These are turbulent times in the world of real estate. There are complex issues that the industry is dealing with that have heavy ramifications for the future.
One of the biggest has to do with the issue of transparency, and changes are definitely afoot.
What is “transparency”? For the purpose of this conversation, transparency simply means making each individual agent’s sales history information publicly available online.
Why is this an issue? It’s layered, and complex, but here are the key arguments the “anti-transparency” people make:
Consumers will be pre-disposed to choose agents based solely on sales production instead of competence, ethics or harder-to-quantify criteria like micro-market knowledge;
Agents who form teams will lump all production under the team leader’s name, which will drive consumers toward teams (which often have several inexperienced agents working under the name of a team leader) instead of better-qualified individual agents;
Sales production alone isn’t the only qualifier for what makes an agent exceptional. There are many high quality agents who choose to sell 10 or 12 homes a year who will be passed over in favor of mega-producers and teams full of newbies.
As you can see, there are some legitimate concerns with this information going public. There is also the very real fact that every agent who belongs to the National Association of Realtors (NAR) pays hundreds of dollars a year in membership dues, whether they sell four houses or forty. And since the average number of transactions per Realtor per year is about 7.5, you can see how the vast majority of dues-paying agents may have real concerns about this disclosure.
NAR is going forward with a controversial new platform called “Agent Match”, which is now showing agent production in a few beta markets around the country. (Denver is not one of these test markets, but Fort Collins is)
But here’s the problem – thanks to Zillow, Neighbor City and other third party aggregators, the data is already getting out there.
Zillow’s solution (introduced just this year) was to simply step outside of NAR’s data reporting controversy and allow agents to certify their own production (mine can be viewed by going to www.ZillowReviews.com).
Zillow went one step further, encouraging agent reviews on their site (I currently have over 60 verified past client reviews posted, also available at www.ZillowReviews.com) which supports this growing trend of consumer transparency.
The consumer wants information and transparency, and since NAR is engaged in a giant fistfight with its members, Zillow simply stepped around the fray and filled the void.
Agents need to get over it. Sales production may not be the only criteria that matters, but shouldn’t we let consumers be the ones to make that decision?
The in-fighting at NAR and in the real estate community is damaging the Realtor brand, and agents need to suck it up and realize that transparency isn’t going away.
As an agent, it’s up to you to determine how the world views your brand. Having a blog is a good first step. Verified client reviews are also extremely helpful. A social media presence make a difference, too.
Yes, it is work to build a brand and maintain a great reputation online. The dinosaurs in my business don’t like it, but change is inevitable. You adapt, or you perish.
I’d rather put my energy into going forward than trying to protect a closed-data world that no longer exists.