Honolulu Board of Realtors to watermark all property photos as scam safeguard

Darin Moriki Reporter Pacific Business News

The Honolulu Board of Realtors will begin placing watermarks on all photos submitted to the organization’s Multiple Listing Service site beginning on Thursday as a part of a proactive effort to curb longtime housing scams.

“When you put a photo on the multiple listing service, there are people who will take a particular photo and they display it on another third-party site without permission,” Honolulu Board of Realtors CEO Suzanne Young told PBN. “So, we’re implementing a process where we’re going to watermark our photos so we can identify the listing photos that our brokers have worked with their clients to get and what unauthorized sites they’re going to so we can take action.”

She said the move is primarily in response to Craigslist scams that have occurred over the past several years. In some cases, photos have been taken from the Hawaii Board of Realtors website or a brokerage firm’s website and fraudulently marketed on the free online advertisement service as a rental property.

“I think those are obligations that we take very seriously, and that’s why we make changes to the rules — we have an obligation to help protect sellers and our brokerage community,” Young said. “It really does help the consumers because we don’t want fraud out there, and the Internet, unfortunately, kind of makes it somewhat easy for people in this day and age to produce these types of scams.”

The Honolulu Board of Realtors is also asking that real estate brokerage firms update their individual property listing websites at least once every 12 hours, rather than 24 hours, beginning on Thursday. The Honolulu Board of Realtor’s website, by comparison, is updated every 20 seconds or so.

“That’s to ensure that consumers are getting the most up-to-date information,” Young said.

Darin Moriki covers residential real estate, retail and restaurants for Pacific Business News.

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