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Review marketing platform sales even more deceptive than their products

(EDITORIAL) Some agent review platforms use misleading stats to sell their products, and some lead agents down the path of illegal review fraud – are you up to date on the topic?



realtor ratings realtor reviews

You are being lied to. By now, most real estate professionals (especially those trying to better understand if collecting ratings and reviews is the right path to boost their business and if so how) have seen the stat that claims 88% of consumers trust reviews as much or more than personal recommendations.

This claim is regularly cited by marketing companies trying to sell you on the benefits of their “review” platforms. That makes sense, and wow, it must really be powerful if that many consumers blindly trust the real estate reviews they see – you better get started, right?

Hold the phone. This stat, to provide real estate context and add credibility, is often linked to a CREA article on the importance of reviews for real estate agents (oh, and they want Canadian Realtors to sign up for their “review” platform). However, that article is linked to a 2014 study that has nothing to do with real estate services and clearly states that of the 88%, 30% only trust the reviews if they believe them to be authentic, and another 26% only trust reviews for some types of businesses but not others.

Do you think real estate is a business consumers are skeptical of? You’re smart, you know the answer to that.

Much like the “ratings” platforms these marketing companies are promoting, they will never give the complete, honest, and transparent answer; the truth. Because the truth would not help them push a product designed to “help” market filtered reviews that is more likely to damage an agent or broker’s professional reputation in the long term, but the story they have spun feels nice and is less scary than honest (potentially critical) customer feedback, with the transparency and accountability that goes along with it.

The truth, based on the same study they are pulling their deceptive statistics from, indicates that closer to only 32% of consumers may blindly trust real estate reviews. With all of the recent fake news and review fraud studies today, the number is likely even lower than it was 4-7 years ago (when the data for the cited study was collected).

The Real Daily’s Definitive Guide to Real Estate Ratings & Review Platforms, 2018 Edition was the first to objectively investigate the services available based on trustworthiness of the reviews collected and published.

Google and Yelp are taking a stand against Review-Gating (the practice of only requesting reviews from satisfied clients). Google has changed their Terms of Service, in part based on the efforts of Jason Brown of and other pioneers trying to expose those companies, sites, and services that engage in deceptive and even illegal behavior that is harmful to consumers.

Agents who hire someone to write reviews for themselves or their competitors, or use a service that allows, suggests, or helps collect only positive customer feedback, are participating, supporting and associating themselves with review fraud. FRAUD, you guys. These are lies of omission and deceptive marketing, and in many cases outright illegal. Be part of the problem or part of the solution. It is your choice.

Learn the ins and outs by checking out “Fake Reviews and Review Fraud,” an online event this Thursday that includes Jason Brown and Kevin Romito, President of RatedAgent/QSC from the real estate industry.

For decades, including a recent gathering in the desert that produced The Parker Principles – a 12 point Manifesto, industry leaders have been calling for greater transparency, accountability, higher standards and quality service to benefit consumers.

In public, very few argue the other side – who would?

Then why is nearly every review platform designed for real estate agents void of serious standards, accountability and transparency, with some even admitting their “reviews” are for marketing purposes only and cannot contribute to improving the customer experience?

Because they know the data collected is selective and it’s not that they don’t care; in many cases it is actually by design, while others find it is easier to claim a secret algorithm or that an icon of a shield does enough to imply authenticity.

Do you like to be lied to? Neither do consumers.

How can one establish a relationship that requires trust while sharing data that has been manipulated for personal gain? This goes for the review services that help agents “get more positive reviews” and then by extension the agents that buy into and use these less than transparent review platforms.

We believe in ratings and reviews and the value they can have to consumers in selecting a professional service provider. We do not believe review fraud, in any form, benefits anyone other than the marketing companies who profit from it and those agents that cannot compete on the reality of their own service standards, so they can literally “fake it ‘til they make it.”

Like many under-regulated, yet powerful early stage technologies and innovations, how they are deployed directly impacts the potential for benefit or harm to society.

Want to honestly “get more positive reviews”? Use transparent feedback to ensure you are providing your best service, learn from your mistakes to provide even better service, then repeat, repeat, repeat.

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.


Malls repurposed as housing could bring back discrimination

(EDITORIAL) Recycling dead malls into community colleges and libraries are smart ideas, but is there a deeper, darker implication behind the affordable housing idea?



malls changed into housing

Clever investors want to transform defunct malls into affordable housing. This sounds like a win-win-win at first. It’s helpful, useful, practical–and doesn’t necessarily require federal funding. What a warm and fuzzy idea that can help people and make use of existing structures. Yaaaay!

We need more affordable housing. Nobody will deny that. According to Pew Trusts, the 2018 U.S. housing market was at its least affordable in ten years. Adaptive reuse is a brilliant idea on paper. However, “affordable housing” is not merely a phrase; it holds legal connotations and requirements, both on national and state levels. It’s…complex.

Then my inner skeptic popped up and whispered in my ear, “Careful. What if it’s a trap?” History tells us to be wary of separating people by socioeconomic status (often–though not always–related to race). I started thinking about the long, troubled history of the “projects” in the U.S., which served to effectively segregate low-income families from the post-New Deal era until modern days. This in turn led to less investment in the area, meaning residents had to contend with fewer schools, grocery stores, public transportation routes, and the like.

Perhaps the adaptive reuse of the malls is not so nefarious. After all, these malls are already in residential areas. Therefore, one hopes, decent schools, supermarkets, and public transportation already exist, just as in other areas of a given city. The residents of one mall, one housing development, should not significantly change the housing market and available local resources by much, right? It will be a seamless integration of a whole new group of people into a neighborhood, right? We hope that’s true.

Maybe it won’t be a case of white flight, AKA “There goes the neighborhood” all over again. After all, the ethnic diversity isn’t specified beyond “workforce, student and 55 plus housing,” future residents, as defined by Richard Rubin, CEO of Repvblic, the company leading the charge to invest in old malls and big box stores. It sounds like a positive thing that the new, “recycled” housing developments he’s investing in don’t require federal funding to get built.

Affordable housing is a challenge wherever you look. Investors in multi-million dollar, sexy and modern high rises aren’t traditionally going after the affordable housing market, because what’s in it for them? In Austin, where The American Genius is based, developers already balk at the idea of including the mandated affordable housing units required for new construction. Some developers have even paid the city millions of dollars to get around the requirement.

Adaptive reuse by recycling dead malls into affordable housing feels like a creative, beneficial idea. Yet, I encourage us to delve a bit deeper and ask the hard questions. I mean, there must be a reason there are more movies about hookers with hearts of gold than real estate investors with hearts of gold. This calls for cautious optimism, but also reading between the lines and paying close attention to the details as this type of housing develops.

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Want to move past your burnout? Stop using multiple lists

(EDITORIAL) How my evolving understanding of “burnout” helped me learn an important distinction between being busy and being productive.



too busy to burnout

When I used to hear the word “burnout” I would picture the freaks from the gone-much-too-soon series, Freaks and Geeks, as they would bum around outside, smoking in between classes. Now when I hear the word “burnout,” I think of myself a few years ago as my brain was being fried by life.

I wasn’t smoking between classes, rather running around like a chicken with its head cut off trying to figure out how to manage all of my tasks at hand. I’d make a to-do list, see everything I had to do, and drown in overwhelm.

I’d spend my days fretting over how busy I was, and nights catching up with friends via phone, talking about how busy I was and how there just wasn’t enough time in the day.

Notice that nowhere in here was I actually doing anything productive. I fell into a vicious hole of being so consumed with how much I had to do, I wasn’t taking the time to do anything but stress.

At first, it made me feel interesting and somewhat important that I had so much going on. I quickly realized that no one cares and it’s not that interesting (I also quickly remembered how much I love to just relax and not have something planned every day of the week).

This is where I learned the of the most important lessons to date – being busy does not equal being productive.

It got to a point where I was running on fumes and eventually had this epiphany that how I was operating was doing nothing to help me. This was in part brought on by seeing someone close to me behave the same way, and I was able to actually look at how defeating it was.

From there, I made it a point to change my tune. Instead of wasting time writing and re-writing to do lists, I challenged myself to make one master to do list and accomplish at least one item upon completion of writing the list. This helped shake off the cobwebs and I was able to feel a bit of weight off of my shoulders.

The ideas surrounding the hustle mentality had me so consumed and all I was doing was hustling my way to nowhere. After feeling the burnout, seeing someone else operate that same way, and seeing that hustle mentality mocked, I was finally able to break free and get stuff done.

And, guess what? I have even more to do now, but feel more calm and collected than ever. I just have to repeat the mantra: being busy does not equal being productive. Being productive – especially in silence – is so much better and much more rewarding.

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10 Productivity tips to get the most out of yourself and your team

(EDITORIAL) Keeping up productivity can be a hard goal to shoot for, so sometimes It helps to see what others are doing. Here’s our list of 10 ways to stay productive



productivity in a team

Funny thing about inverse relationships, they are so counterintuitive. Like working hard. That is an example of doing what you think will be beneficial, but usually just makes the job what you expected, hard. When it comes to productivity, harder isn’t smarter, as the saying goes.

And, if you are sick of the word “hack” we hear you. But, finding ease in work will allow you to be more productive and with better results.

We offer you this list of stories to meet your productivity needs. Here’s to finding work-life balance, seeking ease in the moment and rocking out a productive day!

1. If you’re trying to be more productive, don’t focus so much on time management. Instead, consider energy management to get more out of less effort.

2. Meetings suck, wait I mean they are a time suck. Yeah, that’s it. Everyone knows some meetings are unnecessary and could easily be handled through an email. Yet, many supervisors are hesitant. But, there’s an app for that now. Here’s to meeting less and actually getting work done.

3. Kondo your desk, for God’s sake. If you say you are more productive with a messy desk, yet you have a sandwich from last week and those TPS reports you were supposed to turn in weeks ago somewhere under a pile of crap, you need to clean up your act. Nobody wants to get a report covered in coffee, chocolate and mustard.

4. Are you agile? I mean, really. Is your team as productive as it could be? Whether you are a PM or a real estate agent, if you need a tool that helps your team stay agile and nimble, this will help you and your crew kick ass and take names.

5. Cut the team some slack. Too many messages and you forget what you were originally doing. Slack thought about that and has a way to make the app work for your team so you can be more effective and keep the workflow moving.

6. Working remotely has some serious benefits, notwithstanding working in your PJ’s. Convincing your boss you will actually work and not binge on Netflix may be the challenge. And, for many folks, working from home is a much more productive option. Yet, anyone who has worked remotely also knows it can be easy to get caught up in work and miss human interactions, leading to burnout. Here’s how to make the remote transition work for you.

7. Sometimes more is less. That is the truth when it comes to work where quality beats quantity all day long. Our 9-5 workdays may be good for some, but not for all. And, putting in 80-hour weeks may seem righteous dude, but what do you really accomplish? Kick productivity in the butt and consider are you using your hours wisely.

8. Want to be a baller in the workplace? Then get focused. According to the experts, those at the top of their game aren’t necessarily working harder or smarter, they are just hyper-focused. Here are some good habits to have if you want to get ahead.

9. If it seems everyone has a podcast, you are correct! Some of those podcasts are useful, especially if you are trying to get ahead and find ways to use your productivity to the fullest. Here’s a list of podcasts that will fill your free time with useful information.

10. Creative folks love to start new projects. They can be like kids in the candy store any time they have a new idea they must explore. The problem is that whether you are an artist, writer, graphic/web/software designer or developer, you may start a lot of projects and finish few. Here’s how to finish what you start!

By now, you know what information to keep and you are ready to get your rear in gear. We wish you all the success with your future projects. We know you will be diligent and hyper-productive!

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