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Realtor.com Tests New Feature to Address Big Complaint

by James F. McClister

New realtor.com feature to test increased agent responsiveness, impact on leads

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A lack of responsiveness from agents has always been a chief complaint among buyers and sellers. In an effort to address customers’ complaints and provide brokerages with better lead generation tools, Move, Inc. will soon begin testing on a new feature for its website realtor.com.

In a March survey from Redfin, homebuyers shed new light on what it is they’re looking for in a real estate professional, and above all else, including professionalism, local expertise and experience, was responsiveness (47 percent).

“In other words,” the report read, “consumers showed a marked preference for agents who are responsive and are strong advocates for their clients, even as less expensive, technology-based options become more prevalent and popular in real estate.”

Giving More Options

With access to direct-to-agent webform email and links to individual social media pages and website, the big syndication sites, like Zillow, Trulia and realtor.com, have all included features to help facilitate streamlined communication between agent and client. But at some point, the problem becomes less a matter of technology, and more a matter of an agents willingness to provide a timely response.

Hoping to circumvent the problem of unresponsive agents, realtor.com announced recently the introduction of a new feature, which it will begin testing July 22. It will allow buyers to contact multiple local agents from the same broker on the initial lead form (as seen below), in hopes of providing quicker response times and more viable leads for the listing brokerage.

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The form will allow consumers to select up to four agents to whom to send their information. While Move says companies will be able to decide what agents appear in the four slots, one stipulation will require that all listed agents have at least one recent transaction in the listed home’s ZIP code.

All About Value

In an interview with Inman, Move Inc.’s Senior Vice President of Industry Relations Russ Cofano explained the decision in terms of value.

“A brokerage and their agents get little value out of an online lead that is not responded to, and we get little value out of that as well,” he said. “When a consumer goes to realtor.com and clicks on a lead form to get more information and they don’t hear back from anybody, they feel like they didn’t get the best experience on realtor.com.”

When testing begins in less than two weeks, the site will be working closely with seven partnering brokers, who have not yet been named, to collect data and further determine how consumers will react to the new option, and what the advantages or disadvantages will ultimately be for brokerages and their agents. Move is refraining from announcing a hard end date to the tests, but the current estimate is roughly three months.

Pricing for the new option remains forthcoming.

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