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Tip of the Week – Personal Bubbles

Dec 31, 2015
This week’s Tip is a follow-up from last week's Tip on driving safety, with an MLS Tip blended in. So read through my rant to get to the good stuff.

 As I drove through four states to spend Christmas with my amazing grandbaby, and then home, I saw a lot of different driving styles. But the one I saw the most was tailgating. For the football fans out there, I'm not talking about the pre and post games good times. I'm talking about driving too close to the car in front of you.

 I'm sure we've all heard of personal bubbles. That invisible airspace that we like to keep between us and someone else. Everyone has the limit where they start to feel uncomfortable if someone gets too close. Depending on who is encroaching, that wall could be different. But we all have one of some sort.

 The same thing applies when you're driving. When I was learning to drive, I was told that the safe distance is one car length per 10 miles per hour you're driving. That's how much space you would need to safely stop your car before hitting the other car.

 So if you're on the Interstate through Georgia, the speed limit, for the most part, is 70. That means you need 7 car lengths between you and the car in front of you.

 Now, I can already hear someone saying “what size car? A VW Bug, a Hummer?” Okay, smarty pants, I'm talking about the car you're driving.

 Here's the problem I kept having. Not only did I have cars get too close to my tail, I also had people invade my personal bubble. I get a good distance between me and the car before me, and someone moves into it. Now I have to drop back again to keep a safe distance.

 I also saw people move into spaces that put them less that one car length between the car in front of them and the one behind me. That kind of things makes me talk out loud to myself to tell them not to be crazy right in front of me.

 I passed plenty of accidents (one that had a car on fire) and another car flying down the median with water spraying everywhere because the driver lost control and the median was soaking wet. Scary! Thank the good Lord that I got through with no accidents of my own. And that includes the very frightening deluge in Alabama on Monday. I'm fairly sure there was a tornado somewhere nearby at one point.

 So what does any of this have to do with the MLS? There are personal bubbles in the MLS as well. The MLS rules establish a safety zone around listings and around contacts. Doing the wrong thing violates that personal bubble. For example, just walking up to a house to ask the resident if you can show the property may be a violation of the listing's personal bubble. Always follow the showing instructions on the listing rather than approach the resident. Bursting this bubble can get you an automatic $200 fine.

 Also, if you, as the listing agent, put your contact info in a customer field, whether it's the Remarks field, photos, documents, Directions, Open House comments, or any of the other customer fields, you're stepped inside the personal bubble around another agent's contact. Your listing is automatically emailed to every customer who is set up with auto-email subscription.

 Not only is that a violation of the ECAR MLS rules, with an automatic $100 fine, but could also be considered a violation of the Realtor Code of Ethics.

 Please respect these personal bubble, both on the road, and in the MLS.

Questions? Call us at 850-244-2411, or email

Susan Beck, MLS Director
Emerald Coast Association of Realtors
Fort Walton Beach, FL