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Beyond CCPA and GDPR: New Digital Privacy Developments that Realtors Need to Know
We recently talked about the new California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA) and its impact on the real estate industry in the United States. CCPA is the first domestic state regulation after the EU's General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), and although CCPA isn't as far-reaching as GDPR, it will mean a change in the way real estate agents in the US handle and manage personal identifiable information for their clients and leads. Unlike the GDPR, CCPA is based in this country and, much like GDPR, has inspired other new privacy regulations in other states that are reflective of CCPA and the GDPR.
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Murder, Death, Suicide, Haunted Houses and Ghosts: Are Agents Required to Disclose?
Halloween is right around the corner and ghoulish conversations regarding real estate are bound to come up. Here are some common questions and helpful advice for dealing with haunted houses and the like. Did you hear what happened? A real estate agent was telling us the shocking story that happened after a closing. Finally, following months of searching, his buyer fell in love with a home, placed an offer, and the condo closed with no problem.
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Building a Real Estate Team: The Legal Pitfalls of a Dual Agency
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CFPB Fines Real Estate Company: Do Agents Need to Worry?
Is Zillow RESPA compliant? Are MSAs illegal? These are a few of the questions posed in a new video that examines the impact of a recent order from the Consumer Finance Protection Bureau (CFPB), the government agency formed in 2011 in the wake of the 2007-08 mortgage crisis. Late last month, the CFPB "issued a warning shot to Realtors and brokers nationwide" when they fined a real estate company for an improper MSA (marketing services agreement) and referrals. According to the consent order, the lender was violating RESPA by offering the brokerage what was, essentially, a disguised payment for a referral. So what does this mean for agents who use, for example, Zillow's co-marketing program that lets them share advertising costs with a lender--or even other lead generation services? Does this arrangement violate RESPA, and do agents need to worry about the CFPB coming after them? Check out the video above to learn more, and then share your thoughts with us in the comments below!
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Real Estate Agent Tax Tips: Are You Really In Business?
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Facebook Housing Ads Run into Trouble with HUD
We talk a lot about Facebook advertising on RE Technology--and for good reason. It's one of the best ways to reach consumers, thanks to finely tuned targeting options. However, those targeting options are exactly what got the social network in trouble with HUD recently. Facebook lets you target ads according to all types of criteria--income level, area, age and, yes, race. It's this last item that brought the social network under scrutiny a few weeks ago. A reporter with Pro Publica created a housing ad, and Facebook let her exclude certain groups of people according to their "ethnic affinity." The article attracted the attention of HUD, who said that excluding people from seeing ads based on their race violated the Fair Housing Act of 1968. Facebook eventually agreed, and has removed the ability to target according to "ethnic affinity" for certain types of ads, including housing ads. You can watch the video above to learn more about this issue. For an more in-depth discussion on this issue, including Facebook's societal impact, see the following video from Tech News Today: Facebook Updates Ethnic Affinity Marketing.
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New Drone Rule Affecting the Real Estate Industry
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Stop Calling Me! Understanding the Do-Not-Call List for Real Estate
We are constantly looking for new ways to prospect in the real estate industry. Social media and digital marketing have taken a spotlight in past years, since they are automated and a more efficient means of attracting future clients. While we may be focused on newer legislation surrounding communication with consumers via email, social media and digital mediums, it's important to remind ourselves of the laws and regulations surrounding more traditional marketing methods, like picking up the phone and calling a prospect. Beginning in 2005 for the United States and 2008 for Canada, telemarketing businesses have been held to strict guidelines of who they can call and for what purposes. Each country has implemented their own Do Not Call list, managed and regulated by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) and Canadian Radio-Television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC), respectively. These laws and regulations are to protect consumers from businesses making calls with the sole purpose of solicitation. Make no mistake—real estate brokerages and professionals are subject to these laws. We can try to interpret the laws and find loopholes in wording or ambiguous definitions, but the courts have made it clear that the consumer has the right not to be contacted once they register on the Do Not Call List (DNCL). Don't let these rules scare you. They are there to protect you just the same as any consumer, and there is plenty of business to generate using the phone. It takes understanding the rules to get the leg up on your competition: 1. You are not breaking the law by calling a friend or someone you know on a personal level Even if they are on the Do Not Call List and even if you're calling to solicit business.
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The NAR Code of Ethics: How They Apply to Everyday Business
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Zillow and Move/NAR Settle Lawsuit and End Trade Secrets Battle
Zillow settled several lawsuits recently, including one we've all been watching closely: the Move, Inc. suit that accused Zillow of stealing trade secrets. According to the terms of the agreement, Zillow must pay Move, Inc. $130 million by June 20. Move, the operators of Realtor.com, brought the suit against Zillow in 2014 after two Move executives defected to the rival portal. The suit alleged that the executives, Errol Samuelson and Curt Beardsley, stole trade secrets and destroyed evidence in order to conceal the theft. Move and Zillow "have agreed to dismiss all claims and counterclaims with prejudice," according to an SEC filing, and the settlement is not an "admission of liability, wrongdoing, or responsibility by any of the parties." NAR will receive 10 percent of the settlement after Move deducts legal costs and fees. Move originally sought $2 billion in damages. Despite the settlement, bad blood persists. That means you shouldn't expect to see Zillow at any NAR conferences or events anytime soon. NAR has banned Zillow from their events for the remainder of 2016--and we wouldn't be surprised to see that ban stick around for even longer.
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Best of 2015: Why Reusing Listing Photos Could Mean Legal Trouble
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Why Reusing Listing Photos Could Mean Legal Trouble
That house you sold in 2012 has just come back on the market. You know you still have a picture somewhere--there it is--and the home still looks pretty much the same. You upload the photo and relist the property. No problem, right? Well, actually, you could be stepping into some dangerous legal territory. We spoke with Larry Lohrman, a real estate photographer and blogger in Salem, Oregon. He frequently writes about issues at the crossroads of real estate and photography. One of the most common topics of discussion on his blog is usage rights for photographs commissioned from professional photographers. "I have a friend who's an agent and photographer in Seattle," he says. After a conversation about just this subject, Lohrman's friend went back to his office of more than 80 agents and asked around. "Down to a person, no one" -- not the managing broker, not a single agent -- "understood that when the agents pay a photographer for photos, they aren't getting ownership of the photos. They're only licensing those photos for a specific time and purpose." A number of recent high-profile cases have brought this issue to light, and may be cause for concern if you're not 100% sure of the legal status of your listing images: In 2008, photographer Liz Ordonez-Dawes was awarded more than $12 million when the court agreed that her client's distribution of seven photographs to third parties constituted copyright infringement. In 2013, Palm Beach County photographer Andy Frame sued several websites over misuse of his photos of Olivia Newton John's home in Jupiter, Florida. In 2014, a class action lawsuit was filed against CoreLogic for allegedly tampering with and distributing proprietary photographic works to their MLS clients.
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Before You Cut And Paste Something Into Your Newsletter…
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Instagram: The New Terms of Service
With the rise of social media outlets, it is difficult to tell which were made for what function. For those unsure as to what function Instagram serves, let us at My Computer Works shed some light on this social media service. Instagram is a free photo-sharing program and social network that operates much like Twitter. Users can upload images that show up in a feed of their followers, much like the Facebook newsfeed, but these are just pictures. Now that we have a basis of what Instagram is, let's get into how it is changing. Exploring the New Terms of Service Instagram is further integrating with Facebook, which is causing them change their Terms of Service. The change causing the most buzz is that Instagram can use the images you upload for their ads, or sell them to third party partners. This shows under the headline of "Rights" in the Terms of Service and says: To help us deliver interesting paid or sponsored content or promotions, you agree that a business or other entity may pay us to display your username, likeness, photos (along with any associated metadata), and/or actions you take in connection with paid or sponsored content or promotions, without any compensation to you.
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Online Notary: Future of Notarization!
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10 Common Errors Home Owners Make When Filing Taxes
Don’t rouse the IRS or pay more taxes than necessary–know the score on each home tax deduction and credit. As you calculate your tax returns, consider each home tax deduction and credit you are-and are not-entitled to. Running afoul of any of these 10 home-related tax mistakes-which tax pros say are especially common-can cost you money or draw the IRS to your doorstep.
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Steer Clear of a Tax Audit for 2010
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Smarter Agent Sues 13 Real Estate Technology Vendors!
Smarter Agent, provider of mobile search services for the real estate industry filed a law suit on March 26, 2010 in Delaware District Court to sue the following companies for infringement of their patent 35:271. Boopsie Inc. Classified Ventures LLC Hotpads Inc. IDX Inc. Move Inc. RealSelect Inc. Primedia Inc. Consumer Source Inc. Trulia Inc. Zillow Inc. ZipRealty Inc. Multifamily Technology Solutions Inc. dba MyNewPlace TRSoft Inc. dba Planetre
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Keep Private Information Out of the Public Eye
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