Tag Archives: real estate broker

Building a Web Presence and Oregon’s Rules for Internet Advertising for Real Estate Brokers and Property Managers

 Oregon requires marketing via electronic media, such as Internet, web pages, email, blogs, and bulletin boards, to include specific content not required for other types of advertising

By Jeff Sorg, OnlineEd Blog

canstockphoto11747877internet advertising(December 17, 2015) –  The Oregon Real Estate Agency requires marketing via electronic media (e.g. Internet, web pages, email, blogs, etc.) to include specific content not required for other types of advertising. This requirement applies to Facebook, Craigslist, LinkedIn, Twitter, and electronic bulletin boards and social networking sites used to advertise professional real estate activity.

The Internet is broadly used to communicate with others through email, to do research, for entertainment, and as a method to buy and sell goods. In today’s competitive real estate brokerage industry, a good web presence facilitates accomplishing the following strategic objectives:

  • Creating and maintaining a competitive edge
  • Improving client satisfaction and service
  • Keeping pace with the competition
  • Reducing operating costs
  • Making the time spent by a licensee to develop their business more effective
  • Improving agent/client communication

The following are some brief suggestions as to how this can be accomplished:

  • Establish a web presence through a site geared for that purpose:
    • Use an existing website that lists multiple real estate websites such as www.realtor.com
    • Establish one’s own web presence using the name of the principal broker or the broker’s company’s name. This usually requires the licensee to obtain a domain name to which Internet traffic would be directed.
  • Use email as an effective communication tool with the client.
  • Maintain a visitor’s database.
  • Find free websites and subscribe to them to promote yourself and your web page.
  • Learn how to increase your ranking in search engines.

When a licensee is engaged in the ongoing electronic exchange of information with a client or customer, the following information must be included in the first exchange (a link to the licensee’s home page containing the following information is sufficient):

  • That the individual sending the information is a real estate licensee.
  • The first and last name of the licensee.
  • The telephone numbers or other contact information of the licensee.
  • The name of the principal broker and/or brokerage.
  • The franchise name of the brokerage in which the licensee is licensed.

An advertisement on the Internet should be considered continuous and ongoing, unlike a one-time published ad in print media. Because the REA requires all advertising to be current, licensees must continuously review the advertising and marketing information on the web to ensure that it is current and not misleading.

Advertising, whatever its form, cannot be misleading. This means that software programs that alter or enhance photographs should be used sparingly. Any enhancement should be limited to enhancing clarity of photographs, but should never be enhanced to the point the enhanced image could be considered a misleading representation of the property. A misleading enhancement is one that materially changes the appearance of the property or changes or deletes a significant feature of the property or the surrounding area.

A photograph of a house located next to a large apartment building that is altered to remove the apartment building would be considered a misleading enhancement. To change the sky from Oregon gray to California blue would probably not be deemed a misleading enhancement of the photograph, but rather an alteration that is designed to enhance the clarity or appeal of the property. Any enhancements to photography should be discussed with the principal broker, since the principal broker needs to approve all advertising.

The Internet provides a licensee with the ability to transmit, display, and distribute information about properties listed by other licensees through the licensee’s website or other electronic means. This transmission of information is permitted under the following circumstances and conditions:

  • The licensee must have authorization from the listing principal broker. This authorization may be express written permission or automatically authorized under the rules of an MLS reciprocity agreement.
  • The licensee must not alter any informational part of the listing of the listing licensee.
  • The licensee must disclose the name and telephone number of the listing principal broker or brokerage and the name and telephone number of the listing broker, along with a statement that the information is available from the website of the listing broker.
  • The licensee may not use any meta tags or other coding or programming means to misdirect Internet traffic from another licensee’s site to their own.

Advances in technology have made it possible to provide virtual tours over the Internet. A virtual tour features the inside and the outside of a listed house. This technology, on the positive side, has provided buyers with the ability to view a property over the Internet to determine whether the property should be physically toured. However, this technology has also created the potential for abuses relating to client privacy and security. As a result, any display of a property by means of a virtual tour must have the written permission of the owner, and the virtual tour should be designed to protect the privacy of the client.

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For more information about OnlineEd and their education for real estate brokers, principal brokers, property managers, and mortgage brokers, visit www.OnlineEd.com.

 All information contained in this posting is deemed correct as of the date of publication, but is not guaranteed by the author and may have been obtained by third-party sources. Due to the fluid nature of the subject matter, regulations, requirements and laws, prices and all other information may or may not be correct in the future and should be verified if cited, shared or otherwise republished.

Maintaining Client File Confidentiality in the Real Estate Office

(Jeff Sorg – OnlineEd) – Oregon law requires that certain client information be maintained as confidential. The ability of associates in the same office or company to represent the seller and buyer in the same transaction as single agents with the full range of fiduciary obligations necessitates enhanced protection of client confidential information.

Every real estate office should clearly have policies and procedures in place that will fulfill the confidentiality requirements of both Oregon Revised Statutes and Oregon Administrative Rules. These confidentiality requirements can best be met by establishing two file systems:

  1. Client Files; and
  2. Transaction Files.

Client Files will start out as active and eventually become inactive. Generally, these files will contain such things as client contact information and profiles, financial information, a list of properties shown to the client and why they were liked or disliked, as well as other confidential client information.

Transaction Files contain all documents relating to the transaction itself. A single transaction file is necessary for each transaction reduced to writing – whether the transaction is accepted, rejected, expired, closed or failed to close.

The following are some of the more important issues that should be considered in developing file keeping procedures for client and transaction files:

  • The principal broker must maintain the active client files. If there is more than one principal broker in the office, then principal brokers should not have access to the active client files of any other principal broker.
  • Every principal broker should maintain active client file confidentiality by limiting access to the files and by providing secure locking storage facilities. If unlicensed personnel have access to the files to assist the principal broker in carrying out their duties, they should be instructed not to discuss the contents of the files with any other licensee, unless principal broker authorization is given.
  • Active client files should be maintained separately from inactive or closed transaction files. An active client file should be established once an agency relationship has been entered into with the client. All pertinent client information should be maintained in the active file.
  • The associate who established the agency relationship with the client may either maintain the active client files under the control of the principal broker or, with the principal broker’s permission, maintain a separate duplicate containing confidential information relating to the client or transaction. In either case, licensees in the office should not have access to the active client files of other licensees. If the licensee maintains the file, the licensee should ensure, at all times, that the files are secure and not available for examination by others in the office.
  • If there is any inadvertent or intentional violation of a client’s confidentiality by another licensee, this should be reported immediately to the principal broker and should be considered as grounds for licensee termination. In addition, the principal broker should immediately report the violation to the client. If the principal broker maintains the files in a central location, procedures should be in place to make sure that only the licensee who has the agency relationship with the client has access to the file.
  • All active client files should be marked or stamped Confidential.
  • The principal broker must maintain a secure file maintenance system for transaction files relating to the sale, purchase, lease option, or exchange of real property. These files are necessary for transactions that closed escrow and those that failed to close. Only licensees having an established agency relationship with the clients of a particular file should have access to that file. If unauthorized access does occur, the principal broker should be notified immediately. The principal broker has a duty to take disciplinary action, including termination of the offending licensee, and notify all clients who were subject to the unauthorized access.
  • Confidential client information should not be maintained in Transaction Files. Instead, all confidential client information should be maintained in Client Files. For storage purposes, both types of files are under the control of the principal broker. Most information provided by third parties to a transaction is not confidential information and should be filed in the Transaction File. All other information should be filed in the Client File.
  • Transaction and Client Files can be cross-referenced.
  • The preservation of client confidential information also means that discussion of any confidential client information with other licensees, office personnel, or third parties who should not have access to confidential client information is prohibited. Violations of this policy should be immediately reported to the principal broker for disciplinary action and immediate reporting to the clients who had their confidentiality violated.
  • All discussion concerning confidential information between agents and clients must be in an environment that allows for appropriate privacy. Conversations over speaker telephones, or with conference room or office doors open should not be permitted.
  • A system must be in place to protect the confidentiality of faxes and telephone messages. This means that confidential faxes should only be sent to a fax machine situated in a private environment.
  • The same office personnel or assistants cannot assist brokers who represent different clients to the same transaction.

The utmost care and attention should be given to make sure the fiduciary responsibility of confidentiality is preserved in real estate offices of all sizes. Clients and transactions can be damaged by the real estate broker’s failure to keep files and information confidential.

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For more information about OnlineEd and their education for real estate brokers, principal brokers, property managers, and mortgage brokers, visit www.OnlineEd.com.

  This article was updated on December 19, 2014. All information contained in this posting is deemed correct and current as of this date, but is not guaranteed by the author and may have been obtained by third-party sources. Due to the fluid nature of the subject matter, regulations, requirements and laws, prices and all other information may or may not be correct in the future and should be verified if cited, shared or otherwise republished.