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How User-Generated Content Is Impacting Real Estate – Part 3

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RISMEDIA, Feb. 23, 2008-This week, as we conclude our three part series on user-generated content, we introduce Jeff Collaso, director of training and development at ListingDomains.com. It’s more evident than ever that Web 2.0 is alive and kicking in real estate, so the best way to curb its impact, according to Collaso, is interaction. Here, see his take on user-generated content websites that rank and rate real estate brokerages and their listings, as well as service providers, and how it can help the industry.

Web 2.0-It’s All About Interaction

The current version of the Internet-Web 2.0-is all about interaction. Buyers and sellers interact with each other on eBay. Blogs enable writers and readers to interact by allowing readers the opportunity to respond right in the body of the blog itself. Wikipedia is an online encyclopedia where users can add new information to its material. Now, there are Websites that allow users to comment on real estate agents and their listings. But how can this help our industry, or the consumer for that matter? Let’s think about the issue of credibility for a second. How much stock would you put in a good review of an agent? How about a review of a listing? People can post things anonymously, so how do you know who’s really posting what?

Agents can post favorable reviews to their own profiles and not-so-favorable reviews on the profiles of agents they are competing with in their market. Because of this, people will probably brush off a good review as a puff piece (think press release) and probably believe a negative one as the actual truth (think tabloids).
But as far as value for the consumer goes, these “rank-and-review” Websites will only
become valuable when their information can be trusted. Take Amazon.com, for example. They’ve been doing book reviews for a while now but they’re still hit or miss. How many agents would a consumer need to go through to become a good reviewer? Is someone who goes through several agents capable of being a good and fair reviewer?

So is there any good in these Websites? To be fair, these types of Websites are for consumers, not agents. To that end, they are trying to create a forum where buyers and sellers can voice their commendations or criticisms.
For agents, these sites would be a nice objective place to have client testimonials. Good for agents, but not great for agents because these sites do not yet carry the feeling of being totally objective. Keep in mind the Amazon.com example above. They are relevant because they are a big player in the book-selling industry so they have the ability to attract rich user-generated content. But I think that real estate rank-and-review Websites will just be conversation pieces unless these forums gain some longevity.

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