There’s always something to howl about

I hear rumors all the time

But I rarely blog about them.

This builder’s going out of business. This one’s filing bankruptcy. This one has plenty of cash on hand. This broker’s dipping into their equity line. This lender’s leaving the business. This agent has a second job.

It’s a real estate blogger’s responsibility – ethically (at least per NAR and common sense), and one assumes legally, to present the best, most accurate information possible. I do this for two reasons –

1) I want readers, potential clients, the general public and my peers to respect my opinion and my credibility.
2) I don’t want to get sued.
3) I really, really don’t want to get sued.

Builders and companies frequently sometimes do file bankruptcy, having sheltered and protected their assets appropriately, and then re-open under a different name. It’s a fact of doing business.

I trade on my credibility – with my clients and potential clients, my fellow Realtors, builders, developers, the public and the media. Damaging that credibility – even by an infinitesimal amount – is not an option.

When on a panel at Inman Connect about blogging, someone asked how I handle writing about local builders and developments, whether I criticize them (in comparison to Jonathan Butler’s excellent Brooklyn blog, which is all about neighborhood and property reviews – and much, much more).

The dilemma is this – step into the world of investigative blogging that might impede one’s ability to do business locally, or write a great piece that might make news and generate conversation – yet alienate those with whom one does business?

I choose to maintain the delicate balance that exists between being a Realtor – a buyer’s agent advocating for my clients’ best interests, a listing agent representing sellers – and the blogger/journalist whose foray into biting investigative journalism/expose could terminate my real estate career. Getting sued could turn out to be the least of my worries if I were to become persona non grata to the community in which I have strived to excel.

Sellsius have the legal primer, summed up with this (all bloggers should read this post):

Bloggers should be careful to couch all writing as opinion, double check sources and watch it when it comes to private figures. A general disclaimer on all posts may not be a bad idea. Or you can play it safe and just call someone a “dumb ass“.

Sure I’m a real estate blogger, and that helps me make a living; but I’m a Realtor first. (actually, father and husband come first and second)

Finding out the finances of the builder might be sound due diligence for clients seeking to purchase new construction; publishing that to my blog is an entirely different matter.

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    6 Comments so far

    1. Kris Berg January 30th, 2008 10:44 am

      Spot on, Jim.

    2. Eric Blackwell January 30th, 2008 11:50 am

      Great points (in my opinion), Jim (grin)


    3. Tom at the Real Estate Bloggers January 30th, 2008 12:06 pm


      I agree wholeheartedly.

      I even go to the extreme in almost all of my posts to excerpt the source material because that will have the tendency to be inaccessible or changed at a later date and it is nice to have the record.

      Excellent post.


    4. Sean Purcell January 30th, 2008 1:35 pm

      Jim – very helpful post. Made me go back and look at my blog (I think I better put some disclaimers in there!)

      The link to Sellsius is a must read. Thanks.

    5. Chris Lengquist January 30th, 2008 3:18 pm

      Great perspective. Blogging is a tool. Not a profession. If the tool is going to hurt me if I take it out of the bag, I’d rather leave it in the bag.

    6. Jim Duncan January 30th, 2008 5:16 pm

      Thanks for the comments.

      @Chris Lengquist – that’s the balance; it could be one or the other – doing both well at the same time is challenging.