Megan Open House APP Generates Tons Of Leads

One way to really ensure your open house is a huge success is to use the Cloud CMA App. Sending a complete property report, CMA and neighborhood profiles via an instant text message is much more powerful than a plain flyer. Using the Cloud CMA App is easy. Just set up the property report prior to opening up the property for the open house and when prospects visit your open house you text them a powerful report that outlines the property as detailed from the MLS, neighborhood report and surrounding homes for sale. This simple app can generate a ton of leads. The presentation below walks you through the entire set up and how to for this app. It’s from our “Appetite For Success” MEC series. Click to download the presentation. If you don’t have Microsoft Powerpoint you can download the viewer for free that will allow you to view this presentation.

Bah Humbug: Holiday Lights gone Bad…

Deck the halls with lots of lights, fa-la-la-la, oh whatever. To celebrate the holiday season, we’re gifting you with a selection of five holiday light fails, so you can feel better about the light choices your neighbors make.

HYDRATED SANTA

hydrated-santa

A little too much milk there, Santa. Funny or crass? We will let you decide!

 

MEH

meh

For those feeling underwhelmed this holiday season, this light job is ideal.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

BAH HUMBUG

bah-humbug

Greetings from your friendly neighborhood Scrooge!

RIP RUDOLPH

rip-rudolph

Now this is just messed up. Way to make all the neighborhood children weep, buddy.

DITTO

ditto

We kind of like this example of “What they said.”

Let us know if you find some fun or messed up lighting displays in your neighborhood.

Choosing A Word Instead Of A Goal

bubblyIn addition to glasses of bubbly champagne and (hopefully) a kiss at midnight, New Year’s Eve also brings with it a desire to start fresh. January tends to be a time for cleaning our slate—disposing of baggage, literal and emotional—in order to usher in clarity, hope, and new ideas for the future.

For many years now I have been working with hundreds of agents and leaders in developing business through planning, strategies and of course GOALS. Now if you attended one of my fall 2016 MEC events where my focus was on teaching you how to be insanely productive in 2017 through focus and working distraction free. Many of you can relate to how I laid out goal setting. See forever most of have been setting GOALS in life and in business and including these goals in our business plan for each coming year has helped us achieve success.

A close friend recently shared with me their “WORD Of The YEAR”. At first I was confused and didn’t quite understand what she meant. Instead of adopting GOALS, she adopted a WORD.

That’s when I stopped setting goals, and started choosing a word.

It’s important to know choosing a word for the year doesn’t negate your specific hopes and dreams. Instead, it supports them by allowing yourself space to grow, change, and make adjustments along the way.

The way Claire Diaz Ortiz puts it, “pick one word that word that imbues the type of year you wish to have, and a word that can serve as a guidepost for what you want in the year to come. One simple word that will help you decide between X and Y, and help you remember what’s important when you find yourself in an endless loop of Facebook/Twitter/Email checking you can’t get out of.”words1

3 STEPS TO CHOOSE A WORD FOR THE YEAR

Step 1: Set an intention

The best words arrive when they’re ready. It might take a week, or a month. (I suggest you begin considering your word in October or November, then make a firm decision at the end of the year.)

When choosing a word for the year, don’t rush the process.

The best way to determine your word is to simply set an intention to find one. Give yourself some time to ponder it. Reflect on the current year, and as far ahead as you can see, what the new year might offer. Ask yourself how you want to feel, not what you want to do or accomplish.

Step 2: Gather some options

As you reflect, gather a handful of words that might be contenders. See how you respond to them, and if you like, talk it over with your significant other or a close friend.

Step 3: Make your choice

When the time is right, commit to the word. Don’t worry about making the wrong choice. The beauty of a single word is it can manifest its meaning in several ways.

For instance, my friends word for 2016 was OPEN. This ended up applying to small moments like being open minded about an idea or recommendation (not caring where a group decided to go to dinner, say), and larger experiences like navigating new career options.

Once you’ve settled on your word, embrace it. You don’t need to do anything specific, just be aware of it, and enjoy seeing how your word begins to apply to various aspects of your life throughout the year.

Have you ever chosen a word for the year? Are you thinking of trying it for the first time? Share in the comments!

RE/MAX Gold Holiday Timeline Covers

It’s always a great idea to change up your Timeline covers for the holidays. It’s  great way to gain exposure throughout your sphere. Jan in our marketing department has done am amazing job of designing a handful of new Timeline Covers just in time for Christmas and New Years.

To use one of these covers for your Facebook page. simply right click on the image and save to your computer. Then upload it to your Facebook.  Enjoy!

3 Myths In Real Estate That Could Be Hurting Your Business

Real estate marketing in the digital world can be confusing at best. Most agents try everything and anything they read and or hear about to find their way through this social craze and online exploration we call the digital consumer. One thing is for sure. Myths seem to find their way into our business practice nearly every day. I am always surprised when agents tell me they heard this or they heard that about the online marketing world. You might be surprised yourself to learn the 3 biggest Myths I learned about this last year. these very Myths are misleading you down the wrong path and one filled with frustration. No worries. I am here to set you straight and get you on the path to success again.

mythreality

Whether you are new to digital marketing and just getting started or perhaps you are a seasoned pro, you may have tried a variety of organizational and marketing tasks hoping to arrive at the perfect system that helps put your digital tasks on autopilot to let you do what you do best: SELL! The Front Porch Report is an awesome “Do It For You” marketing system that takes the challenge of understanding the when, how and why out of your daily tasks, I strongly believe agents should empower assistance and or hire marketing platforms that do it for them. Stop wasting money (Which we all know time is money) on tasks below your “Pay Scale”

Myth #1: CRMs don’t work

We know that NAR states that 40-50% of real estate leads come from referrals from people you know or from repeat clients. I’ve implemented plenty of CRM (contact relationship management) systems in my day. I think it is absolutely mandatory you understand and use a digital CRM platform vs. the old system (email, sticky notes, excel spreadsheets, etc.). This is not to say that a handwritten note once in awhile almost always seals the relationship and takes it to another level.  Having said that, the system that you may have selected may not be the best or easiest system to use. It may not be the best for your industry, your mind type.

Fact #1

CRM systems DO WORK if they are well selected and implemented. Today’s CRMs are not the same as even a few years ago. The evolving nature of automated drip campaigns as really elevated the value of CRMS into a must-have in order to NOT let any your leads or referrals sources get lost in your digital ecosystem and automatically helps keep you top of mind while you’re out selling, selling, selling. There are many options to choose from and it’s imperative to find the right CRM for you, the way you work, what reports you want and what workflow processes match the way you manage your day-to-day business. After you pick the right one, to get the value out of the software you selected, you must COMMIT to using it and it alone for all your contact data and communication needs. This paradigm shift can take a good 30 days so make sure you give it the time it needs to be successful and you feel really comfortable with using your new software. Trust me when I tell you, you will not be disappointed.

Fact #2

In almost all CRM eFarming drip campaign newsletter providers I see the same thing. Real Estate, Real Estate, Real Estate! Yes you read right. Stop sending your client’s all real estate related material. The occasional market update is fine but everything you send them should not be real estate related. Why companies can’t figure this out is beyond me. Let’s take The Front Porch Report Daily Posts and Weekly Email as an example. We focus on three primary subjects, Home, Health and Wealth. These three topics are proven winners for engagement in the social world of marketing. This means more people will like your posts and click through to the stories if they involve their lifestyle. Nutrition, fitness, recipes, inspiration, travel, good eats, decor, design etc are all hot topics that create engagement with your consumer. Real Estate related stories are advertising. This advertising should be sprinkled in between the articles. When done right. Magic happens. Your sphere grows, and referrals happen.

Myth #2: I’ve tried Facebook and it doesn’t work

I love it when I hear this. There are so many questions I ask following hearing this response. like “what did you try?” and “why do you say it didn’t work?” The responses I hear are typically “I have a Facebook and I post on it but I never get leads from it.” Implementing HOW you can make it work for you takes time and knowledge. The sad part is that as SOON as you think you’ve mastered Facebook for business, it changes. Facebook is one of the fastest evolving advertising platforms around. That’s right, I said advertising. After tasting the sweet fruit of organic and free traffic / visibility / connectivity on Facebook, they have flipped the script and are making businesses pay for reach (not new news / not surprising).

Fact #1

Facebook is simply The single most powerful tool in advertising right now. You can find exactly who you want to target (age, income, homeowner/not), where you want to target them (location, The ability to target and reach your intended audience is beyond amazing and is a marketing professional’s dream come true. Most business owners who want to use Facebook use as a blow horn to say “HEY, COME BUY FROM ME!” You have to understand the nature of today’s performing marketing practices is all about creating compelling value and authentic relationships. Then, you have to understand the Facebook platform and why people are there. They are on Facebook to connect and engage. If you are hitting COLD traffic with COME BUY FROM ME type of messaging, then don’t be surprised when you aren’t getting any clicks / leads. Advertising has evolved and you have to evolve with it or be left behind.

Fact #2

Facebook is the single most important platform you should be using. Think of your Facebook feed as a place to Datamine. This means sit in front of your computer or on your phone and look for opportunity to engage. Each and every opportunity is a chance to build on your relationship and get their commitment to use your services when the time comes.  Take it to another level. Don’t just “Like”, “Comment” or “Share” this engagement. Reach out. Grab a note card from your desk and send them a handwritten note congratulating them on their accomplishment and or event that has just taken place. I call this “eBuffini” them. Birthdays, anniversary’s that’s the easy stuff. Look for job changes, accomplishments, send notes about how a post made you feel good. This is the magic formula to building referrals from social media.

Myth #3: The more websites the better

NAR states that on average 9-10% of real estate leads come from organic searches. I don’t think I’ve talked to an agent/broker that has less than 5 website domain addresses. Many have upwards of 10+ with roughly 5 emails addresses they are managing. They’ve left various firms and joined others or opened their own. There was a time when owning “YourTownHomeForsale” made sense. Not anymore. Where is the consumer looking for homes? ZILLOW with 80+ million visitors a month. We only sell 5 million homes a year and yet 80 million visitors monthly are searching. That’s a lot of dead leads…

Fact #1

More is not always better! Google is one really smart search engine. He’s getting smarter every year. Google dominates search with 66% of the search market and when Bing and Yahoo, they collectively make up 32% of the search market. You might be operating off of old SEO (search engine optimization) information when you think that more domains are better. Google releases 2+ algorithm updates a year. He knows which websites are trying to game the SEO system to reach higher organic (free) SERP (search engine results page) rankings and dings them for it. Google local is a whole other animal and there are professionals and software system specifically dedicated to helping users get found in the Google local pack in the top right corner. Submitting your business to Google as a REALTOR with RE/MAX Gold is a sure way to get noticed and indexed fast.

Fact #2

Your name as a domain website is probably the most important website you can own. And really the only one you need to own. Unless you are a SEO wiz and creating website landing pages sound fun to you. Stick with your name. You might be surprised how easy it is to get your name as a domain. Even if you have a very common name. jim Smith. Instead of trying to get jimsmith.com which will not be available. try Jim-Smtih-Real-Estate.com Use hyphens to seperate the words. This really helps when people are searching for you. Consumers no longer call phone numbers. they search fro you on Google. The Google the address. Finding you is your end result. Think of how you type in to find someone online. You don’t type in jimsmith, you type Jim Smith. You use spaces. Hyphens tell Google and other search engines “Space” This creates more accurate searches.  Try it and watch your business grow.

Hopefully these three tips will clear up some misguidance you have received over the last year. I still strongly recommend you work towards having this whole marketing stuff done for you. Front Porch report does it for you for $100/monthly. Try it today.

11 Ways to Promote Social Engagement on Your Facebook Page

facebook-engagement

Have you noticed a drop in your Facebook engagement?

Wondering how you can better engage with your fans?

Making small changes to what and how you post can help your Facebook updates generate clicks, likes, and comments. In this article, you’ll discover 11 tips for boosting Facebook engagement.

#1: Pose a Question

One of the simplest and most effective ways to kickstart a dialogue with your Facebook fans is to ask them a question. Basically, you’re inviting a response. If fans can relate to the question and you find a way to leverage people’s interests or needs, they’ll find it hard not to answer.

giants-world-series

Here are some questions to ask:

  • Specific: What’s your favorite…?
  • Tips: How do you…?
  • Experiences: What’s your favorite moment from experience/memory…?
  • Edgy: Do you think…? (controversial question)
  • Direct: Why do you…?
  • Events: Who is going/Who attended…?
  • Timely: Today is…, so what are you…?

#2: Share Relevant Images

A picture can say a lot more than a text post. A visually striking image can bring the rapid thumb-scroller to a halt. Images have proven time and again to improve engagement, especially when they tell a story or connect with the audience on a personal or emotional level.

neighborhood

According to BuzzSumo, Facebook posts with images see more than double the engagement of basic text posts.

Use relevant, colorful, and high-quality images. If you want to spice up your photos but don’t have Photoshop-level skills, try free tools like Canva and Adobe Spark.

#3: Crowdsource Feedback

People love giving feedback. When you ask for input the right way, your audience will jump on board and be quick to respond. The added benefit is you can uncover opportunities to improve your business and delight your customers.

house-hunting

Imagine the potential boost to customer loyalty (and future engagement) if you make changes to your business based on the input you receive? Give this tactic a try. It’s a much more personal approach than surveys and you can respond to people directly to address their feedback.

#4: Include a Call to Action

The standing rule for any kind of marketing is that if you want your audience to do something, you have to tell them to do it. Use a call to action in every post, whether it’s to prompt a comment, share, opt in, like, RSVP, or any other action.

cta

Always tell your audience what you want them to do to encourage engagement.

#5: Boost Your Best Posts

If you have a Open House or a New Listing, post it to your Facebook page and boost that post. You don’t need to throw hundreds of dollars at it; give it a modest boost of $25 – $50 and target the people in the city you do business in and who like your page and their friends.

facebook-advertising-1

You won’t necessarily see thousands of shares, but a boosted post can help get your best content in front of your target audience and spark some engagement. The more people engage, the greater the organic reach to their networks. This tactic can be especially effective with Open Houses and sharing the results with the owners. Often this method is far less expensive than advertising in the newspaper.

#6: Share Industry News and Hot Topics

Even your most loyal fans are interested in more than just your business. Sharing big news from your industry will show your fans that you’re not focused solely on promoting your business; you want to keep them informed about current topics. They’ll appreciate and respond to that.

inman

Curate industry news from a trusted source and ask your fans what they think. Ask people to contribute their thoughts and share the post. I often share resources from other marketing sources in order to ensure our agents have every opportunity to thrive! Sharing news, articles of interest from other trusted sources to your sphere makes you more credible and likable!

#7: Adjust Your Post Frequency

If your Facebook engagement is slipping, it might have something to do with your post frequency. Posting too little (say a few times a week) won’t help you establish relevance with Facebook’s algorithm and you’ll be fighting for space in your audience’s feed.

On the other hand, posting too often can hurt you, too. Facebook tries to show users the most interesting and relevant content from everyone they follow. If you’re posting a half-dozen times each day over a short period, expect a lot of your content to be missed.

facebook-insights

To find a sweet spot, try posting a few times each day at the times your fans are most likely to engage. Check out Facebook Insights for specific audience data you can use to target your fans.

#8: Give People a Giggle

We all love a good laugh in our news feed. Lighten the mood for your fans and show them that you have some personality. Don’t overthink it; just do something to give your fans a chuckle. Keep their interests in mind and make sure the humor is relevant to your audience.

giggle

obviously make sure no one knows the people or who’s home you are giggling over. We work in one of the best industries for finding things to laugh at. A great source for Bad MLS Photos etc is this awesome Facebook Group “Really Bad MLS Photos” https://www.facebook.com/groups/146553387152 Join the group and prepare for a laugh.

#9: Respond to Everyone

If you receive comments from your fans but fail to respond or acknowledge them, they’ll notice and stop engaging with you. It only takes a few minutes throughout the day to monitor your social activity and make a few quick or witty responses to fans who comment.

post-comments

Consistent responses make fans feel valued and they’ll be more likely to engage with future posts from your page.

#10: Make an Emotional Connection

If you want to elicit a big response from your fans, publish a post that appeals to your audience on an emotional level. Share content and tell stories that pull at people’s interests, emotions, fears, and even their dislikes. Brand loyalty doesn’t come from a product; it comes from a customer’s joy at experiencing a shared sentiment or finding a solution that works.

emotion

Emotion drives loyalty and engagement. It’s why millions of people couldn’t help but share the “Thank You, Mama” P&G commercials, making them the most shared Olympics ad at the time.

#11: Provide Value

Anytime you share or post content to your Facebook page, ask yourself what kind of value you’re providing to your fans. The best way to get their attention is to make sure there’s a takeaway or something in it for them. At the very least, give them a good chuckle. At best,teach people how to do something, inspire them to take action, and add value to their life.

mec-fall-2016-print-flyer-draft

This exhaustive list of ideas should help you fill your calendar with a good mix of content types that are likely to promote engagement among your Facebook followers. Keep your Facebook posts short for maximum effect. The ideal character count is about 50 or fewer.

Also keep in mind that if you want engagement, you need to post and respond to your fans every day. While Front Porch Report is an awesome tool to automate the lifestyle articles for your social network.  Go for the human connection and provide value, and you’ll see your engagement rise.

Was this helpful? If so, I would love to hear from you. Please leave a comment below.

 

25 killer Pinterest real estate board suggestions to target buyers and sellers

bill-best-photo-002-1-jpgThis guest post was written by Bill Gassett, a Realtor with Re/Max Executive Realty who has been helping people move in and out of the MetroWest Massachusetts area for the past 26 years. Connect with him on Google Plus.

 

pinterest

If you are just getting your feet wet with Pinterest for your real estate business, you may not know just how good the site can be as a marketing tool! You might also not realize that you need to have a variety of boards posted that are about a lot more than just the homes you have for sale. Using Pinterest for real estate well entails having a variety of useful boards.

A common mistake that is prevalent among many real estate agents is the natural instinct just to share real estate listings, which to most people is really boring. Have no fear — here are 25 ideas for real estate boards that you can create to bring your Pinterest strategy to the next level and drive tons of traffic in the process back to your blog or website.

Before getting into the creative ideas, here’s a quick recap on ways to make your Pinterest pins reach their full potential:

  • Only pin interesting and high-quality images or videos. Blurry or boring pictures/videos have about a zero percent chance of getting repinned. Some of the best photos for pinning are of the long and skinny variety. They just stand out better in a sea full of pictures. There are times you will see a photo that has been pinned that is too small. You want to avoid this at all costs, as it will generate little activity.
  • Apply for rich pins. Rich pins look much better than a standard pin. When you are on Pinterest the difference between a rich pin and non-rich pin is night and day. The rich pin will have a bold title and an enhanced Web link. You can get rich pins by following a few steps. First you need to mark up your site with Web coding known as schema. There are numerous plug-ins you can add to your site that will do this for you. Once you have done that, you apply for rich pins at Pinterest. Once approved, your pins will look beautiful.
  • Keep descriptions short and sweet. People are on Pinterest to look at pictures, not read a novel. Make your descriptions keyword-rich but still short. You can even ask a question to get emotions involved and encourage comments (example: Can you picture yourself in this home?).
  • Add your website to the description. Adding your website to the description will provide a link to your website on every person’s board who repins your article. While the link is “no followed,” it is still a link and makes it easier for the reader to have something easy to click to get to your site.
  • Make hashtags your friend. They aren’t just for Twitter anymore. Pick two or three keywords or phrases that people would search to find your pins, add a hashtag to the front of them, and add them to your pin (example: #realestate #Boston homes, #dream home, #home inspiration, #home improvement, etc.).

OK, now that that’s covered, let’s get onto the Pinterest real estate board ideas:

best-pinterest-real-estate-boards-post

Boards to attract buyers

  1. Home Decorating and Inspiration. Put together a board with a collection of rooms designed by famous designers.
  2. My Dream Home. Almost everyone on Pinterest has a “Dream Home” board, and your job is to find pictures that your followers will want to add to theirs. Think massive walk-in closets, stunning built-in pools, and homes with curb appeal to leave anyone drooling.
  3. Best Kid Room Ideas. A simple concept to find and an even easier one to gain you some repins.
  4. Outdoor Living. Photos of lush waterfalls, stellar decks, and anything that would make a potential buyer jealous.
  5. Style-themed boards. Make one with contemporary decor, another with traditional, and another with country living.

Boards to attract sellers

  1. Capitalizing on Small Spaces. Ideas for people to make the most of their space, like multipurpose furniture ideas, and tips and tricks to using color.
  2. DIY Weekend or Home Improvement Projects. Like adding a built-in bookshelf to the office or tips for repainting a bedroom.
  3. Organizing Inspiration. Pinterest fans love creative organization ideas, so why not make a board about it?
  4. Repurposing Ideas. Another popular theme on Pinterest: People love to make new things from old things and then brag about it.
  5. Tips for Staging. Pin images that show the ideal way to stage a home for sale.
  6. Community Boards. Most real estate agents have a territory they cover that includes at least a few cities or towns. Promote everything about the real estate communities you cover. Start first by having city or town pages on your website that have interesting and unique photos that people will want to pin. Now take this concept and create a board for each of the towns you provide real estate services for and highlight all the best landmarks including schools, parks, restaurants, lakes and others that would be interesting to visitors. Remember, you want to get the point across that you are the local real estate market expert!

4 Easy Steps to Convert Online Leads

Don’t get confused between being a salesperson and a customer service rep. Here’s how to give the client what they want while getting something in return

generate-real-estate-leads2As the real estate world changes and more and more potential buyers and sellers are spending their time online, the need for the practitioner to know how to convert leads is more important than ever. As the head of a company that has thousands of coaching students and a marketing wing that does nothing but create leads for people, I get inundated with questions on a regular basis about the best way to convert these leads.

What’s interesting is that as the industry as a whole evolves, the more it actually stays the same. We are still a people business that thrives on relationships — and that will never change. This is evidenced by the fact that, according to the National Association of REALTORS®’ 2014 Profile of Home Buyers and Sellers, 68 percent of people work with the first pro they have an actual conversation with in person.

Knowing this, the real question is: How do we get consumers to reply to us so we can create a conversation? Here are four easy steps to do that:

Leave Something Out

One of the biggest mistakes I see so many agents make is to fully answer the questions that leads send them. Yes, I know that sounds counterproductive, and you think you should always give them what they asked for so that you provide the best customer service that you possibly can. But if you do that off the bat, do they have any other reason to reply to you and get you one step closer to that conversation you’re after?

Here’s how this works. If they ask about the yard and the kitchen, then tell them everything there is to know about the kitchen. But end with something like, “Oh my God! There is something about the yard that you have to know about! What’s the best way to reach you right now?” Don’t be afraid to use a cliffhanger in your response, but make sure to actually have something cool to tell them.

Keep Your Signature Brief and Add ‘Sent from iPhone’

I know it sounds crazy, but believe it or not, some people don’t want to talk to an agent. It doesn’t make much sense, since they inquired about a house or something similar, but it’s true. That’s why it’s not always a great idea to have on every one of your e-mails a signature that’s long or longer than the actual e-mail itself. Instead, try responding to potential buyers and sellers with an e-mail that has just your name at the end of it — at least until you have built some trust with them.

If you really want to take it to the next level, have a line below your name that says “sent from iPhone” or whatever device you use. It will make them think that you actually just took the time to respond from wherever you are, even if you didn’t.

Respond Within Five Minutes

I don’t think we have to spend a lot of time on this one, as it’s pretty well understood that if you want to have a better chance at converting leads, you need to get back to them as soon as they reach out for info. In fact, according to InsideSales.com, you are nine times more likely to convert an Internet lead when you respond within five minutes. Enough said. If you aren’t able to do this yourself, you may want to consider hiring someone who can dedicate all of their time to this important job.

Don’t Forget to Close!

Too many salespeople in our field are starting to confuse the difference between a salesperson and a customer service representative. Customer service is a part of your job, but it is not what your job is. You are in real estate sales, not real estate customer service, and that means that you need to close the lead conversion.

You don’t have to close by being slimy or disrespectful. If you believe in what you do and that you are the customer’s best option, then this shouldn’t be such an issue. But you can’t close with lingo that consumers don’t even understand, such as: “When could I come by for a comparative market analysis?” What does that even mean and how long is that going to take?!?!

If someone contacts you inquiring about the value of their home, ask them if they wouldn’t mind you coming by for a quick five-minute price consultation to make sure that you get them the most accurate value possible. You’ll be amazed how much more willing people are to give you five minutes to get what they want than they are to let you come through for a comparative market analysis for an hour.

 

 

Found this article from: Jared James is the CEO and founder of Jared James Enterprises (JJE) and travels around North America speaking to and coaching REALTORS®. Connect with Jared at www.jaredjamestoday.com, on facebook.com/jaredjamestoday, or follow him on Twitter @jaredjamestoday.

Are your Photos of your listing copywritten?

copyright-lawsThere is concern among real estate professionals regarding copyright claims by photographers and artists who produce images of houses that are for sale (including virtual tours and the like) or nearby public facilities, and there should be.  Unless the images are created by a bona fide employee of the real estate professional in the course of the employee’s usual work assignments, the rights to the images belong to the person who created them, whenever that may have been.  There is a misconception that if the real estate professional hires a photographer or artist to create the images, the real estate professional will own or have rights to use the images under the “work made for hire” doctrine, but that is wrong.  The Copyright Act makes it absolutely clear that the “work made for hire” doctrine only applies to nine specified classes of work, and images created for real estate sales purposes is not one of them.  If a real estate professional hires another person to create images, is provided images (even from the seller of a property), or undertakes to “grab” images off the Web (most of which are copyrighted works), she or he must be absolutely certain of acquiring in writing adequate rights to publish those

MLS_PHOTOS

Sample MLS Photo with Watermark

images, to provide the images to your local MLS for use by it and its members, and to allow the images to be licensed by your local MLS to vendors and licensees for their use, including appearing in Web-based public listing services such as Zillow or Trulia.  Note:  Many, perhaps most, image-provider contracts (including those of  international image providers such as Getty) do not grant all of these rights, so the real estate professional must negotiate either an outright written assignment (sale) of the images to him or her, or a written license that is at least broad enough to allow her or him (i) to use and publish the licensed images in connection with his or her sales efforts (which should include publishing the images in various media and licensing other real estate sales persons to do the same) and (ii) to grant your local MLS all of the rights to the images required by the MLS’ Regulations  The foregoing is merely a summary of copyright principles and I strongly urge you to seek advice from your own attorneys relating to these copyright matters because this is a complicated, serious and evolving area of the law. Ask your Photographer for a release agreement, and check with your virtual tour company for the same.