Brokers, Are Your Agents Creating a Hot-Mess for You? Social Media Exposé

Adapted from the Workshop: Is Your Social Media a Hot-Mess?  

Your team members have taken all of the required pre- and post-license courses.  They are current on the REALTOR® Code of Ethics class requirements.  Some may even religiously attend your sales meetings.  That means they cannot possibly do anything to jeopardize their career or your firm, right?  We all know the answer -- WRONG.  

Even the most studious agents can have mental lapses.  The quiz (poll closes 8.29.2019) we posted a couple of weeks ago with responses from REALTORS® across the nation highlights the slips some of us are making in our daily activities.  Keep reading to find out the quiz results from 1830 responses -- what regressions are common and how to keep your crew away from a legal hot-mess.


Do your social media posts or descriptions make people feel unwelcomed? For example, do you say, "No _____" and then fill in the blank with exclusions like "SSI", "Pets", etc.


"Never," said 94% of respondents but what about the remaining 6%, particularly if they are on your team?  To add insult to injury, some respondents indicated that they chose options that may exclude protected classes simply because it was there on the marketing platform as an option.  

If your neck muscles are starting to tense up, this is for a good reason.  Let's redirect this stress calling out the marketing platforms that have options, which allow us to deselect and exclude protected classes.  This means we need to periodically survey our agents to see what platforms are in use (since new ones pop up all of the time) and review them for violations.  It may be our go-to marketing platforms but let's not wait for HUD to get involved before we do better (like they have done with many REALTORS® marketing/follow-up platform of choice, Facebook -- see here).


Are you hiding or omitting your brokerage name on social media posts?


Just over 27% of the respondents are!  This is a direct violation of the REALTOR® code of ethics (see article 12) and likely of your local real estate commission depending on where you live.  It is worth the time to randomly audit your team's posts from time-to-time and to include this as a monthly (or even) weekly reminder at sales meetings or in email newsletters.


Do you like to specialize in finding real estate clients around their seasons of life?


Slightly more than 30% of respondents are doing just that!  This specialization may not be a problem as long as agents do not exclude protected classes (for example familial status at the federal level, military status in some states, and gender identity and sexual orientation as REALTORS®).  But we have to remind them!  It is advantageous to annually review agents' marketing plans to avoid legal kerfuffles.


If someone informs you that he/she feels unwelcomed by your social media post or video, have you ever responded, "That's what my seller told me to write?"


"Never," said 96% but the remaining responded yes because their duty was to the client.  We do have a duty to our clients but that does not supersede our first duty to the law.  When we make individuals, particularly those that belong to a protected class feel unwelcomed, we are inviting trouble.  

Instead, we have to remind agents that we have to educate our clients on our duties and responsibilities to them AND (not OR) the law.  This is where we all need an open door policy where they can speak to us candidly about client marketing issues.


Have you used filters or staging apps for your real estate listing photos without disclosing that an app was used?


"Never," said 90% but the remaining respondents represent a large enough group to cause needless headaches and problems for their firms.  As REALTORS®, we are held to the True Picture Test (see article 12 of our code of ethics).  

Let's be sure to encourage agents to use a disclaimer statement that discloses when the picture or video has been doctored in ANY way.  We can even go a step further and have our local preferred attorneys draft a statement that all of our agents can use.


To generate higher quality leads, do you currently select social media targeting that allows you to sort by race, religion, familial status, color, handicap, national origin, or sex?


Over 7% in 2019 said, "Yes" -- 20 freakin' 19!  While reading these responses, I felt like a Delorean should drive by to get me out of the 1950s.  Even more shocking, almost a third of those respondents indicated that they chose options that excluded protected classes simply because it was there on the marketing platform as an option.  

This is the second time in this short 8-question survey that this was a response.  

In other words, many agents are on "autopilot" with legal areas that require attention and care.  It makes me wonder, what else may be short-changed (perhaps time for more exposés)?  As mentioned for Question 1, review with your team the commonly used and trendy marketing platforms that have options that allow us to deselect and exclude protected classes.  

Ultimately, we need to make sure this topic is revisited frequently to help agents not make default selections that put them at fault.


Complete this sentence: Ignorance of the law is...


"No excuse," responded 97% of the survey participants.  But the rest felt it was "Not a big deal because I am sure I will get a warning first".



Seriously, it is time to close the office for a day and do an all-hands-on-deck training if anyone thinks this is a proper way to conduct business.  This attitude is both a liability to the agent and to the firm.  It is better to teach our teams to be slightly less -- shall we call it -- "creative" in our marketing and have a mindset of asking for permission rather than assuming asking for forgiveness will be an option.

Sound off - I would love to hear from you!  Give me a shout on Facebook, Instagram, and YouTube, or by visiting  

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