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.
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?
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.”
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.
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.
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.
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
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