I have decided that agent reviews are a good thing. Consumers like reviews, I like reviews and it is time to embrace the change that is coming.
A couple of years ago I found a site that accepted anonymous agent reviews from people using screen names. I found my bio on the site with a lot of inaccurate information. It showed that I had no listings and had me listed as an agent in another city.
I insisted that my name be removed from the site, and it was. My information could have been updated, but there was a charge for a premium profile and I wasn’t interested. It was just another spammy third-party site trying to monetize listings and Realtors.
The best place for agent reviews is through our multiple listing service, and as an industry we need to lead the way. Agent reviews will become more common whether we take an interest in them or not.
They can already be found on Yelp and other sites. I would rather see honest reviews of myself — both good and bad — through our MLS than on sites where agents pay for top billing or on sites that have my name spelled wrong and where I am listed as a specialist in an area where I don’t even work.
As a consumer myself, I rely heavily on reviews. Before I download a book from Amazon.com I read the reviews. Before I buy a lens for my camera I read the reviews and ratings on my favorite photography site.
When I am traveling and I get hungry I use Urbanspoon and Yelp to find a place to eat — so far the reviews on those sites have worked very well. I am rarely surprised or disappointed.
When I use reviews I read carefully and analyze. I often don’t know the people who are leaving the reviews. One reviewer may give a camera lens a low rating, but only because he or she expected the lens to do something that it isn’t designed to do.
Maybe they want to take close-up shots but they buy a wide-angle lens instead of a macro lens. If that is the case they will be very disappointed.
Some of my clients have written reviews about me on LinkedIn and on Yelp. I didn’t ask for them but they are there and they are good reviews. I plan to ask for reviews going forward.
I am just like the camera lens in that I am not the right Realtor for everyone. I have never tried to be everything to everyone, and I don’t plan to start now. There are former clients of mine who will give me a bad review.
If asked, I would probably give them a bad review as clients, too, but it doesn’t work that way. An occasional bad review probably won’t end my career and maybe I could learn from it and do a better job managing client expectations.
It is more likely that I will get a good review and keep my clients happy if I am clear and honest in my advertising and if I set the expectations before we work together. I have noticed that the products and services that get the lowest ratings are those that are advertised as being something they are not. A four-star hotel marketed as a five-star hotel is sure to get low ratings.
In most cases I am the happiest with a purchase if I feel like I got what I paid for and even a little more. As a result, I am in the process of refining my marketing and checking it to make sure that it accurately reflects who I am and what I do.
There will come a time when consumers will be able to look up agent production and see how many homes they have sold — that is when it will get really interesting. For years the real estate industry has been selling consumers on the idea of market share.
I am guessing that marketing strategies will have to change when consumers can look up individual agents in the MLS and see how many homes he or she has sold.
This might be a good time to stop claiming to be "No. 1" and learn how to be No. 1 in the eyes of every client we work with, because their reviews will determine who is No. 1.
I want reviews and I want to meet or exceed client expectations and I believe I can best do that by accurately representing my services in my marketing materials and then working hard to deliver my services, as advertised.
For those who are worried about agent reviews, I say get over it. Manage it and embrace it because we will be reviewed. If you don’t have a Yelp account, create one today. Start reviewing products and services and ask for reviews from your clients.
Yelp is not a real estate site, but it is used and trusted by millions of people. Monitor you name online and be aggressive about getting rid of profiles on spammy third-party sites that want to monetize agent reviews. If we don’t play, they can’t stay.