The Word From D.C.: Cybersecurity

May 19, 2017

Small and midsized real estate companies are ideal targets for cybercriminals, warns NAR Associate General Counsel Jessica Edgerton.

“Think before you click.”
—NAR Associate Counsel Jessica Edgerton

Don’t Let Cybercrime Put You Out of Business

Ransomware is “insidious and powerful,” said NAR attorney Jessica Edgerton, and if it heads your way, paying the ransom may be the only way to get your data back. Here’s how to guard against ransomware attacks and other cybercrimes.

Hey, That Photo on Your Website Is Illegal

Making assumptions about your right to post a photo on your website can put you on the receiving end of a demand letter, copyright lawyer Mitch Skinner told the Risk Management Committee. Agreements brokers and others enter into with photographers often are too narrow to protect against use violations if a photo ends up on others' sites or is used by an agent preparing comps for a client. Find out about steps brokers, agents, associations, and MLSs can take to reduce the risk of a claim.

Deciphering the Housing Market

A host of policy issues, from financial services deregulation to an easing of environmental rules, bode well for real estate sales. What else is NAR Chief Economist Lawrence Yun watching out for?

Commercial Real Estate Shifts With the Times

Offices are getting smaller. Young households are flocking to trendy urban grocery stores. Companies such as Amazon are creating demand for data centers. How is commercial real estate adapting to a changing landscape?

Property Managers: Should You Question a Service Animal Request?

Property managers face a host of hot-button issues, from the impact of state marijuana laws to potentially fraudulent requests for service animals from tenants. Get the lowdown from the Property Management Forum on these and other top-of-mind matters.

Could IDX Property Info be Delivered by Alexa?

As voice-activated technology gains popularity for its hands-off ease and as a way to improve accessibility for people with disabilities, the MLS world is gearing up to incorporate it. While MLS policy doesn’t currently allow audio delivery of IDX property listing information, members of the Multiple Listing Issues & Policies Committee considered whether or not to address this new form of data distribution

Cathy Libby, CEO of MLS Maine Listings, expressed concern about possible unintended consequences in integrating the technology. “Are we further eroding the use of a real estate agent?” she asked. Others advocated for the association to get ahead of the curve on this tool. “Do you want broker members to build the best new technology? Or do you want someone who isn’t a broker building new technology?” said Sam DeBord of Coldwell Banker Danforth in Seattle. “We fall behind the curve when we hold our brokers back.” In the end, the majority of committee members approved of the proposal. The Board of Directors will decide on whether or not to approve the measure at its meeting Saturday.

Social Media Challenges for Teams

If you’re part of a real estate team, be careful about how you advertise yourself. Highlighting the team name without including the name of the brokerage is a problem. Under Article 12 of the Code of Ethics, REALTORS® may not advertise or permit “any person employed by or affiliated with them” to advertise listings or real estate services in any medium without disclosing the name of their brokerage firm “in a reasonable and readily apparent manner.” With the rise of social media, these kinds of violations are becoming more common. Attendees at the Professional Standards Forum concurred that teams need better guidance on compliance with the rules regarding disclosing their firm’s name on platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. “Nonbrokers can be mistaken for brokers,” one attendee said, noting the difficulty of full disclosure on social media platforms with limited space for posts.