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RISMEDIA, October 26, 2009—It is virtually impossible to read a real estate newswire, magazine or attend an event without finding an article or hearing about how Realtors need to embrace social media as a significant component of their marketing program. Yours truly has also been caught up in this wave, having written several articles on the subject. In my opinion, however, the social media craze is covering a fundamental problem that exists, and is significantly increasing, in the real estate profession. 

As I write this article, we have pending no less than 10 ethics hearings alleging violations of the Realtors Code of Ethics. Six of these have been filed by consumers. Without hesitation, I can say that each allegation stems from a significant lack of communication. 

We have also been receiving at least seven to 10 calls a day from consumers with questions or concerns regarding a real estate transaction and their inability to receive a response. Agents and brokers are also calling, asking that the Association do something regarding the short sale and foreclosure situation that is causing havoc. A large percentage of the problems would not exist if communication was improved, at least between the agents and brokers involved. 

The social media revolution is not going to make an agent better or improve communication by itself. Frankly, it can make the problem worse. Within the past four days, we have received complaints regarding “Agent B’s” lack of communication regarding two separate transactions. That evening, I saw three posts by “Agent B” on a social networking site playing games and talking about where they were going with whom that evening. Their utilization of social media did nothing to resolve the problems at hand. 

One of the best pieces of advice I received years ago was from Harley Rouda Sr. when he said, “Eat the frog first thing in the morning.” What this comment means is that even if you have bad news for the client, customer, broker or whoever, return that call or e-mail first thing. Calling Mom or the buddies can wait. Waiting or not responding only makes the problem worse. Waiting until the afternoon or the next day to respond to someone who is expecting to hear from you in the morning, only ramps up their frustration. A funny thing also happens: you feel relief that the issue, good or bad, has been dealt with. 

Social media can be a powerful tool. It can also be an incredible distraction. 

Walt Baczkowski is president of the Metropolitan Consolidated Association of REALTORS®. To contact him, please e-mail