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RISMEDIA, Feb. 16, 2008-Last week, in the first of our three part series, we established that Web 2.0 is alive and kicking in all industries, including real estate. Phil Koserowski, vice president, Interactive Marketing established that as real estate professionals, it’s a must to recognize the responsibility to know what is being said about one’s business on a daily basis via user-generated content websites. Since we keep hearing this term-which is really all about interaction, access, social networking and immediacy-everywhere we go, this week, Paul Sheng, CEO of iHOUSE Web Solutions, continues with his viewpoint on user-generated content websites that rank and rate real estate brokerages and their listings, as well as service providers.

Content is King-So Who Rules?

  • Paul Sheng
  •  Chief Executive Officer
  • iHOUSE Web Solutions

Just over a year ago, Time Magazine named “YOU” the person of the year, based on the trend of the general public pitching in to create a vast network of knowledge on the Web, ranging in information on where to get authentic Italian Canneloni in the San Francisco Bay Area, to how to fix a leaky drain pipe yourself. In 2007, the trend of consumers creating the questions and the answers on the Web continued to grow, not just enabling people to find a restaurant or a reliable plumber, but profoundly affecting the real estate industry. The growth in what is commonly referred to as “user-generated content” in the real estate industry has largely been a result of Generations X and Y becoming today’s home buyers and sellers. Whereas Baby Boomers would simply ask their friend or co-worker to recommend a Realtor, 20- and 30-somethings hop online and chat with others on a real estate forum, visit a site that gives feedback on real estate professionals in their area or just start searching for properties that look suitable.

They operate on the premise that everyone’s opinion is equally significant, and actively seek out input from diverse sources in order to feel fully informed.

There are essentially two main components to user-generated content on the Web. One is Realtor participation on community sites to create another place for their name to appear on the Web, which has the potential to be very valuable. The other involves reviews and ranking websites where consumers talk about their experiences with real estate professionals in their area.

While one positions a real estate agent or broker as an information provider, the other could have a potentially positive or negative effect-especially in extreme markets. Home buyers feel the need to vent in bad markets because they don’t know what they’re paying their Realtor for anymore. Even in good markets, often the majority of people compelled to give opinions are the ones that have the most extreme experiences, positive or negative.
Knowing the growing power of user-generated content in the online real estate world, agents and brokers should accept that ranking and reviewing websites are not going anywhere. If real estate professionals want to leverage their online power, they should encourage their clients to leave testimonials on these forums and message boards.
By showing clients where they can provide feedback on their experiences, agents can increase the chances that they’ll get the kind of “good press” they want on the Internet. Using these ranking sites isn’t much different than going to your neighbor, co-worker or friend for feedback on a real estate agent or broker; but on the Web, you don’t always know the person you’re consulting. So consider the source when shopping for a Realtor.

Stay tuned for Part 3 next week, where Jeff Collaso, director of Training and Development at covers credibility and user-generated qebsites.

To read Part 1, click here.