How to Balance Self- Promoting While Protecting Our Clients?
How to Balance Self- Promoting
While Protecting Our Real Estate Clients?
The year 2023 marks my 20th year as a realtor. REALTOR, I am often asked if the industry has changed much, and my answer is often ‘yes and no.’ Yes, in that people are people and homes are homes, meaning that aspect is still the same; what is paramount is protecting our clients’ best interests, as buyers or sellers, while remaining professional.
However, what has drastically changed is how quickly everything can happen, from signing documents, going from listed to sold and, primarily, how we, as REALTORS, promote ourselves.
I look back to when I first started: Imagine a time when we used paper for everything. Web forms didn’t exist; we had to handwrite our clauses and fax or present them in person. Text messaging was a new technology, social media didn’t exist, and it was a few years before smartphones were widely used. We promoted ourselves in print ads and local newspapers; some did TV commercials, made flyers of just listed and just sold properties, billboards, personal websites and MLS. You get my point, it was limited, but our listings were promoted this way. Our listings could be found, but it was more controlled, meaning potential clients had to contact us directly to get more information about us or our listings.
With the ease of access to information, more legislation has been implemented regarding what we can share, such as the home’s selling price. We require written permission to advertise from both buyers and sellers on what we, as REALTORS can and cannot share. My clients often request interior photos of their homes be removed from websites and other platforms. I have also seen the rise in Non-Disclosure Agreements and Confidentiality Agreements with my clients, high-profile or not. As proud as we are to showcase the “successes” of our listings and the homes our clients have purchased, at what point is it no longer ours to share for the world to see?
Here are some key points to consider.
Always ask! What are our clients okay with? Is it for a certain period of time, i.e., the pre-listing, listing period and short period after? Where are they comfortable? How comfortable are they? There is a fine line between getting as many eyes on the listing as possible and having some control. I am particularly selective of who can advertise and where. As much as I appreciate the ‘”social media love,”‘ I also want to ensure my clients are protected and everything is on brand.
Be Mindful of Photos and Information
Regardless of the platform you choose for marketing your clients’ homes, always be conscious of what photos and information you include in your listings. Remove everything and anything you wouldn’t want your neighbours to see or know about you. That includes diplomas, prescriptions, family photos, calendars – anything. I always have the conversation with my selling client, since selling your home is invasive.
For photos of the home’s interior, focus on wide shots that capture entire rooms rather than detailed images that zoom in on specific items or features. Avoid posting identifying information about your clients or their property on social media sites or other public forums. Be wary of unintentionally revealing too much information. – Sometimes, the most minor details can give away someone’s identity. Consider using an alias or initials instead of their full name when posting about them online. I remember receiving a call from the new homeowner of a house I sold asking to have the interior photos of their home removed from my website. It is a valid request.
Minimize Unwanted Attention
To further protect home sellers’ privacy, make sure any inquiries regarding their property are directed through trusted channels such as email or phone calls. Discourage potential buyers from visiting the premises unannounced. Never share any client contact details with strangers online; instead, provide them with your contact information so they can contact you with any questions about viewing the property.
Monitor Social Media Closely
Social media moves quickly, so monitoring posts is essential for preventing personal details from inadvertently being shared or made public. Selling your home is invasive enough already, but many potential buyers and their agents take photos that can appear on social media platforms without any control. The photos often showcase wonderful features such as a dream walk-in closets or stunning kitchen renovations. However, sometimes, some not-so-nice features are posted. Privately contact the individual and ask them to remove the post to avoid potential problems down the line. As a buyer’s agent, asking permission to advertise is incredibly important. Ensure that a second party reviews posts related to past or present clients before being posted to catch any violations beforehand.
With the evolution of marketing and “celebrity” REALTORS with huge followings, the line between public and private information has blurred. Protecting home sellers’ privacy is essential for every successful real estate transaction.
With careful planning and thoughtful execution, social media can be an effective tool without compromising your client’s privacy. Personally, when showcasing my experience, I believe less is more!