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Just launched Realtor rating site – Mountain of Agents

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We’ve been talking about Realtor ratings for some time now and a few companies have taken a swing at the ball known as ratings. Zillow ended the year announcing their addition of ratings which saw a quick burst of attention before things quieted down.

Why did it quiet down? Likely because of the standard, expected star ratings system, it is being used by agents as a part of gaming the Zillow system, and we predict the other major search players will follow suit as consumers are demanding it.

In steps Mountain of Agents, a Realtor rating site that solicits ratings based on less subjective set of criteria including marketing expertise, geographical mastery, trust and compassion, active interest, helpfulness, and referrability (my spelling, not theirs). Most compelling to me personally is trust and compassion- an element that is difficult to critique but highly important in a down economy like we are in now.

The user interface looks great for Mountain of Agents and while other ratings sites are tedious and often confusing, we find this site to be extremely clear and well thought out with the Realtor in mind. Realtors can register for free and consumers can search for agents by zip code. Most ratings sites tend to overcomplicate the process, so the simplicity is refreshing.

Here’s a real live profile (click to enlarge):

Mountain of Agents Founder, Michael Becker said, “With the gaggle of sites out there trying to cram the entire real estate universe into a cluttered, messy single entity, our site offers a breath of fresh air to consumers and agents by focusing on usability, relevancy and reliability.”

The downside is that it is a noisy space to enter, so we’ll be interested to see how Mountain of Agents plans on growing. We also thought it would be an interesting option to list the agent’s license number on their profile with a link to the state license holder to further indicate a level of legitimacy given the remaining distrust of agents. I don’t care much for the copy (“compliment me”), it feels a little too self serving, but I guess it is a major solicitation, so why not?

How do you think Mountain of Agents can be or remain competitive in this environment?

AG is not affiliated with Mountain of Agents.

Lani is the Chief Operating Officer at The American Genius - she has co-authored a book, co-founded BASHH and Austin Digital Jobs, and is a seasoned business writer and editorialist with a penchant for the irreverent.

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23 Comments

23 Comments

  1. Fred Romano

    February 1, 2011 at 12:39 pm

    This site is plain stupid! Who’s to say the agent didn’t “click” those votes for themselves? Or have their friends and family vote some “clicks” to up the numbers? There is no way to critique the agent, only pat them on the back. How is any buyer or seller supposed to know if the agent is bad or good if only the “good” is offered? Come on now…

  2. MH for Movoto

    February 1, 2011 at 5:55 pm

    Hmmm….. it’s interesting, of course. but wouldn’t it be something if eventually all these agent review sites became so tangled that everyone actually goes back to good old word o’ mouth?

  3. Matt Thomson

    February 1, 2011 at 11:55 pm

    You mentioned that these sites are growing because the consumers demand this info, but isn’t their own rating available through social media? Can’t the consumer read blogs, search Twitter or Facebook, and learn more of the truth about agents than they’d learn on a rating site like this?

  4. Kirill Storch

    February 2, 2011 at 2:12 am

    haha…wow…

    You have got to understand that is going to piss a LOT of realtors off. Somehow, we consider ourselves part of a privileged class that neither has to upgrade our web marketing into the 21st century or be subject to the same scrutiny that other professionals deal with daily. Quick question, I would actually like to create a self-rating system for my clients and iframe (fbml) off my Facebook page so all my fb connections can read the reviews in real time, with no censorship.

    It’s a big move but I think in today’s landscape you gotta take risks like this. Do you have any examples of anythign like this? the only decent fbml iframe I can find that HAS ANYTHING to do with real estate is this one

    facebook.com/pages/Mindflash-Advertising/180033020422?v=app_4949752878&ref=ts

    But I need something more congruent with rating systems, preferably with minimal maintenance and programming required.

  5. Dunes

    February 2, 2011 at 1:27 pm

    I just went to the Site and “complimented” “rated?” an Agent in a State I’ve never even been to….just click nothing more

    I’m left with the thought of how Agents would think the Public is so naive they would give it credibility of any kind or how participating or supporting it could possibly gain any credibility for Agents….
    The only motivation I can see for participating or supporting a Site/System like this one is viewing it as a Lead Generator but then I would wonder why Participating, supporting, promoting a “Rating” System set-up up to be gamed/deceptive for Leads is a good thing, an honest thing or a credible thing for Agents/RE Pros, the Industry or the Public..

    I’ve seen a lot of Sites/Agents suggest a need to educate the Public about who they are and what they do…..Is this the Education…Bogus Good Ratings/Compliments to get Leads?

  6. happy pants

    February 2, 2011 at 1:46 pm

    Dumb idea. Any consumers that believe the ratings that an agent has the ability to control the ratings deserves the low quality agent they will get. Honest online reviews of bad agents open the client up to claims of libel. Why bother with that when you can spend your time bad mouthing bad agents in your local community?

  7. Regina

    February 2, 2011 at 3:21 pm

    This looks to me like it’s a directory first, ratings site second. I’d have to say I agree with the writer of this article as it’s nicely done, and really easy to use. I don’t really know what everyone’s in such a huff over. It’s not promising anything but usability and free publicity for realtors, which is fine with me. Nothing on the site reads to me as “deceiving.” Sure you can click on any agent you want, but if you’re an agent yourself, you obviously wouldn’t do that since you’d want your ratings to be higher. It’s no different than clicking wrong answers on polls anywhere on the web. I think it’s a refreshing, fun twist on the industry. Besides, the more of you who don’t sign up in my area, the better it is for me when someone types in my zip code! ; )

  8. Debbie

    February 2, 2011 at 4:32 pm

    Silly, inane idea, and much ado about nothing. Serves no useful purpose for the consumer.
    This isn’t a “ratings” system – it is a roster of agents (who know , or care to sign up) with a bunch of useless “compliments”, left by nameless “clients? (if they even are clients),

    Where do the disgruntled clients get to leave their opinions?.
    Balance the choices …. “I’d recommend this agent” ….with: “I wouldn’t recommend this agent” …………and see how many agents will run in the other direction before signing up!

  9. Sara Bonert

    February 3, 2011 at 6:08 pm

    Hey Lani – I hardly think the idea of reviews on Zillow has died down, as in just a few short weeks since we launched late Dec we now have over 15,000 reviews on the site. I am not sure what you mean by ‘gaming the system’ – but since we require the reveiwer to be an actual past client (by submitting the address of the home the agents helped with) and by hand reading every single reviewer submitted – the incident of fraud and gaming is quite low.

    It is still a little early to judge any solid trends, but right now we are seeing Agents with 5 or more reviews see an average 134% increase in customer contacts.

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Austin

Austin tops the list of best places to buy a home

When looking to buy a home, taking the long view is important before making such a huge investment – where are the best places to make that commitment?

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Looking at the bigger picture

(REALUOSO.COM) – Let us first express that although we are completely biased about Texas (we’re headquartered here, I personally grew up here), the data is not – Texas is the best. That’s a scientific fact. There’s a running joke in Austin that if there is a list of “best places to [anything],” we’re on it, and the joke causes eye rolls instead of humility (we’re sore winners and sore losers in this town).

That said, SelfStorage.com dug into the data and determined that the top 12 places to buy a home are currently Texas and North Carolina (and Portland, I guess you’re okay too or whatever).

They examined the nerdiest of numbers from the compound annual growth rate in inflation-adjusted GDP to cost premium, affordability, taxes, job growth, and housing availability.

“Buying a house is a big decision and a big commitment,” the company notes. “Although U.S. home prices have risen in the long term, the last decade has shown that path is sometimes full of twists, turns, dizzying heights and steep, abrupt falls. Today, home prices are stabilizing and increasing in most areas of the U.S.”

Click here to continue reading the list of the 12 best places to buy a home…

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Housing News

Average age of houses on the rise, so is it now better or worse to buy new?

With aging housing in America, are first-time buyers better off buying new or existing homes? The average age of a home is rising, as is the price of new housing, so a shift could be upon us.

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aging housing inventory

The average home age is higher than ever

(REALUOSO.COM) – In a survey from the Department of Housing and Urban Development American Housing Survey (AHS), the median age of homes in the United States was 35 years old. In Texas, homes are a bit younger with the median age between 19 – 29 years. The northeast has the oldest homes, with the median age between 50 – 61 years. In 1985, the median age of a home was only 23 years.

With more houses around 40 years old, the National Association of Realtors asserts that homeowners will have to undertake remodeling and renovation projects before selling unless the home is sold as-is, in which case the buyer will be responsible to update their new residence. Even homeowners who aren’t selling will need to consider remodeling for structural and aesthetic reasons.

Prices of new homes on the rise

Newer homes cost more than they used to. The price differential between new homes and older homes has increased from 10 percent traditionally to around 37 percent in 2014. This is due to rising construction costs, scarcity of lots, and a low inventory of new homes that doesn’t meet the demand.

Click here to continue reading this story…

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Housing News

Are Realtors the real loser in the fight between Zillow Group and Move, Inc.?

The last year has been one of dramatic and rapid change in the real estate tech sector, but Realtors are vulnerable, and we’re worried.

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zillow move

zillow move

Why Realtors are vulnerable to these rapid changes

(REALUOSO.COM) – Corporate warfare demands headlines in every industry, but in the real estate tech sector, a storm has been brewing for years, which in the last year has come to a head. Zillow Group and Move, Inc. (which is owned by News Corp. and operates ListHub, Realtor.com, TopProducer, and other brands) have been competing for a decade now, and the race has appeared to be an aggressive yet polite boxing match. Last year, the gloves came off, and now, they’ve drawn swords and appear to want blood.

Note: We’ll let you decide which company plays which role in the image above.

So how then, does any of this make Realtors the victims of this sword fight? Let’s get everyone up to speed, and then we’ll discuss.

1. Zillow poaches top talent, Move/NAR sues

It all started last year when the gloves came off – Move’s Chief Strategy Officer (who was also Realtor.com’s President), Errol Samuelson jumped ship and joined Zillow on the same day he phoned in his resignation without notice. He left under questionable circumstances, which has led to a lengthy legal battle (wherein Move and NAR have sued Zillow and Samuelson over allegations of breach of contract, breach of fiduciary duty, and misappropriation of trade secrets), with the most recent motion being for contempt, which a judge granted to Move/NAR after the mysterious “Samuelson Memo” surfaced.

Salt was added to the wound when Move awarded Samuelson’s job to Move veteran, Curt Beardsley, who days after Samuelson left, also defected to Zillow. This too led to a lawsuit, with allegations including breach of contract, violation of corporations code, illegal dumping of stocks, and Move has sought restitution. These charges are extremely serious, but demanded slightly less attention than the ongoing lawsuit against Samuelson.

2. Two major media brands emerge

Last fall, the News Corp. acquisition of Move, Inc. was given the green light by the feds, and this month, Zillow finalized their acquisition of Trulia.

…Click here to continue reading this story…

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