Should RE Pro's be permitted to ask questions that appear to be from consumers?

Asked by Bridgette Kostek, REALTOR, Coldwell Banker M. M. Parrish, Florida Sun Jul 29, 2007

I'm undecided. On one hand, many of the questions posted are excellent; the answers too. I think they are usually intended to spark debate and be informative. On the other hand, it frustrates me when I see someone answer their own question (unless it's a correction or clarification--these are sometimes needed). It's especially annoying to see a RE Pro post to his/her own thread that died ages ago, and it doesn't contain any new or relevant information. OK, this is getting close to a rant... I definitely don't have the answer to this one. Solutions ANYONE?

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18
Deborah Madey, Agent, Brick, NJ
Sun Jul 29, 2007
BEST ANSWER
There seems to be a mixed bag of opinions on this.

For me, the litmus test rests with the value of the content that results from the question. Will that content be of value to consumers? If so, then who asks the question becomes a moot point. I have seen RE Pro generated questions that facilitated feedback and engaged consumers in the thread. If the question presented does not benefit the consumer or generate consumer content, then this is not the correct forum.

I have no adversity to a RE Pro asking a question about which they should know the answer. Perhaps the purpose for asking is for comparative opinion, validation, or maybe the person really does not know. I return to the goal of valuable consumer content. If there were so many questions being asked by consumers and not enough RE Pros to respond, I would instantly change my position. Since no consumers are being shunned, and many/most questions posted by the RE Pros generate discussion that is informative and helpful for consumers, it adds value to Trulia.

Seeing a RE Pro post a question in order to answer it with his/her own personal public relations campaign is disturbing. I saw that earlier today.

If the general consensus and Trulia guidelines were to determine that RE Pros should not post questions, then so it shall be. I hope that all decisions and guidelines are determined by the expected value for the consumer.
1 vote
Megan, , San Francisco, CA
Mon Jul 30, 2007
hi all, megan here from trulia - product manager for voices. i believe there was a question along these lines posted by artur. trulia voices is a community where home buyers/sellers can ask and get answers to their real estate questions.

from discussions with real estate professionals on voices, the general consensus is that they prefer for questions to come from consumers and not from real estate professionals. also, those who are generating leads from voices are doing so by answering questions not asking them. (as it is answers to a consumer's question that drives them to contact you. it does not seem that asking questions will achieve this goal.)

as per the consumer's take, it seems that it does not come off well when they see a real estate professional post/answer their own questions. in fact, i just received a message from a consumer saying that the conversation between agents was confusing.

we are thinking about creating a seperate section on voices for discussion just between real estate professionals and that would not be visible to consumers. what are your thoughts on this?
3 votes
J Lo, Home Buyer, California Glory, Brentwood, CA
Sun Jul 29, 2007
Why should or would we ask a question we either already or should already know? There are other forums from which to accomplish this.

If another agent/broker is asking the question I tend to be more flippant because even the question seem tongue in cheek. I'd prefer not to see them at all.

But if they are interesting I'll chime in - if they are silly - I move on the the next question. Just wish we could tell when the question is from a consumer or a pro. It would save time.
3 votes
Jennifer Mon…, Agent, Charlotte, NC
Mon Jul 30, 2007
Regardless of HOW the questions are phrased, it is clear to anyone who pays attention that the question is clearly posed by a RE Pro. This is an open forum for all and it should remain that way.

It's simple: Pay attention and read the question carefully :)
2 votes
Bridgette Ko…, , Florida
Mon Jul 30, 2007
Megan,
Thanks for chiming in! I personally think a separate section for REALTORs would be a great idea! BUT, I think the public should be able to view it easily if they choose. Some consumers are more savvy than others and may enjoy the technical information. Also, as some posters pointed out, we may be seeking to validate our opinions with a client who is on the fence about some topic or another. Such as: "I posted your question on Trulia and X number of agents from around the country said... blah, blah, blah..."

While I've got you here, according to the "Community Guidelines", we are not supposed to submit web links for/to commercial activity. Does that include adding your personal web site to the "Web References (optional)" line? I'm unsure--so I haven't. Please do tell. And as for statements such as "call me" or "email me" or any posting which includes contact information (unless specifically asked for by the consumer in his/her question--they sometimes do!), are these "legal" and within trulia guidelines? Surely, if the consumer has enough computer skills to find us and then to ask a question, they must know they can click the photo (or the logo, etc...) on the right to contact whomever they wish? Is this a faulty assumption? OK, I'm close to a rant again... Comments?

And yes, I anticipate and am anxiously awaiting the number of "thumbs down" this post gets...
2 votes
Jeff Launiere…, , Tampa, FL
Mon Jul 30, 2007
I think it would be best if Realtors start the question off with "I am a Real Estate Professional who wants to see what other Realtors think on this issue." I also believe that many of the Realtors that ask questions may be asking questions that will arrive at a consensus for their clients.

I have no problem with Realtors asking questions, however I do believe it would be best to make it very clear that they are Realtors, and maybe even clarify why they are asking.
2 votes
Diane Glander, Agent, Spring Lake, NJ
Sun Jul 29, 2007
I always look to see who the questions is from before I answer it. This site seems to me to be better suited to questions from consumers who need help. Realtors who need help should check out some of the better professional blogging sites and ask away.
2 votes
Jim Walker, Agent, Carmichael, CA
Mon Aug 6, 2007
Pro's should be able to ask questions to kick start a discussion, provided they label themselves as pros.
The number of characters allowed for a question runs only about 1000 whereas the answer space is 5000 characters.Some explanations require a lot of clarification. This is why I have appended my question in the answer section. I was new last month, and hadn't read the rules carefully. I think the Trulia staff is very patient with those of us who are taking their website for a test ride. I appreciate their leniency.
I am not expecting to pick up clients here, so I am not posting my personal web site, but I think its ok for others to do so in the Web references on occasion. - Trulia does warn us not to do it every post though.
Web Reference:  http://www.trulia.com
1 vote
Deborah Madey, Agent, Brick, NJ
Mon Jul 30, 2007
I perused the posted RE Pro questions of several top voices on Trulia, particularly those who have been with Trulia for a while. Focusing only on the month of May, I found several questions that fell into the category of a RE Pro asking “consumer questions.” There were also a lot of thumbs up for those questions. Threads were frequently lively and informative. These questions came from some of the best contributors and bloggers in the industry, and some of our industry’s best Realtors. Perhaps the motive of their post wasn’t always that they needed help, but rather worthwhile contribution to Trulia and its readers.

Breaking out a separate forum for RE Pros is a possibility, but poses it’s own set of complications and confusion. As I perused a random sampling of RE Pro posted questions from May, I struggled with which side of the fence certain questions would be categorized. While certain samples were very clear cut, others were tough calls. What happens when someone chooses the wrong camp, and according to whose judgement call? Closing the RE Pro section to the public denies public access to valuable content. Maintaining separate forums with both open to the public may cause consumers and RE Pros alike to blur the two at times. If you did that, and found a lot of consumers reading and/or interacting on the RE Pro forum, it might indicate the split was never necessary.

Personally, I am fine with whatever decisions Trulia makes, and will be happy to abide by the rules. If I fail to understand, or forget to read a rule, simply let me know, and I will be happy to make changes accordingly. I will keep an eye for new announcements on the matter.
1 vote
Allison Clan…, , all locations
Sun Jul 29, 2007
I think it's tacky to ask questions for the sole purpose of answering them yourself. Go conduct a seminar if you want to hear yourself talk! Asking a question a consumer may ask in order to get some good feedback and discussion is ok though. Sometimes I get really good information and good answers to my questions, but sometimes I wonder if this isn't just a mutual admiration society.
1 vote
Deborah Madey, Agent, Brick, NJ
Sun Jul 29, 2007
Sorry, meant to include this and did not. Relevant to Bridgette's question. I asked for info on Naples, FL. Although I am licensed in FL & NJ, I have no knowledge of Naples area. I am working with an inbound relo customer to NJ tomororw, and sincerely want an answer to my question. Is asking for market conditions in Naples a consumer or RE Pro question?
1 vote
Maureen Fran…, Agent, Birmingham, MI
Sun Jul 29, 2007
I just noticed the "asking yourself a question" phenomenon recently. The questions have been good and they feed Trulia with content on a specific location, so I bet they will not disallow them. On the other hand, I think they look kind of strange, and I imagine that consumers might feel the same.
Web Reference:  http://mioaklandcounty.com
1 vote
Deborah Madey, Agent, Brick, NJ
Sun Jul 29, 2007
I am OK with it since it stimulates many worthwhile posts and threads. I think the responses are helpful to the public. An agent may even know the answer, but seek validation to help explain things to a client. If the question produces informative threads, I am fine with it.
1 vote
Bob Pace, Agent, Riverhead, NY
Mon Aug 6, 2007
A real estate pro should be the first one that is concerned with transparency and full disclosure. I don't have a strong opinion one way or another but I know I enjoy the vast majority of questions and answers.
0 votes
Bridgette Ko…, , Florida
Mon Jul 30, 2007
Jeanette,
what I mean by "appear to be from consumers" is an obvious, general, but valuable question such as "why isn't my home selling". Unless you check out who posted the question, as Diane does (and I try to remember too), it sounds like a cry for help from a confused and/or frustrated consumer. An actual consumer ranks high on my list of priorities. After all, aren't we here to serve the public? While I'm happy to assist other REALTORs equally, timely responses to public questions should be the priority on this site. Is someone from Trulia out there?
0 votes
Carrie Crowe…, Agent, Southaven, MS
Sun Jul 29, 2007
Bridgette,
I am undecided as well. Seems to be alot of opinions! Good question. I agree it is kind of weird to answer your own questions.
Web Reference:  http://carriecrowell.com
0 votes
J Lo, Home Buyer, California Glory, Brentwood, CA
Sun Jul 29, 2007
And BTW - what do you mean - "appear" to be from consumers? Please clarify.
0 votes
Bridgette Ko…, , Florida
Sun Jul 29, 2007
Deborah,
I hadn't even thought about the "validation" issue you mentioned in your first post. Very good point. As for the question in your second post: asking market conditions is fine (at least by me anyway) when you have a genuine need or even just a simple curiosity.
0 votes
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