Online Reviews Set To Impact Real Estate Agents

Before Web 2.0, if you provided good service it was widely regarded that people would tell a handful of their friends about their great experience. But, if your service was poor or you did something wrong then they would tell 20 people.

Well, what used to be Word of Mouth, has now become World of Mouth, simply because it is now very easy for people to share their customer experiences with their friends over the web.

One of the most powerful examples of a customer using Social Media to complain about receiving poor service was a song written by Dave Carroll, uploaded to YouTube about United Airlines breaks guitars.

Over 5 million people have now viewed the song on YouTube & Dave Carroll has just released a second song about the staff member at the centre of all the negotiations & allegations.

Worldwide there’d be millions of good & bad customer reviews shared daily over the web via sites like Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, MySpace, Yelp, etc.

Whilst I appreciate that customer reviews over the internet aren’t a recent thing & understand that people have been posting reviews about products & services on the web via blogs, forums & social networks for quite some time.

For example, here’s the real estate section of an Australian site called Product Review.

However, recently I’ve noticed that there have been some important developments regarding customer reviews which could have a big impact on real estate agents.

1. New Australian Real Estate Agent Review Site:- Realty Ref
A new site has just been launched called Realty Ref where the site asks customers to share their real estate customer experience.

The site is currently asking consumers to share their experience based on…
“Feel cheated? Tricked or pressured? Lied to? Warn Others: Or Recommend Great Service.”

Unfortunately, with the public perception of real estate agents still below par, as per the annual Roy Morgan Image of Professions survey, real estate agent review sites like this are likely to become an online real estate complaints department.

2. Customer Reviews Located At The Top Of Google Search
The other day I was checking the ranking of a real estate agent’s site in Balmain & searched Google for the keyword “Balmain Real Estate Agent”.

At the top of the search Google came up with “Local business results for real estate agent near Balmain NSW”, plus a map & a list of 10 real estate agents identified from ‘A’ to ‘J’.

Amongst the list of agents that appeared, 2 real estate agencies had customer reviews appearing right beside their listing on Google.

Whilst the reviews weren’t bad reviews, one was definitely better than the other & could impact which agent a potential customer selected.

3. Customer Reviews via Mobile Phone.
There are a couple of major developments that are happening in the world of Augmented Technology that I read about in a post by Jeff Bernheisel.

Augmented Reality allows places to be identified using a collection of data that has been uploaded onto the web.

Augmented ID uses similar technology to identify people’s faces. Here’s a quick video from TAT demonstrating this mobile phone face recognition technology.

Imagine going to a Listing Presentation & before signing the agency agreement, the potential seller points their phone at you to check you out. Alternatively, imagine being able to use Augmented ID via your mobile phone to identify the people visiting an open home.

Whichever way it happens, customers armed with easy access to customer reviews, whether they be good or bad reviews, will have an impact on our industry as we move forward.

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About Greg Vincent

Greg Vincent The Online Guy for Real Estate Professionals is a Speaker, Trainer and is a highly respected online strategist. As a real estate professional with Internet and Social Media nous, Greg Vincent presents the how-to on getting the most out of the internet and social media without the “geek speak”. His insights into on-line real estate marketing are sought throughout Australia and valued for cutting through the confusion that locks many out of gaining full value from the web. After 20 years as a real estate agent, Greg now has multiple web-based businesses and works with some of the best agents in Australia.

19 Responses to Online Reviews Set To Impact Real Estate Agents

  1. Emily Sim September 10, 2009 at 9:39 am #

    This week I came across a property manager in Melbourne who has included at the end of her auto signiture a line that says “If you like my work, tell my boss” and his email address appears. Real Etsate agents who get the jump on transparency will be successful.

  2. Kylie Emans September 10, 2009 at 2:51 pm #

    Another great blog by business2 and Greg Vincent, i will check out this new real estate site immediately. I totally agree with Emily too, transparent agents will be the most successful. If I have a bad service experience and the company does not respond, I twitter and facebook and blog it, and it is interesting to see the difference in how companies respond.

  3. Robert Simeon September 10, 2009 at 3:12 pm #

    Greg,

    I hope that Realty Ref is not associated with Refrealestate who were offering shonky introductions so when I found out I gave them heaps with a promise of legal action. Sounds very similar.

  4. Greg Vincent September 10, 2009 at 4:48 pm #

    Speaking of real estate customer reviews, I’ve just come across this article…

    WARNING: There is some very colourful language used within some of these customer reviews which may offend some readers.

    http://therealestatemarketingmaven.com/2009/09/is-lj-hooker-losing-the-online-pr-battle/

    Also, it’s important for agents to keep in mind that customer reviews don’t always have to be doom & gloom. There are always 2 sides to every story & whilst a client may be disappointed with a real estate agent’s performance or service today, they can also become a raving fan of that agent an hour later or the very next day (especially if the agent finds a buyer for their home at a great price).

    Agents & Franchises need to start embracing Social Media & become part of the conversation. Plus they need to understand…

    1. Your customers are really starting to share their service experiences & opinions online
    2. How to take measures to manage your reputation online.
    3. How to deal with a bad customer review effectively.

    PS: Thanks Kylie & Emily. Whilst I agree transparency is important, it’s also going to be a juggling act for agents because of fiduciary responsibilities & obligations about protecting the privacy & annonimity of clients.

    Just to clarify, transparency for a real estate agent doesn’t mean that everything has to be put up on the table for public display. (I’m pretty sure this is the type of transparency you were both referring to anyway).

    Robert, it will be interesting to see if it’s them or not?

  5. PaulD September 10, 2009 at 6:42 pm #

    I’ve been in this business long enough to know that there are two sides to every story ( Just as you said Greg) The first person who commits the story to any form of media, is usually the one that exaggerates the most. When you sit them both down and try to sort out the real story, usually the complainant that uses the most aggressive language, is normally the one that has a lot of the facts wrong. When you really get to sort out the facts, it is rarely as dramatic as is first stated, and to me that is often a sign of (how do I say this) lack of intelligence in the first instance, and certainly a lack of any kind of determination to get to the truth. Maybe intelligence is the wrong word to use, and I will probably get howled down for using it. Maybe it’s something like “perception” or “comprehension” or “mental agility” or maybe all three. These are the kind of people to whom road rage is second nature.

  6. Craig September 10, 2009 at 11:15 pm #

    Ouch PaulD. Sounds like you have someone in mind.

  7. PaulD September 11, 2009 at 8:57 am #

    Not at all Craig. Every time there’s some kind of upheaval in our daily lives by someone making some kind of extreme claim, it seems like a video replay. It is amazing how similar it is. I read some of those complaints about the various agents that Greg highlighted, and as I read them I was thinking – here we go again. The problem with the people making the claims is that they have absolutely no accountability, so how do we even know whether the claim has substance or not ?? They can attack somebody and the person has no chance to defend themselves. I have been to the CTTT several times and watched as serious claims melt, when the adjudicating member gets to the facts (or lack of) and in my experience, when both sides of the story are presented, then it can usually be worked out without any problem. However when only one side of the story is presented, then anyone reading it can get totally the wrong impression. They should have a “right of reply” section so that there can be some sort of balance. I guess there will be so many of these customer review blogs that no one will ever read them anyway, however I did like the United song 🙂

  8. Greg Vincent September 11, 2009 at 9:29 am #

    You’re spot on Paul. We live in a world where there are so many things quoted & published out of context.

    People are seen as guilty until proven innocent. And it appears that this feeling amongst the community is even stronger when it comes to real estate agents. (With no thanks to you Mr Jenman.)

    The media makes a fortune out of it. Slanderous claims & false accusations can be made & because it is too expensive for most companies to pursue in the courts, the best people can do is manage their reputation & negotiate to have the derogatory remarks removed by the author.

  9. Ryan O'Grady September 14, 2009 at 10:12 am #

    It is time and effort to go to a site like Realty Ref so in my opinion the majority of comments on these sites will be negative comments towards agents. There is also the possibility that agents go to these sites and write a negative review about their competitors.

    For an agent review system to work it would need to be tied into Facebook, Twitter, REA or Domain so users could easily post negative or positive reviews. To have any credibility the reviewer needs to post their name and the agent needs the opportunity to defend themselves against negative reviews.

  10. Glenn Batten September 14, 2009 at 8:15 pm #

    Amnesty International in the UK are running a campaign against Shell Oil asking everyone to provide a poor review on Google Maps for their local Shell petrol station.

    http://blog.protectthehuman.com/mapping-hell-stations/

    Check out all the reviews stacking up on Google Maps here http://bit.ly/jJQta

    The campaign has gone viral and has effected most of the UK Shell stations.

  11. Greg Vincent September 14, 2009 at 10:38 pm #

    Very interesting Glenn.

    I noticed 2 positive reviews which look a lot like they have come from someone associated with the petrol station.

    Shell at Luton review
    Pros: Shell is another petrol station here in Luton well known to the customers. The petrol station has about 9 different pumps which you can use and is well spaced out so cars can squeeze out easily

    Shell at Leeds review
    Pros: This Shell Petrol station in Leeds is great and reliable – you don’t have to queue for long to fill your vehicle with petrol, plenty of pumps to choose from. It can get busy in the mornings som…?

    It looks like their campaign is having an impact.

    I’m pleased you brought up the Google Maps example Glenn, because Google is so important to this whole discussion about customer reviews.

    Whilst sites like Realty Ref, may have some effect. Reviews posted directly onto Google or reviews appearing within a Google search will have the greatest impact on real estate agents, because that’s where most people go to search for products & services.

    Also, with sites like Facebook, Twitter, YouTube having such high page ranking, some customer reviews on these sites could even end up outranking some real estate agents’ company websites within a Google search. ( especially when people search for a specific agency/agent’s name ).

  12. snoop September 16, 2009 at 7:08 am #

    I saw ad in in the fin review today for this company looking for investors.
    http://www.propertymatchup.com.au
    what is the panels experience with these lead gen players generally?
    Homeguru,myhousevalue,whatpricemyhouse etc???

  13. Sal Espro September 21, 2009 at 11:05 am #

    Groan…..Just put me off my coffee – Thanx for that Snoop!
    I guess we always end-up going the way of the Yanks but Homegain was a huge concern in the US of A and it ended-up turning its hand to marketing services as the revenue share gig didn’t cut it.
    Redfin is a different service working more directly as a broker replacement and we are yet to see how that pans-out long-term.

    And for my two-penneth worth, I wouldn’t be too excited about getting property seekers from mortgage broker referrals. viz: “Mortgage brokers refer qualified, pre-approved buyers to the Property Match Up website to look for properties listed by real estate agents. (By the way, we already have hundreds of brokers on board who have paid to join and are ready to refer.)”

    What I would be worried about is my buyer dbase being used to market for mortgage brokers. Whomever enquires on our properties we will keep brother. If they want mortgages then that’s another business that we would want to have control over if we were to direct clients that way.

    All the breast,
    Sal (Go Cats!)

  14. RealEstate September 21, 2009 at 7:48 pm #

    This week I came across a property manager in Melbourne who has included at the end of her auto signiture a line that says

  15. susan August 28, 2011 at 7:27 pm #

    A real estate agency called xxxxxx Real Estate, pays it young trainee agents only $450 gross per week, and expects them to work 10 or 12 hour days.
    This is an absolute disgrace. How do they expect young people to work hard and stay motivated when they’re paid no more than the dole. I hope they go bust.

  16. Sal Espro August 29, 2011 at 1:37 pm #

    Well, there’s another one in the ‘deadpool’.
    propertymatchup.com.au’s URL isn’t working. How is onthehouse going?

  17. J December 19, 2011 at 3:35 pm #

    “A real estate agency in Penrith NSW (edited name), pays it young trainee agents only $450 gross per week, and expects them to work 10 or 12 hour days.
    This is an absolute disgrace. How do they expect young people to work hard and stay motivated when they’re paid no more than the dole. I hope they go bust.”

    I used to work at the company (edited name), and it is nothing more than a cash cow for a group of directors. One agency in the chain went through (as in hired and fired) 27 agents in one year. Build them up a little, get them to get a few good leads and some listings, then as they are under probation find a way to off them, sell the properties and never worry about paying out comms. (all comms earned are accrued for a quarter, but when an agent laves they get transferred to the director) I was to be ‘transfered’ (and forfeit my listings/comms) despite having 5 listings in the market at one time. No prizes for guessing the theory behind it when the director had less listings and was struggling for comms and the office was losing money.. They won’t go bust unfortunately though, they have a good foot hold and, as a franchise, they will take their franchise fees etc and roll all the way to the bank. Saying that there are companies that expect trainees to work, without pay, for the first three months to learn the game and then will start them on award wage plus car+phone allowance.. Some work on commission only even as a trainee, no surprise that drop-out rates at those companies is high..

    I say it all the time, not enough people hold agents seriously accountable, complaints to Fair Trading etc. Underquoting is still rife, I know of agents who blatantly lied about school catchment zones, council rules etc etc in order to try and get sales but yet nothing was ever reported.

    • Jason Biggs July 9, 2014 at 3:02 pm #

      The ignorance in this email defies all logic.

      If you knew how real estate agencies managed cash flow and the rules they had to comply by, you would read between your own lines and realise that you just painted the exact picture as to why everything is the exact opposite of what you think is happening.

  18. Peter Ricci December 20, 2011 at 1:19 am #

    J, I deliberately edited the name of the agency, this is your opinion and I could not verify any details you supplied. If you have serious legal complaints about a company, I suggest you take it up with authorities as you open yourself (you did not even give your name) and us to legal ramifications if none of the details can be verified!

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