Not expected to go live until the morning of December 02 at 9am PST, we noticed that Zillow.com launched their Realtor rating system early at around 10pm PST on December 01. The new ratings system allows consumers to rate and review agents similarly to their Zillow Mortgage Marketplace which launched two years ago and currently has over 6,500 lender ratings. According to Sara Bonert, Director of Brokerage Services at Zillow.com, lenders that have four to five star ratings in the Zillow Mortgage Marketplace recieve double the amount of contacts through the Mortgage Marketplace than lesser ranked lenders.
Currently, agents with active Zillow profiles can be reviewed via web form on Zillow and agents also have the ability to solicit reviews directly from their profile. Realtor ranking criteria include local knowledge, process expertise, responsiveness, and negotiation skills and reviewers must enter their address which only Zillow moderators and the agents see (as a measure of accountability and verification). These criteria were set based on background research, Zillow’s experience with lender ratings and according to Bonert, the Zillow Broker Advisory Board weighed in, recommending criteria that are not subjective (like rating trustworthiness).
When an agent is reviewed, they are notified and Zillow double checks all reviews manually to verify reviews follow their Good Neighbor Policy (as pictured at the bottom of this article). Agents can respond publicly to reviews or flag reviews if they’re not legitimately clients of the reviewed agent.
Screenshots of the new ratings system:
AG study of Realtor sentiment of ratings
This spring, we polled our readers on their feelings on ratings sites and found that 70% of respondents use ratings sites to look into businesses in their daily lives and 89% were already aware that some sites offered the ability to rate agents directly. When asked on a scale of one to five how they felt about consumers rating them with one as the most negative rating, 59% rated their sentiment a one, 25% gave it a rating of two, 17% gave it a rating of three and none gave it a favorable rating.
Although the 25% of respondents who had received a negative web review at some point, most responded professionally and made amends. 89% believed negative reviews online reflect poorly on an agent independent of how they handle (or don’t handle) the situation. On a scale of one to five, only 94% ranked a three or lower regarding not having control over public ratings about themselves.
Rewind to 2007, Zillow says they’ll never rank Realtors…
Although the industry accepts ratings as an inevitability and reveal that they are prepared to respond professionally and to be alert, the sentiment toward the idea of ratings is not favorable. In addition to this finding, we find it interesting that in 2007, Co-founder and Executive Chairman of Zillow Rich Barton noted on SeattlePI that, “Zillow is *not* going to have numeric or star-like ratings for agents like Avvo has for lawyers. What we will have is a directory of agents full of great information provided by agents, clients, and associates, that potential clients can use to help them choose the right agent. Already, Zillow has 50,000 agent profiles that are linked to For Sale Listings, Zillow Q&A contributions, picture contributions, EZ Ads, etc. However, we have not built a UI yet to search those 50k profiles. We would be ninnies not to build that, however, and it is being worked on along with a whole host of other fun, useful, and provocative stuff.”
Zillow is not going to have numeroc or star-like ratings for agents? Hmm, I believe that is exactly what they have done. Why the change of tone? Quite possibly the pressure from outside sources, investors and the like and as we’ve been emphasizing for the last year, consumers are demanding the ability to rate and review everything from phones to pets to agents to cities.
How will Realtors and consumers react?
Because the industry sentiment trends negatively toward ratings, and certain local associations have tried ratings systems but seen major backlash from members, we anticipate initial Realtor resentment then eventual acceptance of the inevitability of Zillow ratings and in a year or two you’ll see agents praising them (the predictable cycle of real estate tech startup launches).
Benn Rosales, CEO of AgentGenius.com spoke at the South By Southwest conference this spring and ratings systems were the focus of all in attendance, they were literally salivating over the consumer shift. Consumers are demanding them and will enjoy them but Realtors are leery and many polled indicated they believe most people only review if they are angry or if they are fake.
AG is not affiliated with any companies mentioned in this article.
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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