By Toby Welch
According to the J.D. Power 2017 Home Buyer/Seller Satisfaction Survey, first-time home buyers report a good reputation is one of the two most important reasons for choosing an agent (the other is recommendations from colleagues and loved ones.) So, it’s essential that you do whatever you can to ensure your reputation stays positive.
Cheryl Kirby, a real estate advisor for Keller Williams Integrity First Realty in Phoenix, AZ shares her thoughts on this hot topic: “Reputation, to me, is your No. 1 calling card in life, not just in the world of real estate. If your reputation precedes you, as they say, you have already been hired or fired by a potential client before you even get there. No marketing strategy, new technology fads, or Facebook business page will ever be as powerful as a good reputation in establishing a successful real estate business. It’s a small world with today’s social media and word travels fast, far and wide. It behooves us all to be conscious of the kind of reputation we are establishing in our market.”
Rolf Hitzer, a broker with Royal LePage Top Producers Real Estate in Winnipeg, starts each day with a conscious decision to maintain his reputation. “The thing that I work very hard at is doing my best to be respectful to the people I interact with throughout the day. And following through on any promises I’ve made to ensure my actions and words are credible.”
Having a positive reputation online is imperative in this age where 95 per cent of homebuyers search the internet when looking for houses. So how do you pull it off? By being proactive in your online reputation management. Treat your brand marketing with the importance it deserves. Be active on social media and real estate blogs. And cultivate positive online reviews. Others raving about you is a lot more powerful than you tooting your own horn.
But it can happen to the best agents: a bad review. It’s painful and it hurts but deal with it professionally. Don’t respond when you are still upset about it. In some cases, ignoring the review is the best thing to do. If you respond, do so in a professional manner. Reply with class and empathy and let the poster know that you are going to address their concerns. You can’t stop someone from posting something nasty about you, but you can control how you respond to it.
Marg Scheben-Edey, a broker and market value appraiser with Re/Max Four Seasons Realty in Collingwood, Ont., focuses on the upside of negative reviews, “I don’t think a less-than-perfect review is a bad thing. It shows other readers that the reviews are genuine and, more importantly, is a good feedback loop for me to know how I can improve. No matter what, I always respond to every review with thanks and in a positive and professional manner.”
Kari Calder, a salesperson with Century 21 Fusion in Saskatoon, has also dealt with negative reviews. “I received one from a troll, so I made sure to respond that I’ve never had that person as a client. I approach it (bad reviews) head on. I also had a situation that involved my sellers and multiple offers. One buyer was angry they didn’t get the house. They lashed out online. I shared it with my sellers, who felt compelled to respond in my defence as I did my duty to them by looking out for their best interests. The buyer was not my client so my ethical responsibility to them was only to treat all parties fairly.”
To counteract negative reviews, fill your social media and websites with positive reviews and testimonials. Don’t be afraid to ask people for reviews. And if someone offers to give you a review when you are with them, whip out your phone and film a quick video testimonial to post online.
Calder offers a suggestion, “You need to start with getting as many testimonials as possible. Even if you haven’t sold any homes, you can ask people you know for character references. Be honest and your reputation will remain positive.”
Scheben-Edey asks for a review when a sale is firm or after the closing date, but she recognizes that is a busy time for people. If she doesn’t get a response, she follows up a few weeks later.
“There are a number of review platforms now emerging in our industry,” she says. “I would suggest people choose just one to direct people to in order to get an aggregate of responses in one place. I use RankMyAgent, which is connected to my profile on realtor.ca. Clients seem to like it as it is a fairly fast and easy process. Having said that, I also think reviews are valuable on Facebook and Google so raving fans or even others you work with such as home inspectors, lenders, or lawyers may want to also consider posting reviews there as well, if you feel it is appropriate to ask.”
Hitzer offers advice on protecting your reputation: “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you. Keep your word. Remember how humble you felt when you were new to real estate and keep that feeling for the rest of your career. Be kind and smile often. Remember, our success in real estate is built on a foundation of relationships and not burnt bridges.”
Kirby offers a final thought, “Reputation is the by-product of our character. The kind of person you are and how you treat others is your character and your reputation is the shadow it will cast. Real estate is more about people than houses.”
Do your job well, with transparency and integrity, and an exemplary reputation should follow.