site demanding for me to act a certain way – ask nicely and then I’ll make a choice whether or not I want to work with you.

    Erion and Anita: the consumer will have a choice to not come back, not use my services, walk out of the store, go to a different location, if they don’t like my business practice. But they have to realize it’s not only up to THEM to decide if they want to work with me – i’ve fired plenty of clients because they were disrespectful, not loyal or I just knew I could not help them and was doing them and myself a disservice

    For the record, we don’t request personal information – an email will suffice – and they can create a free gmail or hotmail if they wish. the point is to be able to communicate with them and find out how they want to be treated, how they prefer to handle business and ultimately, if we can work together

    Joe – 🙂 that’s a CLASSIC!

    Benn – I think you know I’m pretty easy going and I do adjust accordingly, but one thing is for sure, I demand respect from my clients and I earn that. Any time I see a hint of disrespect, that’s the end of the relationship. The only one in my life that is allowed to disrespect me is my mother – no negotiating there.

  8. ines

    June 29, 2009 at 11:10 am

    Erion – agreed!

  9. Anita

    June 29, 2009 at 1:03 pm

    Benn – Thank you for getting me! And yes I think we, the agents, need to set the boundaries for what we want our business model to be.

    Erion – I agree that we are offering a tool and the consumer should be aware that it is offered with the intention of possibly earning their business. I wasn’t necessarily objecting to the collection of some basic info such as an email in order to provide further assistance to the client. I was just trying to point out why some people really don’t want to have to give their contact info and how some agents can take things to the extreme. I strongly agree with you about not liking the whole entitlement mentality that seems to be par for the course, not just in real estate but in just about everything now days.

    Ines – I totally agree. Every agent needs to decide what business style works for them and then work with the clients that fit their style. I have often said that if people don’t like the way I do business they are free to go and find another agent who will do what they want. Contrary to popular opinion, I am not available 24/7/365. BTW, my previous post wasn’t intended as a personal comment on your specific site. I think you’ve done an incredible job with Miamism, on all its platforms. 🙂

    Oh, and maybe, just maybe, that person wasn’t yelling at you. Maybe just forgot the cap lock was on? Seeing as how the first letter of each sentence is in lower case…. Ok but no excuse for the actual message though.

  10. Ines Hegedus-Garcia

    June 29, 2009 at 1:15 pm

    Anita – I know this is not personal, on the contrary, healthy discussion to try to figure out how the consumer thinks and what their expectations are – then we know how to reciprocate (or not) 🙂

  11. Joe Loomer

    June 29, 2009 at 1:18 pm

    I was frankly amazed that it took until Anita’s most recent comment for anyone else to see the capslock angle. That’s what it said to me the moment I read the comment. A non-typist looking down at their hands who just hit “send” or “enter” before they even looked up.

    It changes the IMPLIED emotion of the text, but not the message – it’s still a matter of “thanks for letting me use your house, kiss my a**.” I’m with ya on this one Ines.

    Navy Chief, Navy Pride

  12. Ines Hegedus-Garcia

    June 29, 2009 at 1:29 pm

    Joe – that’s why I left it untouched, there is certainly a chance that they were not screaming. There is also a chance that they don’t know that ALL CAPS MEANS YOU ARE TRYING TO MAKE A POINT!! 🙂 I wrote this to see reactions – I always give the benefit of the doubt and will let this person use my system (but will watch them like a hawk).

    I always wonder where the consumer gets the idea that they can trample over people just because they can.

  13. Paula Henry

    June 29, 2009 at 2:31 pm

    Ines – This one just came through this morning –

    I would appreciate hearing what is on the market with a basement, main floor master and small yard under $400,000. in Zionsville or West Clay.
    Our home in Northern Indiana is on the market, but as I am sure you know, things are not moving very quickly. You will not be able to reach us by phone as we are at our cottage in Maine and searching only by
    We are already working with an agent in Zionsville.

    She can stay and look at homes, but I won’t be giving her my expertise about the Zionsville market. Many agents don’t have a site for their clients and somehow, it sounds like this lady wants a second opinion.

  14. Ines Hegedus-Garcia

    June 29, 2009 at 2:38 pm

    Paula – never seizes to amaze me. That’s exactly what I would respond – “Are you seeking a second opinion, because I will not come in between the fiduciary duties of you and your agent – it would be unethical and out of line”

    I had another gentleman that came straight out and said that he would be in Miami next month and had contacted several agents and would buy from the one that offered the best deal – at least he was honest upfront. I told him that I only committed to those clients that reciprocated the commitment and good luck with the final outcome.

  15. Matthew Hardy

    June 29, 2009 at 2:45 pm

    As they say, sales is a numbers business so the first, best response to people you don’t want to do business with is to ignore them. Secondly, I agree with Erion that because we’re talking business here (not acquaintances/friendships) *value* is central to the relationship. Value is paid for. Prospects have to pay with their time and money to get something valuable. If they are unwilling, the businessperson should not waste their personal time. Signage, advertising, websites et al are there to encourage the interaction a true prospect will gladly engage in. This is called “qualifying” and is *the* critical component to justifying an agent’s personal time spent with a prospect.

  16. Mark Jacobs

    June 29, 2009 at 6:20 pm

    I offer tools on my web site to help the consumer with their real estate needs. After displaying 4 to 5 homes with all their details, I require the person to log in to continue using the tools. I show the person that there is value in using my tools and services before I ask for their information. At this point the person has the choice to stay or leave. People who need help will log in and provide good contact information. People who supply bad information only want to use your service for free. Don’t waste your time and money on them. Let them go, and move on. If they act like this online do you really want to work with them?

    Remember it’s your business, run it like a business

  17. Jonathan Dalton

    June 29, 2009 at 6:43 pm

    > Capturing leads isn’t about how quickly or how often you respond.

    Back in the day, there would be a 1,500-word missive in the works. Because capturing leads generally has everything to do with how quickly you respond.

    I switched to registration-required in August. Altered it ever so slightly in April in an effort to pre-qualify folks (a set number of searches and/or views) and then went back to full registration about two weeks back.

    Best success always has been in contacting those coming to the website immediately. If you don’t want an e-mail or a phone call from me, use a phony name. Mr. Jablowme has registered on my site four different times.

    Because while the real estate transaction is about you (the consumer), my websites are about me. I’m not in the business of running an IDX service. I’m in the business of selling homes and I will do whatever I believe is effective to help me with that goal.

    When I was at Schwab, people would call for stock quotes even though they didn’t have an account and get angry when we didn’t provide them. You know what? We were staffed to assist our customers. Feel free to call someone else if you have no interest in working with us.

    The same goes for my IDX feeds on my site. You are not required to register to view the homes for sale in Phoenix. You’re only required to register if you want to view them on my site. Feel free to browse elsewhere is you choose, odds are we weren’t going to work together anyway.

  18. Matthew Hardy

    June 29, 2009 at 6:49 pm

    @ Jonathan – We were staffed to assist our customers. Feel free to call someone else if you have no interest in working with us.

    Well said.

  19. Ines Hegedus-Garcia

    June 29, 2009 at 6:51 pm

    Matthew – I agree about ignoring them, but not at my expense. You don’t want me to contact you? go elsewhere – just like Jonathan “cupholder” Dalton states,

    Feel free to browse elsewhere is you choose, odds are we weren’t going to work together anyway.

    and Mark – absolutely – THAT’s where the key is. It is definitely a business and no one should expect to use someone else’s services for free.

  20. Matt Stigliano

    June 30, 2009 at 7:35 am

    Ines – There’s a few things at play here (in my opinion). First, I’m not so sure if their intention was to scream. I agree with Joe that they seemed like they might just be staring down at the keyboard and not looking at their screen. I think it’s a case of errant caps-lock. Why? Look at what isn’t capitalized. First letter in the sentence as well as the word “I.” Looks like someone at least tried to use capitals, but with caps-lock on instead reversed the use.

    Of course, that doesn’t change what’s happening here (other than making it seem a little less aggressive). I think that you’re right – it’s your house, that you built, and spent countless hours on creating for the public’s use, but you still have the right to choose how to interact with anyone visiting your site.

    One of the things I’ve noticed as the internet has grown is a demand for everything the way the user wants it and nothing more. It happened with music, it happened with software, and I see it happen on websites. People have become demanding in what they want, how they want it, and the rules that govern what happens once they get what they want out of a site. And thanks to the sites that will email someone to death in order to “get the sale” (real estate or not), there is a perception that any website that requires registration is nothing more than a spam machine.

    Knowing you, I know that your drip campaigns are probably interesting, insightful, and probably flavored with a little fun too. Had this person seen that first, they may have said “what the heck, the worst that can happen is I’ll have to hit delete once or twice.” Since they didn’t, they let their perception of what registration means interfere with some good interaction between themselves and you.

    I agree with everyone in the thought that if this is their initial reaction, they probably wouldn’t wind up working with you in the first place. People have learned to take what they want from websites and move on. Not everyone, but many have. Before the internet, these were the same people that would call 100 listings to get info, then call their friend in the real estate business (who was too busy to help them right now) and sign a contract.

    Good luck and let us know how it plays out.

  21. MIssy Caulk

    July 2, 2009 at 8:46 am

    Ines, your know I am in agreement with how we treat visitors on our sites. There are plenty to go to for FREE, plenty…..

    If folks don’t want to register to see what I am offering which is better than most IDX sites. Then they can move on.

    When I get requests for CMA’s, I first go check the MLS to see IF it is already listed, if so I send a nice email and and ask them if the listing is expiring soon or they just want a 2nd opinion. Rarely do I hear back. However, before I started doing this I would inquire about the home, blah, blah, blah.

    I too signed up on site once in TN, left a note not to contact as I was only looking around and already had a Realtor. Did they read it? NO
    I was immediately put on their drip campaign.

    For someone who is a stronge advocate for registering, the most important thing is to put an opt out on everything you send them so they can stop it at anytime.


    We didn’t call or drip them. The buyer has choices and we respect them, but respect is equal too, we don’t compromise on the registeration.

  22. ines

    July 2, 2009 at 11:55 am

    If you begin a relationship with antagonism – it’s a sure sign to see where that relationship will end up. I’m tired of dealing with people on the defensive.

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