Technology

Research engine publishing real estate agent performance statistics

FindTheBest: Agent profiles don't include scores because transaction data doesn't tell full story

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FindTheBest, a data aggregator that helps people research everything from smartphones and cars to colleges and nursing homes, often helps consumers gauge quality by serving up ratings.

But the research engine, which recently migrated its real estate search tools off findthebest.com and onto a stand-alone website, findthehome.com, has decided not to take that approach in representing real estate agents to the public.

“We have scores across a lot of our products but not on this one because we don’t think we can publish really good scores on agents,” said Alex Rosenberg, senior director of new products at FindTheBest. “Transaction history is really an incomplete way to score an agent.”

FindTheBest, which boasts 25 million monthly visitors to its main website, findthebest.com, unveiled a database on findthehome.com today that lets consumers dig up performance statistics on more than 300,000 real estate agents.

The performance data, acquired mostly from FindTheHome’s primary source of listings, ListHub, include an agent’s total number of active listings, the locations of those listings, their median price, and an agent’s total number of historical listings.

Past attempts help consumers find agents by making performance data searchable — by realtor.com operator Move Inc. (ListHub’s parent company), Redfin, the Houston Association of Realtors and NeighborCity — have all met with resistance from agents, who have complained that the statistics associated with them are not always accurate, or are incomplete.

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If consumers are able to search for an agent by the number of listings they currently represent or have sold in the past, new agents or agents who are members of teams may be at a disadvantage, some have complained.

FindTheHome lets users sort agent search results by number of current listings.

Agents Topic Page
Screen shot of sample search results of FindTheHome’s agent database.

The FindTheHome website informs users that it’s “intended primarily for those looking for a listing agent rather than a buyer’s agent,” because buyer’s agents will not have listings associated with them.

The transaction data that FindTheHome surfaces goes back only to October or November, when the company began aggregating data for this project.

“We wish we had all the historical data going back for forever, and that’s certainly something we’re probably going to try and find,” Rosenberg said.

Although agents tracked by the site have an average of four active listings associated with them, some have hundreds. One agent in Puerto Rico has more than 6,000.

“In some cases, an agent may be be listing tens or even hundreds of listings,” the website notes. “This may indicate that the agent has [provided] listings on behalf of his or her entire brokerage.”

FindTheHome’s new agent database seems designed to help consumers identify real estate agents who specialize in selling homes like theirs. For example, users may filter by a real estate agent’s median list price, and view the number of deals they’ve transacted in specific neighborhoods.

The website’s “narrative technology” also shows how an agent stacks up against competitors based on their transaction statistics.

“In total, Elizabeth Coulter has listed 16 properties on FindTheHome,” reads a description of a sample agent-profile page provided to Inman by FindTheBest. “This is above average relative to the typical agent in Ladue, as the average agent has listed 2 properties over this time.”

Such comparisons are less useful to consumers if they are based on faulty data.

FindTheHome’s website acknowledges that it is “sometimes unable to match all of an agent’s listings to properties in the FindTheHome database,” and says the statistics it serves up “should not be viewed as a perfect breakdown of the homes an agent has listed. Instead, we believe that this information is useful as a starting point for understanding the types of properties an agent is selling.”

Rosenberg said that addressing problems with incomplete data or giving proper credit to agents who work in teams “is tough without significant manual effort that’s virtually impossible to scale profitably” without calling every agent or taking similar labor-intensive steps. “We think the data we present is directionally accurate and helpful for consumers looking for an agent, and that transparency outweighs some of the data’s pitfalls. We try to make it clear that our profiles are inherently incomplete, and we have a few techniques to identify team of agent listings.”

FindTheHome is generating profiles for all agents who syndicate their listings to the site, and those profiles will be directly integrated into listings.findthehome.com, making it easier for homebuyers to evaluate and contact listing agents, FindTheBest said.

According to the FindTheHome website, agent credentials and personal information “are based on user edits as well as agents’ websites.”

Real estate agents can manage their profiles for free and supply additional information, including biographies, specialties and more.

As FindTheHome continues to collect agent data from ListHub, the number of agents in its database will naturally grow.

“Since November, not all 2 million agents have listed properties,” Rosenberg said.

FindTheBest also announced today that it’s made its rich neighborhood content available for integration into real estate websites through an API (application programming interface) at no cost.

The firm says that a number of real estate website providers have already begun augmenting their listings with data through the API, including WebsiteBox.

FindTheBest’s Listing Enhancement API could also potentially help real estate agents engage more with consumers, by allowing them to provide a richer online search experience to prospective buyers.

The API, which is free, allows any website to complement listings with the local data that has characterized FindTheBest’s real estate search tools. That data includes hyperlocal school ratings, market trends, demographics, income, weather and property-specific information.

“Our currency is just branding and click-backs,” Rosenberg said. “We’re really trying to make a name for ourselves and be [the] agent-friendly site in the space.”

Real estate website providers WebsiteBox, Tribus, IDX Broker and Agent Image have already taken FindTheBest up on its offer and begun integrating the research engine’s neighborhood content into their products.

That’s brought FindTheHome.com visuals to more than 5,000 websites at launch, the company said.

Editor’s note: This story has been updated to provide context on past controversies surrounding attempts to surface agent productivity statistics, and to include additional comments by FindTheBest’s Alex Rosenberg. A previous version of this story reported that the FindTheHome website did not support the ability to sort agent search results by number of current listings. The site now supports sorting by current listing count.