Yesterday, my cross-town friend and fellow Agent Genius contributor Jonathan Dalton posted a justified discourse on Trulia Voices gone wrong.
Since its inception, Voices has had problems with agents jumping in and answering questions that, to be frank, they have no business answering. I’m talking about agents answering specific location based queries—for locations that lie thousands of miles outside their area of expertise.
Jonathan pointed to a question about an investor in Italy that was asking about opportunities in Tucson, Arizona.
“I sell Real Estate in Orange County California”
” Why just Tucson? Have you checked out the Western North Carolina area?”
“I am not familiar with the Toucson area but I can tell you that in the Northwest panhandle of Florida along the Gulf of Mexico your dollars could purchase a small beach side home or condominimum[sp]”
This morning, I was alerted to a Trulia Voices question from a resident of Chandler, Arizona. They were inquiring about removing an existing private pool.
“Even in Arizona, from a re-sale standpoint it is very rare that people are looking for a pool…” (This, which is completely wrong, from an agent located in…. Kansas.)
“Hi Rhonda: I live in Massachusetts. My home had an inground pool when we bought it….”
“You’ll recoup approx 30% of original cost” (from an agent in California).
Our friend from New England even adds, “On the other hand, having a cool pool to come home to in 90 degree + weather is wonderful.”
Yeah, add 25 degrees to that and it may be a matter of survival…
So why do agents from across the country feel compelled to answer a real estate question in a market they know absolutely nothing about?
I dunno. I can only assume it’s to add to their answer tally to get placed in the “Top Voices” page. Note that of this writing, it would take 905 answers to crack the Top 10 “Most Answers” category. Answer only 2,348 times, and you can claim the top spot.
And the value of being a “Top Voice”?
I dunno. Bragging rights? A shiny button? Your name in lights? Potential clients flocking to your site?
Does it really matter?
Don’t get me wrong, there are some excellent answers to real estate questions provided on Voices. But you’ve got to sift through mounds of dreck and shameless groveling for business to find them.
I like Trulia, have said so publicly many times. Every Trulian I’ve met has been a great person.
But Voices is just being polluted. Trulia gains mega, giga or terabytes of free content, so I understand from their perspective why they do it. I don’t get, at all, why agents are so quick to jump all over questions they know nothing about.
Can Trulia fix it? Sure. Questions are in effect “geo coded”, as are the profiles of those who contribute. Why not have your whiz-bang programmers (and they are very good) make it so out-of-area real estate professionals can’t answer those questions? Let the questioner tag if the question is local or general, and add the code that only lets local agents answer. Not perfect, but it’s a start.
How about this? Loose the “Top Whatever” lists. All they do is provide agents (who all tend to be ultra-competitive) incentive to post meaningless drivel.
Please don’t come back and spout the “it’s a self-policing community” mantra. That’s apparently not working.