Inman Connect Highlights: Online Agent Reviews and Other Industry Issues

By Christina Hoffmann, Content Manager, HouseLogic.com

Are you concerned about participating in agent review sites that let consumers rate your service? Errol Samuelson, president of REALTOR.com, who spoke today during Real Estate Connect 2010 in San Francisco, said it’s worth it. He cited recent Forrester/Intelliseek survey results that say fewer than 50 percent of consumers trust television, radio, and Internet ads. They trust their friends and what they read on ratings and review sites, he added.

Consider this: Most of the reviews on TripAdvisor are good. That’s due in large part to the fact that commenters have to register. When review sites require people to identify themselves rather than contribute anonymously, they generally have more favorable reviews.

“Agents are worried about getting bad reviews, especially if they have lower production,” says Samuelson. “But it’s possible to be a high-quality, lower-production agent and get good reviews.”

Phone or E-mail?

For the last few years, you’ve been inundated with advice to answer an incoming e-mail message within hours, or even minutes, so you don’t lose business online.

Well, according to Samuelson, your ability to reply to consumer phone calls may be more important — or at least as critical as — responding to consumer e-mail. That’s because of the explosion in consumers using smartphones and searching for real estate from their phones. In a survey, he found that 70 percent of consumers hang up when they get a real estate professional’s voice mail.

Surge in Sales Ahead?

Realogy President and CEO Alex Perriello, who also spoke today, believes 2010 may turn out to be better than expected for home sales because of unexpected consequences from the federal home buyer tax credit deadlines.

He argues that practitioners pulled out all the stops to get deals under contract by April 30. Then in May, they started to realize they wouldn’t get the deals closed by June 30 because of clogs in the pipeline among appraisers, inspectors, and lenders. No surprise there.

But during the 60 days between the two deadlines, Perriello noticed that customer prospecting evaporated. “There were hardly any open house signs up” during that period, he says, “because agents were just focused on getting the pending deals closed.”

Since June 30, Perriello has seen prospecting activities near levels before the April 30 date. “If we really start to see transactions picking up by the end of August, this year may turn out to be better than what’s been predicted,” he says.

Brian Summerfield

Brian Summerfield is Manager of Business Development and Outreach for NAR Commercial and Global Services. He can be reached at bsummerfield@realtors.org.

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