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HUD and Facebook | A Guide for Real Estate Ads in 2019 and Beyond

Let’s Talk Laws

Federal housing laws prohibit the discrimination of people based on race, color, religion, national origin, gender, disability and family status. This is a little counter intuitive for those who have ever boosted a post in Facebook and encountered the first filter: male, female or both.

Civil rights advocates are finally getting the attention they’ve been asking for about Facebook’s ad targeting and it’s discriminatory tendencies against protected classes.

Within the current Facebook audience creator, you can include or eliminate groups like “proud single moms” “gay and lesbian activists”, “Asian Pacific American” or people interested in “service dogs”, “wheelchair basketball” and more.

The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) is charging Facebook with discrimination over the online advertising tools saying that it is restricting those who can view housing related ads.

Change is in the Air

After paying out close to $5M for alleged damages and expenses last week, Facebook is also initiating some updates to their ad platform for housing, employment, and credit ads.

The social mogul has stated they will be eliminating up to 5,000 targeting options to “minimize the risk of abuse”. Things like “multicultural affinity” still make it very easy to discriminate and by December 2019, Facebook will have cut down on many of the options said to be abused.

Facebook will also be hiring and training more ad reviewers and using more machine technology to review ads by industries that have the potential to abuse the targeting options.

They are also creating an “open market” concept within the real estate sector of Facebook where anyone from near or far can search all real estate related ads so that everyone has the opportunity to view ads fairly and frequently. (Yay us!)

How to Stay on Target

It is going to be a little different moving forward, but your flow shouldn’t necessarily be interrupted as a real estate agent. Client personas are always a good idea so you can really understand what your clients’ needs are and how to meet them. If you are already an ethical agent, then keep on truckin’ with what you’re doing! Here are some ways you can still use FB’s awesome tools to target the right people for your real estate ads.

  • Interests – creating a profile for a group of buyers you frequently work with or even a buyer profile for a particular house you are listing is a GOOD thing! You can narrow your ads to people who love coffee shops, technology or swimming without unfairly discriminating against a protected group.
  • Location – you have many unique opportunities to target communities, neighborhoods and geo-locations easily for real estate purposes. If you know many people relocate to Virginia Beach from Hawaii, try two locations on your next ad!
  • Pixels – if you haven’t looked into Facebook Pixels yet, it’s time. This is a code put on your website to retarget those who are already looking into your brand and service. It’s like a bread crumb trail (yes, straight out of Hansel and Gretel!) where their data is sprinkled on your website which leads back to their Facebook profile where they can be targeted later on.
  • Email List – you have contacts, use them! Export an email list from your CRM or email provider into Facebook’s Custom Audiences to leverage the data you already have.
  • Your Followers – there is already a group you might want to remember… people who already engage with your content! You can even target their friends which gets you one step closer to a referral.

Don’t Worry, Be Ethical!

The good news is, it will be harder to accidentally be unethical by the end of the year. These changes should keep us all out of trouble while enhancing potential client’s experiences to find real estate listings in the most widely used social application in the world.TitleQuest is committed to bringing quality information and training to the real estate agents of Hampton Roads, and beyond! Let us know in the comments if there is a topic you’d like to hear and be sure to connect with us on Facebook for workshops and trainings available to all Hampton Roads real estate agents.

Provided by Landmark Title, LLC a TitleQuest affiliate

Resources:

https://www.theverge.com/2019/3/28/18285178/facebook-hud-lawsuit-fair-housing-discrimination
https://www.cnn.com/2019/03/28/tech/facebook-hud-ad-discrimination/index.html
https://www.inman.com/2019/03/28/hud-charges-facebook-with-housing-discrimination/
https://www.foxnews.com/tech/hud-charges-facebook-with-housing-discrimination-over-companys-targeted-advertising-practices

What the Tech? How Real Estate Agents can get ahead with Technology in 2019

March 2019

Get your Head IN the Cloud

Let’s start ground level first though. Without organization, you are more likely to be distracted by tech then have your business enhanced by it. What is at the heart of every real estate business? CLIENTS. Accessing customer data is more important than ever and with real estate, customer relationship management (CRM) is now easier and customizable.

By upgrading to cloud computing you’ll have full access to the real estate universe. “…many benefits of cloud property management software including time and cost savings, scalability, increased security and greater accessibility. Additionally, cloud-based systems like PropertyMe have client access which allows tenants and owners to log in and see their property and financial information 24/7, reducing the amount of communication required.” Silvia Liu, PropertyMe.

Check out Software Advice for the most comprehensive comparison available to find which one might be right for you. One of our faves is GoConnect, recommended by Inman, which features a sensible checklist app with impressive simplicity.

Push It Real Good

Push technology is nothing new, but instant notifications for real estate transactions are taking a leap in 2019. To keep customers returning and interested, send alerts to locked screens and other high traffic areas. Apps like Homepass make connecting and interacting with visitors to your Virginia real estate page simple and effective. Automated push notifications that provide customers with additional information expand any agent’s reach easily with integrated messaging, live activity feeds, and inbuilt location sharing.

The WOW Factor

To be a stand-out agent in the Hampton Roads area, you have to find what’s best for you and your clients and usually that’s getting them information when they need it. This means being in front of them no matter where you are physically.

Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, Google, Zillow, Waze… how can you be everywhere all at once? Homespotter’s Boost is one example of technology helping agents’ work faster. Boost automatically creates a social media ad by pulling in copy, images and even a Call to Action directly from your Virginia MLS.

Let’s talk AR (augmented reality) and VR (virtual reality). These two technologies are HUGE in real estate since they make it possible to view a home without actually being anywhere near it.

Relocation is a big deal in Virginia. Having the largest Naval Base on the East Coast, Norfolk, Chesapeake, Portsmouth and Virginia Beach get a lot of turnover. Winning listings can be easy when you use VR technology like Matterport which virtually map a home and can be shown on a desktop, mobile or VR goggles to give buyers near and far a look at the property.

Noteworthy

  • BoxBrownie is a real estate agents “ace-in-the-hole” for bringing spaces to life with virtual staging, photo retouching, item removal, floor plan rendering and more.
  • Realar helps builders and curious buyers immerse themselves in a home before it’s even built!
  • Ikea makes home furnishing easy with the “try-before-you-buy” mentality using all their own products.
  • Fall in love with Emma – email marketing with impressive designs and personlaized automations. This was one of Inman’s top tech of 2015 and still holds strong.
  • For the agent that has it all… Nimble – another top Inman pick for CRMs. This impressive software can create customer personas to help expertly target and segment clients.
  • LiveBy gives you all the neighborhood stats in one well designed package. This makes you the Alexa of Real Estate. Great Bridge, Kempsville, Hilltop, you name it, this software builds a page for it and makes it interactive (bringing the clients to you!) Show your clients each community you serve with nearby schools, average days on market, average rent and way more.

WELCOME TO THE FUTURE

Staying in the loop is half the battle! “Just because you CAN doesn’t mean you SHOULD” comes to mind when thinking about new tools. We encourage you to try new things, but you have full permission to delete things out of your work mix just as quickly as you uploaded them.

Sources:

Liu, Silvia. “Industry News: Top 10 Real Estate Tech Trends to Watch in 2019”. www.propertyme.com. Propertyme, 11 Jan 2019. Web. Accessed 11 Feb 2019. https://www.propertyme.com.au/blog/property-management/real-estate-tech-trends

Staff, ATTOM. “Attom insights: The Five Technology Trends that will Impact Real Estate (and the World) in 2018”. www.attomdata.com. ATTOM Data Solutions, 25 April 2018. Web. Accessed 11 Feb 2019. https://www.attomdata.com/news/attom-insights/the-five-technology-trends-that-will-impact-real-estate-and-the-world-in-2018/

Provided by Landmark Title, LLC a TitleQuest affiliate

Those pesky Home Equity Lines of Credit (HELOCs).. What’s the deal?

The fact is, unreleased Home Equity Lines of Credit (HELOC) are a large source of claims in the title insurance industry. An equity line is essentially a revolving line of credit secured by a mortgage Deed of Trust against a piece of property. One of the most frequent surprises to borrowers, sellers, agents, and lenders alike is an unexpected equity line Deed of Trust showing up on title after the title search is complete. Sometimes the seller doesn’t realize a HELOC attaches to the property and is a lien that has to be paid off in order to sell the property. The other scenario that we’ve seen a hundred times: a homeowner takes out an equity line, pays it down to a zero balance (often never even using it) and goes about their business only to be shocked when that equity line that was supposedly “closed” is still recorded against a property.
You may be thinking, “How is this even possible!? The equity line was paid and closed so it should no longer affect my home, right?” Unfortunately, borrowers are often unaware that there is a difference between “paying a loan off” and “paying a loan down.” Since many home equity loans allow funds to be borrowed, repaid in whole or in part, and then borrowed again, the banks will not automatically close an equity line simply because it was paid down to a zero balance. In order for the banks to prepare the appropriate release document(s) (referred to as a Certification of Satisfaction here in Virginia), it needs to be requested in writing by the borrower to “close the account” and the circuit court recording fee of $41 will typically be collected by the bank. Please ensure the seller DOES NOT close this HELOC account prior to closing and allows the settlement company to order the payoff which will show a zero balance and will collect the $41 fee which will show on the HUD. If it is closed by the seller this will delay closing as the buyers closing agent will need a release recorded prior to settlement and lenders take anywhere from 60-120 days to have this release prepared; executed and recorded.
When insuring a transaction in which a HELOC Deed of Trust is recorded against a property whether it be a refinance or a sale, a title company will require that the line of credit be irrevocably terminated and released. Title companies have a large responsibility when it comes to equity lines, specifically in the event of a sale since an equity line that is not closed and/or released could potentially be borrowed against while secured against a piece of property that the borrower no longer owns. The best protection for a title company against an advance being made after the closing is receipt of a payoff statement prior to settlement showing a balance owed, or in many cases a zero balance, either of which usually includes collection of the $41 recording fee for the release (as this indicates the lien will be released after settlement).This payoff request causes the lender to freeze the account and at closing your seller will sign a document affirming their wish to permanently close this account.
In the event that an unexpected equity line comes up during the course of your next closing, it is important to obtain applicable account information and/or loan numbers and be in close communication with your title company. It is also best to consult your title company and allow them to contact the bank on behalf of you or your client to ensure the account is not closed ahead of settlement and instead addressed through settlement on the HUD. Most of the time, unreleased equity lines can be handled easily, but keep in mind that any Deed of Trust recorded against a property must be addressed prior to closing or settlement may be delayed.