Misinformation on agent websites

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I get it – a lot of agents don’t write their own blog posts. Thank goodness they don’t or I’d be out of business. But, in perusing agent websites, I am constantly asking myself “Where are they getting these people that are writing for them, under their name?”

The even bigger question is: Why aren’t they proofing everything before it goes live on their websites?

Here are just a few things I’ve read recently on real estate agent websites:

  • “The buyer and seller negotiate the down payment needed.” (Since when?)
  • “In other words, an appraisal is the estimated amount of money your home may sell for.” (Sure it is. ALL lenders are flexible with the appraised value, right?)
  • “Usually there’s already a deposit on the house being held in escrow by the real estate agent.” (Agents are allowed to hold earnest money deposits now?)
  • “HUD stands for Housing of Urban Development” (Because, you know — research is just so darned difficult)
  • “At the actual closing of the home there will be a final walk-through and a lot of paper signing” (Ever been to a closing like this?)
  • Millennials are “opting to live in central cities … or they’re showing preferences for smaller homes.” (The explainer for that whopper is coming up)
  • “Pending home sales spring forward, boost inventory” (to be fair, this wasn’t on an agent’s site, but on Inman. At any rate, in a tight inventory market, how do more sales equal a boost in inventory? Ask a journalism-major-who-knows-nothing-about-real-estate)

Where do they get this garbage?

Misinformation on agent websites can be chalked up to several problems. The first is that the writer has no real estate background.

It’s pretty audacious for someone who has never written a purchase agreement, has never attended a closing, has never been involved in a real estate transaction to assume he or she can write intelligently about the process.

Yet, there are way too many agents out there who, in their effort to save a dime, hire these people to add critical content to their websites.

It’s ok to be thrifty. But, for God’s sake, if you hire one of these so-called writers, have the good sense to proof their work before you present it to the world, with your name and reputation attached to it.

Then, there are the so-called experts who are either woefully ignorant or arrogant enough that they think they’re so smart they can just post their assumptions as facts.

What happens, is that by dint of their “expertise” or lofty title, others pick up their quotes and run with them with nary a thought that the guy or gal may be flat-out wrong.

I briefly mentioned an example of this in the bulleted list, above. It comes from an article in the Realtormag section of Realtor.org with a “Daily Real Estate News” byline. In other words, we have no idea who wrote it.

In the piece, the writer quotes a professor (we aren’t informed what he teaches) at the University of Arizona. Hey, if he’s a professor he must be smart, right? Why bother fact checking him?

Because if you don’t, you’ll sound like a moron

Yet, agent after agent has taken his word as gospel and posted his quotes on their site, despite numerous stats that prove him wrong. Stats, I might add, that would’ve taken the professor or the agent who blindly quoted him, 10 minutes, at best, to find online.

For instance, the professor claims that millennials are “opting to live in central cities or in the oldest, closest suburbs.”

Both Zillow and Harvard University studies say that millennials, by and large, aren’t opting for city life and overwhelmingly want to live in the suburbs. In fact, 50 percent seek out suburban homes and 20 percent move even further out, to rural areas.

So, Mr. Professor, 70 percent of millennials do NOT opt “to live in central cities.”

Then, the professor claims that millennials are seeking “smaller homes.” Again, this is blatantly untrue and he would’ve found that out had he not been too arrogant to research his opinions.

In reality, millennials are skipping starter homes and opting for bigger homes. Again, this is backed up by several studies.

Not only is blindly believing someone and then passing on his or her thoughts dangerous to your credibility, it’s irresponsible.

This professor claimed that boomers, because their homes are in the suburbs, are going to have a difficult time selling. Imagine that you’re an older American and you run across this information when trying to determine if it makes financial sense to sell your home right now.

Learning from a professor that you’re “going to be in a real pickle” if you try to sell your home, even in a “dynamic market,” will most likely cause you to rethink selling. I find this disturbingly irresponsible.

Then, there’s this gem. This comes from a company that publishes real estate agent newspapers that are sent out to the agents’ farm areas. Now, keep in mind that real estate agent newspapers is all this company does.

In a paragraph about the final walk-through, the “writer” said this:

“Realtors will only pay for something that is broken so make it a mission to inspect closely.”

Ok, if you pay for “something that is broken,” raise your hand.

Yeah, that’s what I thought.

Yet this garbage was printed in THOUSANDS of real estate agents’ newspapers across the country.

The moral of this story

Actually, the moral is two-fold. First, if you hire a freelance writer to write for your website, ensure that the writer actually KNOWS real estate.

Cool – you found someone who claims to specialize in real estate. Look closely at the samples – many writers who claim to be real estate specialists spend their time writing listing descriptions or brochure copy, not about the nuts and bolts stuff consumers are craving.

Then, actually read the writing samples.

“ … several brokerages have grown accustom to bolstering their images with ambiguous declarations of prominence.”

I read this just today in a “professional” writer’s real estate writing sample. The glaring spelling error is astounding enough, but WHO talks like this? “Ambiguous declarations of prominence?” Get the heck over yourself.

Like your CMA, our writing samples are our job applications. If a writer can’t take the time to present her very best to potential clients, can you really expect that her writing for you will be any better?

“Interest rate fluctuations affect MA home loan pre-approvals because it impacts the principal and interest portion of the total payment.”

The above sentence comes from an article that a writing company feels exemplifies its real estate writing services. Where is the real estate agent who is willing to actually pay someone to write for them when that someone can’t even figure out how to make nouns and pronouns agree?

Please raise your hand

Second, if you insist on hiring a writer that is clueless about real estate, please read every word of every piece he or she writes before posting it on your site. I’ve seen blog posts where the writer asked the reader whether buying a home is a good idea. The writer’s answer? No.

I read another agent blog post where the plat map was referred to throughout as a “plant map.”

Look as well at the topic. For instance, a writer who lacks experience writing for real estate agents has no idea that agents don’t want articles promoting or explaining refinancing. You want homeowners to SELL, not refinance.

Writing for any niche is a challenge if you’ve never actually worked in that niche. But, that doesn’t stop far too many tech dunces from attempting to write technology articles and, yes, those who’ve never helped a client fill out a purchase agreement to write about real estate.

You’re paying for a real estate writer. Hire the best.

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