John's Florida Real Estate Blog

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Are Your Real Estate Ads Legal?

Today I was doing a Google search to see if any of my listings would pop up. While I was doing this, an ad from a local competitor came up. I know him a little and he seems like a good and honest person. However, at the top and at the bottom of his ad was a verse from the Bible from which the Golden Rule originated. Certainly a nice thought and great words to live by.

In our local real estate magazine there is a company that has picked for its company name what most people would identify as a prominent book of the Bible and has a cross displayed at the top of the page. Again, these people are very nice and I have always enjoyed working with them.

Anything wrong here? Well, if HUD received a complaint about it, there might be. If you check with HUD you will see that we cannot "make, print, publish, or cause to be made, printed or published any notice, statement, or advertisement, with respect to sale or rental of a dwelling that indicates any preference, limitation, or discrimination based on race, color, religion, sex, handicap, familial status, or national origin, or any intention to make any such preference, limitation, or discrimination". Section 804 of the Federal Fair Housing Law

Now, I am sure my colleagues I mentioned do not know about these rules. But, if at some point they are accused of discriminating based on their customers' religion, I would think that these symbols and words in their ads might be used against them. I remember that a while ago we received a flyer, perhaps from one of the associations about this very topic.

I know that no one here would ever discriminate against a customer. Nor would the two people I mentioned above. But perhaps in our eagerness to create a special identity for ourselves in our ads, we may be offending a person or group, and end up unintentionally breaking the law.

So it may pay to take a look at your ads to see if they comply. I have never had a problem with HUD, but from what I have heard, when they find that someone has violated fair housing laws, they do not slap you on the wrist. I have read and been told that they take violations very seriously and their fines can be horrendous.

John Elwell - REALTOR

CENTURY 21

Bill Nye Realty, Inc.

813-783-4444

Licensed in Florida

 

Comment balloon 68 commentsJohn Elwell • July 15 2007 09:18PM

Comments

Its great to be reminded.

Although I tend to find businesses that combine advertising and GOD to be very uncouth (I have a very strong opinion about it).  I think about it everytime I pass a certain text banner advertising a car dealership in Georgia:

"Praise the Lord!" ... "insert religious scripture here" ...  "Help us outsell the competition, check out our low interest rates" ... Glory be to GOD!"

Posted by Jennifer Walker-Derby, Real Estate Extraordinaire (Re/Max Westside) about 12 years ago
An excellent reminder.  Not to me, I'm an atheist / Buddhist, so my ads tend to be about the house. :)  I do see a lot of folks here who are pretty wrapped up in their religions.  One of them here told me anyone who didn't believe in God could go find another agent.
Posted by John Lockwood (Lockwood Real Estate) about 12 years ago

Thanks John!!

Jennifer I know what you mean!

Posted by Christopher Pike, 803.727.7800 (Keller Williams® Realty) about 12 years ago

Thanks for the update. I am a Christian.But I think you should be able to tell without me having to advertise it. Actions speak louder than words.

What is your religious beliefs isn't one of my pre-qual questions.

Posted by SHAUN WREN (LICENSE IS NOT PLACED) about 12 years ago
Chris, Jen and John, One of our agents complains that we have to be so careful nowdays. But considering how ridiculous things were in the past, it does not hurt to be careful. Plus it is the law. I too hate to see tire dealers use religion to sell their products. We have one here. I am sure he is probably quite sincere, but it kind of puts God in the same league as any other spokesperson like Paris Hilton or Anna Nicole Smith. Just does not seem right somehow. And for us it is forbidden.
Posted by John Elwell, You Deserve a Full-Time Agent, Not Reduced Results (CENTURY 21 Bill Nye Realty, Inc.) about 12 years ago
Exactly Shaun. I am a little rusty, but I believe there is a passage that says " and they shall know thee by thy deeds" or something like that. My mind is going since I turned 53!!!! Thanks for the comment.
Posted by John Elwell, You Deserve a Full-Time Agent, Not Reduced Results (CENTURY 21 Bill Nye Realty, Inc.) about 12 years ago
Good post John. In our day to day operation, sometimes we can easily forget about the various legal issues which govern us.
Posted by DDR Realty, Orange County NY (DDR Realty) about 12 years ago
Yes we must keep it on the up and up at all times. Keep up the good work with these wonderful reminders for us. Do's and Don'ts are always good to keep us on our toes.
Posted by Susan Trombley, Broker/Realtor, Raleigh, Cary, Wake Forest, Youngs (Trombley Real Estate) about 12 years ago

I really don't see anything wrong with it. There is a company near me who has Bible verses on everything and holds a Wednesday Bible study.It's a private company and consumers/clients are free to go where they want.  I always think twice about the motives when bashing a Christian or a Christian company. Some prefer it and those are its customers. No biggie.

Posted by Rhonda Meredith (RE/MAX Top Realty) about 12 years ago
I tend to believe that the louder a business becomes about how pious it is, the more likely it is to take advantage of the consumer.  Sort of like the more a TV preacher preaches against a specific sin, the more likely it is that he/she is committing that very same sin.
Posted by Pat Hallesy (Coldwell Banker Elite) about 12 years ago

First, I'm very familiar with the law and go out of my way to not break it.  Second, I feel that people should be able to tell I'm a Christian without me having to advertise it. 

However, if a Christian, Jew, Muslim, Athiest, Buddist or whatever wants to advertise that he/she is whatever I do not believe that is a violation or a hinderance to anyone using their services.  I'd be interested in what the courts have to say.  After all, it is offensive to me that others would find my beliefs offensive.  This is America right?  Catholics help Protestants.  Jews help Muslims.  Christians help Athiest.  It's called good business.   

Where does this all stop?  If you don't like me beliefs, don't use my services.  If you don't like my car, don't use my services. If you don't like that I'm bald don't use my services.

Just don't ask me to be something I'm not.  I won't ask you (not literally but subjectively) to do it either. 

Posted by Chris Lengquist, Kansas City Real Estate Investing (Ad Astra Realty) about 12 years ago

Even if it were not questionable practice in the eyes of HUD, why would an agent do this?  Why would an agent assume that everyone who sees their ad shares the same religious beliefs?  If an ad offends someone who does not adhere to those same beliefs, it's completely counter-productive. 

An ad with religious symbols or verse implies to me that either the advertiser is exclusively marketing to one group of clients or the advertiser assumes that everyone reading the ad is "just like me".  Either way, it's not a good practice in an industry that is supposed to embrace diversity and to treat everyone equally, regardless of their religion.

I saw a great bumper sticker awhile back that says it all.."Don't assume I share your prejudices".

Posted by Eric Kodner, Wayzata Lakes Realty: Twin Cities, Madeline Island (Wayzata Lakes Realty: Eric Kodner Sells Twin Cities Homes) about 12 years ago
Rhonda, We can like or dislike it. All opinions are valid. But the law does seem pretty clear in regard to this. And one of the things I was taught in church (very strict one at that) was that we should obey the law, otherwise we are not good examples for others. Concerning the business you mentioned, I suppose, especially in light of events over the past few years, certain religious groups could feel that that company is telling them that their business might not be welcome there. In the end, we all make choices and we must be ready to accept the consequences if we violate laws and regulations.
Posted by John Elwell, You Deserve a Full-Time Agent, Not Reduced Results (CENTURY 21 Bill Nye Realty, Inc.) about 12 years ago

To each his own. But a good reminder none the less.

Thanks and good luck,

Sugar Land, Tx
Where Life is Sweet
 

Posted by Christopher & Bernadette Hurley (Go Hurley Group) about 12 years ago
Interesting post!  Certainly, the subject is something I've never encountered.  Thanks for the reminder.
Posted by Diane Bell, Hilton Head Real Estate, Bluffton (Charter 1 Real Estate, Hilton Head, Bluffton, SC) about 12 years ago
This is a good reminder.  I  have alway obsessed over this because I want to be on the right side of the law.
Posted by Jennifer Fivelsdal, Mid Hudson Valley real estate connection ( JFIVE Home Realty LLC | 845-758-6842|162 Deer Run Rd Red Hook NY 12571) about 12 years ago

I think the fair housing rules are stupid.  Drop the cross add the house with the equal sign and all you are no longer a "Christian bigot."  This is government stupidity at it's best.  By the way, why is it ok to put "se hablo espanol" on your advertising?  Just more proof that you cant legislate ethical behavior.

Posted by Dan Homan (Coldwell Banker Ellison Realty, Inc) about 12 years ago

Hi John,  I think your example is a violation and COULD be construed as...."if you're not the same as me, we encourage you to go elsewhere."  My past life was as a paralegal and I just don't see why anyone would take this kind of chance with their business/livelihood.  The rules and laws for Realtor are not difficult to follow - why push the envelope?

Your neighbor in Tampa,

Peggy

Posted by Peggy Edwards, REALTOR - Green Designation, e-PRO, Tampa Bay, FL (Future Home Realty) about 12 years ago
Thanks for the comment Peggy (and to all of the rest of you too. I would try to respond to each, but it is a Sunday night and I was at an open house all day, blahhhh). Glad to meet a neighbor so close Peggy. .From a practical standpoint, I work in Zephyrhills and it is not very cut-throat here. For the most part we know each other and get along well. But in reading some of the blogs and comments, I do understand that competition is very keen in other areas. I would be concerned that an unfriendly competitor would just love to turn in a violator. I would not want to leave myself open to that type of action.
Posted by John Elwell, You Deserve a Full-Time Agent, Not Reduced Results (CENTURY 21 Bill Nye Realty, Inc.) about 12 years ago

Well, if it is a violation to you, why not find a kind way to bring it to the attention of the person? 

In my opinion, God rules everything anyway so why is it such a bad thing to give him the praise and honestly there is never too much of that.  But that is my belief.  I know who I believe in and I do not have to push it down someone else that don't want to know or hear it.  But being in America makes it easier to say what you feel.  Be brave stand up for what you believe in.  Just don't break the law in the process.

Posted by Rosemary Brooks, The Mother & Daughter Realty Team (BMC Real Estate - 209-910-3706) about 12 years ago
John:
I agree with you completley.   I like most of the commentors want to stay of the right side of the law. 
Thsnk you.
Posted by Bob Force (REALTOR®), The FORCE in Maryland Real Estate (Weichert - McKenna & Vane) about 12 years ago
Religion is a very personal and powerful thing for many Rosemary. As you can see in some of the comments. I conferred with some of my colleagues here as to whether to mention it to the agents or not, and they felt it was better to let sleeping dogs lie. Definitely a moral puzzler for sure. But in any case I was just using a couple of real-life examples that brought this to my mind today. The blog is just meant to keep my friends here from getting into hot water inadvertently.
Posted by John Elwell, You Deserve a Full-Time Agent, Not Reduced Results (CENTURY 21 Bill Nye Realty, Inc.) about 12 years ago

John, I think you're striking exactly the right balance.  I sympathize with Chris's position, but the thing is, why take a chance. 

Dan, who (besides you) said anything about being a Christian bigot?  The rules apply to Christians, to me as a Buddhist, and to everyone else.  It's OK to put "se hablo espanol" if you speak Spanish (or nous parlons Francais,  or what have you), and it makes sense to do that, because having multilingual Realtors WIDENS the number of people who can have access to housing.  The point of targeting ads only at those with the same race, religion, or whatever as you is it NARROWS it. 

Actually Dan, you can legislate ethical behavior, and that's what the fair housing laws do.

Posted by John Lockwood (Lockwood Real Estate) about 12 years ago
Thanks for bringing this controversial subject up. I believe in separation of church and state, and have had the misfortune to live in a state that thought it was a theocracy. The more fundamental belief, the more discriminatory the practitioners are. It is an interesting concept that the advertising may be a violation of Fair Housing. I can't wait until my next FH class.
Posted by Jim Little, Your Sun City Arizona Realtor (Ken Meade Realty) about 12 years ago

I believe in God, I believe my blessings come from him, whether in my work, home, or family.  But that doesn't mean I am going to put it on my advertising to draw other people in.   By trying to include, you are excluding. 

Lexa Montierth 

Posted by Lexa R. Montierth, Real Estate Sales Agent and Marketer (NextHome Complete Realty) about 12 years ago

Wow...what a post! If I can't let people know that I'm a Christian...then people should not be able to let me know that they are pet lovers or that they love referrals, (because I may not), or ANYTHING personal at all.

While I do not "advertise" that I'm a Christian, I should not be expected to keep that essential part of who I am a secret or to be intimidated into thinking that I am somehow being offensive by having a dove on my logo. People have all kinds of logos, art, bumper stickers, tatoos and ads to tell others what they believe AND the consumer does make a decision to work with people who can understand their values and belief systems. "Se Hablo Espanol" is a great example.

The name of this game is connection and relationship. "How can two walk together unless they be agreed?" Nobody cares if I'm into Feng Shui, right? You don't see someone with a post saying, "Oh, I can't believe these Feng Shui people are getting away with this!!!" It's all derived from eastern religion...that I don't believe in. I think it's silly, but I don't deny their right to put a candle under their fish tank and adjust their energy...

The "Golden Rule" has been plagiarized from the Bible. Thankfully, the Lord has not filed a copyright anywhere, but I think if an association of individuals decides to make a Bible scripture their motto...the Bible should be considered "admissible" in it's advertisement, public profile, and ethical standard.

Unless someone is advertising, "We only work for people who believe in God.", I don't think they are violating anyone's right to anything. Regulation Z is OFTEN violated. "Buy this house for ZERO DOWN" signs are everywhere...how come nobody is complaining about that?

Posted by Lania DeMers, Broker, Rocky Mountain Realty Co. (Rocky Mountain Realty Co.) about 12 years ago
John, do you have a hidden mic in my car??? I was just discussing this very same topic with someone this afternoon on the way to lunch. They were asking me if the fish symbol could be construed as discriminatory and violating fair housing laws. At first I said no but then I started to think about it and decided if someone got a notion to file a complaint, that symbol could end up being a lot more trouble than it's worth - I mean on your advertising anyway. (My mother is a legal secretary so I'm extra paranoid about lawsuits and such.)
Posted by Beth Skinner, World class service - with a personal touch! (Skinner Realty, Inc.) about 12 years ago
You make an awesome point John.. I do believe that we sometimes get caught up and are not concious that we might be violating the laws that be...Great post
Posted by Nattalie de la Mothe, Selling Atlanta Homes like a Boss (Maximum One Greater Atlanta Realtors) about 12 years ago
Thanks John. I knew that this might open a can of worms, but it is one of those little things that we seldom think about. We know not to steer groups to or away from areas, etc, but this is one of those requirements that can get by us. I know that sometimes it can be difficult to work with in the limits of fair housing laws, but that is the way it is. If we break them, then we are not being good examples, no matter what our religion or lack thereof. It is not a buffet where we can choose the ones we like and only follow those. Can you imagine what the country would be like if it were that way? Okay, well it is that way for celebrities, sports figures and politicians, but for the rest of us there is no buffet. :)
Posted by John Elwell, You Deserve a Full-Time Agent, Not Reduced Results (CENTURY 21 Bill Nye Realty, Inc.) about 12 years ago

We still have difficulty separating church from state today. Sometimes it goes to far, and other times it doesn't go far enough. And it's all pretty much about personal preference. Which is what traditionally makes us strong.

I probably would not want to work for a company with this advertising message, though I see nothing wrong with it. I just think it's a little tacky for me. I'm sure they must do great work, take care of their clients exceptionally, and have their head and their hearts in exactly the right place. But I think our religion and spiritual life is more personal, and sacred, than a public attraction model.

Thanks for  bringing this up and making us all think.

Cheers... 

Posted by Gary Bolen, CRS - Lake Tahoe Real Estate Information (McCall Realty) about 12 years ago
When I lived in Spain for 12 years I got a taste of discrimination. Being basicaly a WASP I had never had that happen before. It does give you a different view of things that others have endured for a long time and in much worse ways. Seeing signs and graffiti telling you to go home because you were from the USA, and being told an apartment you wanted to rent was already rented when it was not. Came as somewhat of a shock. It does help one see a little of what it is like to be discriminated against. Oh well, it is good to see some good give and take here on this issue. Does help raise awareness. Hope so anyway.
Posted by John Elwell, You Deserve a Full-Time Agent, Not Reduced Results (CENTURY 21 Bill Nye Realty, Inc.) about 12 years ago

John, you can see that even a great post like yours can be controversial.  You're always going to encounter those who disagree.  To paraphrase the TV commercial, you might say "Embrace Diversity..it's not just a good idea, it's the Law!".

To those who disagree, I'd suggest taking a look at NAR's "At Home With Diversity" training.  I think a lot of agents would benefit from that course.  The CIPS (Certified International Property Specialist) "International Real Estate for Local Markets" course also includes some great material on promoting diversity. Whether the issue is religion, race or whatever, HUD has a good reason for trying to see that people of differing backgrounds and beliefs feel comfortable with their real estate agent. 

If all else fails and someone still doesn't understand the HUD rules (or agree with them), a HUD tester will eventually set them straight..unfortunately, it may cost that person their license.

 

Posted by Eric Kodner, Wayzata Lakes Realty: Twin Cities, Madeline Island (Wayzata Lakes Realty: Eric Kodner Sells Twin Cities Homes) about 12 years ago

I don't see an issue with it at all.  People are free to express their religion as long as they are not excluding employees or clients who are not of the same beliefs.  There are lots of agents who call themselves "gay realtors" or "mommy realtors" (suggesting they are heterosexual) I would not consider either to be discriminatory.   Is the NAACP discriminatory because it is FOR a certain group of people? 

I think being Politically correct has gotten far too out of hand.  Discrimination laws are for REAL discrimination and calling attention to what you are certainly does not break those laws.

Different beliefs are what make us special, as long as we respect others choices and beliefs there is no problem with expressing our own.

Posted by Rebecca Chambliss (Vista Sotheby's International) about 12 years ago
John, thanks for being the gutsy one to write about religion...in this case I agree with you about the potential for crossing a fair housing line.  Any brokerage who wants to keep their license and avoid litigation should keep an eye on their agent's advertising.  I've wondered about the religiously-charged realtor networks which lobby me periodically - I wonder they have case law or a HUD "ok" to advertise in such a fashion.  As a Christian, I see no issue with my advertising being restricted in this area.  You have to look at it from the buyer's perspective - why would you want to potentially alienate a person of another religious persuasion from contacting you after they hopefully heard you were the most professional choice?
Posted by Jeff R. Geoghan, REALTOR, Marketing Manager (Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage) about 12 years ago
5 stars fore you, great post and great information. I am always reading interesting blogs and congrats on your feature.
Posted by Brad Snyder (Sierra Vista Realty) about 12 years ago
Thanks Brad. I know that this topic can be difficult for people who rightly have very strong beliefs on both sides of the issue. We live in an imperfect world. I just try to follow the laws and do the right thing. Thanks again for your kind comment. Rebecca, I think if sexual orientation were a protected class someone saying they were a "gay REALTOR" would also be problematic. In fact, it may already be in those localities that have laws protecting that group of citizens. But at this point in time HUD does not include them. I would love to put the link I used to get to the HUD info, but I am working on an ancient Macintosh here. But if you do a Google search and put in "HUD regulations religion real estate ads" you should come up with plenty of sources concerning this topic, including your liabilities and the fines, etc.
Posted by John Elwell, You Deserve a Full-Time Agent, Not Reduced Results (CENTURY 21 Bill Nye Realty, Inc.) about 12 years ago
It is sad that we have become so sensitive and start to interpret the words and symbols to mean something they were not intended to mean. May be some people have too much time on their hands.
Posted by Neetu Kainthla (BHHS Caliber Realty) about 12 years ago
Don't know anything about the group you indicate, but could be they are completely unaware of this issue. Of course that does not make it any less of an issue that HUD might find a problem with it.
Posted by Bob & Carolin Benjamin, East Phoenix Arizona Homes (Benjamin Realty LLC) about 12 years ago
Wow!  Just reading some of these responses shows how sensitive individuals can be about certain subjects that they are passionate about.  It is probably best to leave the real estate advertising out of any kind of subject that can become controversial.  That's my opinion.  
Posted by Chrysti Tovani, Sacramento Real Estate Agent (eXp Realty Realty of California Inc) about 12 years ago
In business dealings, if people start hitting me over the head about politics or religion, it makes me uncomfortable. I might even feel the same way that they do, but prefer not to discuss that with someone I do not know well.
Posted by Steven L. Smith, Bellingham WA Home Inspector (King of the House Home Inspection, Inc.) about 12 years ago
Hello John. A wonderful post and it helps drive the point home. I truth, I would suspect that by now, there are way less violators than years ago. NAR's Cultural Diversity Designation has finally caught on and people are getting the message. It is always good to have a post like like your to also assure the consumer that we WILL NOT DISCRIMINATE. PERIOD.
Posted by William Johnson, Retired Real Estate Professional (Retired) about 12 years ago
I am not a bible carry type person But i think a lot of these issues are carried to far. If they are not dragging the consumer off the street, there marketing does not bother me. As long as it don't discriminate. We have a group here on AR that only allows you to post if you mention religion or along that line. As soon as I found this out I was out of that group. What is your opinion on that. After all this is a real estate related board.
Posted by Frank Rubi, FrankRubiRealEstate.com (Frank Rubi Real Estate, LLC) about 12 years ago
John, I totally agree with both the law and your post.  That said, it can be taken too far in some cases.  Our local newspaper rejected an ad that stated "quiet neighborhood."  Their justification was that the ad discriminated against the hearing impaired!
Posted by Brian Schulman, Lancaster County PA RealEstate Expert 717-951-5552 (Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage, Lancaster PA) about 12 years ago
I guess a group here would be like a prayer group, etc. So I suppose they can do what they want. But most churches and religious groups I have come in contact with want people to join and participate. I have not seen the group you mentioned yet. With housing I think the government felt that some steps were needed due to problems in the past. In creating this post I mainly wanted people to be aware of the law so they could avoid problems down the road. It appeared that some agents around the country and certainly in my area were unaware of this specific requirement for our ads.
Posted by John Elwell, You Deserve a Full-Time Agent, Not Reduced Results (CENTURY 21 Bill Nye Realty, Inc.) about 12 years ago
Brian, There is always that balance between doing too little and doing too much. When it comes to government and laws we never seem to find that equilibrium. But if a law exists, we had better comply, if for no other reason than to demonstrate to customers that we will follow the laws in our dealings with them as well. If we break the law in one area, why not in another. John
Posted by John Elwell, You Deserve a Full-Time Agent, Not Reduced Results (CENTURY 21 Bill Nye Realty, Inc.) about 12 years ago
Frank, you aren't forced into a group, there's a mom group and a fitness group too! I'd like to discriminate against the skinny people, but I don't.......that was a joke to lighten up the post............
Posted by Rhonda Meredith (RE/MAX Top Realty) about 12 years ago
Rhonda, how about those of us who used to be skinny?? I am quitting smoking and all I want to do is eat!! Oh well, the stress of our business will wear those extra pounds off. haha
Posted by John Elwell, You Deserve a Full-Time Agent, Not Reduced Results (CENTURY 21 Bill Nye Realty, Inc.) about 12 years ago
Great information!  I'm sure there are many people out there who mean well, but aren't aware of these guidelines.  Defintely good to know!
Posted by Gareth Bourriague, Benchmark Mortgage (Benchmark Mortgage of Louisiana) about 12 years ago

it's the way you treat your clients, competitors, and everyone else that should be your calling card as a Christain.

 

BUT 

 

what do i do with my money?  

Posted by Jay Beckingham, Seniors ROCK! ( Bank of England Mortgage) about 12 years ago

I like the controversy, but I disagree with the logic. I don't think it is illegal. I guess it could be deemed illegal but some judge someday, but for now I think its legal. Of course, I'm not an attorney. But, here is an example for arguments sake. Lets say I am a Mormon. I am open "Jumpin' Joe Smith's Burger Stand, the best burgers this side of the pearly gates". I can guarantee that I would sell those burgers, and give my fliers to, everyone who came in. Doesn't show preference, which would probably be the question at hand.

By the way, I find bible-thumping slightly counter-productive to business and as a witness for the faith. However, I find anti-bible jargon equally annoying and probably also counter-productive. I often see when people try to be politically correct, what they are really trying to say is, "I'm right and you are wrong. But I am going to say it the PC way, which allows me to be a PC bigot. So there. Nanny nanny boo boo."

If you don't like Jumpin' Joe, don't eat his burgers. Pretty simple stuff, really.

Posted by John Evarts (Classic Property Management of Santa Clarita) about 12 years ago
The federal government does not regulate hamburger stands, other than local sanitary laws. They do regulate our industry. Since they say it is illegal, I have to take them at their word. I do not know if anyone has ever been prosecuted based on this law, but just because no one has been caught and/prosecuted does not make an illegal action legal. Anti-Bible jargon would be just as illegal in real estate ads, I would think. The law is neither for or against a specific religion.
Posted by John Elwell, You Deserve a Full-Time Agent, Not Reduced Results (CENTURY 21 Bill Nye Realty, Inc.) about 12 years ago

Really thought-provoking post. I've often wondered about it because there is an agent in the company that always puts a bible quote on her postcards. I've always wondered about it, whether it was okay to do so when advertising real estate...but also whether it would help or hinder her success overall. If it makes anybody uncomfortable, then haven't you just potentially lost a client? Hmmm. Thanks for sharing!

Posted by Kelly Sibilsky (Licensed Through Referral Connection, LTD.) about 12 years ago
Glad to hear from you Kelly. Whether a good law or a bad law, in my opinion we need to follow it and remain as squeaky clean as we can. Then if we feel strongly about it we can ask our senators and congressmen to change it. I come from a very strict Baptist background, no dancing, drinking, smoking, marrying outside of the church, etc. Suppose other businesses that are allowed to do so, used religion to sell products. I would not feel comfortable marketing Jesus running shoes. I think the almighty has enough on his hands keeping this crazy world of ours from falling apart without having to be a spokesperson for the real estate business. I feel sure he would be just as happy with us if we did a good honest job for our clients and thereby provide good examples to those people we encounter. That said, no more comments from me on this topic. We all have to make our own decisions and live with the consequences of our actions, whether good or bad. The law is pretty clear, but if some choose to test it, that is no skin off my nose. It may however cost you a pound of flesh if HUD is as stringent and unforgiving as I have been told. All up to each of you as individuals to make your own choices. However, keep in mind that our brokers are supposed to be supervising us, and a serious misstep by one of us could bring them into the fray, and possibly our colleagues, if the broker is punished by losing his license. A point to consider. Thanks for all of the contributions. Best of luck to ALL of you!
Posted by John Elwell, You Deserve a Full-Time Agent, Not Reduced Results (CENTURY 21 Bill Nye Realty, Inc.) about 12 years ago
Why no more comments? That seems kinda weird. You wrote a great post, why limit it?
Posted by John Evarts (Classic Property Management of Santa Clarita) about 12 years ago
Well, no more comments from me. I think I have said enough. Everyone else is certainly free to continue the dialogue. But I will be an observer from this point on. :) Many others are proving their points much better than me.
Posted by John Elwell, You Deserve a Full-Time Agent, Not Reduced Results (CENTURY 21 Bill Nye Realty, Inc.) about 12 years ago

Thanks for the reminder.  It's not good to mix religion with real estate.  My parents always told that there are 2 things you should never talk about unless you want trouble.  Religion and Politics. 

 

 

Posted by Brenda & David Wakeman (Russell Realty) about 12 years ago

I try  and keep religiona and politics out of my business relationships, don't need to go there

Posted by Michael Eisenberg, Bellingham Real Estate Guy (eXp Realty) about 12 years ago

What a great post!

There are a few businesses around here with the fish on their signs...I don't go there. There are a few agents with the fish on their billboards and newspaper ads...I won't use them.

I think they are working a niche...but at the same time, as an atheist, I don't want to feel like I'm being looked down upon. Someone who feels the need to use their religion to help them in their work strike me as someone looking for a way to thin the crowd to only those who share the same religion.

If it was about ideals, ethics etc. I wouldn't have a problem. Christians don't have the market cornered on these things although some seem to think they do. Perhaps they are the ones who put the fish on their advertising?

Because we have so many options as to who we give our business to I don't think this is much of an issue, however, in a community where the majority are marketing themselves this way...well, then there would be a problem.

It's been a long day of shopping so I hope I made just a wee bit'o sense!

Posted by Toronto's 2 Hounds Design: Decorating + Staging (2 Hounds Design + Home Staging) about 12 years ago

A little religious history here..

One of the comments above states, "The 'Golden Rule' has been plagiarized from the Bible".  However, the same ethic is common to Judaism, Islam, Taoism, Brahmanism, Buddhism, Confucianism and Zoroastrianism. 

The Talmud, which predates the Bible, states "What is hateful to you, do not to your fellow man".  Many other religions adopted the same doctrine prior in history to Jesus.

Posted by Eric Kodner, Wayzata Lakes Realty: Twin Cities, Madeline Island (Wayzata Lakes Realty: Eric Kodner Sells Twin Cities Homes) about 12 years ago
And I doubt if copyrights extend 2000 years in any case. Thanks Eric
Posted by John Elwell, You Deserve a Full-Time Agent, Not Reduced Results (CENTURY 21 Bill Nye Realty, Inc.) about 12 years ago

John,

Thanks for the post. Always a good idea to ensure that your marketing tactics are in compliance with all laws.

 

Posted by William Collins, Property and Asset Management (ERA Queen City Realty) about 12 years ago

John,

It's getting tougher all the time to know all the in's and out's of what can and can't be said, put in print, etc.  Thanks for the reminder.

Fran

Posted by Fran Gatti, Managing Principal Broker - RE/MAX Integrity (RE/MAX Integrity) about 12 years ago

John,

First of all, I'm a Christian.  I believe as long as the company is NOT discriminating against a person who is not a Christian or doesn't believe in Christianity, then all should be fine.  I believe the message trying to get accross is that that agents believes in a set of priciples over and above the Realtor Code and the local state and federal laws.

I don't think he/she means any harm and I do belive they have a right to do so.  Everybody should be treated equally regardless of their religion.  Being a victim of racial descrimination myself, I know how it feels. 

Posted by Anonymous about 12 years ago

John: I may not agree with all you say, but I think this is a great post and we all have the right to believe what we want and to represent that. Your blog itself is an outward representation of your disapproval of part of what I believe. Should Christians expect inferior service from you because you have publicly proclaimed the idea that you don't like their religious bumper stickers or fish? What if they see this blog and think you won't treat them fairly because they have a fish on their car??? Does this mean that you have some underlying motive that would cause you to mistreat me as your Christian client? (This is a redundant question, but you see the door swings both ways...)

Chrystina: If you really believe that, why don't you take out your SacMetroMoms advertising on your page...some may feel like that's a breach in the familial status law....

Everyone: In my opinion, gay people are protected under the familial status class because we cannot discriminate against single people or people who's family may not be what any one person perceives to be "the way a family should be". The person who said gay is not protected class should consider this...

Eric and John: I was referring to a SPECIFIC BIBLE VERSE (Luke 6:31) that is word for word, the "Golden Rule of Real Estate" and the definition of plagiarise is:

to take and use ideas, passages, etc., from (another's work) by plagiarism.
-verb (used without object) (Websters On Line).

I was not talking about an "ethic". I was talking about taking a direct quote. Why be such a hater that you won't even admit that it comes from the Bible? I take that as discrimination of my heritage and belief. That's not nice, but I forgive you. :-)

Seriously...everone has the right to believe what they want. ME, TOO. I would never treat a client poorly because they had a Buddah on their car or a tatoo of a devil for that matter!

Posted by Lania DeMers, Broker, Rocky Mountain Realty Co. (Rocky Mountain Realty Co.) about 12 years ago
Dear Lania, I am a Christian and DO NOT disapprove of your belief system. I probably agree with the vast majority of it. Even within the same individual church, there will be differences in interpretation of scripture or theological concepts. I went to a very strict Christian liberal arts college with a minor in Bible studies. The point of my post was not to attack anyone's beliefs or the lack of them. It was merely to point out what the law says and that I did not want any of my colleagues, their brokers, or their publishers to run afoul of the law. And as a Christian I feel that we should follow the laws that our country as set for us. If we disagree with them, which is our right, we then have the right, and perhaps the responsibility to lobby to get them changed. However, in the mean time, we do need to be good examples to others and follow the rules in our advertising. Otherwise we are sinning and that is not what I believe is good for us or for our customers who look to us for guidance. I am not sure that a fish symbol or a cross hanging from a mirror would even apply here, since the law speaks directly to advertising. Customers are not required to hide or disclose their religious affiliations. If we do know what they are we must not in any way discriminate based on that. However, we are a regulated sector and must follow the law, or pay the consequences. So please do not get too worked up over this. The post was just meant to let people be aware of the law and what it could mean to them. That was my goal. Nothing more.
Posted by John Elwell, You Deserve a Full-Time Agent, Not Reduced Results (CENTURY 21 Bill Nye Realty, Inc.) about 12 years ago

Good post. Our department of real estate apparently has no problem with it, but HUD may. Anyway, it's offensive.

Lania: up to a certain point I will deal with clients who offend me in a variety of ways because I think they are entitled to the best service possible, including honesty and non-discrimination. I believe those in my town who advertise their faith think the same thing and therefore we have a working relationship. But, I still find wearing religion on one's sleeve, or one's sign, offensive.

Posted by Ann Heitland, Retired from Flagstaff Real Estate Sales (Retired from RE/MAX Peak Properties) about 12 years ago
Interesting post.....and it is very offensive to some cultures to see religious signs of any kind in the advertisment of a Real Estate Agent.....go to countries that have been persecuted and you will understand.
Posted by Kathy McGraw, Riverside County CA Real Estate (CELLing Realty) almost 12 years ago
Great point.  I have a number of folks who have been advertising as members of the "Christian Realtors" or some such thing.  Sounds like a violation just waiting to happen.
Posted by James Downing - Metro DC Houses Team REALTORS®, CRS, GRI, ABR,MRP, MilRes, When Looking to Buy or Sell - Make the Right Move (Real Living | At Home) almost 12 years ago

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