As the ranks of the real estate industry continue to balloon, a new collaboration is giving more than 600 agents at Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices (BHHS) Professional Realty a new way to tout their own credibility and provide feedback for their peers.
The collaboration pairs BHHS Professional Realty, which operates in Ohio and Northern Kentucky, with Peer Reputation, a company that provides agents with a peer feedback survey after the completion of a transaction. Peer Reputation launched last year, but the relationship with BHHS Professional Realty is the first time the company is directly collaborating with a real estate firm to give agents access to its surveys.
Kim Luckow, operations director for BHHS Professional Realty, told Inman that the two companies began talking at Inman Connect in January and a collaborative relationship was formalized a couple months later.
“It makes life easier,” Luckow said of the collaboration. “We want to encourage our agents to fill out those reputation surveys.”
Though the collaboration between BHHS Professional Realty and Peer Reputation has been live for about two months, the companies have only now publicly announced their relationship.
Peer Reputation works by sending agents an email asking if they enjoyed working with their counterparts on the other side of a transaction. The system also gives them a chance to leave written feedback about their experience. Responses can be either anonymous or not, depending on what the agent chooses, and the idea is to encourage ethical behavior and accountability within the real estate industry.
As part of the new collaboration, Peer Reputation will send feedback request emails to both BHHS Professional Realty agents, as well as agents from other brokerages who represent the other side of BHHS Professional Realty transactions.
BHHS Professional Realty leaders will encourage their own agents to fill out the surveys, and hope that agents at other firms do the same.
Steven Wynands, a former software engineer and agent who is now the co-founder and CEO of Peer Reputation, told Inman that the system is supposed to be simple and pain-free for agents.
“I understand how busy agents are,” he said, “and I made it as easy as possible.”
Among other things, Wynands said agents can benefit from the service by earning “Reputable Agent” status, which comes from consistently earning positive feedback. Of the 50,000 agents currently using Peer Reputation, about 8 percent are Reputable Agents — which Wynands said can translate into material benefits such as winning bidding wars as sellers gravitate toward more reputable agents.
All agents can use Peer Reputation’s free tier, which allows them to send and receive feedback. However, the company also provides a subscription option that costs $9.99 per month and allows agents to print out a qualification letter showing that they have received positive feedback. The paid tier also gives agents higher priority in a referral network that Peer Reputation operates as part of its system.
BHHS Professional Realty subscribed to the paid tier for all of its more than 600 agents, Wynands said.
Peer Reputation additionally offers a $100 per month service that is geared toward brokers and includes tools for boosting retention.
Luckow explained that Peer Reputation is a useful resource for her firm’s agents because it offers a way to prove to clients that they’re serious about the industry, particularly at a time when agent ranks are growing and consumers have more and more options. She also said that it could ultimately help agents improve if they’re struggling.
“If we see two or three negative comments come in, it gives us a chance to retrain that agent,” she said.
Though BHHS Professional Realty is the first firm to strike up a collaboration with Peer Reputation, Wynands said his company has been growing rapidly. A year ago, for example, there were only 5,000 agents using the service, but today there are ten times as many. He also said that the company is currently growing by about 1,000 users per week.
Peer Reputation is based in, and first served, the Washington, D.C., region, but today operates in 80 metro areas.
Wynands also pointed to the Parker Principles — a manifesto forged during last year’s Inman Disconnect by various industry leaders — and noted that there is clearly a desire for greater accountability and ethical behavior in real estate. Peer Reputation, then, is designed to move the industry’s needle in that direction.
“I built it to try to increase our accountability,” Wynands said, “and move our industry forward.”