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Online 'reviews' vs. 'recommendations' – what's the difference?

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Everybody is scrambling (at least the companies paying attention in the real estate space) to incorporate a reviews system into their websites.

The big guys, Zillow and Trulia, have had them for a while, and their two approaches raise an interesting point of discussion in the real estate world: Is there a substantive difference to the consumer between having “unbiased” reviews (as Zillow does) or “recommendations” (clearly slanted in favor of the agent, of course) as does Trulia on its site?

As a longtime agent who struggled to get happy clients to write me testimonials (now recoined as “recommendations”) over the years, I can vouch that the recommendations I did receive were quite legitimate and not influenced by me (for example, standing over them forcing them to write nice things). My Zillow profile, though, has several positive reviews of my work that I did not solicit. Today, my Trulia profile is full of recommendations by happy clients, mostly agents thanking me for my marketing coaching. While I’m grateful for the reviews, I think the recommendations speak better to my skills and value-add to prospective clients.

Interestingly, the real estate websites that have incorporated unsolicited “reviews” have found the average rating out of 5 stars for agents is about 4.8. Sounds like recommendations to me… or perhaps all real estate agents just do a better job on average than they’re given credit for!

I’d be curious what people think about online real estate agent reviews vs. recommendations.

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Jeff Geoghan

Jeff Geoghan

Jeff Geoghan is the marketing manager for Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage in Central Pennsylvania, based in Camp Hill with 20 offices in 10 counties. Jeff lives in East Petersburg, where he also serves as mayor. He has been active in local government and business and has been used as a resource by local, regional and national publications.

All opinions in Jeff’s blog are his own and do not reflect those of his company or any other entities.

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