Under Attack By Real Estate Agents - Suggestions? - Posted by Ben

Posted by Vickie L. on May 27, 2000 at 22:01:50:

WOW. Nobody’s ever said it better. Your web site is realy great!! I don’t think many of us can afford to have one made of that caliber but you’ve convinced me definitely that it’s money well spent! And if i get the money, I’ll be one of the ones who “see the value” in it. Keep up the great work Ben!

Under Attack By Real Estate Agents - Suggestions? - Posted by Ben

Posted by Ben on May 25, 2000 at 19:51:15:

Our business has become very successful in the Seattlle/Tacoma area, and now the real estate ‘professionals’ are on the attack.

It started by short emails from agents pretending to be interestd customers; emailing me from our website and fishing for information - others, asking me to send them all of our forms & paperwork so that they’d ‘be able to understand’ the process.

Last week we were ‘anonymously’ reported to the Better Business Bureau for ‘false advertising’. Evidently,we were reported for ‘claiming to lease homes while using bait-n-switch to convince people to buy homes’ … those were the words used.

Now, the thinly-veiled threats are coming in. Here is a verbatim email I received today:

“Since the Washinton State Appelate Courts have taken a very broad view on “Commission” being just about any form of monetary renumeration, and the law stating that people engaged as “agents for the purchase and sale of realestate for a commission” require licensing through the department of licensing, how do you evade that requirement? Also, are you going to evade the licensing requirement that is to take effect in January 2000 requiring those Managing property for others for a fee to be State Licensed? Just wondering, as mine hast probably cost me close to $10,000 over the last six years, with ongoing educational requirements, Errors and Ommissions Insurance and other associated fees, and I get a bit jealous when I see others that seem to slide out from paying and being responsible”

A little bit of checking revealed the originator to be an unidentified Century 21 agent or agency.

I’m starting to get a LOT of these kind of emails from our website and from people who call, pretending to be customers (website is blueskyavenue.com).

Any suggestions as to how we should handle these emails, phone calls & light threats? Suggestions will be VERY highly appreciated.

Respectfully,

Ben

How much business has this site generated? - Posted by HR

Posted by HR on May 27, 2000 at 19:38:09:

Ben,

Has this site been worthwhile? How much increased business has it helped you generate? What is the relative cost of creating/mainting the site vs. the increased business return? How do you know it was the website that generated your increased profits?

I appreciate your answers. I’m having a debate with some friends right now about this kind of webpage. I’m not sure it’s worth the effort. They disagree; what are your feelings?

I don’t think motivated sellers search the net to sell their homes. I not sure most motivated sellers even have a computer. Any thoughts?

HR

PS. I think the site is awesome (especially if it generates some income… it certainly is giving your competition notice of your methods.). I suspect it is fear of you as competition that is driving the small minds against you.

OUTSTANDING WEB SITE!!! - Posted by Walt in Oakland

Posted by Walt in Oakland on May 27, 2000 at 13:44:35:

That is one of the best web sites I’ve ever seen! FANTASTIC! After seeing the web site, my guess is those realtors are feeling threatened. Have you ever seen a tyupical realtor web page? Look at a few, and you’ll know why.

As to the legal issues, you’ve got nothing to worry about at all. Isn’t it funny how guys like that always prefer being anonymous?

Keep up the good work and keep up that GREAT site!

Re: Under Attack By Real Estate Agents - Suggestions? - Posted by Craig

Posted by Craig on May 26, 2000 at 11:35:40:

Ben, I’m not an attorney and this ain’t legal advice. I just went and read over Washington’s statutes regarding licensing. It appears to me that whatever those realtors gripe is, they have no legal ground to stand on. The Washington statutes seem to make it absolutely clear by saying “for others” over and over.

One reason you could be under attack is because of something on your website regarding real estate agents “sitting on listings”. They obviously will view that as an attack on them, whether it’s true or not. If you’re going to sling it, whether true or not, they’re gonna look for something to sling back.

You need to make it absolutely clear to them, that you are acting as a principal, whereas they are acting in an agency relationship. Agents assume very little risk if a home does not sell or rent, whereas you as principal buyer or lessor, must meet your contractual obligation to pay rent or purchase the property, regardless of whether you are able to sublet or resell. Nothing you do is on behalf of the seller or landlord. If you’re doing things on their behalf you are acting as an agent of sorts. When you are sandwiching a lease/option, you are not managing or landlording property. You are renting and subleting. Regardless of the duties of the owner in that situation, he would still be considered the landlord. So I might not call myself a “landlord” or “manager”. These are my own views and I could be wrong here, if you’re truly concerned about the legal issues, run it by your attorney.

Most of those gripes are from those agents that cannot get seller to relist for 2nd or 3rd time. They want to scare you by talking legal issues they know nothing about hoping you’re just as clueless.

The attack on your site could be described in one word… - Posted by soapymac

Posted by soapymac on May 26, 2000 at 09:32:42:

ENVY!

Seriously. I e-mailed you with some specific examples of some wording that you could improve, but your site loads fast. I took the tour of the Spanaway house…and that is why I use the word “envy.” I’ve not seen another RE site with pictures that has the look and feel that yours has. BRAVO!

Roy MacLean
"soapymac"

Good for You! - Posted by DougO(NM)

Posted by DougO(NM) on May 26, 2000 at 08:28:35:

I would suggest - though I am sure you have already done this - that you reveiw your state statutes. It is my understanding that there are some states, though please dont ask which ones, that specifically say investors using options and leases is a way to circumvent the license requirements, (DUH!) and therefore a no-no. I believe it has alot to do with the volume of activity. Check into it
Doug

Re: Under Attack By Real Estate Agents - Suggestions? - Posted by Rob FL

Posted by Rob FL on May 26, 2000 at 07:57:55:

Although it seems pretty clear to me that you are acting as an investor, some of the stuff on your site is borderline.

Sometimes too much info can be to your detriment. When you use words like “will sell”, “offer to others”, and similar phrases it sounds a little like you are acting as an unlicensed broker. Maybe you should tone down your site a little in these areas.

Best wishes.

Are you a Principal or not? - Posted by BR

Posted by BR on May 25, 2000 at 23:22:43:

Sandwich L/O’s are not my area of expertise…so I ask “at what point are you considered a principal”? I can see where a Realtor might question the issue. Anyone?

Re: Under Attack By Real Estate Agents - Suggestions? - Posted by Tim Jensen

Posted by Tim Jensen on May 25, 2000 at 21:45:57:

Ben,

Let me take a crack at this.

First, I went to the website, it looks nice, however I can see why the realtors might question it. For example Question #3 on your FAQ makes someone believe that you are trying to sell their house for them. That could be construded as acting like a Realtor. I would just try and reword things so that it does not sound like you will find another buyer.

Besides that I think everything looked fine. Though I only went through your site briefly.

Tim

Re: Under Attack By Real Estate Agents - Suggestions? - Posted by Glenn-OH

Posted by Glenn-OH on May 25, 2000 at 21:39:02:

“Last week we were ‘anonymously’ reported to the Better Business Bureau for ‘false advertising’. Evidently,we were reported for ‘claiming to lease homes while using bait-n-switch to convince people to buy homes’ … those were the words used.”

Funny, if I remember the Realtor code of ethics, part of it was the promotion of home ownership. Shame on you. LOL By the way, if one of those people decided they only wanted to pay rent and never own a house, you wouldn’t have taken their money would you - you were only into bait and switch weren’t you?

“Since the Washinton State Appelate Courts have taken a very broad view on “Commission” being just about any form of monetary renumeration, and the law stating that people engaged as “agents for the purchase and sale of realestate for a commission” require licensing through the department of licensing, how do you evade that requirement? Also, are you going to evade the licensing requirement that is to take effect in January 2000 requiring those Managing property for others for a fee to be State Licensed? Just wondering, as mine hast probably cost me close to $10,000 over the last six years, with ongoing educational requirements, Errors and Ommissions Insurance and other associated fees, and I get a bit jealous when I see others that seem to slide out from paying and being responsible”

I would respond “In all of that expensive training was it ever mentioned that a property owner has the right to sell their own property?”

Try to get names from the agents - ask directly if they are agents/brokers. Ask directly for their names. Make sure you get numbers from caller ID if they won’t give them. Look them up on www.555-1212.com to get names the remind them that failure to identify themselves as agents/brokers is a violation of their licensing - then report them to the state. Emphasize the harassment you have gotten - the state should take action. Don’t bother with the Board of Realtors - their concern is for the realtors.
Glenn

Re: Under Attack By Real Estate Agents - Suggestions? - Posted by ScottE

Posted by ScottE on May 25, 2000 at 21:38:39:

Ben,
I would just ignore them. Obviously this person (or these people) have too much time on their hands. If they spent their time minding their OWN business, they would be making plenty and could care less about you.

In the alternative, you could contact the managing broker in person and with statute in hand,(I would imagine there is something in the statutes that specifically EXCLUDES people from those requirements if it is done for their own gain) tell him/her what has been happening to you and ask for thier help in snuffing out the culprit. Perhaps you can parlay the meeting into a good working relationship once he/she understands what you do!

Good luck and keep us posted
Scott

How much business has this site generated? - Posted by Ben

Posted by Ben on May 27, 2000 at 20:26:58:

Thank you for your comments. You say you “don’t think motivated sellers search the net to sell their homes” and that you are “not sure most motivated sellers even have a computer”. In my opinion, you are wrong on both points. I’ve seen real-life results that prove otherwise.

I can’t really answer your other questions as to whether or not it’s worthwhile, etc., because much of that will depend upon what the purpose of the website is; for example - there are businesses and people who believe strongly that the presence alone - and the constant availability it gives all to your contact information is worth the cost, just in itself.

We live and operate in a community of very high costs and many, many investors - including one of America’s very best and most successful. Because more people know about us than most of the others, we get more of the unsolicited calls - and that comes from simple name branding. Which is no different than ANY other product or service.

For example - while in the shopping malls, I’ve probably passed by the Hickory Farms store countless times, without going in (or purchasing anything). I have no immediate need for their products … but if I DO need a beefstick - guess where I go? Hickory Farms. Just because I know about them, and for no other reason.

Very little has changed since the “Good Old Days”, and the internet is no exception - most of the people who claim to see no value, are those who are intimidated or bothered by it. People in those two categories are generally the ones who spew most vociferously against it. Others use websites to increase sales, presence, branding or even simple contact info. Either way, you’ll get just as many people trying to talk you out of it as you will people trying to convince you to get into it.

As to whether or not it’s worth the effort - if you don’t think it is - as you say, then it’s not. Just like any other business or marketing tool, you can make of it what you will.

For example: give 500 business cards to one person who thinks they are valuable - and 500 to a person who thinks they are not worth the effort … then, see what each person does with those cards. The one who saw value in them will have put one in everybody’s hand and on every bulletin board, until he ran out - while the other will have thrown them away or put them in a drawer to languish in the dark. If just ONE PERCENT of the people who received or saw one of those business cards ever ended up calling - then the person who saw value in the cards is going to get five phone calls or inquiries that the other person never did and never will.

It may be germane to this discussion, that the people who tried to report us to the local Business bureaus & sent the veiled emails … are people who do not have websites or any web presence of their own.

Again, I really do appreciate your kind words and comments. Thank you very much.

Respectfully,

Ben

Re: Are you a Principal or not? - Posted by Glenn-OH

Posted by Glenn-OH on May 26, 2000 at 06:28:21:

In the sandwich lease option, you are optioning your position in the property. You have an option also, so that means that you are optioning your option. Any realtor response is sour grapes.

Thanks for the response, Ben… - Posted by HR

Posted by HR on May 29, 2000 at 20:30:29:

Ben,

Thanks for the comments. While I am leaning against a webpresence at the present, I am open to the possibility (fact?) that I may be wrong. That’s why I asked. I appreciate your imput.

Cheers,

HR