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Michael Hobbs' Blog

By Michael Hobbs | Appraiser in Chicago, IL

Internet Ushers In Realtor Ratings And Reviews

"Ratings?  What Ratings, I don't need no stinking ratings?!", said the out-of-touch Realtor as he stormed out of the room when asked about his online ratings.

For many people, the first place they go for feedback is online.  Online customer reviews, online portals for feedback, online for friend’s suggestions, you get the picture.  The point: a crucial component of gaining knowledge is online research and if you do not have an online presence, aka online marketing, then you will not be part of a prospects research.

 Yet, as Mary Umberger  recently wrote about in a Chicago Tribune article, this is not the case in the real estate industry.  She noted that “only a few online outlets within the business (of real estate) encourage customers, satisfied and otherwise, to speak their minds.”

 Her article further noted that “the Houston Association of Realtors, regarded as practically avant-garde for its innovations in an industry that has been famously resistant to change, particularly online, began encouraging agent reviews in 2010. A handful of independent sites, such as Zillow.com, allow various forms of agent ratings. A few brokerages and trade groups are tinkering with test versions of ratings, but in general the business regards the potential damage of negative agent reviews as a hot potato that "the other guy" ought to be the first one to deal with.”

 So, nothing like the “internet”to break through once previously untouched territory. Whether it be books, music, movies, you name it, the internet has impacted it.  So, how is it changing real estate feedback for Realtors.  Look no further than ZipRealty who recently drew national attention in the industry for announcing it would post unfiltered agent reviews.

 Lanny Baker, president and chief executive of ZipRealty, “We've been collecting reviews of our agents since 2002, but not in this context. We've been using them for two things — our agents receive a bonus when their clients are completely satisfied, and the reviews gave us data that we could use to market our services, to talk about our high level of customer satisfaction.

 Things have changed in 10 years, that's for sure, starting with stuff that Amazon.com was doing with product and seller ratings. More recently, things like TripAdvisor.com and Yelp.com obviously have brought, to use a buzzword, the idea of the wisdom of crowds to service providers and products. There's a growing social responsibility to rate service providers. Today's college students are picking colleges based on online reviews. They pick professors and courses and dorms based on online rating reviews. Online reviews have become one of the most trusted third-party information inputs for big decisions.”

 We asked, "If you encountered an agent online and they seemed knowledgeable about what you're looking for, what's the No. 1 thing that would lead you to call that agent or engage with them?" According to Mr. Baker, authentic ratings from other customers who have worked with that Realtor,  62% said client reviews posted by real customers mattered most.

 Of most importance to the Realtor community today is the fact that  80% said, "I am going straight online to look for reviews."

 So, how do you rate amongst your current clients???  (if you don't know, then go to www.google.com and type in your name and begin to find out)

 

Michael Hobbs, PahRoo Appraisal & Consultancy

Twitter @pahroo

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