Don’t get pulled up by Fair Trading for accidentally breaching the law with your social posts, a real estate industry marketing expert has warned.
“The ability to reach thousands of buyers in the marketplace instantly is a huge attraction, but is fraught with danger,” Nic Fren, CEO of Bespoke Media Group, said of the recent rapid uptake of social media to market properties.
Some small mistakes might be easy to correct, but according to Mr Fren, there’s one big trap an agency can fall into if the person handling social posts isn’t well versed in a real estate agent’s legal responsibilities.
In the eyes of the Department of Fair Trading, social media platforms are just like any other form of marketing. Because of that, a property is not allowed to be promoted on socials without a contract of sale.
“One common misconception I see in the marketplace is agents looking at social media as ‘not a real marketing platform,’” Mr Fren said.
But even in a fast-paced industry where agents are trying to get vendors’ properties seen instantly, they must remember they’re “still obligated to fall in line with the legislation,” he cautioned.
He reported instances of Fair Trading requesting screenshots from an agency proving when a property was posted on social media platforms along with the contract for sale and agency agreement to ensure the timing matched with when the marketing campaigns commenced.
“We’ve recently taken over the accounts of two real estate agencies who were using a social media marketing agency with no real estate experience or knowledge, who were not aware of the fact that a property needs a contract for sale and an agency agreement before you can put a property on social media,” he said.
Mr Fren acknowledged that while it’s a common mistake, the consequences can be costly.
“If an error is made and a property goes live on any social media portals prematurely by either someone internally in the office or a third-party provider, that office could face thousands in fines.”
Noting that social media is a difficult ship to navigate for many reasons, not least of all because of constantly changing algorithms and new players on the scene, Mr Fren said agencies still needed to ensure compliance, especially with Fair Trading on the watch.
“Times are catching up, and we need to be diligent,” he said.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Based in Sydney, Juliet Helmke has a broad range of reporting and editorial experience across the areas of business, technology, entertainment and the arts. She was formerly Senior Editor at The New York Observer.