LAUNCHED BARELY TWO years ago, RateMyAgent has already changed the face of estate agent reviews in Australia. Iolanthe Gabrie speaks with RateMyAgent CEO Mark Armstrong on the importance of transparency, the power of feedback and why the biggest agent is not always the best.
Q. How does RateMyAgent work?
We exist for vendors, in much the same way that major real estate listing portals exist for buyers. Our site is designed to help people looking to sell their home begin their search for an agent.
Vendors are the most important people in the real estate community, because they are the ones who spend $4 billion to $5 billion annually on agent services. Using RateMyAgent, they can discover how many properties an agent has sold in the last year, their total sales values and – most importantly – they’ll be able to read reviews posted by other vendors.
Every agent in Australia has a RateMyAgent profile, whether they have ‘claimed’ it or not. As real estate is a public transaction, we capture vast amounts of information about the market on RateMyAgent. Once an agent advertises a public sale, RateMyAgent adds this listing to their existing agent profile and calculates their statistics.
Agents can choose to claim their profile and report their own results, request reviews from their clients and even upgrade their subscription to include social media assistance – scheduling their reviews, listings and sales across chosen digital channels.
Q. How does RateMyAgent’s vendor review system work?
The only way to get a review on RateMyAgent is for an agent to login to the website and request a review from a client who has purchased or sold property using them. To guarantee the authenticity of these reviews, we link them to the property transaction recorded, which means every review is verified.
We’ve had over 120,000 reviews posted since our launch, and we have between 2,000 and 3,000 reviews posted every week. To put that into context, there’s a review posted on RateMyAgent every five minutes, 24 hours a day.
Q. Why should agents use RateMyAgent? How can they gauge its relevance?
Every time a vendor leaves a review on RateMyAgent, the last question we ask is ‘Did you use RateMyAgent to help you select this agent?’ Around 13,000 vendors have answered yes to that question. These vendors have collectively sold real estate worth over 9 billion dollars. In other words, RateMyAgent has helped determine where $180,000,000 in commission around Australia has been distributed.
I had an agent ring me the other day to ask ‘Is RateMyAgent working for me?’ I had a look at his profile; he had 25 reviews to date. Ten of these reviews had identified that they’d used RateMyAgent to help them select this individual to sell their home. Ultimately, this agent had successfully sold $160,000 in commission based on vendors using RateMyAgent. His subscription investment is huge, to say the least!
Q. What are the three most critical things for agents and real estate businesses to focus on when reputation-building this year?
Reviews. Stats coming out of America show that a staggering 92 per cent of consumers go online to search out reviews to determine the quality of a local business. In fact, 87 per cent of consumers trust those online reviews as much as they do a personal referral. If you’re not getting reviews and putting them in the public domain, you’re invisible to nearly 100 per cent of the market.
Forget ‘push’ marketing. Agents must embrace new forms of advertising rather than being stuck in the past with traditional ‘scattergun’ marketing. They spend incredible amounts of money on marketing which is unquantifiable – such as letterbox drops, bus shelters and billboard signage. Look to engage with your audience digitally: a space where you can tag prospects with cookies when they visit your site, before going on to remarket to them online. Agents need to move quickly into the digital space with targeted ‘pull’ marketing, which will save them money rather than costing them money.
Feedback is your friend. Agents tend to worry about feedback and shy away from inviting negative commentary. Feedback is actually a very positive thing. If you do make a mistake, the best way to deal with it is to acknowledge and identify it, before addressing it. Research clearly shows that if you make a mistake and rectify it, your credibility in the eyes of your client is elevated above that of having conducted a seamless transaction.
For more information, visit ratemyagent.com.au