PropertyScope – Real Estate Agents & Salespeople Get Rated!

Over the past few years there has been a huge increase in the number of social websites allowing visitors to publicly rank local businesses. I am sure everybody has seen google show those yellow stars on occassional search result pages.  Websites like Twitter and Facebook allow people to comment on their experiences with you but those comments are pushed down in the timeline with every additional post and therefore the lasting effect in each single bad comment posted is fairly short.  But these review  sites have a much longer lasting effect.

Then there are the websites that are just about the reviews themselves.  On Business2 we have discussed a few of those over the years but there are always new ones popping up all the time. Some of the more popular ones include Google’s Place Pages, Truelocal.com.au and ProductReview.com.au. The one thing all of these have in common is that real estate agents are just a fraction of the businesses that are reviewed.

Recently a new website called PropertyScope has cropped up that has the sole purpose of providing reviews on real estate agencies and real estate salespeople.  Already some agencies are attracting poor reviews as are salespeople like Shane Howley, David Beauregard and Chantel Penny who probably have no idea of the comments and review that have been put up for anybody to see who searches their name.

I am totally in favour of open transparency but there has been a few things that have always bugged me about  these online review sites.

Competitors voting

These sites are always open to your competitor or their immediate family and close friends voting you down and them up. This was highlighed particularly well to me recently. I created the Australian Real Estate Software and Solutions directory and a few months back I integrated a voting system allowing  real estate agents to vote on these service companies.

Voting wise everything was going well till a voting war started out in a couple of the more popular categories whereby individuals from well known suppliers would rate 10 for their own company and  1 for every other company in that category. They did not even try to hide their votes by spreading them out or varying the votes. It was either a 10 or it was a 1. The 10’s (along with their IP’s) indicated exactly who they represented.

Whilst the majority did not partake everyone suffered with low ratings. I have since deleted all the “dud” votes and changed the voting security on the site and all votes coming from non registered visitors are now moderated and anything dodgy gets tossed.

Monitoring voting irregularities is  not easy with even just 100 or so entries but there are already 1000’s of salespeople and agents already listed on the site and potentially many more to come. I hope PropertyScope have increased the security settings of their ratings plugin to as high as possible to ensure the integrity of the voting process as that really is the key.

The opinions of the minority are not always representative of the majority

You can’t sell every property nor can you totally satisfy every owner or every buyer.  Generally once you have a significant amount of genuine votes the trends will sort themselves out  fairly accurately but when you only have a limited number of responses making statements like  “On average, this agent: underquotes to buyers by 16%” as is currently displayed on one of those profiles is potentially misleading and damaging to the salespersons’s reputation.

I believe that PropertyScope should be careful how they display this sort of data and make generalised claims.

No right of reply

Some of these review sites have no right of reply or the ability to provide perspective on the comments. One of the best examples of this is ebay where sellers can reply to a bad rating. Similarly bad ratings can be withdrawn should cooler heads prevail and or the seller rectify the problem which triggered the bad rating.

PropertyScope does not seem to have any of these balancing features in place which is a shame.

Whether PropertyScope is successful or not remains to be seen but I think agents need to quickly realise that public viewable reviews of their performance is here to stay. Proactive agents will harness this  and use it to their advantage whilst the others are try to deal with reactively and sit back and pray that some good reviews will be posted instead of bad ones.

Online Reputation Management is really turning into a new skill set that agents have to develop themselves or contract out because just a handful of bad reviews spread across just a few websites could tarnish an agents reputation overnight.

Google Rich Snippets

Google has created a service called Google Rich Snippets which takes public review results like and returns them in the  search results.  They always show at the very top of the search results and boy do they stand out.  PropertyScope has set their rankings system up with Google Rich Snippets in place so very soon when you search for your agency or the names of your salespeople it could show something like this

(preview created using the Rich Snippets Testing Tool)

property scope, propertyscope

SEO For Real Estate
Listing Leads
Agentpoint Real estate

About Glenn Batten

Glenn Batten is the General Manager at First National Real Estate Nerang and Principal at the First National Real Estate Upper Coomera office and has over 20 years real estate experience and a passion for technology. Glenn has been writing from an agents perspective on industry issues and covering a range of topics on Business2 since 2007.

28 Responses to PropertyScope – Real Estate Agents & Salespeople Get Rated!

  1. Nick August 24, 2010 at 11:03 am #

    Agents will be rating themselves in 3…2…1 😉

    Sites like this need to reach a critical mass. Until they reach it, you need to take everything they say with a few kilos of salt. If each agent had 100 – 200 reviews, all the fudging would be lost in the noise.

  2. Greg Vincent August 24, 2010 at 11:09 am #

    Glenn, when I present Social Media for Real Estate you can see the shock in some agents faces when they realise that sites like PropertyScope, RealtyRef, GoogleSidewiki etc are out there and people are posting agent reviews.

    At a recent event, one of the agents had no idea that they had 3 reviews sitting right next to their company name on the Local Business Search/Map Directory part of Google. (which normally appears at the top of the search)

    The great news for the agent was that all 3 reviews were from raving fans & were totally unsolicited reviews.

    I like one of the review sites that use the Google Rich Snippets. It’s a site called http://www.raveaboutit.com.au/ because they encourage people to share positive reviews whereas sites like http://RealtyRef.com.au seemed to use more negative spin, like ‘Feel Cheated? Lied To? Want To Warn Others? Or Recommend?’

    Historically, there will be more negative comments posted than positive. It’s important that if an agent gets a testimonial that it doesn’t just sit in their listing presentation folder. The agents should see if their clients will post it onto these review sites for them as well.

    Third party recommendations are one of the most powerful tools you can ever have on your side, especially over the internet.

    To win this battle it’s about having the balance of power in your favour with more good votes or better reviews than the bad ones.

    As an example, think about the book reviews on Amazon. Not everyone will like the book but if someone writes a review that you connect with then you may just by the book on their say so.

  3. Glenn Batten August 24, 2010 at 11:12 am #

    Nick,

    I agree that lots of reviews will hide the fudging but the problem is when there is only bad reviews. Because of Google Rich Snippets.. a couple of bad reviews can cause it to display right at the top of Google results for their name.

    Agents and salespeople need to have a strategy to combat this and PropertyScope needs to ensure the integrity of its voting system to minimise the fudging.

    One quick suggestion of how to maximise these review sites.

    After you get a testimonial and when you send a thank you letter (of course everyone does that I hope !!!) explain to them the importance of online reviews to you and provide them with links of where you would appreciate if they would post that testimonial. Link to your profiles on Google Places, PropertyScope and TrueLocal.

    Make it as easy as possible for them. Give them instructions and tell them what buttons to press etc etc. If they have hand written or you only have a printed version transcribe the text for them so they only have to cut and paste the text.

  4. Phil Kells August 24, 2010 at 11:21 am #

    Hi Glenn,

    It’s an interesting service, although I can’t help but think of something like TripAdvisor when I see it. While the volume of reviews on TripAdvisor cannot be questioned, there are certainly concerns regarding authenticity and impartiality, this is further highlighted by the dependance on advertising as a revenue source further driving the demand for quantity over quality.

    I’m not suggesting that Property Scope is modelled on TripAdvisor, however it would appear there are certianly similarities in the approach.

    I agree that public information regarding the performance of any business or agent is here to stay I would also agree that caution needs to be excercised in the development of these services to ensure that there is a positive outcome for the industry they seek to service.

    Watch this space I guess…

    Phil

  5. Craig August 24, 2010 at 1:15 pm #

    Just like talk back radio, negativity gets more publicity.

  6. Jayne Harwood August 24, 2010 at 1:23 pm #

    Great post Glenn, I shall be passing onto my agents your advice re. getting clients testimonials to these types of sites.

    I also found it interesting that when I searched Launceston Tasmania on Property Scope 11 agents appeared and they were all from our agency, Bushby First National Real Estate! We have 20 agencies operating in the Greater Launceston area and yet only 1 agency appears on this site. There have been no reviews posted so I wonder why our 11 agents are there?

  7. Lara Scott August 24, 2010 at 1:48 pm #

    Hi Glenn

    Have had a quick look at the site and wonder where PropertyScope are pulling their “agent” name data from.

    Did one agency search and they have the COO, Accounts Payable Clerk, Graphic Designer and GM of Training Division all listed as agents for people to rate.

    It has failed a legitimacy test already as far as I am concerned, maybe it will sink before it gains ground because of this obvious lack of attention to detail.

  8. Glenn Batten August 24, 2010 at 5:05 pm #

    Lara,

    It seems its not a manual load then and those people would not be on any of the portals. I would have thought realestate.com.au would have been easy since they have that nice shiny new tag that would make is so simple

    .

    I am guessing they have coded themselves a spider to harvest the names. I wonder if head office sites can be coaxed out of giving up these secrets with the right url variables ?

  9. Glenn Batten August 24, 2010 at 5:07 pm #

    whoops… of course.. the tag does not show up in the last comment when I cut and pasted it in… 🙂

  10. Bill August 24, 2010 at 5:46 pm #

    Agents should think about what sites like PropertyScope could do to their personal and corporate brand. I had a quick look at the site and if I’m correct I can signup and start reviewing any agent or agency I choose to regardless of whether I have done business with them or not.

    So what kind of service is that, absolutely useless yet it can do damage to a brand because the average punter will take such reviews at face value.

    A credible real estate review site would issue authentication numbers to agents then agents could distribute the numbers to clients, buyers, sellers, renters etc.

    Only people with those numbers could post reviews. At least that way a reviewer would be an authenticated client of the agent they are reviewing.

    Such a system could offer a worthwhile service to the industry but models like PropertScope are just useless.

  11. francine August 24, 2010 at 5:49 pm #

    To make the most of the talk sometimes bad reviews are given much time to read because it arouses the feelings of a fan. Real estate agents given the attention they want to have through property scope.

  12. Oliver August 24, 2010 at 10:02 pm #

    Hi Glenn,

    Thanks for your article and for your readers’ comments – we launched PropertyScope a fortnight ago and are pleased to see the site is generating some discussion.

    Firstly can I stress that PropertyScope is largely about helping people find great real estate agents – not about highlighting those with negative reviews. We tweet and Facebook great agent reviews and have the top-rated agents listed on the front page of the site. In this way we hope to be useful to real estate buyers and sellers as well as the industry.

    In terms of fraudulent reviews – I agree this is very important and we’re monitoring it closely… An agent has already tried to review themselves and found the review rejected.

    Agents absolutely have a right of reply on PropertyScope – this is one of the most important aspects of the site. If you are registered and logged into the site, you will see a ‘Claim’ button under your name on your profile page – clicking it (and providing some information that allows us to confirm it’s really you) will allow you to manage your listing – update contact details, add a photo and of course respond to reviews. You will also automatically receive a notification each time you are reviewed.

    The agent listings on the website come mostly from Real Estate Institute lists – and we recognise they are imperfect. If anyone has any suggestions on better ways to generate lists of agents then we’d be happy to hear (what is the ‘shiny new tag’, Glenn?)! In fact, we are happy to receive any feedback on the site – it is only new so we’ll inevitably be tweaking it as we discover exactly how it’s being used (drop me a line oliver@propertyscope.com.au).

    Best regards,
    Oliver

  13. CEO August 25, 2010 at 4:43 am #

    Online Reputation Management is a big deal at http://ReputationAccelerator.com Everything starts at the Google Search or other search engine. Review sites get over 90% o their traffic from people searching for businesses online organically before getting swept into these sites. The key is for realtors to control their

  14. Lara Scott August 25, 2010 at 7:00 am #

    Thanks Glenn for your response and I am glad that the questions also generated a response from Oliver @ propertyscope.

    Clearly the data wasn’t coming from an existing portal and certainly offers food for thought on better coding practice for sites if it is generated from a spider trawl.

    I have revisited this morning and lo and behold John McGrath is on the front page as a top listed agent – all well and good – then you click the profile and it says his state/territory is NORTHERN TERRITORY.

    As a consumer, not an agent, I think the site would have more chance of success if it grew organically with legitimate user generated reviews and permissions-based profiles for agents. Data dumping names is never a good idea as it has already created a “”more is less” list of agents, not necessarily assigned to the correct listing area or state, for that matter.

    Make agents universally aware of the site’s existence and that gives them the ultimate right to reply. Using Rich Snippets is certainly going to get the data to travel further but it might do the industry as a whole more disservice in terms of reputation.

  15. Tatiana Mijalica August 25, 2010 at 8:12 am #

    The is another online rating site starting in Melbourne too: http://www.inhindsight.com.au

    Inhindsight operates on a different system with little room for error or competitor reviews.

    Once a property is available For Sale on, http://www.inhindsight.com.au write to the Vendor asking them to participate in a review of the Agent.

    The Vendor completes a questionarre consisting of 9 questions, and rates the Agent on a scale from 1 – 5. A performance score is then generated for the Agent and published on the site.

    The Vendor can choose to remain anonymous or to have their details revealed.

    Reviews can be searched by suburb and price range, which I think it fantastic.

    At launch, there will be around 300 reviews on the site.

    http://www.inhindsight.com.au have done a fantastic marketing campaign around Melbourne with billboards and a branded tram and vendor participation is extremely high.

  16. Nick August 25, 2010 at 11:51 am #

    Glenn Batten the eBay system seems to work well. Positive reviews are really pushed and you can’t actually get a list of all the negative reviews, only the positive ones. To see negative reviews you actually need to search down their entire list.

    Bill if a site used the codes system, a agent simply wouldnt give out codes to people who had a bad experience. It would work for positive reviews but not negative ones.

  17. Sal Espro August 25, 2010 at 12:32 pm #

    Hi Nic, How does Luxury Homes make money please? i.e. If they offer to take our listings for free and they don’t seem to have much advertising?
    What’s the state of the few of you types of portals in the market?
    Thx,
    Sal (Still learning)

  18. Glenn Batten August 25, 2010 at 1:21 pm #

    Oliver,

    Great to see that agents can respond to any of the reviews. Can you give us more details and hopefully an example on where this has happened so we can see how it works.

    You would have to setup a spider to trawl through the Realestate.com.au site looking at each page and recording everything between the ***

    *** tags (the stars are to stop the div dissappearing in code again )

    Of course REA is not going to like you doing this. 🙂

    I would suggest that you give the underquoting or overquoting figures away. It really is only relevant with auctions and they are in the minority. According to RPData 30% in Melbourne, 20% in Sydney and much much less in the rest of Vic and NSW, other capital cities and the rest of Australia.

    Whilst some agents are bad for quoting buyers low figures for auctions…most homes are not sold by auction and most over priced homes are outside of the agents control and its owners who set their price.

    If you want agents to get involved with this I suggest you setup something like this :

    Agent receives written testimonial.

    1/ Agent enters testimonial on your site providing full details of the transaction for transparency along with the full name and email address of the buyer or seller providing the testimonial.

    2/ PropertyScope emails the client providing the details of their testimonial asking for confirmation along with the ability to add or amend the testimonial.

    3/ Buyer or seller confirms or edits testimonial, and selects star rating.

    4/ Testimonial is then made public.

    Another massive feature would be to hookup with the guys at RealSatisfied.

    They are a third party real estate client survey solution. They could easily integrate posting of the reviews they are already collecting as part of their service so that there is no more work for the buyer or seller at all.

    This would provide you with thousands of reviews and them with an extra selling feature.

    In fact they already have a lot of reviews in the database so maybe a retro solution could be done. I would love to click a button on each person who has already submitted a review/survey and offer them the option of having that review made public on your site…

    Give them a little credit on your site… ie.. ” Review supplied via RealSatisfied.com.au” with a link and it could be a good relationship. I did an article on them recently so check them out on this site or at http://www.realsatisfied.com.au.

  19. Nick August 25, 2010 at 2:52 pm #

    Sal, its a little off topic, but Luxury Homes isnt a free portal.

    If you have any other questions about Luxury Homes Australia, its probably best to email me directly. nick@luxuryhomesaustralia.com.au

  20. Bob August 26, 2010 at 2:18 pm #

    “most over priced homes are outside of the agents control and its owners who set their price.”

    Most agents high-ball the original quote to the owners to win the listing, then spend remainder of the authority period trying to crunch the vendor.

  21. Ryan O'Grady August 27, 2010 at 2:20 pm #

    If online review sites are after credibility then they need to be doing what Tatiana said this site is doing http://www.inhindsight.com.au. Otherwise, it’s all rubbish!

  22. Trish August 27, 2010 at 2:30 pm #

    Great work Property Scope!

    I think it is important for agents to realise that they are being rated, whether at a BBQ, Pub or Online.

    Gone are the days of ‘Most people don

  23. Steve Basin August 27, 2010 at 3:19 pm #

    Thankyou Glenn for your informative post and your thoughts on “Property Scope”

    Whatever the premature limitations may currently be for a fairly new website like “Property Scope” or “inhindsight”, their intentions are sound for helping to praise the good agents and weed out the poor ones.

    Both these services were created because of a need for them in the market place. If every agent was good and ethical, would we of seen them spring up?
    The question to ask though is will they be thriving in a year or more down the track or will there be other sites springing up to follow suit.
    The level of participation will give an indication of whether something like this is just needed or desperately needed!

    The choice of course lies not for the estate agents but for the property owners and buyers.

    Ebay and Amazon are a shining example of a rating system that is embraced by the consumers. I don’t think any purchase is now made by an individual without first checking the rating system of a company or an individual, and I think this is fair.

    If a rating system is such second nature in selling pens and books, more so should be when property is transacted, why?

    Property owners entrust their biggest asset to an agent, how do they know that their agent will be the best for the job? The best way of course is from personal recommendations from family and friends, next best is feedback from the general public, who used that particular agent.
    Testimonials go a whole long way and beat any day corporate pamphlets and brochures.

    I always felt that people are generally good and fair. Yes, there will be some people who will be unfair and critical and leave a poor comment, yet for 1 bad comment there maybe a dozen more positive comments.
    People aren’t stupid and they will read past those comments. Yet, at the same time, if there is a trend of poor comments, then there should be a warning signal sounding.

    Good agents will thrive under a system like “property scope” or “inhindsight” and the not so good ones will be buried under a sea of poor ratings.

    Good agents should not fear these websites they should embrace them, and say thankyou that finally all my hard work will now pay off. One client at a time, one property at a time.

    Its time for all, especially “average” estate agents to pull up their socks and work extra harder, because whether they like it or not transparency and openness is the new ruler in the social media universe.

  24. Sal Espro August 27, 2010 at 5:58 pm #

    A mate of yours Ryan? This tram has been around all week but the site doesn’t tell you anything? What do you know?

  25. Sal Espro August 27, 2010 at 5:59 pm #

    Ah, sorry about that. Now I’ve re-read your post. We’ll see, I guess. I see them as just more dross on the social super highway.

  26. francine@property for sale August 30, 2010 at 11:07 am #

    I like review site with snippets it gives readers the urge to subscribe and fully read the article.

  27. Bill September 1, 2010 at 9:50 am #

    Nick, a review site would encourage the prospective reviewers to only list with agents who are prepared to provide a key as part of the listing agreement. The agency would then be under pressure to provide the service they promote. It would be part of the review sites strategy to only list agents who participate in the review program. No problem with that, I assume agents would trip over themselves to participate in a fully transparent and authenticated review system.

    Any negative review would not be published until the agent has consulted with the reviewer. If the negative cannot be converted to a positive within a given timeframe then the review is published.

    I came across a review site that operated in this way and it was a class act. Can’t remember what it was, a couple of years back and Im a senior.

  28. Tatiana Mijalica November 30, 2010 at 9:31 am #

    http://www.inhindsight.com.au is live and already creating a stir in Melbourne.

    In Hindsight was founded by Ian Scott, who previously worked as global marketing executive with The Gillette Company, and Head of Operations for Melbourne based real estate agency Kay & Burton.

    More information here: http://www.inhindsight.com.au/faq

    I like this one as it is a great selling tool for agents and will actually help enhance an agents performance.

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