Everybody is scrambling (at least the companies paying attention in the real estate space) to incorporate a reviews system into their website. The big guys, Zillow and Trulia, have had them for a while and their two approaches raise an interesting point of discussion in the Real Estate world: Is there a substantive difference to the end consumer between having “unbiaised” reviews (as Zillow does) or “recommendations” (clearly slanted in favor of the agent of course) as does Trulia on their site.
As a longtime agent who struggled to get even happy clients to write me testimonials (now recoined as “recommendations”) over the years, I can vouch that the recommendations I did receive were quite legitimate and not influenced by me (for example, standing over them forcing them to write nice things). My Zillow profile, though has several positive reviews of my work that I did not solicit. Today, my Trulia profile is full of recommendations by happy clients, mostly agents thanking me for my marketing coaching. While I’m grateful for the reviews, I think the recommendations speak better to my skills and value-add to prospective clients.
Interestingly, the Real Estate websites that have incorporated unsolicited “reviews” have found the average rating out of 5 stars for agents is about 4.8. Sounds like recommendations to me… or perhaps all real estate agents just do a better job on average than they’re given credit for! I’d be curious what people think about online real estate agent reviews vs. recommendations.