HUD and Facebook | A Guide for Real Estate Ads in 2019 and Beyond

Let’s Talk Laws

Federal housing laws prohibit the discrimination of people based on race, color, religion, national origin, gender, disability and family status. This is a little counter intuitive for those who have ever boosted a post in Facebook and encountered the first filter: male, female or both.

Civil rights advocates are finally getting the attention they’ve been asking for about Facebook’s ad targeting and it’s discriminatory tendencies against protected classes.

Within the current Facebook audience creator, you can include or eliminate groups like “proud single moms” “gay and lesbian activists”, “Asian Pacific American” or people interested in “service dogs”, “wheelchair basketball” and more.

The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) is charging Facebook with discrimination over the online advertising tools saying that it is restricting those who can view housing related ads.

Change is in the Air

After paying out close to $5M for alleged damages and expenses last week, Facebook is also initiating some updates to their ad platform for housing, employment, and credit ads.

The social mogul has stated they will be eliminating up to 5,000 targeting options to “minimize the risk of abuse”. Things like “multicultural affinity” still make it very easy to discriminate and by December 2019, Facebook will have cut down on many of the options said to be abused.

Facebook will also be hiring and training more ad reviewers and using more machine technology to review ads by industries that have the potential to abuse the targeting options.

They are also creating an “open market” concept within the real estate sector of Facebook where anyone from near or far can search all real estate related ads so that everyone has the opportunity to view ads fairly and frequently. (Yay us!)

How to Stay on Target

It is going to be a little different moving forward, but your flow shouldn’t necessarily be interrupted as a real estate agent. Client personas are always a good idea so you can really understand what your clients’ needs are and how to meet them. If you are already an ethical agent, then keep on truckin’ with what you’re doing! Here are some ways you can still use FB’s awesome tools to target the right people for your real estate ads.

  • Interests – creating a profile for a group of buyers you frequently work with or even a buyer profile for a particular house you are listing is a GOOD thing! You can narrow your ads to people who love coffee shops, technology or swimming without unfairly discriminating against a protected group.
  • Location – you have many unique opportunities to target communities, neighborhoods and geo-locations easily for real estate purposes. If you know many people relocate to Virginia Beach from Hawaii, try two locations on your next ad!
  • Pixels – if you haven’t looked into Facebook Pixels yet, it’s time. This is a code put on your website to retarget those who are already looking into your brand and service. It’s like a bread crumb trail (yes, straight out of Hansel and Gretel!) where their data is sprinkled on your website which leads back to their Facebook profile where they can be targeted later on.
  • Email List – you have contacts, use them! Export an email list from your CRM or email provider into Facebook’s Custom Audiences to leverage the data you already have.
  • Your Followers – there is already a group you might want to remember… people who already engage with your content! You can even target their friends which gets you one step closer to a referral.

Don’t Worry, Be Ethical!

The good news is, it will be harder to accidentally be unethical by the end of the year. These changes should keep us all out of trouble while enhancing potential client’s experiences to find real estate listings in the most widely used social application in the world.TitleQuest is committed to bringing quality information and training to the real estate agents of Hampton Roads, and beyond! Let us know in the comments if there is a topic you’d like to hear and be sure to connect with us on Facebook for workshops and trainings available to all Hampton Roads real estate agents.

Provided by Landmark Title, LLC a TitleQuest affiliate

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