Whether you're new to the market or you've been around the block, online reviews for real estate agents are incredibly important. Learn how to get them here.
In decades past, anyone looking for a real estate agent would take the same approach: ask around. Friends, family members and neighbors were the primary source of referrals for someone looking to buy or sell a property. While real estate agents still rely on word of mouth, people share this information online now.
Getting positive online reviews is essential to remaining competitive.
In Real Estate, Reviews Matter
Most people today won't even stay in a hotel without checking out its reviews, and many won't even buy a pizza without scouring the restaurant's Yelp ratings.
So when a person who is accustomed to reading online reviews needs to hire a real estate agent, you can expect that the person looking to buy or sell a house will do plenty of research online first.
In fact, 90 percent of consumers read online reviews at least occasionally, according to a recent survey. The survey also found that 84 percent of people trust online reviews as much as they trust personal recommendations from friends.
So if you still think that your real estate business depends on word-of-mouth recommendations from previous clients, you're right. It's just that prospective clients no longer rely solely on recommendations from people they know personally.
That can be a great thing for you: New clients don't have to know your previous clients in order to find you. But it does mean that you have to pay close attention to what people are saying about you in reviews.
SEO Matters Too
Getting a steady stream of online reviews attracts customers in less obvious ways, too. When lots of people talk about you online, search engine algorithms factor that into the way they rank sites. So when someone Googles "real estate agent in Columbus", local agents who have lots of online reviews will be listed more highly than agents with little internet presence.
Another perk you might not think about? Some people love to share the reviews they write on their social media pages. One satisfied client who shares her rave review with 500 Facebook friends can bring lots of new attention to your business.
How to Get Reviews From Clients
Don't worry, getting online reviews is nowhere near as challenging as negotiating a million-dollar deal. It's actually pretty simple. Here's how to do it:
1. Wait until the deal is done or your business with the client is completed. That might mean waiting until the client signs the last bit of paperwork or decides to end their search - but basically, asking about reviews should be one of the last things you do before parting ways.
2. Ask a few questions about your service in order to get honest feedback from your client. Say something like, "It was such a pleasure to work with you. I'm always trying to get better to serve my clients' needs, so can you tell me if there was anything else I could have done for you?"
3. Assuming the client is satisfied with your work (and most clients won't continue to work with agents who aren't satisfying them), say something like, "I'm glad to hear that. It really means a lot. And it would be really helpful to me if you would write a review about me on [site] and/or [site]." Words like "helpful" are very effective for getting your client to actually write a review. After all, everyone wants to be helpful.
Of course if your client expresses displeasure with your service? Apologize or otherwise make it clear that you'll take those notes to heart and then drop the conversation. Obviously you don't want to ask dissatisfied clients to review you.
Sites That Matter
Two categories of review sites matter for real estate agents. Make sure to vary the sites you mention when asking for reviews, because different prospective clients favor different sites, and you should aim to have positive reviews on all the major ones.
- Mainstream: Yelp, Google and Facebook are the major, mainstream sites that most consumers use for reviewing all types of services.
- Niche: Sites that cater to real estate, including Zillow, Trulia and Realtor.com, are favored by some clients looking for industry-specific reviews.
Check out each of these sites. Your business may already have pages on them, and you can create profiles on sites where you're not listed. Each site varies, but you can "claim" your page on most, which allows you to edit the business information and publicly respond to reviews posted about you.
- Be sure to set up and claim your profiles before asking clients to review you!
An Automated Approach
High-volume businesses that serve dozens of clients or customers each day can afford to accept that only some people will write reviews. But you spend a lot of time with each client, and can only serve so many people at once, so you should aim to have a very high rate of return with online reviews. Ideally, every single client will write you at least one review.
Use an automated system like ReputationStacker to take the work out of getting more positive online reviews. It works simply: All you have to do is upload your client's email addresses or phone numbers into the system and ReputationStacker contacts them with a one-question survey. Satisfied clients are directed to the review site of your choice to post a review, and dissatisfied clients are directed back to you.
Real estate is competitive, and getting a steady stream of positive online reviews is one of the best ways to separate yourself from the pack.
Prospective clients rely on feedback posted on mainstream and niche sites to decide who to hire, and getting reviews can improve your standings in search engine results. Ask clients to write reviews, and follow up using an automated system like ReputationStacker to make sure you're getting all the positive reviews you can.