Heddings Property Group has decided to remove its ability to track the online footprints of people using its “virtual office website,” or VOW. The New York City-based residential firm removed the analytics feature on the VOW, which allowed agents to track their clients’ every move as they searched for listings through the online service.
Since VOWs gained popularity here toward the end of last year, brokers have debated whether agents have the right to monitor what listings users view online. “I don’t want to take part in the controversy that’s [surrounding the] VOW at all,” said Doug Heddings, founder and president of Heddings Property Group at Charles Rutenberg Realty. The process of shutting off the brokerage analytics feature only took “literally minutes” after a phone call to the VOW provider.
The downside? Heddings has little idea how many total VOW users are on his system today. “Except for the one e-mail we get when someone signs up, that’s all we get from [the system],” Heddings said.