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Real Estate Marketing

How to copyright photos, and solve the issue of ownership

While the social and legal debates go round and round, safeguard your photos with Fotag. This new app gives photographers and listing agents control over listings and syndication, allowing for copyright, and thus profit from photos.

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The day has come and you are ready to finally put your house on the market. You contact a realtor, they snap a few pictures of your house, and post it for sale online. It’s that simple, right? Well, not quite.

For the past several years, there’s been an ongoing debate about the pictures that realtors take of homes for sale regarding true ownership of those images. Some claim the photos belong to the homeowners, others place ownership on the realtor, some on the Multiple Listing Service (MLS) and many others in between.

The American Genius has hashed out these issues several times, with evaluations of various MLS Terms of Service, syndicated sites, and even a class action lawsuit but the issue persists. Who truly owns the photographs?

Copyright ownership over the photographs has become convoluted, as many entities stake claim on the photos, each coming with its own special circumstances.

Here’s a breakdown of the issue:

– Many assume ownership of the photos resides with the homeowner, as it is their property being photographed, advertised, and ultimately, sold.

– Then argument is made that the photos instead belong to the photographer, unless released with a full or limited license. Some photographers may have more detailed restrictions, or acceptable usage policies, which complicates things further when real estate photos are posted on Multiple Listing Sites (MLS) and syndicated sites such as Zillow or Trulia, or on blogs that produce “real estate porn.” While MLS Terms of Service often outline a transfer of ownership upon image upload, syndicated sites seem avoid the conversation altogether, and assume the right to use the photos, further adding to bigger real estate syndication

– From the other side of the table it’s being argued that if the listing agent purchased the photographs from a professional photographer, or took them personally, they indeed belong to her. Or even higher, the broker of the listing agent claims ultimate ownership since responsibility and liability of the photographs and the listing is ultimately theirs.

Why does this debate even matter? It’s just pictures of houses, right? Well, when those photos are generating revenue, everyone wants a piece of the pie. And in fact, various entities claim rights to the images, complicating the issue endlessly.

In the lawsuit against CoreLogic, professional photographer Robert Stevens claimed the MLS site stripped identifying metadata, including photographer name, geolocation data, time, camera settings, etc. from images.

These images were then sold to other real estate databases without permission or compensation. Litigation appears to be still pending in this case, but its outcome may help outline regulations for future discussions about real estate photography ownership.

While the social and legal debates go round and round, safeguard your photos with FOTAG. This new app gives photographers and listing agents control over listings and syndication, allowing for copyright, and thus profit from photos.

FOTAG is portal that allows realtors to take photos, upload them to a listing, and share with consumers. With both desktop and mobile functionality allows for on the go updating and browsing.

With the click of a button FOTAG allows realtors the ability to change listing status to “Sold,” thus withdrawing all photos from syndication sites.

Best of all, every listing that is created in FOTAG is automatically registered with the US Copyright Office and is continually searching for infractions and unlawful use of photos. FOTAG allows for the buying and selling of photos, creating a way for photographers to further monetize their efforts, while preventing the historical debate about photo ownership.

Megan Noel, a veteran ex-educator with a PhD in Early Childhood Education, enjoys researching life through the eyes of her two young children, while writing about her family’s adventures on IndywithKids.com. With a nearly a decade in small business and marketing, this freelance writer spends most evenings pouring over new ideas and writing articles, while indulging in good food and better wine.

Real Estate Marketing

Happy Grasshopper helps real estate folks by offering free content

(REAL ESTATE MARKETING) The one stop shop for real estate communication with clients, Happy Grasshopper, has extended it service for free to help with COVID-19 problems.

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Happy Grasshopper provides high quality, helpful, and timely content to real estate professionals to help them keep in touch with their client list and other potentially interested parties. Up to now, their content was only available to their paid members. For the first time, in response to COVID-19 and social distancing, Happy Grasshopper is offering up their premium content for free to every real estate entity.

Welcome to HG Free. It’s kind of a big deal.

The country–and the whole world–is topsy turvy due to the awful spread of the novel coronavirus. The real estate industry, along with many others, has basically slowed down to a mere trickle of business. Social distancing may be what saves us, but for many industries, the loss of income is a crushing blow. Real estate agents are trying to figure out how to connect with leads and clients while staying at home.

Happy Grasshopper’s content is all messaging based. They provide ways to start and carry on conversations with prospects. Offering true value to people is the best way to earn loyalty. With scads of people facing job loss, furloughs, or a sharp decrease of income, nobody is looking to be “sold” right now. It’s abrasive and insensitive. That doesn’t mean to stop reaching out, though, to people. People are craving connection more than ever, as they deal with physical distancing from nearly all others and a complete shutdown of any social life.

HG Free is available via the HappyGrasshopper.com home page, and will offer free content on a regular basis to help those working in the real estate industry keep in touch with their contacts in relevant and appropriate way.

Their content includes:

  • Email Message Templates
  • Text Message Templates
  • Social Media Posts/Quote Graphics
  • Voicemail Message Scripts

Happy Grasshopper features

CEO Dan Stewart states, “Our mission – to connect the world in conversation – has never been more important. In this unprecedented time of social distancing, we must continue to hold conversations with each other through the communication media available to us. For our largest client base–real estate agents, brokers, and franchises–staying in touch with leads, their sphere of influence, current and past clients and others is always important. Today, in the face of this world-wide, self-quarantining pandemic, it is crucial.”

Happy Grasshopper CEO

People need people. HG Free can help real estate people connect with their people. Don’t sleep on this, real estate folks! Take Happy Grasshopper up on their generous offer. It’s thoughtful for Happy Grasshopper to do this, and in turn, they’ll surely convert more loyal customers of their own when times are better.

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Real Estate Marketing

COVID-19: Should real estate pause “days on market” featured on sites?

(REAL ESTATE MARKETING) MLS platform rely heavily on a constant market. With the current pandemic, certain features can negatively impact buyers, sellers, and their listing agents.

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With more and more states, counties, and cities issuing “shelter-in-place” orders, it looks as though this will be the new normal for a while. For real estate professionals, this leaves a lot of unanswered questions and apprehension. With shelter-in-place, naturally, there will not be as many people looking to buy or sell homes, but what about the homes already on the market? How will they be affected?

Maybe it is time to review certain listing features: days on the market, tours, and open houses, to name a few. These features are heavily dependent on an active market. When the market is in a slump, recession, or facing a crisis, like pandemic, natural disasters, or in an area where people have been experiencing extensive furloughs and layoffs, this data can be unfairly impacted.

When there are not as many homebuyers/sellers in an area due to these events, days on the market will rise, tours will sit unviewed, and open houses will not receive any foot traffic because people are not financially in a place to partake.

Typically, buyers use the “days on the market” feature to leverage better deals; the longer a home has been on the market, the more likely the owner will be to strike a better deal (in theory). During these shelter-in-place orders, the longer a home looks as though it has been on the market, the more likely a perspective home buyer will be to think, “if it’s been on the market this long, what’s wrong with it?” Also, it can give the false impression that the listing agent isn’t doing all they should be to sell the home, as the days on the market increase, which unfair both to the real estate professional and to the homeowner.

In California, where there is currently a shelter-in-place order, the MLS Listings Board of Directors has issued an order to suspend days of the market for active listings. Active listings will no longer accrue days on the market, effective March 17 (the day the shelter-in-place was issued). The Board also disabled broker tours and open house listings effectively keeping the listing marketplace from being adversely impacted.

This change should happen across the board, in my opinion, so other markets aren’t negatively impacted by a continual “days on the market” count when we are all dealing with the pandemic. Perhaps other MLS listing services will follow suit and it will soon become standard to suspend the features most impacted by the shelter-in-place order.

The MLS Listings Chairman in California, Karl Lee, stated, “This action is intended to relieve pressure on sellers and buyers during the coronavirus pandemic and to underscore public compliance efforts during the shelter-in-place. The health of the public is priority number one. We are actively reviewing policies to identify ways to support buyers, seller, agents, and brokers in these unprecedented times. We continue to collaborate with other MLS listing platforms for best practices under the impact of coronavirus.”

However, not all MLS listing agencies agree with this policy. In fact, some agencies are not addressing the inadequacies the shelter-in-place has presented. Instead, they are telling their agents to carry on as normal, which is a violation of the shelter-in-place order. What do you think MLS listing agencies should do? Should the days on the market continue to accrue during the pandemic, or should it be suspended until business can resume as normal?

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Real Estate Marketing

Quickly turn any text, link, or tweet into an Instagram post

(REAL ESTATE MARKETING) If you have wondered how to share the same ad across multiple social platforms, Remix is your answer for the brand unity every company needs.

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Developing unique and “likeable” Instagram content is a crucial objective for any brand. This involves being aware of outside apps that help one develop the best content for their brand. These apps include a myriad of purposes, from additional filters to repost abilities to creating eye-catching stories.

Now, an app exists that allows users to transform any link, tweet, or product into beautiful Instagram content. Remix by Buffer is designed to help people share their content across every channel in an effort to give their content consistency.

Bring tweets to Instagram. Put your products into Stories. And much more,” says Buffer’s landing page for Remix. “With Remix, you can share information quickly, efficiently, and completely on-brand. Remix is fully free. No watermarks. No in-app purchases.”

One of the best aspects of this is that the content you’re designing can be altered to include your brand’s colors to ensure that every post is, as they said, on-brand. After selecting your colors once, you can keep them on file to use for future posts.

To create a post, you grab a link from a tweet or a product and bring it into Remix to generate an image that you want to share. After choosing the colors, you select a size and style as different layouts are available to match your content or brand.

Then, you have the option to customize the background by uploading your own image or selecting one from Unsplash. Remix is available for both iOS and Android.

Buffer recaps the purpose on Product Hunt by writing, “Share tweets to Instagram. Turn links & products into social media content. You can create on-brand assets from any tweet, link, or product & share to your favorite social network. We hope this can streamline your workflows and help you engage with your audience.”

Audience engagement is obviously the main point of social media, and people love fresh content as well as consistency from brands. This can be a difficult line to walk in order to create content that is both eye-catching and hits your brand’s mark every time. Having outside tools like Remix can help you to accomplish this goal.

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