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Editorial


Front Page - Friday, March 3, 2017

There's no room for 'fake news' in real estate




The term “fake news” is now used almost daily in our society after coming of age during the 2016 presidential campaign. There are several safeguards in place to ensure “fake news” doesn’t come into play when working with a licensed real estate professional.

Starting with the Code of Ethics and Standard of Practice of the National Association of Realtors, there are numerous points directed at accuracy of information. Realtor members are cautioned to “not deliberately mislead the owner as to market value” and they “shall avoid exaggeration, misrepresentation, or concealment of pertinent facts relating to the property.”

Article 12 of this code has various points regarding advertising and marketing of properties. Realtors are cautioned to present a “true picture” and to “ensure that their status as real estate professionals is readily apparent in their advertising, marketing and other representations.”

In order to practice real estate sales or leasing as a vocation, one must hold a license in the state where they wish to practice. In the Greater Chattanooga region, the states of Tennessee, Georgia and Alabama govern these licensees.

While there are variances by state, there are rules which apply to signage, display of brokerage information and telephone numbers for contacting both the supervising broker as well as the agent – and these apply for all forms of advertising.

The Greater Chattanooga Association of Realtors offers multiple listing services for both its residential and commercial agents to use when sharing information related to the properties they have for sale or lease. Members of the public may search these listings at GCAR.net.

These MLS’s have extensive rules which apply to the types and depth of data that are displayed as well as how and where this data can be shared. A committee of real estate brokers and subscribers are elected annually to supervise the activities and operations of both MLS’s and the related data feeds.

Even the most casual observer can see the time and effort that goes into ensuring accurate information is being presented by real estate licensees and Realtors. The largest real estate arena where this high level of control is outside the hands of this group can be found in the public portals on the internet.

Various for-profit sites such as Zillow, Trulia and Homes.com are not under the jurisdiction of the National Association of Realtors nor are they governed by states for licensure, so the accuracy of information displayed may not be of the same high quality as that shared by Realtors.

While I am not suggesting that these sites would create or contribute to “fake news,” I would always encourage vetting information with an experienced, licensed Realtor before making any major real estate related decision!

Anyone found violating these standards should immediately be reported to the Greater Chattanooga Association of Realtors for investigation and discipline as necessary. If the error is found to be under the jurisdiction of a state body, GCAR can direct you to the appropriate office. If the incorrect information is found on one of the public portals referenced above, it can be much more challenging to correct the wrong.

The Greater Chattanooga Association of REALTORS is The Voice of Real Estate in Greater Chattanooga. The Association is a regional organization with more than 1,700 members and is one of more than 1,400 local boards and associations of Realtors nationwide that comprise the National Association of Realtors.

GCAR services Hamilton and Sequatchie counties in southeast Tennessee, and Catoosa, Dade and Walker counties in northwest Georgia. Go to www.GCAR.net for more information.