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Realtor.com Takes First Steps Toward Connecting Agents with Clients Online

by Doug Pitorak

Intro News

In the wake of its failed AgentMatch program, realtor.com kept its Dec. 2013 promise to develop online tools to help connect agents with prospective clients. The first step? Updating its agent profiles, according to a recent report by Inman News.

As Chicago Agent wrote about in February, realtor.com called an end to its AgentMatch program as 2013 drew to a close; during a six-month test period in Loveland, Colo., and Las Vegas, AgentMatch received much negative feedback. Through AgentMatch, prospective clients could peruse Realtors by location and further filter their search by number of listings, homes recently sold, average time on market and list-to-sale-price ratio. Throughout the test period, many agents expressed that the rankings were misleading and relied too strongly on MLS data. Not only does MLS data fail to tell the full story of an agent, some argued, but through AgentMatch, prospective clients would pass on newer agents who lack a strong presence on the MLS in favor of more experienced agents, stifling Realtors who are trying to launch a career.

A Gap to Close

In a Dec. 2013 letter to the industry, realtor.com President Errol Samuelson announced the deactivation of AgentMatch. He vowed that realtor.com would take the feedback and work tirelessly to develop tools that benefits Realtors and clients alike – and that’s a good thing. According to Inman News, the 2013 National Association of Realtors Profile of Home Buyers and Sellers recorded a familiar stat: 89 percent of homebuyers searched online for a home; what is surprising, though, is that only 9 percent of homebuyers surveyed by NAR discovered their agent online, and only 4 percent of sellers settled on their agent online. Clearly, there is a gap to close, and realtor.com’s new profiles might help do that.

What’s New

The updated agent profiles will contain MLS data, but unlike AgentMatch, stats will only be tied to a profile with the agent’s authorization, according to Inman News. The new profiles will go live in the 2014 third quarter, the report says, and, if authorized, will include the price range the agent typically works in, as well as a map displaying a Realtor’s listings, showings and closing.

A focus on profiles and giving agents the option of including MLS data results from the realization that prospective clients really aren’t all that in love with MLS stats to begin with; according to Inman News, realtor.com learned that clients would rather view online profiles that contain bios and testimonials.

Much like popular social media sites Facebook and Twitter, realtor.com’s new agent profiles make room for a big cover photo, adding a more personal touch to the profile. From a profile, prospective clients will have the ability to ask agents questions and will have access to contact information. Furthermore, Inman News reported that the profiles include a short bio and a summarization of agents’ work experience, in addition to a list of areas of expertise and primary neighborhoods.

Work To Be Done

Lessons learned from the AgentMatch experiment are evident in the plans for the agent profiles, but Ernie Graham, realtor.com’s senior director of product management, did not disclose details to Inman News about realtor.com’s intentions with a revamped Realtor search tool.

According to Inman News, realtor.com’s current agent search tool, “Find a Realtor,” yielded 460 results for a search for agents in Detroit. Through the tool, prospective clients can organize results alphabetically and can narrow results according to industry designations and certifications, the report says. According to Inman News, similar searches on Zillow.com (which allows consumers to filter according to Zillow users’ ratings of agents, as well as listings and recent sales) and Trulia (which allows consumers to narrow results by homes sold and recommendations) yielded 833 agents and 521 agents, respectively.

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