Realtor commandment: Thou shalt not disparage thy competitors' listings

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A Realtor who has been “careful not to trash-talk houses or condo units by specific addresses on his blog” feels free to speak his mind about listings in weekly videos he’s running on his newly launched virtual office website (VOW) because they can be seen only by users who’ve registered for a password.

“I shouldn’t have to physically meet someone and close the door and say, ‘Here’s why you don’t want to buy this property,’ Toronto Realtor David Fleming tells The Star. “Why can’t I say, ‘This house is overpriced, it has water damage in the basement and it’s next to a laneway?’ ”

Because, Starr business reporter Susan Pigg reports, the videos may violate rules barring agents and brokerages from using their own marketing sites to advertise any listing, other than their own, without the permission of the competing agent or homeowner, and which prohibit Realtors from making disparaging comments about their competitors or their listings.

Bruce Matthews, deputy registrar of regulatory compliance for the Real Estate Council of Ontario (RECO), says he hasn’t seen the videos but believes they probably violate the rules, which were revamped in 2007 to recognize new ways of marketing properties on the Internet. Source: thestar.com.