Airing of Grievances – My Top Ten

As promised, and in no particular order, here is my non-exhaustive list of beefs with “Find an Agent” websites presently available to prospective U.S. home buyers and sellers (and real estate agents):

1. Alphabetical contact information. Where’s the value to the consumer here? Are we to conclude that agents with “A” surnames are superior to agents with “C” surnames? These sites are nothing more than online phone books.

2. Restricted sites. Some sites limit membership to agents that have received an invite, are considered “top producers” or experienced, or work for a particular brokerage. Other sites limit the number of agents that are displayed in a particular zip code or town. Again, where’s the value to the consumer? An agent that might be the best match for me may not even be permitted to promote himself or herself on the site, meaning I may never find him or her. Insulating a select group of agents from competition does not help the consumer.

3. Pocket pickers. We’re not opposed to agents paying for referrals or leads, but don’t both agents and consumers benefit when those costs are kept to a minimum? does not charge any referral, lead or territory fees, and has created a competitive marketplace for referral fee offers.

4. Featured placements in search results. How can a site hold itself out as an objective place to research agents when it permits agents to jump to the head of search results pages by purchasing “featured” placement and/or advertising on the site? sticks to the issues, inviting agents to distinguish themselves on criteria most important to buyers and sellers (level of service, price, qualifications, etc.).

5. Sticking it to the consumer. To run searches and view results, some sites require consumers to pay a fee, register, provide personal information, or navigate multiple pages. Who does this benefit?

6. Hurry up and wait. Buyers and sellers of course use the Internet in part because it’s a quick way to obtain lots of relevant information. So why do some sites have consumers waiting around for an email that typically contains only generalized information about an agent?

7. Matching sites. For an important decision like who is going to represent me in the purchase or sale of a home, I don’t want somebody I don’t know, or a computer, making the decision for me. Instead I want easy access to all of the information I consider relevant so I can make the decision myself.

8. Purchased agent lists. This is all too common place now. Many sites simply purchase a list of licensed agents from the state real estate commission, or a vendor, and slap it online. Often times agents have no idea their information is on the site, and can’t modify it without “claiming” their profile and/or paying a fee. The information is often stale, useless, and can only be displayed alphabetically.

9. He said, she said. Perhaps I’m in the minority on this point, but I just don’t find sites that invite people to rate, rank and/or review agents to be very helpful. Most agents aren’t reviewed, and most former clients don’t review their agents. As for those that have been reviewed, there is no way to know who provided the feedback – a competitor? prankster? unreasonable former client? the agent himself? Why not instead insist on several recent references and actually follow-up on them?

10. Same old same old. There isn’t a single “Find an Agent” website out there that sidesteps all of these flaws and zeroes in on what will help consumers make a more informed decision when choosing a real estate agent. Until now.

What have I missed? Good or bad, I welcome your feedback.

7 Responses to “Airing of Grievances – My Top Ten”

  1. Norm Replin says:


    At last a site that really does empower the consumer to make an informed decision when choosing a Realtor to represent them!

    When are you bringing this to the Denver area? I would be happy to help you in that effort.

    Norm Replin

  2. TheCondoist says:

    Checked out the site and I love it!

    Although we do have a difference of opinion when it comes to #9. He said, she said. Certainly if a previous client was royally upset with a past realtor he/she should be able to warn the community. I do see your problems with it, but allowing the option to exist (even if people aren’t commenting as much) might be helpful when an extreme situation does arise.

    Besides that, I think it is an amazing tool that I cannot believe we haven’t had yet!

  3. @TheCondoist – Thanks for your comment. I agree that ideally consumers would be able to post positive and negative feedback about an agent they’ve used for others to review. But given how I’ve seen these types of mechanisms play out on other sites, I’m just not yet comfortable incorporating one into If/when a system becomes available that gives me the comfort level I’m looking for, I’ll certainly consider it!

    Thanks for your encouraging words about the site!


  4. […] Got some great suggestions for the site, and had the opportunity to explain why isn’t like all the other “Find an Agent” websites. In a nutshell, agents must opt in to the site, no mandatory price disclosures, no ratings, […]

  5. Jeff Gregory says:

    I was referred to this site by a friend. As a Broker/Owner of multiple real estate offices, I would like to dig deeper into the topic of this service with you sometime. Let me know when is the most convenient for you. Thanks.

  6. […] You can see that these lessons found their way into my Mini-Manifesto. […]

  7. […] of nonsense that consumers, to put it politely, can’t stand. It’s also what in part inspired me to launch last year in Chicagoland. Our mission – help consumers choose […]

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