“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?
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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