The Real Estate Encyclopedia
The Demise of Unsolicited Advertising?
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Selling to Strangers

Newsflash: the American public doesn’t buy goods and services from complete strangers.

Or do we?

Well, there is this one upstart business venture getting a bit of press lately. It goes by the name of “eBay”. You might have heard of it? Odd name aside, here’s the concept (just in case you haven’t visited the Internet in the last decade): it's a worldwide, real-time, virtual auction website that allows total strangers to buy and sell goods and services to other total strangers from anywhere on the planet.

Is it profitable to connect strangers with other strangers to transact business? Consider the numbers: forecasters say eBay stands to rake in somewhere between $4.27 and $4.36 billion in 2005, with over $7 billion worth of goods and services sold on the site.

Hmmm… maybe strangers aren’t as much trouble as we thought. In truth, maybe there are some folks out there who will buy our products, even though they don’t know us personally.

At Issue: The Fax Machine

But what exactly constitutes a “stranger”? President George Bush attempted to answer this question on July 9, 2005, with regard to the long-time use of the fax machine as an advertising portal – another means by which to solicit the American public.

“Don’t email us, don’t call us, and now, don’t FAX us either!” Although the medium is different, the message is painfully clear: people are sick and tired of being pestered by unwanted solicitations. The issue is by no means a new one, and the background is brief, but significant. The FCC’s website explains that in 1991, “The Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA) was created in response to consumer concerns about the growing number of unsolicited telephone marketing calls to their homes and the increasing use of automated and prerecorded messages.”

It goes on to say that, “On June 26, 2003, the FCC revised its rules implementing the TCPA and established, together with the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), a national do-not-call registry.”

The third major action taken against unwanted solicitation via the medium of the telephone was S. 714, the “Junk Fax Prevention Act of 2005”. The new law, effective immediately, does not legalize unsolicited fax advertisements or solicitations, but does allow for fax communications between businesses with established relationships.

So what constitutes unsolicited selling? Let’s take a look at a few words associated with the concept, and see what we can come up with.

  • To sell means, “to persuade someone to buy something.”
  • To persuade means, “to convince a person to undertake a course of action or embrace a point of view by means of argument, reasoning, or entreaty.”
  • To solicit means, “to petition persistently” or “importune relentlessly.”

If we review these definitions, then reword the Junk Fax Act to pertain strictly to real estate, one might define unlawful facsimile real estate advertising as, “the relentless appeal by a real estate agent, broker, or REALTOR® to persuade a consumer to purchase or sell property via fax machine advertisements, without obtaining prior permission from that consumer to send those advertisements.”

Or, as the FCC puts it, the law is broken if, “any material, advertising the commercial availability or quality of any property, goods, or services is transmitted to any person without that person's prior expressed invitation or permission.”

Exploring New Territory

So what’s the difference between advertising a home for sale on eBay, and advertising a home for sale on a piece of paper emerging on some far away recipient’s fax machine?

In a word, consent - and that is a word of immense importance today. As a REALTOR®, the need for effective, continual prospecting remains a constant challenge, and as the concept of bulk advertising – whether it be telemarketing, faxing, or emailing – goes the way of the dinosaur, alternative marketing strategies must be developed in order to achieve and maintain your real estate success.

In order to help facilitate this transition, we’ve compiled a short list of iSucceed Counseling Calls and Success Modules focused on various prospecting activities in which you, the real estate agent, can engage. Not only are these activities 100% legal, but they’re also much more effective than our good old friend, the fax machine:

To read the FCC’s public notice of the new law, visit


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