I want to preface this blog with the statement that I did not wake up on the wrong side of the bed this morning. As a matter of fact, I had a perfect morning. Woke up before the sun was up, had coffee, read the paper, had a nice long walk with the dog, chatted with other neighborhood walkers and came back home to start work. While I was leafing through my daily Google alerts, I came across a listing in Pinecrest. I clicked on the link and was immediately familiar with one of Josie Wang’s listings. It happens to be a modern home in Pinecrest at 9500 SW 60 Ct., and is just around the corner from my house.
As I scrolled through the link, I did not see anything that mentioned Josie or AVATAR, her broker. I know that a lot of agents and brokers have a myriad of websites, blogs, and aggregators (such as Trulia and Zillow) in order to promote their listings and maximize a seller’s internet exposure. However, I also know that most agents and brokers clearly advertise themselves on these pages as well, so I immediately realized that this was someone hijacking Josie’s listing as their own. Sure enough, when I scrolled to the very bottom of the page, the last line read that the listing was AVATAR’s. I can assure you, I am going to be one of the few who reads that very last line. I immediately sent an e-mail to Josie and contacted leaders in the Miami Realtors Association. This is an increasingly common occurrence that needs to be stopped.
This exact thing happened to Carole Smith, a Realtor in my same EWM office. Carole took action on the hijacking of her listing and I applaud her and urge all Realtors and sellers do the same. Even though she is extremely busy, she took the time out to file a complaint, blog about the issue and post the blog on her Facebook page. The feedback and frustration she heard back from other agents and individuals shows how rapidly this unscrupulous practice is spreading.
Why should you care?
1) If you are a Realtor, it should be obvious. As a listing agent, we spend hundreds to thousands of dollars to develop a marketing strategy as unique as each property. This includes pictures, videos, and verbiage to highlight the property. We also take time to get to know other features about the property and the neighborhood it is in. When someone takes that information and passes it off as their own, it should be the same as plagiarism or copyright infringement.
2) If you are a seller, number one above applies to you as does the following: the listing agent has information that may need to be shared with a buyer or buyer’s agent but that isn’t specified in the marketing literature. If the hijacker is passing your property off as being their listing, you have no control over what they are saying to hook the buyer. The listing agent also has spent the time getting to know you, your home, neighborhood and the specific properties that make your home special. This added knowledge helps you get the most money for your home and allows for disclosure of issues that may affect the buyer upon their purchase, thereby avoiding potential problems after the sale.
3) If you are a buyer BEWARE. The main reason these agents/brokers hijack other agent/broker listings is to find you! Some of them may be new in the business, focus on buyer representation vs listings, or simply not have enough of their own listings. If they clearly acknowledge that this listing is another agent’s/broker’s, most agent’s have no problem with the practice of having their listings posted on another agent’s website or blog. Most of us want the maximum exposure for our listings and are happy to “share” (that is basically what IDX is about) our listings to get them sold faster and at market price, which is the price you and the seller agree to.
If these hijackers act unethically with their own peers, is this someone you want representing you in your purchase, when your money is on the line?