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Can I Ask.com you a real estate question? Why yes, you may!

For years, Ask.com has been creating massive amounts of content by independent writers to answer basic questions. The media giant hires writers “experts” to focus on a specific topic like automotive, retail, marketing or even local real estate. Most people come across Ask.com via Google and because they have so much content, they seek to answer questions by being the search result.

Today, this all changes as Ask.com announces they will launch a question and answer community that is currently invite only and in beta but could easily be the next Trulia Voices or indirect ratings site (not based on sheer number ratings, but based upon crowdsourcing opinion as an indirect rating of a product’s worthiness).

Ask.com says that this project is a little different than existing communities however, because they have “taken the last year to enhance [their] offering to locate the most relevant, high-quality answer and display it right at the top of page (surfing through 10 blue links not required).”

They proclaim that they have the ability to manually “route questions to relevant people based on interests and expertise. This means only the right people will be asked to answer a specific question, reducing spam and question fatigue. Responses from our community will also be indexed and available (depending on level of freshness and relevance) to address future questions posed on Ask.com.”

Above is what the new site looks like and although it’s not an original concept, they already have massive traffic which is as highly attractive to real estate agents as honey is to bears or candy is to toddlers or bacon is to men and puppies.

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As a real estate professional, are you currently answering questions in another forum online? Would you invest your time answering questions about real estate on the new Ask.com? Tell us in the comments below.

Lani is the COO and News Director at The American Genius, has co-authored a book, co-founded BASHH, Austin Digital Jobs, Remote Digital Jobs, and is a seasoned business writer and editorialist with a penchant for the irreverent.

32 Comments

32 Comments

  1. stephanie crawford

    July 28, 2010 at 1:59 am

    Hmmm. I would answer questions there. I already do it on Trulia and occasionally on Zillow, Homes.com and Realtor.com.

    I completely understand the arguments against adding content to these competitors, but hey, I have gotten business from it. Several closed deals in fact…

  2. Gus Waite

    July 28, 2010 at 10:02 am

    As a rental broker in Manhattan-I would absolutley add content. The reality is at the end of the day, as more and more information is availible for free, customers see less and less value in using a broker to find an apartment. Unless I establish myself as an expert that will save the customer time and aggravation by solving their problem, I am out of business.I am a big fan of Chris Andersons book “Free.” True service will always be compensated, and having local knowledge that can’t be learned on the internet is never going to go out of style, especially in a rental market as wacky as Manhattan’s!

  3. Al Lorenz

    July 28, 2010 at 4:59 pm

    I like the idea of being able to answer questions as Ask.com. Thanks, I’ll get right on it!

  4. Troy Erickson

    July 29, 2010 at 2:16 pm

    Absolutely I would answer consumer questions regarding real estate on ask.com. As a real estate professional, that is what I do all day long. I don’t just want to help someone buy or sell a home. I want them to understand the process, and to make good decisions. I look at my job as a way to help people, and if I can answer questions so they can make a valuable choice on what to do regarding the purchase or sale of their home, then I have done my job.

  5. Cara Mancuso

    July 30, 2010 at 11:33 am

    As a REALTOR – absolutely, I would answer questions. We are in the service industry and my business is helping people. What goes around comes around. I try to promote the community I live in now with my online blog. If someone calls and asks, “where’s a good place to go on Saturday night” – I’m flattered!!

  6. Nick Nymark

    July 30, 2010 at 7:39 pm

    Sounds Great! I would like the idea of answering questions on Ask.com

  7. Carmen Brodeur

    July 31, 2010 at 3:19 am

    Thanks for the suggestion. I’ll check it out.

  8. Thomas D. Alcorn, MBA

    July 31, 2010 at 1:41 pm

    I have answered questions from our own agents and from agents from numerious other offices who have come to know me and that I will help them. (“I believe you get everything you want out of life if you help others get what they want”). No charge, just common sense and experience. I always say that I am not an attorney, but I can tell you my interpretation and how I would handle something. It is stimulating for me and it helps me know what questions are being asked and what others are concerned with. If I do not know I do my own research and then get back to the person. this is better than having them do the research and I still do not know the answer and they now know more on a pertinant question than i do.

  9. Antonio M. Cardenas

    July 31, 2010 at 6:23 pm

    Answering questions is a great way to communicate with the average individual, someone that is not necesarily looking to buy or sell a home. People who just want to be more informed benefits from this types of forums. Most of us, already offer our expertise on platforms like Trulia. Go for it, content is King.

  10. matt dollinger

    August 1, 2010 at 9:48 am

    I’ve heard a lot about this over the last couple of days and where I too feel this is simply any extension of the online asking pool made famous by trulia and ZILLOW, there’s something that I like about it…

    In the post quoted by Lani above they talk about a “select group of experts to reply to questions.” This is where it gets impressive. What if they had the following requirements to answer questions on ask.com?

    1. You must have done at least 7 (just a random number off the top of my head) transactions over the last 12 months.
    2. Must have completed some sort of advanced education in the last X years.
    3. Agree to some sort of online reviews by past / current clients (aka Houston association of realtorsR)
    4. Pass an entry exam

    I think that this is incredibly important as this would actually raise the bar if the information passed on to the consumer rather than a steady flow of half-baked drivel that continues to flow from the likes of Zillia Voices. There are way too many agents who look at this arena as a way to snag leads by providing half answers to clients rather than a true QA forum for the benefit of the future home owner/seller.

    I think this is probably a pipe dream that is far from fruition, however ANY type of pre screening would be a step in the right direction.

    • Lani Rosales

      August 1, 2010 at 12:18 pm

      Matt, you know how this pipe dream COULD happen though? On the board level… imagine if boards took back the q&a to a local level and vetted the experts… a lot of associations do have local q&a but vetting is still nonexistent. Thoughts?

  11. Nadine Mauro

    August 2, 2010 at 2:12 pm

    I answer many questions on Trulia and Zillow and find that most people are looking for a professional opinion. Anwers need to be well thought out and presented in a professional manner.

    It bugs me when I see agents belittle the person asking the question and have apologized to the person asking the question for the poor behavior of the previous responder. There are some really dumb questions that are asked, but if you can’t answer them politely, don’t answer at all.

  12. Paul Scheufler

    August 2, 2010 at 5:08 pm

    I got into this line of work because I like helping people with important issues. I would be willing to participate in an Ask.com endeavor that assists buyers and sellers of real estate.

  13. Lani Rosales

    August 2, 2010 at 11:11 pm

    Okay, so I got into the beta version and although it’s pretty and functions well, it’s almost identical to Yahoo! Answers. I may still answer a few questions for fun, but wouldn’t put too many resources into it.

    That said, I have 5 beta invites for anyone who wants one. The first five commenters here will get a beta invitation, just let me know what email address to send it to.

    • Linsey Planeta

      August 2, 2010 at 11:15 pm

      I’ll throw my hat in the ring. Interesting. Thx Lani!

    • Lani Rosales

      August 2, 2010 at 11:22 pm

      OKAY I have to be fair- now that I’m playing with it, I do like that this isn’t based on a guru system or points system like Yahoo! or Trulia, so there’s always that!

  14. stephanie crawford

    August 2, 2010 at 11:57 pm

    I’d love an invite Lani.

    • Lani Rosales

      August 3, 2010 at 12:44 am

      Sent! Let me know what you think of it and remember, it’s in beta so the questions are not well populated yet 🙂

  15. Justin Tanos

    August 4, 2010 at 7:42 pm

    This looks exciting!

  16. Terry McCarley

    August 5, 2010 at 12:58 pm

    Yes, I most certainly would answer questions – I have found it to be very successful for me on Trulia.

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