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ZipRealty, a leading national real estate brokerage and provider of proprietary technology and comprehensive online marketing tools, announced recently that homebuyers and sellers are now able to post public, unfiltered reviews of their ZipRealty agent directly on the agent’s profile page on the ZipRealty website.

Prospective homebuyers and sellers can now also search for an agent based on the number and quality of reviews the agent has received. ZipRealty added this functionality as a result of extensive consumer research including surveys, focus groups and user testing conducted over the past two years.

“Serious real estate consumers have spoken loud and clear about agent ratings and reviews. Our research revealed that authentic and transparent consumer reviews are the number one factor in a consumer’s decision to contact a real estate agent they found online. Consumers today place tremendous trust in the opinions of others, and online word-of-mouth feedback systems are increasingly prevalent in all arenas of consumer activity,” says Lanny Baker, CEO of ZipRealty.

ZipRealty agents can now invite their buyer and seller clients to post online reviews about their expertise and performance to the ZipRealty site at any stage during the transaction process or post-closing. The company has collected closed client reviews of agent service since 2001, and these historical reviews will also be publically posted on the agent’s profile page.

Although the majority of homebuyers still choose to work with an agent because of a personal referral, more than 70 percent of the 2,500 consumers who answered the company’s latest survey indicated that if a real estate agent was referred to them through offline word-of-mouth, they would do an Internet search on the real estate agent to find more information about the agent and their service before working with them.

“I’ve already had people say that the reviews on my web page were a major factor in their decision to work with me,” says Rick Moore, a ZipRealty real estate agent in Seattle.

This new client review system marks an important shift to a modern, consumer-friendly model that is completely transparent and unfiltered, making it easy for online homebuyers and sellers to feel confident contacting an agent they were referred to or met online.

Consumers increasingly trust online reviews. Ninety-two percent of consumers around the world say they trust earned media, such as word-of-mouth and recommendations from friends and family, above all other forms of advertising—an increase of 18 percent since 2007, according to a new study from Nielsen, a leading global provider of information and insights into what consumers watch and buy. Online consumer reviews are the second most trusted form of advertising with 70 percent of global consumers surveyed online indicating they trust this platform, an increase of 15 percent in four years.

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