New Realtor rating site now live
“Find the best real estate agent,” says freshly launched Realtor rating site, RatedAgent.com which says it is the “First-of-its-Kind Website” that offers transparency in the form of unedited feedback from consumer surveys. The system already has over 10,000 participating agents and has launched a pilot program with the California Association of Realtors, likely based on their March 2010 partnership with MLSListings, Inc. as they developed standards for agent reviews, seeking to give better controls over the information.
RatedAgent.com says they expect to have another 50,000 agent ratings with several hundred thousand reviews on the site within the next 90 days. It is free for consumers, opt-in for Realtors who are “held accountable through the Quality Service Assurance Survey© that is delivered by an independent research company to every client served.” Survey results cumulatively score agents on a scale of one to five and agents can opt to display their Customer Satisfaction Rating and summarized responses are published on an all or nothing basis rather than only opting to display positive reviews.
The company says it is unique because “RatedAgent.com offers unbiased agent ratings without the gimmicks and games you will find on other sites (agents being encouraged to invite friends and family to “stuff the ballot box”). The information presented here is rich, comprehensive and useful.” Zillow, Mountain of Agents, Trulia, AgentAquarium, Frankly Realty, and Redfin may not agree that it is the first ever or that it is the first to be unbiased, but the formula of all-or-nothing opt-in builds on the successes and failures of the aforementioned companies.
The downside and the caveat
The user interface is lacking, but it is the first iteration, so we have high hopes that the company will bring on user experience experts to take them to the next level. We also have high hopes that because this company is based on third party surveys, the data will be more rich than some of its competitors. Because it’s an annual subscription cost for agents rather than a per-transaction fee, they could do fairly well with Realtor participation.
The caveat, however, is that when you read the fine print, agents have “option to attend specialized training on how to deliver the best service in the industry and earn the QSC professional designation.” What is the QSC designation? Is it free? No, it is an established certification and when consumers do a search for an agent, they are fed RatedAgent.com data. Are they selling the designation through the ratings site? Sure. Are they requiring the certification in order for ratings to be featured? No, it is elective.
The link to the QSR certification
So how are agents found and what do consumers see? We did a search for Keller Williams agents and narrowed it down to Pennsylvania where two results came up. One was Kathleen Green in Beaver, PA. Green is also QSR certified and has the same ratings featured below on the QSR search page. It is possible that the company either piloted the program through their QSR certified agents, as it appears there are more responses for Green than say someone like Deborah Scheidt in neighboring West Lawn, PA who only has one review so far. It is unclear as if some have more reviews because they were part of a beta or not, but it appears that those with the certification have more reviews in the system.
Sample survey responses
Below is a sample of how some of the survey responses appear to consumers (we like that they even feature the hand written responses):
2010 prediction about ratings has come true
Last year, we made 20 predictions for real estate and technology spaces for 2011, one of which pertained to ratings. We said, “‘Realtor ratings’ will be a phrase you’ll be sick of in 2011. We’ll cover it here so you’re aware of it, but in 2011, we promise you’ll be tired of hearing about ratings as the remaining big dogs add ratings systems to their search sites.” The real estate search big dogs have added ratings and other companies have given it a shot as well.
Some of the long back story on Realtor ratings (click to read more about each):
- California Association of Realtors partnered with MLSListings, Inc. to create an industry standard for reviews across the state.
- Frankly Realty launched a Comparative REALTOR Analysis (Frankly CRA) years ago.
- This February, Mountain of Agents launched ratings based on non-subjective standards.
- AgentLeaf.com launched in 2011, offering ratings and rebate shopping for consumers, but has since shut down as the Founder was brought on at Trulia.
- AgentAquarium recently launched and took heat for being referral fee based, but is run by Realtors who understand agent needs.
- Trulia launched Realtor ratings/recommendations this spring.
- Zillow added Realtor ratings, emphasizing that all consumers must be verified clients prior to approving any ratings.
- Redfin launched the controversial non-opt-in Scouting Reports nationally, but because of MLS business rules, tech problems and industry outrage, the company put the project to bed after only four days (we suspect they’ll try it again on an opt-in basis).
- Several brokerages already post all consumer surveys on their own site as a measure of transparency and confidence.
Will RatedAgent.com be the one that consumers look to for agent research or will they stick to the sites they already know (Zillow, Trulia)? Will RatedAgent.com rise to the beauty and functionality of Redfin or Moutain of Agents?
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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