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Social Media & Internet Guidelines for Real Estate Professionals

Social Media & Internet Guidelines for Real Estate Professionals

Hi there, I’m Jennifer. I’m a real estate professional and some even call me a social media superstar. I’d sure like to think so. I’m pretty tech savvy and I’ve been in real estate a long time. I work hard and I use all the tools the internet has to offer including my own personal professional website and a whole lot of social media. You know, as smart as I think I am about social media and the internet, I do have some questions. I didn’t realize I could be violating real estate license law when using social media or the internet. Did you know that full disclosure is required online as well? So really, what are the rules for using the internet and social media as they relate to real estate? Well, the Washington State Department of Licensing recognized a need and pulled together these handy guidelines to keep agents like you and me out of hot water. Let’s check ’em out. All of your viewable webpages for sites you own should contain full disclosure. If you give permission for a third party to advertise your listings, you should maintain them regularly and give thorough oversight to ensure the listing information is correct. Make sure you adhere to copyright laws. Full disclosure is required either at the beginning or end of each message. As long as you’ve provided written full disclosure through another format or medium prior to providing or offering to provide licensable services, full disclosure isn’t really necessary when instant messaging. Provide full disclosure when using chat or participating in chat rooms. At the very least, make sure that the same webpage that contains the chat session has disclosure text visible somewhere. Prominently display full disclosure in an easy to understand format within your social media channels. Brokers, just follow your company’s written policy regarding use of social media. Banner ads should be no more than one click away from a viewable page with full disclosure displayed, that is, if the banner doesn’t have full disclosure already. Now, let’s briefly talk about a couple of rules regarding online prospecting. Remove expired listings and keep current listings up to date. This goes for listings you submit to any third party sites such as the MLS. Provide timely, written notification of any changes and updates for those listings. Practice only in the jurisdiction you’re licensed in and don’t give the impression that you’re licensed in areas where you’re not. Don’t advertise other agent’s listings without written permission and don’t alter the online display or listing information without written permission from the Designated Broker or listing broker. When building or modifying your web pages, there are these nifty things called metatags that help search engines find your website. Don’t enter your competitor’s names as metatags on your page to direct your competitor’s traffic to your site. This is actually an example of trademark infringement. Periodically review your advertising and marketing material to update and ensure the information is correct and not misleading. These rules are simple, easy to follow and go a long way in keeping you and me in compliance with real estate license law while using the internet and social media. For a complete list of the Washington State Department of Licensing’s Internet & Social Media Guidelines, visit www.dol.wa.gov and search for “Internet Guidelines.”

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