Online real estate agent reviews are everywhere these days. The biggest source of reviews are from Zillow.com and Trulia.com. The first thing you should know is that Zillow and Trulia are the same company. In 2015 Zillow purchased Trulia for around $3.5 billion.
Below are two screen grabs for a real estate agent in California. We looked at his reviews from Zillow and from the Trulia websites. We quickly noticed that most of the reviews were identical.
Real Estate Agent Review from Trulia.com
Real Estate Agent Review From Zillow.com
We have a lot of experience with online real estate agent reviews. In fact, we were one of the first companies to offer a service for reviewing real estate agents when we founded agentsranking.com almost 10 years ago. The site included a database of more than 100,000 licensed real estate agents. Most of the agents were indexed by Google and ranked highly. If you searched for a real estate agent through Google, at the time, our site would likely come up in the top 10 for the real estate agents name. We assumed past clients would be excited to have the ability to provide feedback on the real estate agent they had used to sell or buy a house. What we found was the opposite. Unless prompted, most people will NOT leave a review for a real estate agent they have used, unless it was a really bad experience. Then they will spend a significant amount of time and write negative reviews all over the internet. In fact, pretty much the only reviews we were compiling were negative.
At the time we thought, “ok, this is going to be a great resource for people”. The problem was, we were a small company with no revenue source and real estate agents were getting upset to find past clients leaving bad reviews for them. Within a matter of months we began receiving letters from attorneys demanding that we remove the negative reviews. At the time, we decided to abandon the online reviews and change our business strategy. We didn’t have the time, money for a legal battle. This is the time we shifted our businss model and became a resource for buyers and sellers who wanted a personal recommendation for an agent.
Since you now understand that almost all of the real estate agent reviews you find online are solicited by the real estate agent being reviewed, what does that tell you about the quality of those reviews? Do you think a real estate agent will contact a past client who they know was unhappy with them? Of course not! They will only contact their past clients where the purchase or sale went perfectly. Those are the clients who will give you a great review.
Now, I don’t want to say that you should totally discount the reviews from sites like Zillow, Trulia, Yelp or even our own site, Referz, but what I am saying is you should realize that these are their happiest clients. Is that a bad thing? Well, keep in mind, that if an agent has 100 five-star reviews on Zillow, that’s still really impressive. These are actual past clients who had a great experience.