Profile picture for Dunes....

SO!!! Zillow has a NEW Agent Rating in Place....Whatcha think of it?

Good...Bad...Fair..Unfair...Accurate....Inaccurate....Should be verified in every case the one claiming to have been a client was actually????....Will be abused...Is already abused....

Any thought at all?
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December 02 2010 - Corvallis
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Answers (49)

Profile picture for movingtowv
Hi Russ, I have documents stating that we were his client.  There was a time when we connected with him through the "other side" but there was also another time were we connected directly and he was briefly our agent.  (Charles Town, WV is a small area).

Either way, why would it matter if we are on "the other side".  If that is how he treats other people that are not his own client he is listing or looking for why does that give him a right NOT to be reviewed. 
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October 19 2011
Hi Movingtowv,

I head up the Agent Reviews moderation team here at Zillow and I can assure you that we do not treat our Premier Agents any differently when it comes to review moderation. There's a very good reason why we've kept the moderation team and process very separate from our Sales group ; )

Your review was originally rejected for being about "the other side", a scenario that Wetdawgs pointed out earlier. We do not permit reviews for agents who were on the other side of your transaction(eg a buyer reviewing a listing agent) if we feel the nature of the relationship had reached a stage in the buying/selling process where there might be inherent conflict-of-interest. That was our determination for your review.

We do provide feedback to a Reviewer upon rejection about why a review was rejected. We do this by a notification on your "Reviews Submitted" page, as well as a more customized email to you directly. Our apologies if that email never made it to you, or you found the general notification on your page unhelpful.

I do see that you've re-submitted your review. We'll reach out to you directly to discuss.

Thank you!
Russ
Zillow Customer Support
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October 19 2011
Profile picture for sunnyview
@movingtowv
Thank you for taking the time to resubmit your review. I rely on reviews too so I appreciate it when other customers take the time to share their experiences with a professional or product. I think it would be nice if Zillow gave specific feedback when a review is rejected so that people can retool it if necessary to fit the guidelines.

There are bad reviews on Zillow for agents. I have seen them and as you might expect agents don't like them, but bad reviews can sometimes be more helpful than good ones. I hope that Zillow take another look and that you get your review posted to help others choose a better agent.
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October 19 2011
I'll ask someone to look into your situation because something sounds strange here. I guarantee that we don't reject legitimate reviews if it's a bad review of a paying agent.
Someone will follow-up with you...
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October 18 2011
Profile picture for wetdawgs
@movingtowv:

Yes,  there are some bad reviews of Premier Agents.

I don't like the review system on Zillow (I do not represent Zillow), but know there are several things people often trip over resulting in getting reviews rejected.  (I would like Zillow moderators to let people know why reviews are rejected rather than the generic FAQs, but that's just my humble opinion).

One of the most common: Was the agent representing you, or the other party?  If the other party, then the review will be rejected.  

There are two FAQs on reviews that may help understanding of the review system.   Even though one appears to be for agents, there are a number of dos and don'ts that the consumer needs to know.    Link one and link two.

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October 18 2011
Profile picture for movingtowv
The review system on Zillow is a joke, I have been rejected 3 times so far trying to make a bad review of a "Premiere Agent". 

This guy was worthless, but pays his dues to Zillow and they keep him protected... http://www.zillow.com/profile/Matt-Ridgeway

I didn't provide any fake review, just a good honest review when I encountered him.  I have evidence of signed paper work by him, so if they want to verify, then ask for real "proof" instead of instantly rejecting.

They reject as soon as they see something negative about a "Premiere Agent".  Are there any bad reviews for these agents that pay to be on here?  For a fair and honest review system to work there will be some negative.  If the agent sees there are any negative reviews then they should write all previous client to post positive one.

I purchase many high end products and depend on these reviews.  Out of the hundreds of reviews I look at a pattern on negatives to see if it is legit.  If I see like 25% of the reviews saying this item doesn't work as intended and they flow in at a consistent rate...well guess what I wont buy it!  

I saved all my rejections through screenshot and am I am starting to think I will have no other choice but to release this to the Social Networks and perhaps even further. Like create a video like the united one "United Breaks Guitars" - "Zillow Rejects Reviews" - I have all the screen shots and email to make this a good video.
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October 18 2011
Profile picture for Dunes....
It's nice the CEO likes the "Rating" system his Outfit is pushing as a Good thing for everyone......

Our difference of opinion may stem from your view that "Good agents are going to love this feature" cause I'm thinking the "Bad" Agents are going to love this feature.

I'm thinking it is intentionally Misleading the Consumer to Cater to Agents

Get your solicited Endorsements...The Better the Endorsements the Better the Leads...We have proof*****5 Star = More Leads....Line up Sign Up
Yeah,,,Real Consumer Driven!
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December 06 2010
Thank you all for the feedback so far. The feature is only a few days old, but so far we're very pleased with the results. There's a lot of good content up there already -- personally, I find it interesting and helpful to read reviews like Sam DeBord's. I believe that this will help our consumers make more informed decisions about which agent(s) to contact, and will help the better agents shine.

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December 06 2010
Profile picture for Pasadenan
It certainly hasn't added anything to page views of the discussion forum, nor even increase in number of posts.  The post rate is down from a couple weeks ago.

The change is actually discouraging potential buyers and sellers more than encouraging them as the site is looking more and more like a site for Realtor self promotion to other Realtors.  You open up a random thread now, and every post has an "agent tag" next to the poster's user name.

If Zillow really wanted to provide a benefit to users and more advertisement revenue, they would cater more to the "consumers" and do more targeted advertisement to reach more consumers, rather than focusing on the agents.  But this would require addressing some long term bugs that have been a bit persistent.

If the consumers are here the agents will come.  It doesn't work the other way around.
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December 06 2010
Wow, excellent post and excellent comments.  One thing I don't think I saw mentioned is that Zillow may derive a hidden benefit because reviewers add (1) more hits to Zillow and (2) a huge number of potential home shoppers to the Zillow  database.  Let's see...three reviews per Realtor multiplied by what, 300,000 Realtors? 

It's all win/win for Zillow.  Not so sure if we can say the same for Realtors and Home Buyers.

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December 06 2010
Profile picture for Pasadenan
It is too easy to fake a review, and Zillow staff checking E-mails and listings and transactions can do nothing to help that.

Sure, some E-mail addresses give some clue of location, but a Hotmail account or similar will not.  Sure, IP addresses give some clue of location, but Zillow keeps stating that proxies prevent them from doing more with the IP address.  Sure, if someone does something illegal they can get a warrant to have a provider release information, but I don't think that is going to be occurring for a typical REA review.  Sure, Zillow can write to an E-mail address to see if the mail bounces, but they don't do that for the registration process presently, and haven't done it in spite of being told many times over the past 4 years that it would be a good idea, so why should we expect them to use that as a screening method now?

All one has to do to fake a review is:
1) Open the profile page for an agent, look at their listings
2) Get a city or zip code from the profile page
3) use the home search page to look up properties for sale in that area, or ones recently sold.
4) Write a review stating the agent "showed" you one of those houses, and that you wrote up an offer, but it was rejected, and you were not willing to pay more, so you are still looking.  If one really wanted to get risky, one could claim to have bought one of the "recently sold".  So what that Zillow knows the new-owner's name?  Zillow is not going to check the name of any of the registered users.

And remember, loan officers are faking reviews on the lender side on a regular basis, most by creating useless aliases with fake E-mail addresses that go nowhere.
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December 06 2010
Profile picture for Alan May
No argument, that Debbie offered sage advice on that thread.  There are many agents, had they seen that thread, (i didn't notice it)... who would have given similar advice.

However, for each of us, there are hundreds who would simply have "jumped on the 'buy-buy-buy' bandwagon.

I agree, credibility is a major issue, and I don't see "testimonials" here on Zillow... dialing for "stars" adding to that anytime soon.
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December 04 2010
Profile picture for hpvanc
I will reserve judgment for a few months and see how it goes.  While I agree that the rating system will be of little or no use, reading the content of the actual reviews may be of great use. 

The tone of the glowing reviews and what the reviewer indicates they fell for will allow intelligent consumers to eliminate some of the types of Realtors that they will not be able to work with.  If a Realtor is praised for acting in a way you cannot tolerate, you look for a different agent.  I'm probably one of the few that would seek out an agent whose reviews indicated they were cold and efficient, it's a business transaction, not a chautauqua.
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December 03 2010
Profile picture for SoCal_Engr
On a plus, I like that the rating is not prominently displayed on the directory. The rating is only displayed on the actual profile site, and that means that someone has to be motivated to go to the agent's profile for a reason other than the 5-of-5 rating.

I'll reserve any further opinions on the utility of the review/rating system until it's had a chance to sort itself out a bit. Zillow already has reviews for lenders, so I don't see where this is a significant change (other than enticing REAs to the site to get their 5-of-5 ratings).

What will be a bit interesting is to see how the reviews/ratings will look if all the REAs cherry-pick folks to get 5-of-5 reviews. Then, the reviews will be somewhat meaningless (i.e., What is the value of a ranking system where everyone has the same ranking?). Wonder how long it will take for the REAs to figure that one out? A discriminator, be it a rating or a designation, is only of value if it can truly be used to discriminate.
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December 03 2010
Profile picture for Dunes....
Sam with the easy accessibility to Public Records/Data, Sold/Pending info ect it's easy to get Addresses, names of buyers/sellers on a property in many areas..minutes and a few clicks....

My contention is that Consumers want, need and would respond to/use any Source or Site that established Credibility/Quality...where they felt they weren't just leads ect.....
Isn't that what the smartest Agents count on for clients? How does your Credibility, Quality & Consumer Focus serve you in being Financially viable?

So I believe moving in that Direction for a RE Site or any Business is the BEST/Smartest way to become short term and long term financially viable...Much more sensible than jumping from one short term come-on or razzle-dazzle response to a legitimate desire by the Consumer
 to gain Visits/profiles or AD Revenue...

Like a House you shouldn't build on sand if you wish to be a viable financial investment/business or long-term

Course I ain't an expert like all them Marketing and PR people...
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December 03 2010
It looks like reviewers have to enter the address of the transaction, so spammers can't fake a review.

Yes, Zillow is more and more driven by the need for advertising dollars.  Consumers may not like that, but hey, you're using a free service online.  The dot-com business model doesn't work any more.  Investors want some profits in the short-term.

"Consumer focus" is very important, but staying financially viable is a necessary component of that.
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December 03 2010
Profile picture for Dunes....
Sunnyview I agree with all you said....My issue, concern or focus is this

When I was at Trulia I spoke out about the decisions they made, staff actions, comments and programs because of the DIRECTION they suggested the site was going....was it moving away from actually helping consumers, was it not responding more and more, was it headed towards allowing/encouraging more spam? What did the decision Signal?

Same here...If Zillow says they are Consumer focused but make this move or ignore that problem or or or...Direction and Credibility

If a bogus "Rating" system is created, yes I agree it may have little impact, consumers are smart enough to, it will most likely be ignored by most and and and BUT....what direction does it signal the Site is headed, what does it say about their priorities, their actual concern about presenting Quality to the Consumer, credibility ect....

What does it say about the Agents who participate or defend or excuse it or downplay the significance of what the move suggests?

I'm sharing my opinion and concern that it's the Decision to go this direction, to not have more concern (if any at all) about quality or actually responding to what the Consumer is actually asking or looking for, my concern is about what the Focus is, the motivation, the end result...

PLUS...I enjoy the opportunity to Spam myself ;)


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December 03 2010
Profile picture for sunnyview
I don't know. I appreciate reviews on sites like Amazon, CNET, yelp, trip advisor. Most people can sort the crap from the true. If it is a puff piece, it reads like a puff piece most of the time. If people don't have a BS detector they are already in big trouble if they are looking to buy/sell real estate.

Reviews are what they are. It's like calling a tenant reference and asking about the prospective tenant. You always wonder if the past landlord is lying to get rid of them. However, when you read an honest review, I think it rings true. I am not sure how this rating system will work in a forum like this, but it will be interesting to see. My main concern is that the cheerleaders of the world will build a shiner review sqaud than the put your head down and work agents, but I would hope that people would use other ways of picking an agent than stars alone.
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December 03 2010
Profile picture for Dunes....
Alan IMO the difference is this is a 3rd part who is Presenting the "Rating" to the Consumer as something to Consider, something of value, something  according to them in response to the Consumer wanting a tool/gauge to judge Agents by.....And it's Agents jumping in making it doable with little interest in if it's honest, accurate or has value as long as they get leads

I not suggesting or claiming a whole lot of consumers will be fooled but IMO if just 1 is that's to many....
My "Thing" is the intent/motivation for doing it, the lack of concern/interest in actually presenting something of value, the lame excuses of why they don't (Trulia & Zillow & Agents)...

To me this is Agents and a RE Site once again shooting themselves in the foot in the Credibility Dept..To be blunt ya both (Agents & RE sites) need to be working on BUILDING Credibility as a whole not adding to the Lack of it...

Just my opinion

BTW...The type of Credibility won/earned by Honesty is the type Debbie earned for herself and her industry here...check out what the CONSUMER says....Link
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December 03 2010
Profile picture for Alan May
Selective testimonials is really no different than it's always been.  Even in person, when you ask an agent for some references, do you really think s/he's going to give you the name of the guy whose listing never sold, after 485 days on market, and a $186,000 price reduction?

Yes, this is designed to drag more people to the site, and many will game the system.  How many people will actually USE the stars, as a way of choosing an agent??  I doubt it will be many.
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December 03 2010
I think this whole new rating system is much ado about nothing. It's just another way to drive consumers to the site and get agents more actively involved. Just my opinion...I bet many of them are already salivating over this new idea of racking up those stars.

Many will game the system.
How hard will it be for them to ask their friends to sign up with zillow - and leave them a rave review? All you have to say is that the agent showed you a home - listings don't even have to be sold to be considered a "client" .
Who is going to ask a dissatisfied client to leave a review?

So..... what will they wind up with?
Lots of fluff - stars that mean nothing...nada.....zippo....zilch.....rien...

These ratings will have as much validity as the VIP designations over on trulia.

Maybe once in a while a disgruntled clieint will come along, discover this rating thing, and willl happily leave a negative review.....they will be far and few between......overall - it still won't indicate who is "good" or "average" or just plain "bad".

The consumer will get no valid or useful insight into the agent's performance or ability.

A few years ago, my company did try to find a way to rate customer satisfaction. They hired a third party company, and paid a lot of money to do so. We received a "Quality Service Certification" .
Questionaires were sent out to all ciients a few weeks after EVERY closing . We had over 700 agents at that time - that involved a lot of questionaires.
 The 3rd party company was in charge of compiling the data, so that it was handled in an unbiased manner. (They didn't throw out the bad reviews and keep the good ones.) We were rated with a score of 5 as the best, based on answers to a number of questions. Consumers were also free to leave coments. ALL responses were posted on the internet site for anyone to see.

I almost had a perfect 5 except for 1 seller who, after getting full asking  price for their home, decided they could have done better, and thus, gave me a 4  instead of 5 for that particular "price satisfaction"  question.

Bottom line was.......after a year or so.........most of us dropped out of the program particularly due to lack of consistancy in the replies.

 I commended my company for attempting a rating system - the intention was good -  but the problem was...there was a very low return rate - I don't think even 30% of the questonaires were mailed back. So the end results were spotty and meaningless.

So - how do you get a true picture here,  if the clients are hand picked to give their reviews? Plus, other uncontrollable variables will play into the outcome, too.

Dan - if you want to find an agent when that time finally comes, and you are ready to take the plunge and buy a home in one of our 50 glorious states - scroll through zillow and trulia - read what agents in your area of interest have said, and use that data to help you formulate  a list. I'd hardly rely on zillow review stars to help find that top agent you'll be searching for.
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December 03 2010
Profile picture for Pasadenan
Yes, I know that Zillow would like to claim that more agents participate on Zillow than on Realtor.Com, and that most agents make sure their listings are present on Zillow and accurate, but it is the presence of consumers that will make that happen, not a rating that is only important to other agents.
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December 02 2010
Profile picture for Pasadenan
Of course it is a business, but who are the "customers"?  Sure, it is the "advertisers", such as Home Depot and Lowes and who knows who's bottled water...  But you need to remember without page views and people that may buy the product advertised, there is no business.

As with all "media", without the "viewers", the media is useless as a viable company.  You can't sell houses if there are no buyers.  You can't even list houses if there are no sellers.

Sure, Zillow gets 12.5 million people (approximately) using the site to look up something about residential Real Estate.  But if you don't get those people to look at lots of pages, you still have no advertisement revenue, and those advertising are still not selling anything.

Just as with television and radio you need to know what your "ratings" are, and you need to keep the ratings high to keep the market share, to sell advertisement space.

And what are you REALLY selling when you sell advertisement space?  Not the "space", but the "viewers".  The "consumer" is the "product", and without valuable content, the viewers aren't here.  And without catering to the needs and desires of the "consumers", the viewers are meaningless.

That is how the "advertisement revenue model" works.  If you spend all your time on trying to get more advertisers, and never pay attention to what the needs and desires of your "audience" is, you have nothing.

Besides, most of the agents will never take out a paid advertisement.  There is no need for them to.  And even if they did, it would be very small revenue compared to the major chain national advertisers.

The "rating" system will only make it less likely for agents to pay for advertisement space.  Until it meets consumer needs, it is counter productive.
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December 02 2010
Profile picture for Dunes....
Sam...The last time I was first on something and had a long discussion I got shown the door ;)

Always a pleasure to see ya about
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December 02 2010
I knew that all of my favorite commenters would be involved on this one.  Love the discussion, guys.

I'm going to be positive for now.  Yes, it's only reviews that are requested by the agent, so...agents will only request reviews from clients that they know love them.  Still, you will be getting reviews from clients that actually worked with these agents.  It's actually fairly well-verified.

That's reality.  Zillow wants to encourage agents to contribute, answer questions, and advertise on the site.  This is a business, and you can't blame a company for seeking another lead to a revenue source.

Dunes, way to be first on this.  It's going to be a long thread.
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December 02 2010
Profile picture for Dunes....
I tend to agree hpvanc and I question the actual motivation for creating this..

Here's Zillows pitch to the Agents at ActiveRain....Notice they call it "Endorsement"...Zillow Launches A Free Online Agent Endorsement System

Hey solicit those "Endorsements" and get Leads

I think Pasa's earlier comment about the direction of Zillows Marketing is something Zillow should give Serious consideration to.....
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December 02 2010
Profile picture for hpvanc
I'll have to see it to believe it.  I don't actually discourage them from trying it, but advertising to agents to solicit reviews from the customers they want immediately calls the validity of the system into question. 

Even if Zillow does find a way to keep it impartial, Sam's post is correct on the 2 types of customers that voluntarily submit reviews.  The real answer lies somewhere in the middle, and it is usually impossible to determine which side of the middle the truth falls.
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December 02 2010
Profile picture for Dunes....
Thanks Dasha, Carol and Pasa for sharing...Thumbs up to ya!

I do think "it will be interesting to see what comes from it"….

Carol IMHO it is one thing to say you have a Policy of only accepting Reviews only from actual clients and another thing to actually know you are accepting only reviews from actual clients....
They will know that how is one the questions I have?

My questioning of this is not about is it good or does it work for Agents but is it good or does it work for Consumers.......
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December 02 2010
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Zillow should have done an "automatic rating" system instead, using "total days on market", "listing price reduction", "sold price to listing price ratio", and % removed from market without sale.

They also should have two separate rating systems; one for "listing agent" and one for "selling agent".
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December 02 2010

If Zillow abides by the policy of only accepting responses from actual clients of the Realtor it should be okay.  As I understand it, that is the process.   

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December 02 2010
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