Notes From Readers: Rules For All

Readers speak out about third-party real estate portals, environmental issues, and MLS photo standards.

September 17, 2014

We Need Rules for All
I am concerned with the power we (REALTORS®) have given to third-party real estate portals. How it is possible that we real estate agents have a Code of Ethics we must follow and are highly regulated by our local authorities, boards, and associations, yet these companies are able to do whatever they want with very little, if any, oversight? How is it possible that we are subjected to disciplinary actions, including fines, if we do not keep our listings up to date, yet these websites are plagued with inaccurate data? How is it possible that written authorization from both the listing agent and broker is required before advertising a listing, yet these companies publicize those properties just by placing them under “undisclosed address”? Or, even worse, addresses that do not even exist!

I believe the responsibility is ours. For years, we have been feeding steroids to these companies via our advertising monies, so we appear as the “featured agent” or as part of the rotation to get leads (that are sold to hundreds of other agents). We have the power to change this. Let’s start a dialogue with all parties involved to agree on rules for all. —Daniel Katz, Beachfront Realty Inc., Aventura, Fla.

Beware of Photo Enhancements
Recently I’ve seen enhanced photos in the MLS, which cause a lot of extra work for buyer’s agents. When buyers see such a home online, they send us over to preview it. If the photos were more real, I might have skipped a couple of those properties. I feel enhancing photos could be bordering on misrepresentation by the listing agent. It appears these photos are taken in landscape mode and then enhanced so you don’t see the defects. —Kathy Luebcke, Luxury Homes, Wine Country, Yountville, Calif.

Editor's Note: Potential violations of Article 12 of the Code of Ethics are considered on a case-by-case basis. Improving the aesthetic value of a photo may be considered acceptable; deliberately changing features likely would not.

Blog Post: Under All Is the Land; What If It’s Under Water?

From Speaking of Real Estate: How do you tell a 90-year-old client that her biggest asset has been ruled a habitat for a protected species? How do you run a stable, profitable business when your area is experiencing mega-wildfires, severe storms, or long-term drought? How do you balance your desire to be environmentally responsible with your staunch belief in property rights? Those were the conversations taking place at NAR’s Environmental Summit, July 29–30, in Washington, D.C. The summit was an opportunity to consider what real estate may look like in 10 to 20 years and engage members in thinking about what the organization might do to get ahead of these issues. —Stacey Moncrieff, vice president of business-to-business communications for the National Association of REALTORS®.

Arlen Crotchett responds: NAR has plenty of real issues to address. It is not our responsibility as REALTORS® to enter the arena of water conservation, sea levels, and global warming/cooling.

Nelson Paul responds: In North Carolina we began losing our private property rights when the state and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers confiscated “high marsh” back in the early ’70s without compensating the rightful owners. NAR should stand for private property rights and demand compensation to owners.

Ron Donofrio responds: As a broker and a LEED Green Associate, there are things we can do in our business that are simple and make sense. Small steps and changes by individuals [can lead to] cultural shifts as a community. Property values increase in a healthy, clean, environmentally conscious-community.

Danny Been responds: The highest and best use of some of this nation’s land is to leave it alone! If we blindly develop every inch of dirt, where will our children and their children play, fish, hunt, walk on the seashore, and breathe clean air?

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Note: Letters and blog posts are edited for space and clarity. Publication of a letter doesn’t constitute an endorsement of the writer’s views by the National Association of REALTORS® or REALTOR® Magazine. Submission of a letter constitutes permission to publish it in any form or medium.

Wendy Cole

Wendy Cole is the former managing editor of REALTOR® Magazine.