Realtor Ratings and Reputation 2.0

March 19, 2008
Last night I posted a video on Reputation 2.0 and Identity 2.0  we made on NoMoreDoorKnocking and am getting a lot of email from people asking me questions.  Jay Thompson posted it and Joel Burslem included it in a very interesting discussion on Identity 2.0 and the real estate industry.
The crux of the discussion is that there there needs to be a way to rate real estate professionals and to find out how the real estate client discovered it.  Personally, I say why relegate the conversation to one industry when all service industries need it, but for the sake of this discussion let’s stick to Realtors.  Most of them are stuck with a rap they don’t deserve.
Joel raised an interesting point about this issue:
“But as much as I cheer these entrepreneurs coming in and providing solutions to the issue of Identity 2.0 – I can’t help but wonder, shouldn’t this be something the industry takes the lead on? Give us a way to rate, rank and review your membership. Especially if it were done in a totally transparent and honest manner, so the rating was not up for abuse or gaming. I’m convinced this is something that NAR or the local Associations should get behind.”
Frankly, the Industry doesn’t have the tools or the fortitude to tackle this problem and their governance structure is such that it is almost impossible to effect any change let alone controversial change.
I have some personal experience with this issue. Last July at the Inman connect conference I was on a panel with Bob Hale, President of HAR(Houston Association of Realtors), in my view the most progressive MLS around (Check out the Realtor search)  He talked about his plan for public agent ratings. I suspect that Bob will not be able to make this happen and if  Bob can’t get his done no other MLS will come close.  I also presented at the Bernice Ross’s  Really awesome Women in Real Estate last spring.  I was asked if I supported Agent Ratings and had to answer no.  When I sat down I was soundly scolded by Leslie Appleton-Young, Chief economist for CAR.
So why did I say I didn’t support agent rating?
Well, I believe that for the most part REAL ESTATE PROFESSIONALS are not scared to have their reputations exposed, maybe those who buy properties for cash might have reason to. However, they are scared of a rating method that they don’t understand and into which they have no insight or control. They know that online, identity is a sham and can be “gamed” as Joel put it. And let’s face it, who wants to be “rated”?  What the heck does that mean?  Rated on the basis of what?  Good looks? negotiation?  How can I rate negotiation skills if I am a poor negotiator?  What one customer loves another will hate. For these reasons, rating qualitative skills with a quantitative number is scary.
These are the reasons, when asked directly, “do you think rating Realtors is a good idea” that I said “no”. What I do believe in is exposing the Identity and Reputation of Realtors to potential customers.  What customers desperately desire is insight into the type of person they are about to contractually entrust their biggest and most important asset – their home.  It’s simply not fair or accurate to boil down this insight and information to a “rating”.
So, you might ask, how do we establish Identity and transparency and honestly provide this insight into a Realtor’s reputation?  Offline you might interview three or four of hisor her last customers.  Or you might rely on designations from  NAR, CRS, ABR, GRI and the myriad of associations and boards that have all gone to great lengths to ensure that their members are reputable.  However, the fact remains that there are some bad actors in the group and reputation online is different than reputation offline (make sure to watch our video below).
Fortunately there is an answer for online and offline Identity and Reputation.  In my mind, Identity and Reputation are inextricably tied to a person’s social graphs – think Reputation 2.0.  Offline relationships are being explicitly mapped online or can be extracted semantically from the web.  In effect, this is going to allow for the mapping of peoples social graphs.  You can’t “game”, fool, or fake your Social Graph.  Everyone has a social graph.  Defining, making transparent and allowing for easy interaction with any social graph will provide a consumer with what they so desperately crave – information.
Reputation 2.0 combined with Identity 2.0 is something that we can all get behind.  It’s better than ratings. It’s real, it can’t be cheated or faked, nobody has to “sign up” (everyone has a social graph), Realtors understand its offline or analogue version, it gives customers more information and a better basis for choosing on a Realtor.  As always, the best always come out on top.  With the Internet it is just going to happen faster.

Tag, I’m It… Meme’d Again

January 24, 2008
So Jay Thompson has introduced me to “meme’s” I had never heard of them until now.   Here is how they work according to Jay ” someone with too much time on their hands thinks up some question (typically personal) and starts a post, “tagging” others to do the same, and it flies across the Internet. Before you know it, you’ve found out more about some people than you probably want to know…”  Then Jay tagged me!   
Here are the rules for this one:   
(1) list 7 things about yourself, (2) tag 7 people to do the meme on themselves including a link to their site.     
  1. I was born and raised in Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan.  In any crowd of over 200 there is always somebody from Moose Jaw.
  2. I have a lot of kids.  Three daughters (16,14 and 12) a son 9 and a baby in the bakery.
  3. I am a serial entrepreneur.  While still in University I started a clothing store.  We made almost $75,000 dollars in four months selling those crazy “son of a beach shorts” to all types of sports teams and university organizations.  We went big and opened a store in a mall and slowly spent the the profits over the next two years.  I also started two retail computer operations growing each to over $12 million dollars in revenue before creating Point2Agent.
  4. I am a Physicist.  Well, at least I have a degree in Physics. My daughter Robyn (12) was younger she used to like to tell her friends “My dad is a rocket scientist”, not so much any more.
  5. Persistence should have been my middle name. I don’t know when to quit – even when (at least in retrospect) I ought to have known.
  6. I am a dreamer.  I love dreaming up ideas and putting them into action. Remember when you were a kid?  Anything seemed possible and dreams were the norm.  It hurts me to see so many people who I know used to have dreams give up  on them and get beaten by the drudgery of life.
  7. I am extremely lucky.  I have the greatest parents, wife and kids. It’s probably why anyone who knows me can tell if I am in a building or room.  They only have to listen for my laugh.

Tag, you’re it! Jeff Tomlin, John Fothergill, Dustin Luther, Jason Collins, Greg Miller,Frances Thorsen, Norm Fisher

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