Some of us are Charlie Buell....

Real Estate Agent with Coldwell Banker Residential

We often tell consumers, when asked, that the best way to find a Realtor, is to ask your friends, family members or someone you trust, for their references of Realtors that they've worked with and liked.

In today's market, many of the young people are going to the internet. Sites like Angie's List, Yelp, Zillow and even our own revered Active Rain offer insights, and testimonials for consumers to review, but honestly all of those site, the reviews are from strangers that you don't know... so what is their opinion worth to you.  You don't know if they're high-maintenance or low-maintenance... you don't know if their likes are your likes, or if their needs are your needs.

When soliciting a recommendation from friends and family, at least you know who you're talking to... you know what their opinion is worth to you.  You know that aunt Esther is really, really picky... so if that Realtor could please her, then she must be good. Searching the internet is a good start, but don't stop there.

And when you do get a recommendation from a relative, don't just take their word for it.  Interview the agent, and see if they're a good fit for you.  Just because cousin Wilbur liked me, doesn't meant that you and I will be a good match.

And the problem with Realtors (or inspectors, or stock brokers, or plastic surgeons for that matter)... is that you won't know if you have a bad one, until it's probably too late.

Do your research, ask your friends or family... neighbors who just bought or sold... a good real estate agent can mean all the difference between a good transaction, or the attempted home sale from H-E-double-hockey-sticks.

And just like home inspectors, we're not all created equal.  Some of us are Charlie Buell, and some are strivers, and some are phoneys (those who just "phone" it in).  Don't hire the phoneys.

- 11

Posted by

 ALAN MAY, Realtor®   
Specializing in Evanston Real Estate and North Shore Real Estate

Coldwell Banker Residential Real Estate, 1710 Central Street, Evanston, IL 60201
847.425.3779      Cell: 847.924.3313      Email:

Evanston Real Estate & North Shore Real Estate
Licensed in Illinois



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Alan May
Coldwell Banker Residential - Evanston, IL
Helping you find your way home.

Liz & Bill - but interestingly, I'm sure as you're aware, just 'cause you've been able to sell a bunch o'stuff, doesn't automatically translate into a good fit with each and every consumer.

Jul 31, 2012 12:14 AM #2
Doug Rogers
Bayou Properties - Alexandria, LA
Your Alexandria Louisiana Agent

Agents are like the stars in the sky. We all look the same from a distance, but we are light years apart (and some have not been bright for millions of years).

Jul 31, 2012 12:16 AM #3
Alan May
Coldwell Banker Residential - Evanston, IL
Helping you find your way home.

Doug - ooh, I like it, I like it!

Jul 31, 2012 12:17 AM #4
Lynda White
Bluegrass Homes & Farms Realty, Agent Know How - Louisville, KY
Admin. Mgr., Keller Williams Realty

I agree that there are agents out there who get people to leave reviews to bring them up in search engine rankings and so on. And I agree that someone should NOT choose a real estate agent based solely on reviews. 

I'll have to say though, that as far as hotels go (a different service completely), reviews are usually spot on!  Maybe because there are so many more of them to look at. The thousands of hotels that have reviews saying they have bedbugs is frightening! It is nice that the internet has sites like this for consumers. 

Jul 31, 2012 12:43 AM #5
Kathryn Maguire (757) 560-0881 - Chesapeake, VA
Serving Chesapeake, Norfolk, VA Beach

There are so few agents in my area that actively solicit reviews, gaming the system is fairly easy.  I hate to say it but it is true. You do need to do your own research and take each input source as just another data point.

Jul 31, 2012 12:54 AM #6
Malcolm Johnston
Century 21 Lanthorn Real Estate LTD., Trenton, Ontario - Trenton, ON
Trenton Real Estate

I often get asked to review people on, but I have never worked with them and only casually somewhat know then from their online presence. My review would be worthless.

Jul 31, 2012 01:03 AM #7
Peggy Wester
Realty Executives Integrity - Grafton, WI
Real Estate Agent Ozaukee & Washington County

What a great post (as usual). I agree that many of those online reviews are meaningless; like Malcolm I've been asked to recommend someone I don't even know. What?!? Just because we belong to the same social networking group, I should recommend you? That just doesn't make any sense.

Jul 31, 2012 01:11 AM #8
Steven Cook
No Longer Processing Mortgages. - Tacoma, WA

Alan -- A great reminder that everything one finds on the internet may not be what it seems (as some travelers are reporting about sites that rate various vacation venues).  One must be a bit more proactive, and dig a little bit, interview a couple agents, loan officers, inspectors -- to get a right fit.


Jul 31, 2012 03:22 AM #9
Donna Foerster
HomeSmart Realty Group - Parker, CO
Metro Denver Real Estate Agent

Alan~ The interview is so important.  Having a comfortable relationship between the consumer and the agent makes for a smooth transaction and isn't that what we ALL want?

Jul 31, 2012 03:32 AM #10
Alan May
Coldwell Banker Residential - Evanston, IL
Helping you find your way home.

Lynda - I didn't even touch on the "fake" testimonials..  I think the reason that hotels and restaurant reviews on places like "yelp" work, it because there are alot of them... and that's much more difficult to tilt your way.

Kathyrn - that is why the interview is so important... and still, you may not know if you have good one, until your in up to your shoulders.

Malcolm - never heard of I'll have to run over and check it out.

Peggy - There's some online company, that for $5.00 will write you a fake review.

Steven - one must be proactive.

Donna - a good relationship is one thing... but that still doesn't guarantee competence.

Jul 31, 2012 03:56 AM #11
Chris Ann Cleland
Long and Foster REALTORS®, Gainesville, VA - Bristow, VA
Associate Broker, Bristow, VA

Maybe not completely unrelated, but I was watching An Idiot Abroad and the main character was talking about what superhero he would be if he could be anyone.  He chose bull**** man.  Someone with the ability to bust into situations where someone is pouring it on to an unsuspecting party and cry bull****.  Might be the best superhero ever if you ask me.  

Jul 31, 2012 05:19 AM #12
Alan May
Coldwell Banker Residential - Evanston, IL
Helping you find your way home.

Chris Ann - that might be the best superhero ever invented.

Jul 31, 2012 05:39 AM #13
Tatyana Makarov
Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage - South Windsor, CT
Your Greater Hartford Area Realtor

Great post, Alan.

My slogan for life is: "Do your best and reputation will pursue you."

Jul 31, 2012 06:10 AM #14
Charles Buell
Charles Buell Inspections Inc. - Seattle, WA
Seattle Home Inspector

Alan, well you know that I am going to like this post :)  PS---where do I send the check? :)

Oh I forgot to add---you are most likely Charlie Buell too.

Jul 31, 2012 06:42 AM #15
Richard Iarossi
Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage - Crofton, MD
Crofton MD Real Estate, Annapolis MD Real Estate

One of the problems that I see is that people are so reluctant to get rid of a service provider who isn't meeting their needs. When this happens to me, I just

Jul 31, 2012 07:17 AM #16
Hannah Williams
Re/Max Eastern inc. - Philadelphia, PA
Expertise NE Philadelphia & Bucks 215-953-8818

Funny you should mention this .Went on a listing over a year ago ;told them what they didn't want to hear ;the truth. Two Agents later .They called me back and I don't even know if I can sell it for what I told them I could a year ago .. But I can sell it

Jul 31, 2012 07:42 AM #17
Alan May
Coldwell Banker Residential - Evanston, IL
Helping you find your way home.

Tatyana - not sure I like the idea of "anything" pursuing me... but hey, what the heck.

Charles - well, in fairness... you ARE Charlie Buell.

Richard - a real estate techincal term... "next".

Hannah - I have no doubt that you can.

Jul 31, 2012 09:04 AM #18
Donald Hester
NCW Home Inspections, LLC - Wenatchee, WA
NCW Home Inspections, LLC

Alan, I am going to have to get the big pin out to pop Mr. "B's" big head now ; ) Do you know how hard you just made it for us to talk to him?

Just kidding... good stuff.


I sure hope I get past the striver some day ; )

Jul 31, 2012 03:31 PM #19
James Quarello
JRV Home Inspection Services, LLC - Wallingford, CT
Connecticut Home Inspector

I think the online reviews are often used by complainers. I received a review by someone who would not identify them self, whining about how the extra services cost, well extra. What they didn't bitch, um say was there was a problem with the inspection, just the price. So I do agree with you, ask people you know for referrals. 

Jul 31, 2012 10:59 PM #20
Alan May
Coldwell Banker Residential - Evanston, IL
Helping you find your way home.

Donald - I know, he had trouble fitting his gigantic melon through the doorways before...

James - yep.... if people are happy, they might tell a friend or two... if they're unhappy, they'll broadcast to the world.

Jul 31, 2012 11:35 PM #21
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