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Realtor.com’s Find A Realtor feature revamped to be the LinkedIn of Realtor profiles

Realtor.com has launched Find A Realtor 2.0 which takes real estate profiles to a new level, offering subtle features that new and veteran agents will approve of.

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realtor profile

Find A Realtor has long been a feature on Move, Inc.-operated Realtor.com, and with the acquisition of SocialBios, the company initially launched AgentMatch as a standalone product, but it didn’t resonate with the industry, so they scrapped over 100,000 lines of original code and started from scratch to rethink and deeply research how consumers connect with agents, and have revamped the existing Find A Realtor feature in partnership with the National Association of Realtors (NAR) so it is no longer a dry directory, but a free profile each agent has control over and has a chance at actually converting.

First, although this product is not related, it is led by the same team behind AgentMatch, so let’s address the elephant in the room – the company tells us they learned these five lessons after shuttering the project:

  • The name “AgentMatch” invoked thoughts of matchmaking like dating sites and “sucked,” Ernie Graham (SocialBios Founder, AgentMatch leader, and now Find A Realtor leader) tells Realuoso.
  • Stats don’t tell the whole truth, and are not qualitative.
  • The perception was that AgentMatch valued quantitative data, and regardless of the team’s intentions, they accept that perception is reality.
  • There is a challenge still present – searching for an agent by neighborhood is too small, and searching by city is too big.
  • Anything on the Realtor.com domain is based on an egalitarian principle in that the data can’t benefit some agents while putting others at a disadvantage.

Graham says Realtors wanted more, and wanted the company to do better, so through endless research and Advisory Board meetings, they listened and started from scratch.

Realtor.com is back up to bat

Graham notes that the company commissioned a three-month, third party consumer research endeavor and learned through thousands of interviews that quantitative and qualitative data top the list of consumers’ wants, and fascinatingly, team status and connections were less important to them than metrics like responsiveness and recommendations.

From the study, the company gleaned that consumers love content, and even on AgentMatch, they spent over half of their time in the actual profiles, not search. Further, they found that if an agent has a profile picture and basic information, the conversion rate went up ten times. “Content builds trust,” Graham said, and conversely, agents trust prospects that are connected to them, even if only through a profile. We suspect it is less blind-datey that way. The problem now is that consumers also want information that can’t be measured at present – how honest is an agent? What is their personality like?

So to answer to all of these challenges and questions, and with the understanding that content is critical, they will be relaunching Find A Realtor, and while Graham says that not all of the features are “fully baked” yet and that they’re still in listening mode with their constituents, they feel confident that they’ve created a way for an agent to express the unmeasurable data by emulating their offline persona.

Graham says the new profiles offer agents another way to “capture vitality” and show activity in a community rather than just quantifying closings, in a “set it and forget it” way so agents can plug in basic information and let it automatically pull info from other places into their profile, acting as a hub. Take a look:

realtor profiles

We won’t rehash all of the features outlined above, but will now dig into some of the geeky details less evident in the graphic.

Powering the .Realtor domains

NAR asked their partner Realtor.com to power the “.realtor” top-level domains, and their creative way of doing so is by allowing agents to claim their dotREALTOR profiles for free, giving them a URL with their name (ex: “https://janesmith.realtor”), and will pick up the tab for hosting.

The profiles are being built to be reusable and portable, meaning that agents can use the profile on their own site or domain through an iframe or modal.

The profiles are completely mobile responsive, which means it will fit the screen of any mobile device without users having to pinch and zoom, which is more rare than you may realize.

“Set it and forget it”

Graham notes that SocialBios is powering the dotREALTOR profiles, and that in creating this product, they abide by the philosophy that agents are already online, so they examined how to allow agents to allow that activity to flow into the profile so it’s living and breathing, without requiring an agent to go create content on their profile. He calls it “set it and forget it,” and it is in line with modern products that allow automation from other social networks. It can pull in agents’ blog posts, Facebook status updates, microblogs, and so forth.

One of the most fascinating features is one you might have noticed – check ins. There are two types of check ins that are featured in the profile – third party and native. Agents can opt in to have their third party check in apps (like Foursquare) reporting to their profile automatically, which Graham says is critical because consumers want to know an agent is really active in the community and spends time in the neighborhoods to which they profess an expertise, even if it’s just a daily coffee run.

Native check ins will be done through Realor.com’s collaborative mobile app, wherein when an agent is logged in (so obviously the system knows it’s not a consumer, but an agent) a “check in” button appears next to a listing they’re currently at, and the check in is automatically sent to their profile. Check ins can be listing appointments, showings, open houses, and so forth.

To curb fraud, the app compares the user’s latitude/longitude with their phone’s GPS to verify that they’re actually where they say they are, only allowing a check in when at the address. Further, each check in automatically sends an email to the listing agent that another agent was there, thus completing a self-policing environment to reduce fraud. It also is an amazing way for new agents who are previewing to honestly show tons of activity in their market, and proving their knowledge before they even have their first closing (a tremendous argument against AgentMatch’s data set).

These check ins populate the agent’s profile with a feed of photos of the listings in chronological order to allow consumers to quickly peruse activity.

Recommendations in the modern era

Consumers want to research, and love data, so the new profiles take a different approach to offering recommendations, allowing agents to pull in recommendations from various sources like LinkedIn and RealSatisfied, but they take it even further, by allowing the agent to add media like photos and videos to enhance the recommendation.

Graham said that even when consumers know they’re just reading all positive, glowing testimonials, they still want them because they can better connect with an agent (and we suspect it is a form of affirmation for their potential choices (“it says my agent is the best in the world, just look!”)). But he also notes that recommendations is one area that is ripe for innovation, and they’ll be working on technologies to surface the un-quantifiable data like personality traits, likely through language analysis, so that if 20 out of 25 of an agent’s recommendations use the word “responsive,” they are probably responsive. This will continue to be a work in progress.

Making it fair

Aside from curbing fraud, the team asserts that they’ve tried to make this a fair way to feature veteran as well as rookie talent. They have a “non-zero policy,” because Graham says “there is no celebrating zero,” which means if an agent has no transactions, that portion doesn’t even show up, and if another agent has no checkins, that section doesn’t show up. Traditionally, systems say “0 closings this month” or “0 check ins ever,” leaving consumers to doubt, but eliminating the section from the profiles until there is something to “celebrate” is one way they’ve sought to add fairness to the system.

Even though as industry insiders, we all know what Realtor.com is, and it has tons of consumer traffic, many consumers visit the site expecting to find Realtors. Because of this and the learning curve of AgentMatch, Graham said, “We spent more time putting agents in a good light,” and as Martha Stewart says, that’s a good thing.

Lani is the Chief Operating Officer at The Real Daily and sister news outlet, The American Genius, and has been named in the Inman 100 Most Influential Real Estate Leaders several times, co-authored a book, co-founded BASHH and Austin Digital Jobs, and is a seasoned business writer and editorialist with a penchant for the irreverent.

Move Inc.

News Corp performing well, led by 35% growth at Move, Inc.

More buyers will use the Internet than agents and even the home buyers using agents still use the Internet to supplement their home search. As the old saying goes, “It’s good to be king.” And right now, News Corp finds itself in the enviable position of being “the world’s largest player” in online real estate.

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More buyers will use the Internet than agents and even the home buyers using agents still use the Internet to supplement their home search.

As the old saying goes, “It’s good to be king.” And right now, News Corp, which in November 2014 purchased  Move Inc., which in turn operates Realtor.com for the National Association of Realtors, finds itself in the enviable position of being “the world’s largest player” in online real estate.

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Internet use on the increase

Lest you think online real estate is some pseudo term that looks impressive on paper but nothing in real life than think again. According to the National Association of Realtors, “nearly 74% of home buyers polled answered that they would use the Internet as part of their home search.” Think about the significance of this in terms of growth: More buyers will use the Internet than agents and even the home buyers using agents still use the Internet to supplement their home search. NAR points out further that “while online real estate research sites have not put real estate agents out of business, they have taken viewers away from the old traditional sources of information.”

This increased use of the internet as a real estate tool has fueled the growth of Realtor.com and as a result explains an article in businesswire.com, “News Corp is evolving rapidly into a more digital and increasingly global company with a diverse revenue mix that will drive long-term growth in profits and shareholder returns.”

News Corp Chief Executive Officer Robert Thomson proudly remarked that “The Company is, by most measures, the world’s largest player in digital real estate, a position certainly enhanced by the rapid growth in the U.S. of realtor.com.”

To the victor goes the spoils

News Corp said that the growth was driven by 57% growth in mobile users. News Corp also said that Realtor.com’s traffic accelerated in January to 50 million monthly unique users, or 34% growth year-over-year.

More specifically, in the second quarter, Move’s revenues increased 35% on a stand-alone basis to $87 million from $65 million in the prior year.

Not only that, based on Move’s internal data, average monthly unique users of realtor.com’s web and mobile sites for the quarter grew 37% year-over-year to approximately 39 million, which was driven by 57% growth in mobile users. Further, traffic accelerated in January to 50 million monthly unique users, or 34% growth year-over-year.

Coulda been a contender

Depending on which side of the river you want to water your horse, Zillow (which has been Realtor.com’s main competition for like, ever) claims that it actually represents more than 70% market share of all mobile-exclusive visitors to the real estate category. This despite a July 2015 report from Barclay’s that states Zillow is experiencing slow traffic growth due to a “function of audience saturation and new competition.

Comparatively, recent comScore data also showed that Realtor.com’s traffic in June 2015 surpassed Trulia’s traffic for the first time in two years.

Superficially it seems like tit-for-tat, but the truth is, competition is good for the real estate marketplace and for the time being, realtor.com is wearing the crown.

#OnlineRealEstate

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Move Inc.

For the first time ever, realtor.com will pipe in third party real estate agent ratings and reviews

Realtor ratings is a hot button issue, but NAR has set standards, and realtor.com announces how they’re meeting, perhaps exceeding those standards.

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Woman with colored nails typing representing colors used in marketing.

Finding an agent is a big challenge for consumers, and offering some semblance of accuracy in ratings and reviews is a tremendous challenge for real estate search sites – a challenge that has a long, convoluted history. Today, realtor.com is announcing their next move, confident that they’re appealing to both consumers and industry insiders, in yet another push to assert the superiority of their offering.

They’ve inked agreements to integrate content from Quality Service Certification, Inc. (QSC), RealSatisfied, and Testimonial Tree to agent profiles on realtor.com®, becoming the first online real estate website to offer a consolidated view of reliable information for consumers researching potential agents online.

Adhering to stringent policies

The information will appear on realtor.com’s revamped agent profiles and ratings and reviews system, offering very specific data. In fact, they’re the first to base these standards on the National Association of Realtors (NAR) guidelines for professional evaluation, established last year. The ultimate goal is to insure that ratings and reviews are by clients who have closed a transaction with a particular Realtor only – they say they’re the only real estate search portal to offer this.

One source tells us that the realtor.com policies were so stringent, that it was actually a struggle to find any vendors that met their standards.

Separately, the system allows a recommendation section which can be provided by colleagues, friends, and so forth. In a statement, realtor.com states, “The combined system provides a standard for transaction-based information while allowing all agents to showcase their professionalism.”

The industry has demanded a solution

“Buyers and sellers of homes rely on an agent with one of the biggest investments in their lives, and they spend inordinate amounts of time doing their due diligence to select someone they can feel confident about,” said Tapan Bhat, chief product officer at Move. “It’s important for them to have a resource they can trust – one that offers consistent quantifiable metrics around an agent’s performance and that provides a clear and reliable portrayal of the qualitative aspects as well.”

“Brokers and agents have consistently communicated that they want and need a solution that allows them to easily syndicate the ratings and recommendations they collect as part of their customer satisfaction programs,” said Jeff Turner, president of RealSatisfied. “From the very beginning, realtor.com® has supported this notion and their decision to continue to support this as part of their new platform is a testament to their forward-thinking approach to agent performance evaluation data. We are proud to be a part of this solution.”

Leveraging the abundance of data

In a press release, the company notes, “Leveraging the abundance of reliable data collected by trusted affiliates while carefully managing the integrity of the new solution was no small challenge. The integration of third-party, transaction-based ratings and reviews content into the realtor.com® system is made possible by matching the external data to the criteria established by realtor.com® for display where possible.”

QSC has decades of experience as a proactive performance management platform that helps brokers spot agent performance issues early. Realtor.com calls the affiliation a “natural fit,” having over 1.5 million surveys in the field to date – today more than 95 percent of buyers and sellers are ‘satisfied or very satisfied’ with agents participating in QSC’s program, including 84 percent that are very satisfied, compared to a national average of approximately 58 percent.

“QSC was the first to offer consumers reliable information to make better, more informed decisions by collecting feedback only from real customers and after every closed transaction,” said Kevin Romito, president and COO of QSC. “Through this agreement, realtor.com® will provide millions of consumers access to a level of accuracy and transparency not available anywhere else, and for participating brokers and agents, this will be a powerful differentiator and competitive advantage.”

Realtor.com®’s recent agreement with Testimonial Tree will enable testimonials collected by real estate professionals to be integrated within recommendations at realtor.com®, and adds a social element to agents’ profiles.

R.com expects this to increase leads for agents

As credible and reliable content makes its way onto the realtor.com® profile platform over the coming months from these partners and through realtor.com®’s built-in evaluation system, the company expects to see a boost in traffic, engagement and high quality leads for agents.

“The resulting virtuous circle of visibility, combined with the reliability of the content we are gathering, fulfills our vision for this solution: to meet the needs of the consumer for a trustworthy resource while addressing the complexities of the industry which we are uniquely positioned to understand,” said Bhat. “We are delivering a solution that works – not just today, but for the years ahead.”

STORY UPDATE: It is important to note that Real Satisfied and Testimonial Tree are feeding the recommendations section, and QSC is feeding the ratings and reviews.

#RealtorRatings

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Move Inc.

Have you seen realtor.com’s aggressively anti-Zillow ad campaign?

For years, real estate listings sites have fought about who’s more accurate, but realtor.com is taking the fight to consumers to help them understand the urgency of data accuracy.

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While many brands allude gently to their competitors, or simply call themselves the best, realtor.com is going for their competitor’s jugular, tapping into the real estate industry’s concern regarding listing accuracy, presenting it to consumers in a visually meaningful way.

Today, the company wrapped a real home for sale in Austin, Texas, leaving a giant blank spot on the block, asserting that if you only search Zillow, you may be missing out on y our dream home. The experential ad is part of a broader, ballsy campaign wherein realtor.com appears hellbent to finally illustrate the value of accuracy in listing data.

realtor.com

Drawing attention to accuracy

Realtor.com says that their campaign is based on statistical analysis from October, which estimates that they have 20 percent more MLS-listed for-sale homes than Zillow. They note that the gap is much bigger in some markets than others.

To further illustrate their “listings advantage,” they’ve offered some data to back up their claims:

MSAs

“Buying a home is one of the biggest commitments many of us will ever make, so it’s not a decision we enter into lightly,” said Nate Johnson, chief marketing officer for realtor.com®. “This advertising campaign draws attention to the fact that, unlike our competitors, realtor.com® provides the most comprehensive view of MLS-listed, for-sale homes.”

Digital and static ads will also run

The home will remain wrapped through Saturday, and they’ll also be running these digital ads:

rdc-ads

In addition to the digital ads, static ads on major sites and platforms from Google and Curbed to Spotify and Twitter. The ads feature headlines such as:

  1. “There are more homes for sale than Zillow’s showing you. Realtor.com® – search more homes for sale”
  2. “If you’re looking to buy your perfect home, Zillow might not have it. Realtor.com® – search more homes for sale”
  3. “More homes on realtor.com® means more homes that could be yours. Realtor.com® – search more homes for sale”

If you thought changing their logo to red was aggressive, we’re betting this is yet another move away from the soft, friendly brand. Under new ownership, they’re clearly serious about connecting with consumers and planting their flag.

#realtordotcom

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