– by Cindy Miller
In light of Yahoo! Mail’s recent changes to their authentication policy (See article in TechWorld), NTREIS’s vendor is reviewing the way we send emails on behalf of agents. Currently, when an agent generates an email from the MLS to send property information to their customers, the MLS email server is sending that email “on behalf of firstname.lastname@example.org”. The problem is that this is technically “spoofing” the agent’s email. We have all heard how hackers “spoof” a legitimate email to SPAM thousands of people and have likely been the recipient of such emails. What Yahoo! implemented this weekend, and other email providers are also likely to adopt, is a policy for its servers to compare “who” is sending the email with “who” the email says it is being sent from – if these do not match, Yahoo! is inserting code into the email authenticator to alert the receiving email service that this yahoo email is not really originating in yahoo – beware! If the recipient’s email service chooses to heed that warning, they will reject the email.
Though this is an excellent security measure to block spammers, it also creates a huge hurdle for MLS email services and all other large list email services that are legitimate. For our industry, the solution will be that future emails to your clients will continue to be sent from the MLS servers but they will now say they are coming from the email server, with information in the subject that identifies the agent.
Could this have been avoided? In the short term, this is only affecting those of you that choose to use a Yahoo! account as your business email address (more on that below). Over the long term, these changes are expected to be far reaching and any large email service is constantly having to review ways to send legitimate emails while navigating the roadblocks that are intended to deter SPAM. However, if you choose to use any free email, Yahoo!, Hotmail, gmail, etc., you are subject to their policy changes and they may or may not provide advance notice of changes.
There are many reasons that business and marketing consultants advise purchasing and using your own domain name for business use:
- Professionalism – our industry is all about branding and reputation; which email are you more likely to respond to – livingright@Hotmail.com or SueSmith@livingright.com?
- Service – it is difficult to get support from a free service; in the real estate business, email is your lifeline to communicating with clients.
- Deliverability – aside from the email providers’ SPAM filters, you also have to get past your recipients’ personal junk mail filters – in the example above, the livingright.com domain has a much greater chance of passing authentication tests than a free domain used by millions.
The only advantage I can think of to a free email, is the cost – free is great, right? But with all the potential drawbacks, just how good is free? Did you know you can purchase your own domain name for about $12 a year? Many brokers offer a broker branded email to their agents at no charge. Having a branded email is good for your professional image and also gives you more control over handling junk mail. If you really love using the Yahoo! or gmail interface, use your branded email for sending out emails but have your received emails forwarded to your gmail account.
Ready to change your email address? Contact your MLS Provider Association to update your profile information or use their online member profile system to update where available!