Editor’s note: As the debate over realtor.com’s agent ranking platform AgentMatch continues, Inman News invited Bob Hale, CEO of the Houston Association of Realtors, to share HAR’s experiences with a similar experiment launched by the association’s public-facing multiple listing service website, HAR.com.

The Houston Association of Realtors launched the Client Experience Rating (CER) in 2009 to provide HAR members a service consumers are seeking.

As of today, more than 4,100 HAR members are voluntarily participating in the program, and we are currently displaying the results of nearly 80,000 client surveys on HAR.com.

Past clients who closed a transaction through the MLS may “rate” their Realtor in four service areas — competency, market knowledge, communication and customer experience. Consumers have the ability to search for a Realtor based on their participation in the CER program.

Past clients are also able to leave “comments” about their overall experience that can help future clients determine who will best help them with their real estate transaction. If a Realtor disagrees with a rating or comment, he may provide his own comment in response to help clarify the situation.

HAR members may choose to display their ratings for marketing purposes or to keep them private for their own feedback.

There is no agent production information provided as part of the CER. Realtors have the option to display all of their active and sold listings on HAR.com, but consumers do not have the ability to search based on this data [Editor’s note: HAR briefly offered a “Realtor Match” tool that allowed them to search for agents based on market activity, but disabled the tool after members protested].

Franchises and brokers in Houston have been supportive of HAR’s program since its inception. According to the responses from the nearly 7,000 participants of the HAR Consumer Research Panel, 90 percent found the Client Experience Rating to be helpful.

HAR is not alone in offering and understanding the value of agent ratings. Zillow has 400,000 agent ratings. Redfin and Zip Realty offer agent ratings. Trulia and realtor.com provide agents the ability to be recommended. Agents are rated on Yelp. Coldwell Banker Bain Seal is collecting reviews from clients it agents work with and publishing them.

A Nov. 22 Inman News story quoted this statement by franchisor Keller Williams to its agents: “While we agree that providing online access to feedback on agent performance and service level are necessary due to consumer demand, we believe that it should be in the form of reviews that are submitted by your customers.”

The National Association of Realtors has offered a program to a number of associations to provide agent ratings using the QSC system. The industry is beginning to understand the value of agent ratings, and taking steps to make them a reality.

Editor’s note: This column has been updated to include Bob Hale’s additional comments about a statement by franchisor Keller Williams’ outlining the company’s position on AgentMatch.

Bob Hale has been the president and CEO of the Houston Association of Realtors (HAR) since 1988. HAR has grown to become the largest trade association in Houston and the second-largest local Realtor association in the country, with more than 24,000 members. The association’s website, HAR.com, is a household brand in the Greater Houston area and the most frequently visited website for Houston real estate.

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