Ten years ago real estate websites that allowed the general public to search homes didn't even exist. In the old days, if you wanted to see what was for sale, you had to meet with a Realtor face to face. Nowadays all you have to do is pop on your computer or smartphone.
Similarly, if you wanted to find a good Realtor, you either asked your friends and neighbors for a referral or you called the person on the bus bench. Just like things have changed for how you can search for homes, the same can be done to locate a reputable real estate professional.
The age of transparency has arrived, and with it an empowered consumer with much higher expectations. Gone are the days that real estate agent's could use "their brokerage's" sales figures as their own to pump up their experience or marketing expertise.
Across the board, sites like Zillow are pulling back the covers and exposing not just how many recent sales an agent has, but also what their client's have to say about their ability. Most consumers are familiar with this model, think about how Yelp has transformed the restaurant and retail business. The empowered and vocal consumer are waters that many business owners are still learning to navigate gracefully.
There are no shortage of performance rating sites that home buyer's and seller's can use to broadcast their love (or dissatisfaction) of their real estate experience. Rating their Realtor's experience from 1 – 5 stars is only the beginning. Once a review is written, the author has the ability to easily share it across social media sites.
There is a good chance you've seen people sharing their experiences on Facebook about being haggled at a car dealership or raving about a great place to enjoy dinner. Social sharing via the internet means real estate professionals have one more very big reason to turn their client's into enthusiastic fans with social media as their microphone.
With the housing market beginning to rebound, the number of real estate licensees is again on the rise. A worthwhile exercise is to run a Google search by typing in a Realtor's full name accompanied by the word "reviews" and click search. Another option is to visit Zillow, select "Agents", then enter the agent's name of whom you are searching for reviews. You may be surprised, or not, by what you find.