The rise of the Realtor ratings genre
Today, we introduced you to RatedAgent.com and gave you a brief history of Realtor ratings, and we also broke the news of the launch of VerifiedAgent.com which seeks to verify an agent’s integrity and record among other things.
Various companies have launched to reach the consumer and connect them with real estate professionals in a variety of ways using a variety of benchmarks, because let’s face it, every agent believes they’re the best and while they may be the best at something, they’re not the best at everything which is what has fueled the rise of ratings sites.
A new twist – agents will love this
There’s something different that is about to hit the market, something that could be the answer to telling an agent’s story better than a star rating and one that doesn’t seek to get in between the agent and consumers. We do a lot of interviews with a lot of companies, but when one matches our ethos of improving the industry in a way that truly impacts the consumers, we perk up. Enter ReachFactor.com, a company that has spent months working with agents, a third party research firm, and consumers to determine the formula they would use to be the ultimate real estate agent directory.
What they determined before they even wrote a line of code was that consumers want to know three things (and one may not have occurred to you before)- how active an agent is, what their consumers have to say about them (good and bad), and what the size of their network of fellow agents is. The last one was a surprise to us, why would consumers care? Consumers want to know that an agent has reach and knows who to call- consumers value connectedness which we suspect is a belief that when an agent works with them, they’re one phone call away from the inside track.
Innovative, agent-centric features
ReachFactor.com has a variety of unique features that are innovating the directory concept, starting with the idea that they serve as an interactive profile for agents to use rather than a database of agents they want consumers to come search through- it acts as a verification source that can be embedded in a website or Facebook.
One of the most innovative features they will launch (and dare we say the only company doing this) is an activity tracker wherein an agent can check in (or out) while they are at a property, much like Foursquare, in an effort to show that not only do they screen properties, but when they say “I am active in X neighborhood” there is a real way to show that fact off.
Another innovation that they have made to the entire model is that everything is funneled to the agent, where they say it should go, so when an email address is entered into the system by a consumer, that information is not used to generate traffic for themselves by drip marketing, nor is it resold as some sites do. We genuinely believe the agent-centric nature of ReachFactor as opposed to almost any site offering agent ratings or rankings. ReachFactor even has their own verification system so as to avoid abuse by an agent or their competitors, a feature missing from many ranking sites.
Most features of the site are free – an agent can add branding to their profile and engage in checking in and the like as well as building their network of agents to show the public how connected they are, a feature which is limited to an agent’s own market to curb the “I have 4,233 friends but I’ve never met any of them and they don’t live in my city” faux network so many boast as their reality.
Typically we are critical of any system that offers points for user behavior, but because all points on ReachFactor are private (consumers and agents can’t see how many points an agent has), and that it acts as a directional prompt to help agents with the flow of using the site, and that it feeds the algorithm for agent search, this time around, points might actually work.
Enhancing a profile
Agents’ profiles can be enhanced at a low cost to include links to their social networks, and have a share button and RSS button, along with a “call now” and “ask me a question” call to action button. Additionally, video testimonials can be added to the site and if an agent needs videography done, ReachFactor has a national network of videographers agents can work with.
How are listings handled?
So how are listings handled? Is this just another real estate search site waiting to happen? No. An address is not visible until it is enhanced by a user with descriptions and photos and ReachFactor will auto-populate as much information as possible. Listings will be a MLS-independent feature that agents with pocket listings will enjoy as they have somewhere to feature them, and a helpful feature for agents that list new homes that don’t necessarily go into the MLS.
Free Craigslist flyers and Facebook app
“Yelp ushered in an era of reviews, honesty and consumers distrusting of agent grandstanding,” ReachFactor.com CEO Suresh Srinivasan told AGBeat. When Srinivasan talks about ReachFactor, his passion for truth in marketing is evident and is at the core of everything he talks about. To avoid that grandstanding, their product offers third party proof of an agent’s reach, reputation and activity- they even offer a trust badge that can be embedded on Craigslist or a Realtor website.
ReachFactor offers free Craigslist email flyers which appears to be a feature agents have taken to readily and we hear is converting well, and there is a Facebook app the company has developed which offers a custom tab and syndicates their ReachFactor updates to their Facebook Page wall to passively show consumers they are active and connected. We believe these two options will be the honey that attracts the bears and when agents discover the agent-centric features available to them, they’ll stick around- the company hasn’t even launched publicly yet, no press releases have gone out, yet they already have over 3,000 paid platform users and is a free member benefit to Bay East Association of Realtors (we suspect more boards will join in).
This is going to be a hit
Reputation management, agent profiles, realtor reviews- all these have been tried, some have done well, others shut their doors before they even launched to the public, but ReachFactor.com is a real estate directory that serves the agent so they can better reach the consumer and because of the level of free features the company offers to help Realtors, this is going to be a hit.
Photo tour of features:
The following images offer commentary from ReachFactor to point out features on the pages. Click here if you want to sign up for a free account to give it a spin.
Click any image to enlarge.
AGBeat is not affiliated with ReachFactor.com.