Here at kcmoHomeBuyer we attend a lot of training on the best ways to reach out to people who have a house to sell. There are a multitude of options for us to utilize. There are 3 out there that we have not utilized here much in our office and those are robo calls, robo texts and cold calling.
If Robo Calls are Driving You Nuts from Real Estate Investors, there are a few things you should know.
First, let’s define the type of calls you might be receiving.
Robo Call: This is where the caller pre-records a very basic message and then using software sends the message out to a bunch of people all at once. This could be 10 people, 100 people or even thousands.
Robo Text: This is basically the same as the above, yet in text form.
Cold Calling: This is where the caller sits down and makes phone call after phone call and some and in an effort to speed up the process uses an automated dialer that generates the phone call and then when someone live answers, it stops dialing and lets the person talk. It allows them to make a lot more calls as they are not personally doing all that dialing and waiting for someone to answer a computer is. Often made by a foreign virtual assistant.
Ringless Voice Mail: This is where the caller pre-records a message and then using software generates a voice mail on your cell phone without your phone ever ringing. Pretty slick and you just thought you were not hearing things.
Second, let’s look at how they got your phone number.
Most real estate investors are seeking people that have a problem that will be solved by selling a house. Possibly they own a house with code violations. Or maybe they just evicted a tenant. Or they inherited a house. Or they own a house and live a few states away. Or maybe the investor drove by a property that looked abandoned and vacant. They take all these lists of houses and go to the tax records that within most areas are easily available online and they look up who owns the house. Next, they go to a service and have those owners skip traced to give them any phone number even remotely associated with that address and owner and they use these to call.
You might not even own the house, you might be a tenant, a former owner, or maybe related to the owner who used to live in the house, and then again the number you have might have belonged to someone else a few years ago. Now you have their recycled phone number and they might own the house in question.
The Do Not Call List
You might think how can they call me. I registered with the Do Not Call List. I get it, I registered with the Do Not Call list as well, but some people will say they are not soliciting and trying to sell you something so the Do Not Call List Does not apply to them. Yes, they are trying to sell you on selling them your house, if it is in fact your house. And getting access to that Do Not Call List and scrubbing their list of phone numbers is a tough thing to do. So some just figure you will not do anything and they call you anyway.
The TCPA restricts telephone solicitations (i.e. telemarketing) and the use of automated phone equipment. The Act limits the use of pre-recorded voice messages, automatic dialing, and SMS and fax use. Without explicit customer consent, companies must adhere to strict solicitation rules, solicitors must honor the National Do Not Call Registry, and subscribers may sue a company that does not follow the TCPA guidelines.
Consumer consent is an essential defense under the TCPA and should be a primary focus of any business that communicates with consumers and customers directly via telephony.
Note the word telephony – when this law was written we didn’t have robocalls, robo texts, or ringless voice mails but we think they will soon fall under this regulation.
Prior Express Written Consent
“Prior Express Written Consent” requires a written agreement, signed by the consumer, which includes among other things the telephone number, which specifically authorizes telemarketing by automatic dialing/texting or prerecorded voice, and that is not required as a condition of purchase. 47 C.F.R. § 64.1200(f)(8).
The FCC modified its regulations to require prior express written consent for telemarketing messages, it stated that “consent obtained in compliance with the E-SIGN Act will satisfy the requirements of our revised rule, including permission obtained via an email, website form, text message, telephone keypress, or voice recording.” 2012 TCPA Order, 27 FCC. Rcd. at 1844.
For non-marketing purposes, providing a cell number in connection with a transaction generally constitutes prior express consent to be contacted at that number with information related to the transaction. 7 F.C.C.R. 8752 ¶ 31 (1992). So if someone calls you and you have never hear of them you probably have not given consent. However if you called them first or filled out a form on their website seeking more info, then you probably have.
What Can I Do?
For those people who are actually calling and you can talk to them, answer the phone, and ASK them to take you off their list. And some who are using a robocall or text should have information on what number to press to opt-out. If you are getting these calls on a cell phone, most phone companies have a way for you to block the calls. The FTC has a lot of resources you can tap into for call blocking as well as the latest news and regulations.
The Bottom Line
If you reached out to them, figure they are going to call you back and possibly send you an email, a ringless voice mail, or a text back. If at any time they do so, you would rather they stop, just let them know and they should get their system stopped as soon as possible. But if you are getting a bunch of calls from the same company and you never reached out to them about selling your house or you don’t even know anything about the house, I would first try to opt-out. Then I would try to block them if possible. And then I would seek other steps.
Here at kcmoHomeBuyer.com we do utilize some of this technology for our follow-up systems. If you leave us a message or submit a property through our website you might get an automated email, text, or voice mail to let you know that we received your information or to follow up with you as we move forward. We don’t take a huge list of potential sellers and plug them into a system to blast them with calls and texts for two reasons. First, we personally get these calls and find them highly annoying, so why would we want to subject someone to them in the first place. And, second, the writing is on the wall that these calls will be outlawed and blocked in the not to distant future and we see no reason to build our business on a house of cards that can get blown away with just one small regulatory change.
Instead, we will stick to letting people find us on the internet, some advertising on the internet, and good old-fashioned letters and postcards in our tiny effort to keep the US postal service in business. If you do have a house you need to sell anywhere in the Kansas City metro, we would love to have the opportunity to speak with you about it. If it is a good fit for us and our offer is a good fit for you, we can do business. If we can’t find a good fit, we may be able to provide you with other options and we can part on friendly terms and we just may follow up with you in 6 months to a year just to check on you to make sure you got your house sold or your problems with the house solved.