Archive for the ‘Our Competition’ Category

Realtor.com’s New “Find REALTORS®” Feature – Worse Than a Phone Book?

Thursday, September 30th, 2010

Yesterday Move, Inc. relaunched Realtor.com. I haven’t fully explored the new site, but imagine they’ve made great strides with their home search functionality. Can’t wait to try it out.

Naturally I gravitated toward the “Find REALTORS®” tab located toward the top center of the page. You can’t miss it – it has a fancy orange “NEW” ribbon hanging just above it.

Curious, I clicked it just now and entered my zip code. Immediately I was informed that 1,527 agents serve my area. Interested, but a little overwhelmed, I hit the search button.

You’re going to love this. Realtor.com has sorted this list of 1,527 agents alphabetically – using the agent’s first name mind you – and divided it up into 150+ pages of 10 agents each. Think Michael Adams, Michael Burke, Michael Carter, Michael Dole, etc. After clicking the search button, I was randomly taken to one of these 150+ pages.

Are you kidding me? ARE YOU KIDDING ME? Making matters worse, the only other way to sort this massive list is in reverse-alphabetical order. I think the only thing worse – and more useless – than sorting 1,527 agents alphabetically by first name is to sort them reverse-alphabetically by first name. Where’s the beef? I may as well flip through an old phone book and randomly select an agent, no?

Stack of phonebooks

As before, Realtor.com offers no easy way to compare agents on the few relevant fields included in its agent search results. The status quo lives on.

This is the kind of nonsense that consumers, to put it politely, can’t stand. It’s also what in part inspired me to launch AgentsCompared.com last year in Chicagoland. Our mission – help consumers choose the right real estate agent for them.

I’m not sure what, if anything, Realtor.com’s “Find REALTORS®” function accomplishes, other than frustrating consumers and inspiring entrepreneurs. Oh, but wait a minute. If I’m feeling like sorting my Realtor.com agent search results in reverse-alphabetical order, Zoran Denovich is going to be looking pretty good! (Zoran, if you’re reading this, email me and I’ll set you up with a free, one year Premium Plan subscription on AgentsCompared.com)

Thoughts?

Airing of Grievances – My Top Ten

Wednesday, July 8th, 2009

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? AgentsCompared.com 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? AgentsCompared.com 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.