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AgentLeaf for consumers launched- thumbs up or thumbs down?

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Currently in beta in the San Francisco area, AgentLeaf takes a unique approach to helping home buyers and home sellers to connect with a real estate professional. AgentLeaf says they reveal “top local real estate agents using real, objective data from the MLS” and don’t charge agents to be listed.

Matthew Holder, CEO of AgentLeaf has an air of mystery about him because they are still in beta, but below is our interview with him that gives you an insight into how the site works. We’d like to know in comments what you think about the site.

What was the inspiration for Agent Leaf?

“The inspiration behind Agentleaf is the need to improve the public perception of the real estate industry. We want to cooperate with consumers and agents – helping consumers find the right agent on a hyper-local level and help agents leverage their personal brands online.
Through Agentleaf, we want to:

  • Give the consumer more tools to make an informed decision – and save a little money while they’re at it
  • Improve the standards of professionalism in the industry
  • Restructure the way new agents come into and grow within the industry
  • Help agents and brokers improve their business – whether it’s with their existing company or giving them more freedom to go out on their own”

How does the 15% rebate work?

“We cooperate with consumers and agents to provide a commission rebate. The rebate is provided exclusively by Agentleaf to customers who use our site to find and work with a cooperating agent. We enable consumers to be enthusiastic about finding their agent and, therefore, provide agents with consumers who are excited to work with them. It’s a win-win.”

What is the Realtor’s role in AgentLeaf?

“Agentleaf is here to improve the business of professional agents by increasing consumer awareness. With the influx of online brokerages beating down the door of the traditional agent, Agentleaf enables Realtors to fight back by showcasing local expertise and experience to consumers. Realtors will have a chance to showcase their value proposition, increase their personal brand, and legitimize their standing within the local real estate community.”

Holder kept his plans for the future close to the vest, so we cannot confirm the next cities in queue, but we are interested to know what the real estate community thinks of MLS data and a rebate combining to form AgentLeaf. We welcome your comments below.

AG is not affiliated with AgentLeaf.

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11 Comments

11 Comments

    • matthew holder

      March 1, 2011 at 10:24 am

      No calls about ‘we have buyers’ unless we actually have one for you…or a seller for that matter. Either way, we do basic qualification of the leads before sending them your way and you don’t pay anything unless you close the deal.

  1. Bruce Lemieux

    March 1, 2011 at 9:32 am

    At last! This is exactly what RE needs to “Improve the standards of professionalism in the industry” and “restructure the way new agents come into and grow within the industry”. A website where agents can add a profile and get internet buyer leads with a 15+% referral.

    It’s such a revolutionary idea, I’m having trouble getting my head around the implications to our industry. Why didn’t anyone think of this sooner?

  2. Bruce Lemieux

    March 1, 2011 at 12:49 pm

    Matt, all snark aside, I just don’t see a business here. Here’s some of the challenges I think you’ll have:

    1. Get Buyers and Sellers. You are just like every other agent and RE web site in this regard – how do you connect with buyers and sellers? How do you market your services and cut through the considerable noise so buyers/sellers know you exist. Just having a website with ratings isn’t enough. Good luck winning the SEO game.

    2. Sell Buyers/Sellers on Your Value Proposition. It looks like you have two: 1. get 15% back, 2. see agent ratings based on MLS data. Why go with you when Redfin gives me an agent and gives up to 1/2 commission back? So maybe the 15% back isn’t as important as finding a successful agent. Your beta site just has rankings with no explaination or backup. In San Francisco, Mike Hirner is #1 and Gina W. Tse is #2. What does this mean? What’s #5 mean? As a consumer, you aren’t telling me anything. Click ‘next’.

    3. Connect with Agents. If you are giving 15% to buyers/sellers, I assume you are looking for 20-25% from Agents (assuming your goal isn’t to start a charity). Do you have any idea how many calls agents get from companies who have “a qualified buyer/seller in your area?” We all get *tons* of these calls. And we all hate them. If Mike and Gina do any business (which they should since the are #1 and #2), they won’t take your call. I try not to be rude, but I don’t go past one sentence with these guys. Don’t underestimate how hard it will be to hand-off a referral to a decent agent.

    If you really want to build a business promoting the best agents, then do just that. Find the 50 best agents in your target market, and then *you* profile them. Tell us why they are so great. Tell us customer stories of how these awesome agents actually added value to a purchase or sell. Do that *first*, and then contact the agent and see if they would be willing to take a referral for new business. If you did that with me (assuming I made the top 50), then I’ll take your call.

    Also – make sure you actually profile the best agents. If the foundation of your business model really is to “improve the standards of professionalism in the industry”, then do it. If your business is based simply on creating a referral network, then you shouldn’t waste your time.

    Good luck with the business.

    • Matt Holder

      March 1, 2011 at 4:13 pm

      Hi Bruce.

      Thanks for your comments. I think you make very valid and important points, which i have addressed below. I think your feedback is great and there is much more in store that will go well beyond the current site.

      1. That is an issue we are aware of and are prepared for.

      2. You can join the site to see any agent’s sales stats for the past two years. The site is in beta and as such it is a work in progress – we are tackling those issues as we speak. Our goal is to give consumers a combination of choice and savings.

      3. If you don’t want to work with people who have specifically chosen to work with you than that’s your choice. There’s no harm in getting a lead in your email and added to your sales funnel – we’re here to help you get clients who excited to work with you…not clog your sales funnel.

  3. Christa Borellini

    March 1, 2011 at 1:29 pm

    I think it sounds great. Don’t pay unless it closes. Can’t wait till it comes to San Diego! Let me know Matt!

    • Matt Holder

      March 1, 2011 at 4:15 pm

      Thanks Christa.

      Follow us on twitter, @agentleaf, for our latest updates and where we plan to launch next.

  4. Mike O'Hara

    March 1, 2011 at 8:05 pm

    Hello Matt. I have not seen the beta site. You provide MLS closing stats, but do you ALSO include withdrawn and expired info? There are plenty of agents that are great at marketing themselves which leads to many listings. If I am a consumer, I would also want to know how many listings have been unsuccessful. This is especially important with the many short sale charlatans that are out there throwing 30 or 40 short sales against the wall in a year, when inevitably only a half dozen actually close. To me, this is a very important distinction.

    • Matt Holder

      March 2, 2011 at 11:05 am

      Hi Mike.

      I absolutely agree. If you join our beta, you can see we include a sales conversion rate for the listing side, which reflects that metric. Our goal is transparency and increased efficiency – so you can see agents who ‘throw [a bunch of] short sales against the wall’ but have a low conversion rate v. agents with maybe fewer listings but a higher conversion rate.

  5. Pingback: If you could see any real estate agent's sales stats and how they ranked compared to all other local agents, would that knowledge impact who you chose to help you buy or sell a home? - Quora

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Business Marketing

Technology is helping small businesses adapt and stay afloat

(BUSINESS MARKETING) Small businesses need to utilize digital platforms to adapt their businesses during COVID-19, or else they may be left behind.

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small businesses new tech

While many may not have imagined our present day back in March, and to what extreme we would be doing things “remotely” and via “hands-free contact”, we have to give some credit to small business owners who remain flexible and have pivoted to stay afloat. They deserve major credit on adaptations they have made (and possibly investments) in new technology (ordering online, online payments) especially at a time when their in-person revenues have taken a hit.

There are various marketing buzz words being used lately to say “let’s keep our distance”, including: curbside, to-go, hands-free, no contact, delivery only, order via app, social distancing and #wearamask.

The thing is, if you really think about it, small businesses are always in evolution mode – they have to pay attention to consumer consumption and behaviors that can shift quickly in order to stay relevant and utilize their marketing and advertising budgets wisely. They heavily rely on positive customer reviews and word of mouth recommendations because they may not have the budget for large scale efforts.

For example, we use Lyft or Uber vs calling an individual cab owner; we order on Amazon vs shopping at a local mom-and-pop shop; we download and make playlists of music vs going to a record or music store. Small business owners are constantly fighting to keep up with the big guys and have to take into account how their product/service has relevance, and if it’s easy for people to attain. In current times, they’ve had to place major efforts into contactless experiences that often require utilizing a digital platform.

If stores or restaurants didn’t already have an online ordering platform, they had to implement one. Many may have already had a way to order online but once they were forced to close their dining areas, they had to figure out how to collect payments safely upon pickup; this may have required them to implement a new system. Many restaurants also had to restructure pick up and to-go orders, whether it was adding additional signage or reconfiguring their pick up space to make sure people were able to easily practice social distancing.

According to this article from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, “Studies have shown that 73% of small businesses are not aware of digital resources, such as online payment processing tools, online productivity tools, e-commerce websites, online marketing and other tools, that can help them reach customers around the world. If small businesses had better access to global markets, it could increase the GDP of the United States by $81 billion and add 900,000 new jobs. During the pandemic, this could also mean the difference between thriving and closing for good.”

There are some larger corporate technology companies offering ways to support small businesses whether it’s through small business grants from Google, resources and grants from Facebook or Verizon giving them a break on their telecom bill. The challenge with this may be whether or not small business owners are able to find time from their intense focus on surviving to applying for these grants and managing all that admin time. Many business owners may be focusing on what technology they have and can upgrade, or what they need to implement – most likely while seeing a loss in revenue. So, it can be a tough decision to make new technology investments.

It does seem like many have made incredible strides, and quickly (which is impressive), to still offer their products and services to customers – whether it’s a contactless pay method, free delivery, or even reservations to ensure limited capacity and socially distanced visits. There are still some that just haven’t able to do that yet, and may be looking at other ways to take their business to a wider audience online.

We would encourage, if you can, to support small businesses in your community as often as you can. Understandably there are times that it’s easier to order on Amazon, but if there is a way you can pick up something from a local brewery or family-owned business, this may be the lifeline they need to survive and/or to invest in new technology to help them adapt.

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Business Marketing

There’s a shortage of skilled workers, so get learning

(BUSINESS MARKETING) COVID-19 may end up justifying training funds for lower-class workers to learn new skills. Skilled workers are desperately needed right now.

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skilled worker

The COVID-19 pandemic (yes, that one) has ushered in a lot of unexpected changes, one of the which is most surprising: An increased call for skilled workers — a call that, unfortunately, requires a massive retraining of the existing workforce.

According to the New York Times, nearly 50 percent of Americans were working from home by May; this was, reportedly, a 15 percent increase in remote work. The problems with this model are expansive, but one of the greatest issues stems from the lack of training: As employees of lower-class employment transitioned to working online, it became increasingly evident that there was a shortage of skilled workers in this country.

The Times traces this phenomenon back to the Great Recession; Harvard University’s Lawrence Katz points to some parallels and insinuates that this is an opportunity to elevate the lower class rather than regressing, and it seems fair to put the onus of such elevation on lawmakers and senators.

Indeed, Congress has even addressed the issue of skill equality via “bipartisan support” of a $4000 credit for non-skilled workers to use toward skill training. For Congress to come together on something like this is relatively noteworthy, and it’s hard to disagree with the premise that, given the invariable automation wave, many of our “non-skilled” workers will face unemployment without substantial aid.

COVID-19 has accelerated many trends and processes that should have taken years to propagate, and this is clearly one of them.

Supporting laborers in developing skills that help them work within the technology bubble isn’t just a good idea–it’s imperative, both morally and economically speaking. Even middle-class “skilled” workers have had trouble keeping up with the sheer amount of automation and technology-based skillsets required to stay competent; when one considers how lower-class employees will be impacted by this wave, the outcome is too dark to entertain.

It should be noted that non-skilled workers don’t necessarily have to scale up their training in their current fields; the Times references a truck driver who pivoted hard into software development, and while it may be easier for some to focus on their existing areas of expertise, the option to make a career change does exist.

If we take nothing else away from the time we’ve spent in quarantine, we should remember that skilled labor is integral to our success as a society, and we have a moral obligation to help those who missed the opportunity to develop such skills fulfill that need.

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Business Marketing

6 tips to easily market your side hustle

(BUSINESS MARKETING) It can be hard to stand out from the crowd when you’re starting a new side hustle. Here are some easy ways to make your marketing efforts more effective.

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side hustle marketing

Side hustles have become the name of the game, and especially during these turbulent times, we have to get extra creative when it comes to making money. With so many of us making moves and so much noise, it can be hard to get the word out and stand out when sharing your side hustle.

Reuben Jackson of Big Think shared five ways that you can market your side hustle (we added a sixth tip for good measure), and comment with your thoughts and ideas on the subject:

  1. Referrals: Don’t Be Afraid to Ask!
    If you’re going to make a splash, you have to be willing to ask for favors. Reach out to your network and ask them to help spread the word on your new venture. This can be as simple as asking your friends to share a Facebook post with information that refers them to your page or website. Word of mouth is still important and incredibly effective.
  2. Start Where You Are
    Immediately running an expensive ad right out of the gate may not be the most effective use of your (likely) limited funds. Use the resources you do have to your advantage – especially if you’re just testing things out to see how the side hustle goes in the real world. You can do this by creating a simple, informational landing page for a small fee. Or, if you’re not looking to put any money into it right away, create an enticing email signature that explains what you do in a concise and eye-catching way. Check out these tools to create a kickin’ email signature.
  3. Gather Positive Reviews
    If you’ve performed a service or sold a product, ask your customers to write a review on the experience. Never underestimate how many potential customers read reviews before choosing where to spend their money, so this is an incredibly important asset. Once a service is completed or a product is sold, send a thank you note to your customer and kindly ask them to write a review. Be sure to provide them with links to easily drop a line on Yelp or your company’s Facebook page.
  4. Be Strategic With Social
    It’s common to think that you have to have a presence on all channels right away. Start smaller. Think about your demographic and do some research on which platforms reach that demographic most effectively. From there, put your time and energy into building a presence on one or two channels. Post consistently and engage with followers. After you’ve developed a solid following, you can then expand to other platforms.
  5. Give Paid Marketing A Shot
    Once you’ve made a dollar or two, try experimenting with some Facebook or Twitter ads. They’re relatively cheap to run and can attract people you may not have otherwise had a chance to reach out to. Again, the key is to start small and don’t get discouraged if these don’t have people knocking your door down; it may take trial and error to create the perfect ad for your hustle.
  6. Go Local
    Local newspapers and magazines are always looking for news on what local residents are doing. Send an email to your town/city’s journal or local Patch affiliate. Let them know what you’re up to, offer yourself for an interview, and give enticing information. The key is doing this in a way that your hustle is seen as beneficial to the public, and is not just an ad.

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