The Associated Press shines another light on rate-an-agent sites

November 23, 2008
More people want to know what customers say about agents

More people want to know what customers say about agents

Yesterday, the Associated Press (US) wrote a piece about web sites that offer real estate agent rankings… in the US. Included in the article were HomeGain.com, AgentRank.com, IncredibleAgents.com —- and a newbie called ZipRealty.com.

(PS: HomeGain, IncredibleAgents and ZipRealty, why haven’t you blogged about the affect of having the AP write such a great piece? It must’ve improved your traffic, no?)

Read the article here: http://www.google.com/hostednews/ap/article/ALeqM5ifrUljyap-FNlzdIz9d5hnAiO39AD94JIJT81

My response to this very interesting article
Below are some snippets I’ve pulled from the AP article; I find the ones in bold especially interesting, given the What-Customers-Say.com approach. That is, like AgentRank, we rank agents based on detailed criteria about their performance as real estate agents; unlike IncredibleAgents, we do not include in Read the rest of this entry »

I can’t blame agents for focusing on the negative

November 19, 2008
The kettle is black!

Said the pot: The kettle is black!

I’m a hypocrite. It’s official. The girl who’s all about honest feedback has had a [very minor] epiphany: I’ve been a touch frustrated that a very small number of real estate agents aren’t responding well to What-Customer-Say.com… and all the while I’ve failed to see that we at WCS are in the same position as those agents: Neither of us wants anyone to be negative about us.

Just as I expect the agents to take the negative as well as the positive, I should take the unhappy reactions to our site at least as well as I take the kudos we’ve received.

And we have received kudos
Some agents have written to say that this real estate agent rating site is a great idea. They’ve asked us to go to Victoria, Toronto, Vancouver and Calgary. (And we plan to! Learn more as we approach Jan 1 09.) We do little jigs everytime we get that great feedback. Read the rest of this entry »

What’s so scary about real estate agent rating sites?

November 15, 2008
Some Agents Don't Want to Hear What Customers Say

Some Agents Do Not Want to Hear What Customers Say

This week, thanks to all the media attention we’ve received, we at What-Customers-Say.com have been dealing with some… very interesting questions from agents. And by “questions” I mean angry or crying or passive-aggressive ranting. Here’s a sample (make sense of these verbatims if/as you will):

I personally believe it\’s the agents on this site who have an ego that needs to be fed..

…you\’re bordering on slander which I find very distasteful…

…I don’t know how it’s possible to ensure the postings are legitimate. You’ll end up having realtors post their own comments, and worse, comments about fellow realtors.

…should a posting occur for any of us at [brokerage name removed], positive, negative or otherwise, I would expect you won’t need another e-mail from us harassing you to remove it.

I would highly recommend you guys have some sort of agent focus group to get some feedback on what you’re doing.

There was an absolutely crazy email thread with an agent we’ve already discussed here, and I’d love to Read the rest of this entry »

Some PR we’re getting

November 12, 2008

So, we were printed in the Edmonton Journal yesterday and the Victoria Times Colonist today. We were also in their online editions. And, we’ve just found out that the site was turned into a story on GlobalTV Edmonton during the evening news.

UPDATE: Here’s the link to the site (thanks, Jason!): http://tinyurl.com/597e2e Read the rest of this entry »

Marketing genius pulls down all 10 GREAT ratings!

November 12, 2008

I am having the hardest time believing it. A real estate agent who got a whopping 10 REVIEWS —- all of them super-high —- in JUST ONE DAY (today) emailed us tonight to ask us to pull his page down and remove all those reviews.

Now, we’ve had some unhappy real estate agents ask us to pull their name off the site, and we’ve complied when they’ve had legimitate reasons to come down —- but we’ve told them that we can’t prevent people from adding them back in. (EARTH TO DISSENTERS: Start managing your online reputations. Pull your head out of the sand: your clients WILL talk about you. Why are you all sooooooo resistant????? What are you trying to hide?)

But we’ve never, ever, ever had a real estate agent with 10 REVIEWS ask to be removed from the site. It sounds like the real problem for this real estate agent was that he didn’t like not being looped in on the conversation early on; it’s an ego thing. He thought we were compiling reviews to solicit his business. Ha! Hardly. This is a customer-driven engine. I guess the joke’s on his poor clients who actually took the time to rate him. (BTW: Clients, we’ll still enter you in our Amazon gift card draw.)

DISSENTING AGENTS, HEAR THIS: We are not here just for you. This site is not built just for you. Keep your “business” all to yourself — we’re certainly not begging you to join our site. Only real estate agents who CARE about their customers need join. Read the rest of this entry »

Ratings galore! Ah, the beauty of good PR

November 11, 2008

front-pageWell, we had one article in the St. Albert Gazette in early September… but it was buried under what has become the infamous Beekeeper photo (infamous in our little world).

But today. Ah, today. It is good. A normally solemn day (Remembrance Day) was brightened by a very nice article by Bill Mah in the Edmonton Journal

The article was great. It was honest and accurate and fair, with a not-100%-glowing review from one of our top-rated agents, Bev O’Shea. Nice balance. We’ve been jumping around all day, watching the really great ratings (praising & criticising) roll on in. And the agent profiles. How nice!   Read the rest of this entry »

We just pulled a rating off our real estate agent rating site

November 11, 2008
One bad review in 100, isolated and removed

One bad review in 100, isolated and removed

We’ve officially pulled down our first “illegitimate” review. It was actually the lowest review on the site… but that’s not why we pulled it down. (Hopefully that’s obvious, given that we’re all about the customer voice.) Here’s why we pulled it down.

The reviewer rated an agent that s/he had not actually closed a deal with… and that’s still not possible on our site without fudging the dates of purchase or sale (and by “fudging”, I mean “making them up”). So, you basically have to fake the date to leave a review if you didn’t actually close… which means that it’s an illegitimate review and has to come on down.

We went through quite a bit of deliberation and discussions prior to actually pulling the review down. Given that that was our first experience with a “true” flagged review thus far — with nearly 100 reviews on the site — we’re anticipating a LOT of hands-on work in the future as more reviews get posted and flagged. But that’s what we’re willing to do. We’ll have the discussions we need to have with the people we need to have them with, and we’ll run flagged reviews through the filters we’ve created (and recreated!). We’ll take as much time as we need to and do as much work as we need to for this reason:

To ensure that we’re sharing the honest voice of the real customer.

Plain and simple. If it’s an honest review by a real customer (who completed the transaction), then it stays up. If not, then it comes down.

(And, I mean, if we only have to deal with this small bit of drama for one in every 100 reviews, then that’s cool with me.)

~jw

7 signs of a motivated agent + a poll

November 4, 2008
Everyone says they can sell your house - but who actually can?

Everyone says they can sell your house - but who actually can?

You already know that selling your house in Edmonton, Calgary, Vancouver, Regina, Victoria… um, everywhere in Canada or the US, really, is extremely sticky business right now. It’s tough, to say the least.  

(Unless you’re EREB, in which case you send out a press release claiming that resale is still a-okay – all is actually well in the land of real estate in Edmonton. Gee… isn’t it funny that the real estate association would say that? Yet another reason why What-Customers-Say.com believes in the voice of the customer: ‘cos real estate associations are, um, slightly biased. Understandably.)

So when it comes time to choose a real estate agent to help you offload that investment home you kinda knew you shouldn’t’ve bought a year ago, do you want to get a motivated agent… or do you want to face:

  • At least 3 months of being stuck in a contract with a real estate agent who’s not actually moving the needle for you — when every month that passes brings you closer to financial ruin?
  • The frustration of waiting for your agent to schedule an open house, put an ad in the paper, put your photos on MLS or even put a sign up on your front lawn? Read the rest of this entry »

Wanna play? How making things fun will engage your clients

October 30, 2008
Remember fun? Use it to make clients happy.

Remember fun? Use it to make clients happy.

What are your most memorable, exciting moments? Were they in front of a computer? Or were they painting rocks with your kid brother, playing hide-and-seek in the dark… or hiking through slick forests in Hawaii with your partner, laughing about the giant duck-like shoes on your feet?

Guess what! Everyone counts the fun memories as some of their best memories. And almost no one thinks sitting in front of the computer is “fun”.

Yes, we get cool stuff out of sitting in front of the computer. We watch uber-funny commercials on YouTube, and we play Scrabulous (or whatever’s it’s called now) on Facebook with old friends.

But how do you make the entire experience of doing something on the computer fun?

Um, earth to Joanna, you’re supposed to be talking about real estate ratings…
Yes, I know. So here’s the thing: When you’re trying to get your clients to leave you good reviews, do you want them to go through a boring process or a fun process? Does it even matter? Well, if you think a person’s mood in any way influences how they talk about you at that moment, then, yes, I’d say it matters, wouldn’t you?

That’s why we tried to make the review process on What-Customers-Say.com as enjoyable as possible for your clients. Here are a few things we’ve done to make it non-boring:

  • Used bright, fun colours rather than sedate, “too professional” or “too sophisticated” colours
  • Used big blocks to help people find what they need to do, like the 3 big blocks on the home page
  • Kept the tone casual and familiar, not stuffy Read the rest of this entry »

GUEST POST: Kevin Grenier, Edmonton real estate agent

October 29, 2008

I’d like to welcome Kevin Grenier, licensed real estate agent in Edmonton, Alberta, to our blog. He’s one of the top-reviewed agents on our site, and he’s got plenty of useful advice to share with homebuyers and sellers — and real estate agents! — out there. What better way to find a real estate agent than to check out his reviews on our site… and then read some of his great tips?

Without further ado, Kevin, take it away!

PART 1 OF “THE STORY YOU ARE TELLING”

Kevin Grenier, Top-Rated Real Estate Agent in Edmonton

Kevin Grenier, Top-Rated Real Estate Agent in Edmonton

Many people don’t realize that there is a very important story being told with every line they put into an offer when buying a home. This is vital information to know either as a seller or a buyer. This first of a series of blogs covers the deposit, what you don’t know could cost you the deal.
 
First things first. In preparing to write an offer as a buyer, find out as much as you can regarding the pertinent facts, such as:
• Seller motivation
• Preferred possession date
• Presence of competing offers
• Any offers received prior that were rejected
• Any current interest (buyers that have booked a second showing or have said they want to write an offer)

Seller motivation is key. If the seller doesn’t need to sell the house and they have priced it above fair market value, you could be wasting your time and in for a whole lot of frustration. People get frustrated with buying and or selling real estate primarily because of one thing: working with a seller or a buyer that is not motivated, and by motivation I mean “a genuine need to buy or need to sell”. More on this in a later blog.

What about the “story”?

Glad you asked, let’s get started.  Read the rest of this entry »