When top-producing real estate agent T.C. Hyatt gets a lead from Zillow, he’s not sure if it’s because he’s an advertiser with the portal or because consumers are using the platform as their default search site for all things real estate.

“Zillow’s like the Google of real estate,” Hyatt said. Hyatt completed 82 transaction sides in 2013, according to Real Trends.

A new survey of 852 real estate pros over a span of five weeks in July and August from the real estate consulting firm T3 Experts bears that statement out. Sixty-seven percent of the respondents were agents, 28 percent were brokers and 5 percent identified as “other,” said Michael McClure, a T3 Experts founding partner.

When asked where they received leads off of agent reviews, which, in T3 Experts’ definition included reviews, testimonials or recommendations, a vast majority of survey respondents, 60.7 percent, named Zillow.

Responses to the survey question: “From which site(s) have you received leads as a result of ‘Agent Reviews’?”

Source Percent of survey respondents
Zillow 60.7%
Facebook 33.3%
Trulia 27.8%
Personal website 25.6%
LinkedIn 20.9%
Broker/franchisor website 14.5%
realtor.com 12.0%
Yelp 10.7%
Google+ 10.7%

Source: T3 Experts Agent Reviews and Lead Generation Survey Report

The survey also showed that top-producing agents are more likely to consider agent reviews a “very important” part of their online strategy.

Responses to “importance of ‘Agent Reviews’ as part of your online strategy”

Degree of importance Total survey results  Top producers*  Top lead generators**
Relatively important 33%  31%  36%
Very important 39%  56%  57%
Total 72%  87%  93%

Source: T3 Experts Agent Reviews and Lead Generation Survey Report *Those who have done at least 51 transaction sides in the prior 12 months. **Those who have generated at least 51 leads from agent reviews in the prior 12 months.

The T3 Experts survey shows that Facebook ranks higher than Trulia, and a number of other sites rank higher than realtor.com. But when it comes to leads from agent reviews go, the future may belong to Zillow, Trulia and realtor.com as they build out agent profiles complete with transaction histories and detailed bios.

(Compare Brian Pakulla’s profile on ZillowTrulia and realtor.com with other sites like Facebook, his website and his franchisor’s website. Pakulla’s profiles on the search portals feature richer data, including transaction history.)

Right now Zillow is clearly leading the agent review charge. It has offered unfiltered reviews and agent ratings since 2010. Trulia and realtor.com traditionally have stuck to recommendations, but in July Trulia revamped its profile pages with reviews and ratings.

All three sites showcase agent transaction history information — a feature that that drew the ire of some real estate pros when realtor.com piloted an agent-matching site, AgentMatch, in two markets last year.

The new version of realtor.com’s agent profiles, currently in beta, reflect lessons learned from the AgentMatch experiment, realtor.com’s senior director of product management, Ernie Graham, told Inman News. AgentMatch automatically pulled transaction data straight from the multiple listing service. Now, agents have a choice in how their transaction data shows up on their realtor.com profiles, he said.

Zillow began automatically adding transaction histories to agent profile pages last fall. Agents can upload them themselves, too, but Zillow does so automatically, by mining public records.

It’s not clear if the portals will begin monetizing agent profile pages. For example, they could restrict the ability of consumers to see full profiles to agents who advertise.

Representatives of Zillow, Trulia and realtor.com said the companies don’t have plans to build ad products around agent profiles.

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