Wednesday, January 3, 2007

Realtor Code of Ethics Changes

I keep getting misdirected when looking for property on the Internet … what can I do?

There is little more frustrating in our contemporary lives than getting misdirected, or getting unwanted solicitation and contact, when searching the Internet for something important to us such as real estate. This is quite prevalent in real estate related sites, ie.- “free” home valuation or listing sites, where you request information only to have a local agent call you. It can be really frustrating to search for an area, such as the Carson Valley, and come up with only one company. It is maddening when you search for a particular company or agent and are directed elsewhere. That is not the fault of the search engines, but of the website owner and their actions.

Those actions can include putting the name of your competitor in your metatags, the group of select words that the search engines see when looking at your site to determine if it meets with the search criteria. If you search for ABC Company in Carson Valley and you get XYZ Company then you know you are dealing with somebody misrepresenting themselves to the search engines. The National Association of Realtors has recognized this consumer frustration and the questionable moral and ethical integrity of those that partake in such activities and made significant changes to the Code of Ethics that all members subscribe to.

Among the new changes that take effect January 2007, this month, are Standard of Practice 12-8, which mandates keeping website information current; SOP 12-9, requires firm name and state of licensure to be readily apparent; SOP 12-10, obligates Realtors to present a true picture in their advertising and representations including the URL’s and domain names they use. Prohibited here are deceptive framing of brokerage websites, manipulating listing content in any way that deceives or misleads, and “deceptively using metatags, keywords, or other devices/methods to direct, drive, or divert Internet traffic, or to otherwise mislead consumers.” SOP 12-11 states that “Realtors intending to share or sell consumer information gathered via the Internet shall disclose that possibility in a reasonable and readily apparent manner.”

Our Advice: If you find that you are being mislead in your electronic real estate commerce contact the Board of Realtors to learn how you can file an ethics complaint against the offending party. Report transgressions to your Realtor if you don’t want to file the complaint yourself. All Realtors are obligated to maintain the integrity and honor of the industry which involves bringing forth Ethics complaints when made aware of violations. Not all web activities are immoral or illegal even if you get the same agent in response to your searches. Some agents subscribe to a “click” service, or other web services that work to keep their website in the forefront of the search engines results. More information on the Realtors Code of Ethics is available at
www.realtor.org/mempolweb.nsf/pages/code where you can see the Code of Ethics in its entirety.

When it comes to choosing professionals to assist you with your real estate needs ... Experience is Priceless!

1 comment:

Jim & Tatiana said...

Internet searching can be frustrating. I look forward to more tips on how to find Carson Valley properties that might be a fit for my investment strategy.