Home buyers and sellers can rate the attributes of real estate agents at a free Web site that is the brainchild of a title company employee in Ohio.
Mike Primeau, who created RealtyRators.com, said he wants to empower consumers by providing them with a way to rate their rate real estate agents’ performance and review consumer ratings of other agents. The site allows visitors to rate agents based on nine qualities: professionalism, responsiveness, availability, accountability, knowledgeable, attentiveness, personality, salesmanship, and marketing, and an average rating is provided when an agent receives multiple ratings.
After hearing stories about how some people choose their real estate agents, Primeau said there seemed to be a lack of information in the selection process. “There was a need to create some form of information service to consumers,” he said.
The Web site tracks the Internet address of its users and limits the number of ratings for each unique user, which is intended to prevent people from filing multiple ratings for a single agent, for example. Each user is allowed to rate three Realtors each year.
Primeau said, “I really want this to be a third-party system where nobody can say there is any kind of bias,” adding that he hopes the rating system can become an “industry standard.” Primeau is working with other partners to enhance and maintain the site. While he works for a title company, he is not an active title agent.
The site will soon feature discussion boards that will allow site visitors to post on a variety of topics, he said. Also, he has received feedback from some agents who wish not to be rated, and he is considering whether to post a notice in these instances stating that the agents declined to have their ratings displayed. And he is considering whether to allow agents to comment on the ratings if they feel they were rated unfairly.
So far, consumers have logged about 2,500 ratings at the Web site, he said. Primeau paid another company for a list of real estate agents across the country, and the site features a directory that includes about 85 percent of Realtors throughout the country. If consumers do not find the name of the agent they are rating, they can add that name to the site’s list. RealtyRators can serve as a referral system that agents can use to find other agents across the country, Primeau also said.
In addition to the ratings, which are displayed as a colorful bar graph, consumers can also type comments that accompany the ratings. Some consumers sign to these comments, while others are anonymous.
The site is free to all visitors, though agents can pay a $49.99 per year registration fee to post their Web site and contact information and upload a picture. For $69.99 each year, real estate agents can post property listings and bios at the site.
While there is always some risk of abuse at a ratings site, Primeau said so far he has been impressed with the site’s users. “”With freedom there are always people who are going to abuse it — we try to maintain (the site) as tight as we can. It didn’t turn out to be a place where people only go to complain. Over 80 percent (of the ratings) have been positive,” he said.
An agent who receives an overall rating of 85 percent or higher with at least 100 ratings at the site is labeled as a “Gold House Agent,” while an agent who receives an overall rating of 90 percent or higher with 100 or more total listings is labeled as a “Platinum House Agent.” The Web site also notes that selected agents with an overall rating of 90 percent or higher are featured in a “Spotlight Interview,” which is an e-mail, phone or chat interview that is posted online for site users to see.
Another Web site, Realty Baron, offers an “AgentRank” system that is calculated based on a number of factors, including consumer feedback, experience, and recent sales. A higher ranking can help real estate agents command a higher commission from their clients, according to the site.
AngiesList, which allows consumers to assign grades to home improvement contractors, has a different approach to online ratings. The site allows users to post and view ratings once they pay to register at the site.
In another effort, a group of state and local Realtor associations worked to establish a Real Estate Standards Institute, with conceptual plans to create a Web site at which consumers could rate the performance of real estate agents. This effort, though, was dealt a major blow when members of the National Association of Realtors’ Board of Directors voted “not to adopt, endorse or recommend the standards of practice” that were drafted by the group “because those standards don’t reflect the standard of care in the real estate industry.”
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