If you have a teenager, you know all about Snapchat. Since the earliest days of social media, WAV Group has experimented with a host of social media platforms to discover opportunities for our clients. In lock step, I have been snapping away.

Haven’t tried Snapchat for real estate marketing? Don’t bother. Unless you are trying to keep up with your child or other Snapchat enthusiast, there is no place on Snanpchat for the real estate business. However, there are some marketing thoughts that may spark some creative strategic thinking.

Scarcity and Urgency

Snaps expire after 24 hours. This is an old marketing tactic called scarcity. If forces people to look at your snaps every day, and encourages you to post everyday. You see this tactic used for pop up sales and other events. We have observed the use of scarcity in real estate marketing with hot markets like San Francisco. The agent will take a listing, stage it, get all of the inspections and appraisals done, and truly package the property for a quick sale. The agent puts the listing in the MLS with remarks that say that the open house will be this Saturday and Sunday. All offers must be submitted by Wednesday at 5 PM. The seller will review all offers Thursday and accept offer by Friday. Highest offer with cleanest contingencies will win. By the way – days on marketing in San Francisco has been as low as 8. Increadible, right? You see a similar theme with the emergence of auctions powered by TenX, which are particularly successful at moving high end properties.

I remember standing on the curb of a listing in San Jose, CA in 1999 with our Alain Pinel agent. We were choosing between moving there, or San Luis Obispo County.  After viewing a property the Realtor stopped us before getting in the car. She said, “If you like this house, we need to write an offer now. It will probably be gone by the end of the day.” The idea of making a decision that fast felt daunting, but the point was clear. Scarcity is cause for quick decisions and actions.

Data Management

As a parent, I am always watching my daughter’s engagement with social media. How many times have we seen social media gone bad? Before the age of 13, we managed all of her accounts. Now she is on her own and I am pretty proud of her choices (I stalk her online). That is, until she makes a bad choice. Odds are that it will happen. The good thing about Snapchat is that the data disappears after 24 hours. Sure – images can be captured with a screenshot, but for the most part – they go away.

If you study the listing agreement with the seller – there is specific language that permits the broker to market the property for sale during the term of the listing agreement. In other words, brokers are only permitted to market the property during the listing agreement. Wouldn’t it be nice if the online marketing for a property disappeared the instant that the listing agreement expires? Technically, using a property for marketing once the listing agreement has ended could be a problem for brokers. That “Just Sold” postcard may get you in hot water. The permissible justification for Just Sold communications is news. The agent may report on a real estate fact when it is considered news. However, like Snapchat, brokers should be careful to keep their news releases confined to a reasonable period of time to avoid getting into trouble.

I can assure you that if I purchased a home today, I would demand that the photos of my new home were expunged from the internet. Last thing I would want would be for my property, including my daughter’s bedroom, to be pushed everywhere that sick evildoers might stalk. Wouldn’t you want the same for the privacy of your family?

How Do You Get Real Estate Marketing Off the Internet?

This is a looming issue for real estate. As you may have learned from our whitepaper on listing syndication, it’s important that you read the fine print. The language will often say something along the lines of the broker extending a data license to the publisher that lasts forever (perpetuity), is royalty free, and provides the publisher the ability to do whatever they want with it.

Solve the Riddle: How can a broker stop marketing a property for sale after the listing agreement terminates if it has extended a perpetual license to a third party? – Post your answers to the WAV Group Facebook page where this post is linked. You may get a prize!

Managing data online is a tricky process in real estate. We work with a lot of brokers to connect the dots of data licensing that begins with the listing agreement, the agent agreement, the photographer agreement, the company employee and independent contractor agreements, the MLS agreement, portal marketing agreements, and technology vendor agreements. It’s akin to a forensic science. Our large brokerage clients are the key targets for litigation and carry the most amount of risk to both their brand and their financial statement. Even sharp companies with excellent legal representation like Zillow® can get stung ($8.5 million copyright infringement damages awarded by a federal court which was not covered by their insurance. As a side note – Zillow has thus far, Zillow Group® has been a good partner by not recovering their losses from the brokers who supplied the infringing photos.)

Don’t worry about integrating Snapchat into your marketing plan, but think about your liability with off market properties. Our industry needs to put some deep thought into this issue of copyright and privacy.