“How do I find a good real estate agent?”
We monitor a lot of alternative spaces for real estate conversations to keep an accurate pulse on trends and we’ve noticed that naturally, in communities with little Realtor saturation, the answer and tone are very different than on websites like Trulia Answers.
This weekend, a Reddit user asked, “How do I find a good real estate agent? I am going to be buying a house in St. Paul, Minnesota and am trying to find a good real estate agent, but am having some difficulty. When I search for reviews online, the sites generally seem like they are made by real estate firms for advertising purposes. Any help would be appreciated.”
Tone of distrust, frustration
We’ll get to the answers but first we’d like to point you to the very question. Granted, this is a very web savvy community which is typically one peppered with disdain for corporations and companies not in the tech startup world, and is often wrought with condescension and cynicism. The question alone reveals many of those elements, but the automatic distrust is one you should note.
This isn’t a Star Trek convention goer wasting time online, this is a paying consumer that wants an agent and they’ve caught on to many ratings sites being commercial and gamed. Unlike the days of old where web users were trying to circumvent Realtors, consumers now are seeking agents but are lost in a sea of incomplete, possibly tampered with information.
The answers varied, but should be read in full because as an agent, you’re likely missing some places not only for lead generation but for the dreaded online reputation management.
Are you on Angie’s List?
For example, when was the last time you went to Angie’s List and searched for your name? It’s behind a wall and not indexed, so do you even have an account to know what’s going on behind closed doors? It could involve your name. This is by no means an endorsement of Angie’s List, I think it’s inappropriate that you have to pay to see reviews (although it makes sense to pay to write them). It is a loyal community, however, and is almost like the Yelp of service providers. It is the only recommendation the community gave that the home buyer responded to affirmatively- it seems their plan is to get on Angie’s List for their agent.
Other answers like blindly calling brokers
Other members of the community said “You are going to need to apply for a mortgage, so if you have a bank you prefer they can suggest a realtor in your area/price bracket.” The same member recommended searching Realtors’ websites in the desired price range and looking for repetition in agents among favored listings (which is a little misguided as buyer’s agents won’t always be named on a listing), blindly calling brokerages to test whoever is on “desk duty” to see if there is a match, real estate booklets, and driving around calling signs.
Despite the answers being jumbled and many being time intensive (aka time wasting) these all bode well for traditional agents, so perhaps even the most tech savvy of the tech savvy (average Reddit users) believe in being reached via traditional methods?
Other members pointed to Realtor.com, and a former agent left a rant about how busy agents that appear quality never call you back. It must be tough being a buyer and having to discern what is real, what is fake, and what is junk! Just this one question in this one point of time generated a lot of random answers and this is after the potential buyer is already frustrated and lacks trust in legitimacy of information they’re receiving online.
Realtor review sites
And what about the trend of real estate agent review sites? Most are so overwhelming to consumers that it looks like a paid pitch, or worse, a review written by a Realtor and subsequent reviews written by his adult children. Some are taking steps to minimize oversaturation like Mountain of Agents who has just opened up their allotment of zip codes but will only allow two agents per zip code for roughly $13 per month.
We reported on MoA at their launch and commended them for offering less subjective ratings criteria that appear to legitimately help a consumer. Zillow added Realtor ratings earlier this year to little fanfare and mixed ratings with a sentiment leaning toward dismissal at its inevitability.
The bottom line
There are many online sites that it could be beneficial for you as a Realtor to be aware of and even participate in that are seen as alternative. Maybe it’s worth budgeting some review sites into your marketing budget this year? Maybe it’s worth having an account on Angie’s List so you know what is being said about you and others?
Consumers are already nervous before they hit Google and when they get to one of the million options before them (search sites, agent sites, review sites, etc.), they’re already overwhelmed and then, they turn to their social networking community of choice for affirmation. If you’re in none of those places, is it akin to a tree falling in the woods?