Hey, Another Broker is Advertising My Home!!

Sean Hessby Sean Hess (Sean@StAugTeam.com), Broker and Manager for St. Augustine Team Realty (www.StAugustineTeamRealty.com). Join us on Facebook and Google+.

“Hey, that’s my home!  But that’s not my agent!”

Just troll around Craigslist sometime and you’ll see real estate ads from agents who don’t actually have the listings.

Every market has a couple of these bozos (my opinion) placing bunches of these ads every day.

Some strange person is advertising my home on Craigslist! Make it stop! Image by Gagilas.

Some strange person is advertising my home on Craigslist! Make it stop! Image by Gagilas.

Everything in these ads would indicate that the person placing the ad IS the agent to contact, EXCEPT for a tiny disclaimer at the bottom that says, “Listing courtesy of such-and-such realty.”

Is this legal?  Is this ethical?

According to Margy Grant, Vice President for Law and Policy, and General Counsel for Florida Realtors, it is neither legal nor ethical unless the true listing broker has given their express permission for the other agent to advertise the  listing.

In a video on the Florida Realtors website, Grant states, “From a legal perspective, if you place a [another broker's] listing on Craigslist and ask buyers to contact you for information you are leading them to believe that the listing is yours.  This could be considered dishonest dealing.”

On the ethical issue Grant says, “If the listing on Craigslist includes a photo downloaded from IDX [IDX explained below], you could be in violation of Article 12 of the Code of Ethics.”

So if you see an ad on Craigslist for your home, and it’s not your agent, and your agent or their broker have not given permission for the ad, file a complaint for “dishonest dealing” with the Florida Real Estate Commission.

So when can a Realtor advertise another agent’s listing?

There’s a data feed Realtors use called IDX, which stands for “Internet Data Exchange.”  IDX essentially allows any real estate brokerage (or an agent who is a member of that brokerage) to advertise listings of other brokerages on their company or agent website in the aggregate.

The term “aggregate” means a group of homes meeting a certain criteria.  For example, all the 3-bedroom homes in a certain price range or in a certain school district.

Have you ever been to a real estate website (including our own) and seen something that says “Search for Homes” or “Search the MLS?”  The homes that you see on those websites are actually IDX feeds from all the participating in brokers in the MLS.

I’ll try and make it easier to understand:

Nearly all of the brokers in the local MLS pool the date for their homes into the IDX.

Each brokerage then can put this group of homes on their own websites.

They can then advertise this “Search for Homes” feature, hoping to capture you as a buyer lead when you go to their website.

For example, all of St. Augustine Team Realty’s listings are on the IDX.  So you may go to another company’s website, do a search for homes and find one of our listings.

Why St. Augustine Team is Cool with IDX.

As the Broker of St. Augustine Team Realty I am perfectly okay with IDX because the only thing I want to do is sell our listings.  If we get the buyer, fine.  If another agent from another company finds the buyer (which is more likely anyway), fine.  Our goal is to sell the home.

Another reason we’re okay with the IDX is that the data is structured in a very specific way…nobody else can change how it is presented, in other words…and St. Augustine Team Realty is identified as the listing broker (though our email and phone number are not shown).

Why We Have an Issue With Other Agents Hijacking One of Our Listings.

Where it gets to be a problem is when some agent assumes that just because our listings are on IDX that they can take it and advertise it on Craigslist, and put a little disclaimer at the bottom, “listing courtesy of St. Augustine Team Realty.”

Aside from the legal issues that Grant illustrated above, when someone hijacks one of our listings they are not presenting it in a way we want it presented.

If they botch the presentation, change the marketing, put it on a shady website, or show a bad photo it could hurt the home’s chances of selling.

Also, if the agent has a poor reputation, which a Craigslist hijacker probably does, it might cause potential buyers to avoid the home, in order to avoid the agent who they think is listing it.

We cannot allow this.

You shouldn’t allow it either.  If you see it, file a complaint.

Hire St. Augustine Team Realty when you sell or buy a home.  Email ReQuestion@StAugTeam.com or call Broker Sean Hess at (904) 386-8327.

Photo of baby used by kind permission of Gagilas via creative commons.  See the Gagilas photo stream on flickr.

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3 Responses to “Hey, Another Broker is Advertising My Home!!”

  1. I disagree. I don’t see how the Craigslist ad is any different from an ad on their web site, so long as they are using the description, pics, etc. No, I have never done it, so this is not a guilty conscience trying to justify my actions. I am just saying, I do not care if the advertise it – I just want to sell it.

  2. Richard Wilson says:

    I do not know where you found your information but it is incorrect. There is nothing illegal or unethetical about advertising another agent’s listing unless they expressively prohibit it. In our MLS listings in south Florida there is a space for this marked OK ADV: (ok to advertise). In this space agents fill a simple yes or no. My brokerage actually earns several listings every year by contacting owners whose agents mark NO for ok to advertise and explaining to them why this is not in their best interest. Common sense will tell you why you would want as much advertising as possible. When listing agents don’t want others to advertise their listings they are hoping to find the buyers either themselves or in house. It is an act of greed that will likely delay the sale or lease of the property and is not at all in the owner’s best interest. And that my friend IS unethecial.

  3. Sean says:

    “I do not know where you found your information but it is incorrect. There is nothing illegal or unethetical about advertising another agent’s listing unless they expressively prohibit it.”

    Dear Richard:

    As stated in the blog:
    According to Margy Grant, Vice President for Law and Policy, and General Counsel for Florida Realtors, it is neither legal nor ethical unless the true listing broker has given their express permission for the other agent to advertise the listing.

    In a video on the Florida Realtors website, Grant states, “From a legal perspective, if you place a [another broker's] listing on Craigslist and ask buyers to contact you for information you are leading them to believe that the listing is yours. This could be considered dishonest dealing.”

    Let me put it this way: Brands like Disney and McDonald’s want to control how their products and image are advertised. They may indeed benefit if a third party advertises them without authorization, but they would still quash it.

    If a another broker advertises my listing via IDX, it uses my ad copy and my photos, and it is with my express permission. But if you advertise my listings, make up your own stuff, I no longer have control of how my own listing is advertised.

    The seller hired me to set the ad copy and campaign, not some unknown dude. You do this in my market the complaint with go straight to the state.