Today 89 percent of potential new home buyers search online for Real Estate agents during the home-buying process, according to a recent report by the National Association of Realtors, and nearly a quarter of those buyers use a mobile device to look up reviews on agents.
Canada Real Estate professional Riti Verma founded RankMyAgent.com last month, capitalizing on the use of online resources to research and find Real Estate agents. It is the first review site to focus exclusively on the Real Estate industry in Canada, so now house hunters in the country’s major metropolitan areas (popular cities are Toronto, Calgary, Vancouver, London, Ottawa and Halifax) can use the site to search for recommended Real Estate agents that specialize in a given area, property listing type or service. Hundreds of agents are already signed up, with new members added daily. We may even see the site expand into the U.S. as a potential addition to existing sites such as Zillow or Yelp — which already has some agent reviews.
Basic features are offered for free to agents, who can create a profile and encourage clients to provide feedback on their Real Estate experience, which prospective home buyers can then view in a keyword search by area or agent name. It’s an enticing prospect for agents eager to gain a stronger online foothold and further highlight their area of expertise.
There are rules and best practices to the online review game, however, and Verma outlines them here:
- Feedback is healthy and allows for improvement. We ask that agents encourage their clients to rate their services and provide them with objective feedback. By studying their reviews, Real Estate agents can find opportunities and areas in which they could improve their business.
- We encourage our members to respond to feedback. At RankMyAgent.com, there are strong processes in place to monitor activity. Real Estate agents are screened and confirmed as registered practitioners before their profiles go live. Reviewers must also verify their identities before posting.
- Suspicious information is flagged and thoroughly investigated. In some cases, this will require proof that a transaction took place.
- Negative comments are not necessarily a deterrent to people using you as an agent. Many people look for balanced reviews. If you do receive a negative review, do not berate, badger or belittle the reviewer. Your virtual life is always searchable, so think before you type.
- Instead, acknowledge the client with a phrase such as: “I am so sorry to hear that you felt that way, I wish you would have mentioned this to me sooner,” and let them know that you appreciated their honest feedback and if they would like to discuss the matter with you further you would be interested in meeting up.
- Positive comments can help build your business and reputation. Do not plant positive reviews by asking personal friends or family to post them, and do not bribe anyone to provide you with positive feedback.
- When you receive a positive comment, respond to your client online like you would in person. Thank them for their feedback and tell them you appreciated working with them.