Realtors Wary of Participating in Association Survey Program

With its members uneasy about online reviews, the National Association of Realtors is finding that participation in a program designed to give real estate agents consumer feedback is suffering. To change that, NAR is emphasizing the bigger picture.

The National Association of Realtors, the country’s largest trade group, is trying out a program designed to offer real estate agents the feedback they need to do their jobs better.

One problem: Many brokers are worried less about the feedback itself and more about whether it will go online or not. What’s the deal?

The program: Earlier this year, NAR—which represents more than a million real estate professionals nationwide—launched the pilot program to give clients a way to provide feedback as part of its broader Realtor Excellence Program. Reviews would come from consumer surveys sent out after a homebuyer is finished working with a Realtor. Agents would receive information via email letting them know how a buyer judged the property purchased and interactions with them. The program allows brokers to remove their ratings from the website, but they can’t pick and choose which ones to keep online; they must shut them all off or keep them on, warts and all.

The problem: The program has had trouble with uptake, according to the Chicago Tribune, which notes that, for example, the Mainstreet Organization of Realtors, based in the Chicago area, signed on to the program, but only about a fifth of its 14,500 agents participate. Brokers have raised concerns over whether the program is beneficial to them or could simply put their work in a negative light without showing the full picture. In one May op-ed for InmanNews, agent Teresa Boardman questioned whether agent reviews were actually better for consumers than simply talking to people they knew. She also raised concern about whether the program was as tightly controlled as the association says. “NAR claims that there will not be any way to game their rating system. There is always a way to game the system,” she wrote. “If a bad review is going to hurt my ability to make a living, I will game the system.” The association’s effort comes at a time when the competition level is high among real estate agent review sites such as AgentRank and Zillow.

The case for the program: NAR encourages members to look beyond the ratings to how the program benefits the industry as well as individual members. “Everyone seems to be focusing on the rating service, but I’m focusing on getting good consumer feedback,” Laurie Janik, NAR’s chief counsel, told the Tribune. “The bigger picture is that this is a way to enhance professionalism and have more satisfied buyers and sellers. Using the surveys, brokers can spot problems and weaknesses early on and get the agent the help or training they need.”

How do you use feedback from your industry’s customers to help your members? Let us know your take in the comments.


Ernie Smith

By Ernie Smith

Ernie Smith is a former senior editor for Associations Now. MORE

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