RE Industry Should Back Identity 2.0

Ines Hegedus-Garcia at AgentGenius asked an important question today, Is your on-line reputation being smeared? Micheal Wurzer on FBS Blog pondered recently How Consumers Choose An Agent. They’re both important questions that are really tackling the same issue from different sides.

Establishing an online identity and monitoring online reputation is absolutely critical in the digital age we now live in. Consumers are online looking for you and they want that information.

I’ve been writing about this particular concept really since I started this blog and I continue to evangelize the concept wherever and whenever I do public speaking.

For some background on the issue, familiarize yourself with some of these past posts:

It’s a topic I hope we’ll be covering at this year’s Real Estate Connect SF. Let’s call it, dealing with Identity 2.0.

The good news is that 2008 seems also to be year that some real strides are being made to respond to the issue. Just a few of the initiatives under way:

AgentRank launched today from the minds behind RealtyBaron. AgentRank proposes to assign agents a ranking from 1 to 10 much like Google’s PageRank for web sites. They’ve built an API to make it even easier for other sites to embed these rankings.

IncredibleAgents, another user review site for real estate agents, just updated its site with a clean new design to make it even easier to search for an agent. IA assigns a numerical value to agents as well.

NoMoreDoorKnocking.com, the secretive new venture by the folks at VendAsta, is based around providing just that bridge between identity and reputation through your social graph. They’ve just released a CommonCraft-style video that explains some of what they’re working on.

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=v4DnJ7rOSsE[/youtube]

But as much as I cheer these entrepreneurs coming in and providing solutions to the issue of Identity 2.0 – I can’t help but wonder, shouldn’t this be something the industry takes the lead on?

Isn’t one of the biggest questions a consumer has, “Where can I find a good real estate agent?” (Good being the operative word here…) I’m not sure why the industry is surrendering its role in answering this question.

I’m convinced this is something that NAR or the local Associations should get behind.

Give us a way to rate, rank and review your membership.

Especially if it were done in a totally transparent and honest manner, so the rating was not up for abuse or gaming.

This could be a great way to restore trust in a profession that’s taken a beating over the last few years. I think it could be a important healing step for this industry to acknowledge the bad and simultaneously promote the good.

Now this is probably just wishful thinking…

But let’s face it – there absolutely needs to be a way to separate good agents (of which there are many) from the not so good.

And until there is, the good continue to get lumped in with the bad. Until then, there’ll still be questions about the value of 6% commission. Until then, you’ll continue to see sites like OutrageousAgents.com flourish. Until then, you’ll still hear terms like ‘Realtards’ bandied about. Until then, Realtors will continue to be one of the lowest regarded professions (see Harris Poll).

I’d just like it all to happen sooner rather than later.