Are online real estate agent reviews reliable?

Hank Bailey
Hank Bailey
Published on May 27, 2019

If you’re one of those people, like me, who won’t buy a product or use a service until you’ve thoroughly read through all available online reviews you can get your hands on, then you are as pleased as I am with the proliferation of websites that offer real estate agent reviews.

Do you ever wonder if those glowing, positive reviews are fake? Hey, I don’t blame you – skepticism is healthy, says the Gen X’r!

Thankfully, some sites, such as Amazon and Yelp, have strict policies to ensure that the reviews are from real people who’ve actually used the product or service being reviewed.

Over the past 8-10 years its become easier to find online reviews on real estate agents. When it comes to something as complicated as a real estate transaction, it’s only natural to want to learn of others’ experiences with any particular agent.

But, once again – are these reviews real?

As an agent, Zillow has been the website I’ve focused on the most over the years in building up my profile with client reviews. I remember in 2011 when agents could start sending a link out to past clients to ask them to review our work. This has just continued to grow over the years as Zillow has become the “Google” of real estate!

Yet once again – are these reviews real? According to Zillow, “An actual human being reads every review before it gets published, so it’s true: Reviews can get rejected. The most common reason for a rejected review is because the consumer didn’t include enough detail with the review.

Zillow’s moderation team only approves reviews that contain enough information to be beneficial for buyers and sellers. They also make sure reviews don’t contain anything inappropriate, irrelevant or confrontational. Zillow’s consumer-focused review process helps to ensure only authentic information is posted.”

I think it’s safe to say that it would be quite difficult to submit a fake real estate agent review at Zillow.  Beyond agent reviews on their Zillow profile, are you up to speed with that new “Best of Zillow” badge on some agent profiles?

Susan Daimler, Senior Vice President, Zillow Premier Agent, writes, ” We are deeply committed to consumer happiness and satisfaction. Home shoppers use Zillow to search for their next home because they trust our brand. It’s incredibly important that the trust they put in us also extends to agents they connect with on our platform.

Buying a home can be a daunting, complicated and overwhelming process, and we want our consumers to be in the best hands as they make the journey. One part of this is making sure they can recognize and connect with the best real estate professionals.

We also know that agents want to stand out and be recognized for providing excellent customer service — and we couldn’t agree more!

So, we created a data-driven scoring system that rewards “best-in-class” agent performance and makes sure consumers know who those agents are.”

The search for representation in a real estate transaction is something that shouldn’t be entered into lightly.

Understand that who you decide to hire will be the person/people responsible for guiding your transaction to a smooth and lucrative closing.

Choose the wrong agent and you open yourself to stress, aggravation and, possibly, loss of money

So, how do you find the right agent for your needs?  Starting online is a good place to start. Read the agents’ reviews on Zillow and Google, but don’t stop there. Check out agent websites, looking for evidence of their experience and focus.

Getting a referral from a family member or friend is a great idea too! Chances are your friends and family wouldn’t refer you to anyone for any service that they didn’t highly recommend! That they too felt provided a high degree of service. I’d still cross reference those personal referrals with the agent’s online reviews though to true them up.

Ask the right questions

After you have reached out and contacted that agent, make sure that he or she has the attributes which are important to you.

I’ve found that most of our clients were looking for someone who was responsive – who actually returns their calls, emails and texts within a reasonable amount of time.

They also complained about other agents who didn’t listen to them. Make a list of what’s important to you and use it as you interview agents, looking for cues that they are actually listening to you.

While asking the right questions of the agent is important, listening to the types of questions the agents ask you is equally crucial.

If you are a homebuyer, did he or she inquire about your loan pre-approval status and explain its importance? If you are selling your home, did the agents ask you about your preferred timeline?

Pertinent questions, specific to your real estate goals, are important signs that you’re interviewing a good agent.

It takes money to make money

I don’t know who first said that “it takes money to make money,” but whoever it was, nailed it. And it is even more important when it comes to selling a home.

Naturally you’ll want to learn all you can about each agent’s marketing plan, but it’s even more important to ask about their marketing budgets.

A new or part-time agent may be operating on a tight budget, and you’ll likely receive the bare bones in marketing services.

To properly market a home requires pulling out all the stops

It requires a balance of both innovative and tried-and-true tactics.

Since first impressions are critical, the services of a professional photographer and, perhaps a stager are a must. Marketing to multiple platforms is also crucial.

When selling a home, does each agent you interview have a marketing budget to cover these services or does he or she expect you to pay for them?

Finding the right real estate agent to sell or buy a home may seem like looking for the needle in the proverbial haystack, but it doesn’t have to be.

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