Brokerage disclosure requirements on social networks is a heated topic that has many in real estate confused and each side of the aisle getting red in the face as they attempt to explain their own points of view.
As social networks have risen in prominence as a communication tool, Boards across the nation have had to interpret the Code of Ethics to determine the local rule. Some claim every tweet must include their broker’s name while others claim disclosure in a Twitter bio suffices.
Today, we focus on Minnesota as confusion abounds.
Eric Hempler, Minnesota Realtor says, “Minnesota’s Real Estate License Law says Real Estate Agents MUST disclose which brokerage they’re with whenever we talk about Real Estate. That means every time I post a comment, tweet, status, etc. on any social media platform I have to disclose I’m a Realtor. That’s like saying every time I have a face to face conversation with someone about Real Estate I have to disclose what Brokerage I’m with.”
Hempler, concerned with how status updates will be required to be formatted says, “If I tweet about Real Estate I have to fit ‘Keller Williams Classic Realty Northwest’ in my tweet. If I comment on someone else’s blog I have to mention ‘Keller Williams Classic Realty Northwest.’ If I post on Facebook I either have to have a link that goes back myself or I have to say, for example, ‘Keller Williams Classic Realty Northwest.'”
Your broker’s name in every tweet?
Minnesota Association of Realtors’ Senior Vice President, Linda Modlinski and Director of Professional Standards, Gregg Hartos published clarification in the MAR “eResource” newsletter on January 14th.
Modlinski and Hartos acknowledge the prominence of social networks in members’ businesses and states that in Minnesota, “Any time that you are talking about real estate, pushing a listing, talking about your buyer’s needs, letting the world know about your last sale, or letting consumers and past clients know you want their business, whether in an advertisement, brochure, business card, website, or any form of social media you MUST to [sic] disclose who you are, the brokerage to whom you are licensed, and your website must also include your state of licensure.” (All emphasis is MAR’s not AGbeat’s.)
That sounds like it upholds Hempler’s assertion that status updates must disclose brokerage, right?
So you must disclose your broker?
Next, they state “Article 12 of The Code of Ethics states that REALTORS® shall be honest and truthful in their real estate communications, present a true picture, and shall ensure that their status as real estate professionals is readily apparent in all their advertising. The key word here is readily apparent which means a consumer needs to be able to easily determine you are a real estate agent easily and who you are licensed to.” (Emphasis is theirs.)
Maybe not all tweets require a broker’s name? Perhaps making it clear in the short bio who the broker is makes that information “readily available?”
Confusion in Minnesota
Modlinski and Hartos state that recent Code of Ethics changes “may cause some confusion in MN,” but explains that “The Code will allow the company name to be eliminated from real estate “tweets” or text messages if they are linked to a display that includes all required disclosures. We asked representatives at the MN DOC if this exception would prevail in MN and we were told it would not.”
So no broker name in tweets then?
MAR executives next stated that “In MN, all real estate licensees MUST include their firm name on all social media messages when you market yourself, your services or your listings. When the Code and state law conflict, state law always takes precedent. If you choose to Tweet to your peeps, even though you have limited characters (140) in which to state your message, the MN Department of Commerce has let us know that you still need to include your company name.”
We can understand why agents are confused and MAR leadership are clearly working with a moving target as the DOC defines the laws.
The bottom line:
We have reached out to MAR and our contact believes the proper interpretation is that “Every Twitter user has a bio, and it makes more sense to make the law state that agents must do their disclosures in this bio rather than in every single 140-character or less tweet.”
MAR’s official position according to Hartos is that brokerage disclosure in social network updates “is a law in our state, and agents are supposed to abide by it. That said meetings that have occurred with the Minnesota Department of Commerce about this issue have been progressive and positive in nature. The question of disclosure has been asked, and the Deparment of Commerce is considering the matter further.”
MAR advised that when in doubt, always disclose.
Austin tops the list of best places to buy a home
When looking to buy a home, taking the long view is important before making such a huge investment – where are the best places to make that commitment?
Looking at the bigger picture
(REALUOSO.COM) – Let us first express that although we are completely biased about Texas (we’re headquartered here, I personally grew up here), the data is not – Texas is the best. That’s a scientific fact. There’s a running joke in Austin that if there is a list of “best places to [anything],” we’re on it, and the joke causes eye rolls instead of humility (we’re sore winners and sore losers in this town).
That said, SelfStorage.com dug into the data and determined that the top 12 places to buy a home are currently Texas and North Carolina (and Portland, I guess you’re okay too or whatever).
They examined the nerdiest of numbers from the compound annual growth rate in inflation-adjusted GDP to cost premium, affordability, taxes, job growth, and housing availability.
“Buying a house is a big decision and a big commitment,” the company notes. “Although U.S. home prices have risen in the long term, the last decade has shown that path is sometimes full of twists, turns, dizzying heights and steep, abrupt falls. Today, home prices are stabilizing and increasing in most areas of the U.S.”
Average age of houses on the rise, so is it now better or worse to buy new?
With aging housing in America, are first-time buyers better off buying new or existing homes? The average age of a home is rising, as is the price of new housing, so a shift could be upon us.
The average home age is higher than ever
(REALUOSO.COM) – In a survey from the Department of Housing and Urban Development American Housing Survey (AHS), the median age of homes in the United States was 35 years old. In Texas, homes are a bit younger with the median age between 19 – 29 years. The northeast has the oldest homes, with the median age between 50 – 61 years. In 1985, the median age of a home was only 23 years.
With more houses around 40 years old, the National Association of Realtors asserts that homeowners will have to undertake remodeling and renovation projects before selling unless the home is sold as-is, in which case the buyer will be responsible to update their new residence. Even homeowners who aren’t selling will need to consider remodeling for structural and aesthetic reasons.
Prices of new homes on the rise
Newer homes cost more than they used to. The price differential between new homes and older homes has increased from 10 percent traditionally to around 37 percent in 2014. This is due to rising construction costs, scarcity of lots, and a low inventory of new homes that doesn’t meet the demand.
Are Realtors the real loser in the fight between Zillow Group and Move, Inc.?
The last year has been one of dramatic and rapid change in the real estate tech sector, but Realtors are vulnerable, and we’re worried.
Why Realtors are vulnerable to these rapid changes
(REALUOSO.COM) – Corporate warfare demands headlines in every industry, but in the real estate tech sector, a storm has been brewing for years, which in the last year has come to a head. Zillow Group and Move, Inc. (which is owned by News Corp. and operates ListHub, Realtor.com, TopProducer, and other brands) have been competing for a decade now, and the race has appeared to be an aggressive yet polite boxing match. Last year, the gloves came off, and now, they’ve drawn swords and appear to want blood.
Note: We’ll let you decide which company plays which role in the image above.
So how then, does any of this make Realtors the victims of this sword fight? Let’s get everyone up to speed, and then we’ll discuss.
1. Zillow poaches top talent, Move/NAR sues
It all started last year when the gloves came off – Move’s Chief Strategy Officer (who was also Realtor.com’s President), Errol Samuelson jumped ship and joined Zillow on the same day he phoned in his resignation without notice. He left under questionable circumstances, which has led to a lengthy legal battle (wherein Move and NAR have sued Zillow and Samuelson over allegations of breach of contract, breach of fiduciary duty, and misappropriation of trade secrets), with the most recent motion being for contempt, which a judge granted to Move/NAR after the mysterious “Samuelson Memo” surfaced.
Salt was added to the wound when Move awarded Samuelson’s job to Move veteran, Curt Beardsley, who days after Samuelson left, also defected to Zillow. This too led to a lawsuit, with allegations including breach of contract, violation of corporations code, illegal dumping of stocks, and Move has sought restitution. These charges are extremely serious, but demanded slightly less attention than the ongoing lawsuit against Samuelson.
2. Two major media brands emerge
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