Mar 18, 2011

Rate Your Agent

The California Association of Realtors is launching a pilot program for measuring real estate agent performance and customer service - a venue for agent ratings and reviews. The MLS in California's Silicon Valley will send clients of participating agents customer satisfaction surveys from a third-party vendor whenever a transaction closes.

Although it will be up to the agents whether the survey results are made public, brokerages will be able to use the client reviews to spot problem areas for agents. No word on whether agents will be allowed to respond to negative ratings.

There are currently some sites that Dallas consumers can go to rate their agents., and are some of them. The big difference in these types of sites and the new California rating is that this new MLS driven system uses an invitation-only, "closed system" to ensure legitimate responses are collected. The other big difference is that an agent can't pay to advertise on the site and increase their rating.

Most of the open, on-line rating systems produce only positive reviews and thus don't hold much credibility with consumers. They tend to make me both skeptical and nervous because public display of consumer reviews can be tricky. While positive reviews can be good for an agent's business, an unfair negative comment or smear can be damaging. Most sites do not have a process for an agent to dispute comments or  publicly respond to reviews. And just because an agent receives a good rating from a client, doesn't mean they have the expertise needed to excel in every market, property type, and price range. They may just have a big advertising budget.

The Houston Association of Realtors offers an agent ratings system that allows past clients to rank their agent using a star rating system. The program has been successful and agents can opt out of the system if they choose. Wouldn't it be nice to have this service in the North Texas area? [where: 75230]

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