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Consumers will soon have better ways to vet real estate agents

(Housing News) Consumers have endless market data, but finding information about Realtors is complicated – Realtor.com thinks they’ve untangled the mess and made it easier for you to find relevant info before hiring representation.

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New Realtor.com profiles to launch

Consumers already know what neighborhood they want to live in, they’ve obsessed over the school ratings, where the nearest gym or yoga studio is, and they’ve already combed through every real estate market report in the area and dug through real estate sites for data gems for weeks, months, sometimes even years.

When looking for representation, the challenge is that many sites surface agent recommendations based on who paid to be at the top of the results, or agents with large teams, and one person gets credit for 25 agents’ work, so they pop up at the top of the list of “best” agents because they technically have the most closings.

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Realtor.com thinks they’ve solved that with new Realtor profiles that will be launching soon which will be available at https://www.realtor.com/realestateagents/.

Here’s a screenshot of how they’re pitching it to agents:

realtor-profiles

Better consumer connections with agents

Home buyers or sellers typically ask their Facebook friends for Realtor recommendations (and they all tag a bunch of strangers), but with these profiles, anyone can comb through and do their own web stalking of the agents (come on, we all do it). The profile shows a stream of the agent’s activities in the area which gives an idea of what they’re really about – see a bunch of photos of foreclosed properties, but you’re looking to buy a $3M home, you might be in the wrong spot, and conversely, if you see a bunch of images of ultra luxury properties, but you’re looking for a tiny vacation bungalow, this might not be your bungalow expert.

What is most attention-grabbing about the new profiles is the check-in feature that shows you whether or not an agent is legitimately active in the community where they profess to be an expert. If they’ve showed clients 12 houses, checked in to the coffee shop and Pho restaurant, previewed 8 homes for sale, and gone on 3 client appointments in a specific subdivision in the last week, they’re probably more of an expert than the “neighborhood expert” who hasn’t set foot in the area in two years, but they once closed a home there and they run reports on the zip code, so they can say they’re an expert.

Additionally, Realtor.com doesn’t allow any agent to check in to a location unless their GPS says they’re physically on site, and it emails the listing agent that they visited, so it’s self policing and pretty hard to game – much better than reading an agent’s site that promises to be an expert, but with no proof.

The profile shows all of the agent’s designations, which are the fancy letters behind their name that outline what extra education they’ve had beyond licensing and in-house classes their broker offers. Someone who is obsessing over getting an ultra efficient home may want to seek out an agent who is Green Certified and spends time in their desired neighborhood. The company emphasizes that through extensive research, they want to surface relevant information that consumers want to connect with.

The bottom line is that consumers already have data at their fingertips about homes and neighborhoods, but soon, they’ll have some relevant data at their fingertips to better hire representation. It’s not perfect, but it’s a hell of a lot better than throwing spaghetti to a wall and seeing what sticks.

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4 Comments

4 Comments

  1. valeriekeener

    May 16, 2014 at 9:40 am

    I’m in favor of a better system that doesn’t allow agents to pay more to get higher rankings. This seems like a step in the right direction.

  2. karenrice

    May 22, 2014 at 7:30 am

    This looks interesting. I hope the “Check in” is better than the one Trulia offers – more than half the listings I try to Check in via the trulia ap wont’ show up.

  3. Hank Miller

    May 28, 2014 at 9:04 am

    It all boils down to the public demanding that the performance bar be raised. The industry will never truly tackle the issue of incompetent agents; there’s far too much money being made from the national all the way to the broker level. Until clients vet agents by what they know and what they do instead of who they play tennis with, this industry will remain at the bottom of the public perception pile.

  4. Matt Mortensen

    September 16, 2015 at 3:44 pm

    I love this! It’s just an extension of the online social media movement. Everyone wants to know everything about everyone they do business with immediately. It just makes real estate agents accountable. Reviews are a huge part of picking your real estate agent and finding them online is becoming extremely simple. Thanks for sharing! Great info!

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Business News

Tis the season for employment scams – here’s what to look out for

(BUSINESS NEWS) Desperate times call for desperate measures. Seasonal employment scams are back on the menu and here’s how you can avoid them.

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A serious man considers a clipboard in potential employment scams.

With the sheer amount of desperation surrounding the holidays, employment scams typically have a resurgence during this season. Thanks to the Better Business Bureau, there are some clear warning signs that can help you spot and avoid seasonal scams this year.

The typical crux of any employment scam revolves around a prospective employee’s willingness to pay for something upfront, be it training or some other kind of quasi-justifiable item (e.g., a uniform). However, other iterations of the scam actually involve an “employer” overpaying for something at the onset—albeit with a fake check—and then asking the recipient to wire “back” the extra money.

Either way, these scams can leave you jobless and with less money than you initially had, so here are some things for which you should watch out.

Firstly, employers shouldn’t ever charge you before hiring you. Some industries do require employees to make small purchases on their own dime (i.e., the aforementioned uniform), but payroll will usually deduct the cost of these materials from the employee’s first paycheck—not require payment upfront.

As a general rule, it’s probably best to avoid companies that charge you at all. Aramark, for example, is known for requiring employees to buy company clothes—and they’re no peach to work with. But desperate times may warrant an exception in this regard.

It’s also to your benefit to avoid postings that boast an “interview-free” experience. Put simply, no one is hiring sans an interview unless it’s nepotism or a scam. If you aren’t related to the poster, that doesn’t leave much up for interpretation. Similarly, advertising a large sum of money for disproportionately low amounts of work is a pretty big warning sign.

Finally, watch out for jobs that ask for a work sample before hiring. While this is common for internships, most entry-level positions and beyond aren’t going to require you to complete a project for free before determining whether or not you’re good for the job. At best, this is a tactic to get free work from you; at worst, your application information can be stolen.

It’s sad to think that people would stoop to the level of scamming others amidst the dumpster fire of a year it’s been, but if you avoid these red flags, you should be able to keep yourself safe during this holiday season.

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Business News

Genomelink is a one-stop-shop for your DNA data, but is it safe?

(NEWS) Genomelink is presenting a dashboard product to unlock further insights using your genetic data. Sounds cool…until you think about privacy.

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dna ancestry tests representing genomelink

Have you ever done one of those nifty home test kits to check your ancestry? In this new world where covid is a long-term reality and the resulting boom in telehealth services, genetic home test kits are seeing a comeback in popularity. What many consumers aren’t aware of, is what happens to their data after they get their report back. Now, there is a new contender in the market called Genomelink that is presenting a dashboard product to unlock further insights using your genetic data. That sounds cool… until you start thinking about privacy.

Most of the major companies in the business don’t even give you the option to not have your data sold, but that fact is buried so far into the fine print, it is no wonder that people miss it. Research published in the journal Nature found that genetic-testing companies frequently fail to meet even basic international transparency standards. Unifying all this data into one dashboard product unlocks even more opportunities for your data to be compromised.

There are four big glaring red flags prospective users should be aware of:

1. Cyber security standards in the genetic testing industry are low-tier.

2. The protocols for how to make your information “anonymous” before they sell it en masse are laughably ineffective.

3. There are no restrictions on who can purchase it or for what purpose.

4. Genomelink is trying to build a platform to streamline access to this data for “all users everywhere.”

Genomelink Co-founder Tomohiro Takano provided the following quote on ProductHunt.com: “We believe in the future, billions of people will have access to their DNA data. When that happens, imagine: [the place] where you will store DNA data and how you [will] connect data [to an] app ecosystem. That will be Genomelink in a nutshell.”

As someone who lives with disabilities, the last people I want to have access to my DNA data are health or life insurance providers or other for-profit interests who may not have my best interests in mind. Genomelink’s vision sounds like the well-intentioned beginning of something with the potential to be abused in sinister ways.

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Business News

9-to-5 workdays are no longer the norm: Flexibility brings productivity

(BUSINESS) Doing away with 9-to-5 workdays in a cubicle can work wonders for a team’s productivity. This is no longer a dream, but today’s reality.

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productivity outside of the challenging the norm of 9-to-5 workdays

As we’ve seen in recent years, many of the old concepts about work have been turned on their heads. Many offices allow a more casual dress as compared to the suit and tie standard, and more and more teams have the option of working remotely. One of these concepts that have been in flux for a bit is challenging the norm of 9-to-5 workdays. Offices are giving more options of flex hours and remote work, with the understanding that the work must be completed effectively and efficiently with these flexibilities.

Recently, I got sucked into one of those quick-cut Facebook videos about a company that decided to test out the method of a four-day workweek. This gave employees the option of what day they would like to take off, or, it gave employees the option to work all five days of the week, but with flex hours.

Despite the decrease in hours worked, employees were still paid for a 40-hour workweek which continued their incentive to get the same amount of work done in a more flexible manner. With this shift in time use, the results found that employees wasted less time around the office with mindless chit-chat, as they understood there was less time to waste.

The boss in this office had each team explain how they were going to deliver the same level of productivity. The video did not share the explanations, but it could be assumed that the incentive of a day off would encourage employees to continue their level of productivity, if not increase it.

This was done with the goal of working smarter, rather than harder. Finding ways to manage time better (like finishing up a task before starting another one) helps to stay efficient.

During the trial, it was found that productivity, team engagement, and morale all increased, while stress levels decreased. Having time for yourself (an extra day off) and not overworking yourself are important keys to being balanced and engaged.

There is such a stigma about the way you have to operate in order to be successful (e.g. getting up early, using every hour at your disposal, and using free time to meditate).

Let’s get real – we all need a little free time to check back in with ourselves by doing something mindless (like a good old-fashioned Game of Thrones binge). If not, we’ll go bonkers.

Flex hours and remote working are not all about having time to do morning yoga and read best-seller after best-seller. Flex hours give us the time to take our kids to and from school and comfortably wear our parenting caps without fear of getting fired for not showing up to work precisely at 9 AM.

9-to-5 workdays are becoming dated and I’m glad to see that happen. So many people run themselves ragged within this frame and it’s impossible to find that happy work-life balance. Using flex options can help people manage every aspect of their lives in a positive way.

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