To syndicate or not to syndicate? In addition to data integrity and ethical considerations, brokers should also weigh the possible legal implications of syndicating to websites that display inaccurate and outdated listings.
According to TREC advertising regulations, brokers and salespeople cannot publish advertisements that are misleading or create a misleading impression in any manner. But as many buyer’s agents can attest, consumers using third-party online home searches frequently find listings that are no longer on the market. “The challenge becomes if you submitted the listing information correctly and it displays differently on a portal from what you have submitted, who is responsible for any legal damages? Is it the seller, the agent, the brokerage, the syndicator, the portal, or everyone?” asks Inman News.
In the blog post, the Texas Association of REALTORS® (TAR) noted, “Unless the sold status is included in the advertisement, a real estate licensee who fails to remove sold listings within a reasonable period of time could be accused of misrepresenting the status of available property in his advertisement. A real estate licensee who doesn’t remove sold listings from a website might also be accused of misleading the public to believe that the licensee has an inflated number of listings.”
Inman News concludes, “Unfortunately, these issues are still so new that there are virtually no legal precedents on which to rely. If the courts were to hold that brokers were responsible for the errors because they chose to syndicate, that could greatly hasten the number of multiple listing services and companies pulling out of posting on the non-REALTOR® portals.”
REALTOR® Magazine suggests asking these questions before deciding where to advertise your listings online. For legal assistance, contact the TAR Legal Hotline at 1-800-873-9155.