Using Facebook to Generate Offline Referrals

Facebook: is it friend or foe when it comes to building your business? On the face of it, a social media site like Facebook would seem to be a no-brainer for reaching out to people when they’re ready to buy or sell a house. But often the reality doesn’t live up to the potential. You either spend too much time on the platform for little return or you turn off people by marketing too directly to them.

VRE 56 stillA top producer in the Atlanta area, Maura Neill, thinks she’s found the right balance. The RE/MAX Around Atlanta agent uses Facebook in a variety of ways, but one way she uses it to good effect is to build attendance at events she hosts twice a year. And it’s these events—off-line, in-person, on the ground—that build her business in the end.

In fact, she says, she gets anywhere from half a dozen to a dozen referrals out of these events, and that is part of the concrete ROI she sees from her social media effort.

Neill talks in-depth about how she uses Facebook in The Takeaway with Nobu Hata, a new audio podcast series. Neill’s remarks are featured in the latest Voice for Real Estate news video from NAR.

Also looked at in the video is the big win by the real estate industry against what many saw as overreach by the federal government on anti-kickback enforcement. A federal appeals court has shot down the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau’s enforcement of Sec. 8 rules under the Real Estate Settlement Procedures Act (RESPA). The CFPB imposed a massive fine—$109 million—against a mortgage company for sending referrals to mortgage insurers that used its affiliated mortgage reinsurance business.

Back when HUD administered RESPA, such “tying” arrangements were considered fine, depending on how they were structured. But when CFPB took over RESPA enforcement, it said they weren’t fine and hit the company for illegal referrals. What’s more, it imposed its fine retroactively, so the company was on the hook for the arrangement even during the years HUD said it was legal.

NAR sent a friend-of-the-court brief to the appeals court that said such retroactive enforcement was wrong, and the court agreed. Not only did it require the CFPB to withdraw the fine, it said CFPB’s interpretation of Sec. 8 was incorrect. HUD’s was the correct one.

In another video segment, an NAR analyst explains why it’s going to take a few years before lenders will be able to make federally backed rural home loans quickly under a new direct endorsement program that Congress created for the Rural Housing Service. FHA already uses direct endorsement and NAR for a long time called on Congress to let RHS use it too for rural home loans. Congress agreed, but RHS doesn’t have the money to make the system changes it needs to make it happen, so even though RHS has the authority, it’s going to be around 2019 before quicker rural home loans happen.

The video looks at another win, albeit a much smaller one. In a change to its FHA single-family loan handbook, HUD removed language requiring appraisers to act as home inspectors by testing appliances when they go to set a value on a house. NAR argued that that was outside the scope of appraiser duties and HUD agreed.

Another segment in the video looks at how well the new closing rules are doing one year after they took effect. NAR found that there are fewer closing delays because of the new rules. But agents are still facing a needlessly tough time getting their hands on the new closing disclosure, which replaced the HUD-1 Settlement Form. But even that is showing some improvement.

Access the video now.

Robert Freedman

Robert Freedman is director of multimedia communications for the NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS®. He can be reached at

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