Realtor referral sites are a major trap for the unwary consumer. Whether you are a buyer or seller, it would not be wise to rely on the many online sites that claim to offer you a reliable and credible Realtor referral. I’m about to tell you something few consumers know, and the implications are huge for you personally, not only financially but legally.

Realtor-Referral

Online Realtor referral sites do not filter and promote only Realtors who are experienced, professional, competent, and honest. Realtor referral sites have one and only one qualification: Money. Realtors who pay get promoted. The many referral sites claim to qualify Realtors or want to give you that impression, but they do not. You’ve heard the rule, “Follow the money.” Never was that more true than on these Realtor referral sites. Randomly hiring a Realtor from a Realtor referral site is like tossing the dice and hoping you just get lucky and end up with a qualified and honest Realtor.

Realtor Referral Sites

There are many Realtor referral sites online, such as Zillow.com, Trulia.com, Realtor.com, Homelight.com, AgentSearch.com, Yelp.com, AgentHarvest.com, MyAgentFinder.com, TopAgentsRanked.com, UpNest.com, and there are many others.

HomeAdvisor.com is a similar type of referral site for home contractors, but it suffers from the same kind of disqualifying lack of credibility–whoever pays gets promoted. It’s all about money, not experience, not professionalism, and not integrity.

Where there is an opportunity to make money, someone will create an organization that appears to help consumers by pre-qualifying professionals and filtering out the bad ones. It sounds like a good idea, and it is, but consumers are unwilling to pay for such a service, so where does the business make its money? From the professionals it is supposedly rating. Will business owners pay to be rated badly? No. But they will pay to show up on these sites so consumers will think they have been vetted and hire them. 

Realtor Referral for Pay

The bottom line is that whoever pays Zillow to show up in the right hand margin with their photo and contact information will get leads from consumers who think the Realtor has been vetted. The truth is any Realtor who pays the monthly fee will show up in the right margin. No pre-qualification necessary. No vetting. Anyone who pays shows up. Character doesn’t matter. Values don’t matter. Nothing matters except money.

This is a consumer-beware practice that happens in nearly every industry. Because of the fraud and dishonesty involved in the financial services industry, someone came up with the idea that they should create a public site that “checks on financial advisers,” giving you the impression that the site vets the good from the bad. A site called “BrokerCheck.com” was created, and once again it appears to be a way to do thorough investigations of financial advisers, but a little research reveals that brokers get posted on this site only after they pay. Aha! Follow the money folks, and beware, because you are the intended target of all these schemes.

If a Realtor pays Zillow enough money every month, they will show up on a lot of listings with their photo in the right margin, but there is no vetting on experience, professionalism, competence, honesty, nor integrity. Just money. 

If I seem a little passionate about this subject, it is because I don’t like gimmicks and misrepresentations that pull the wool over consumers’ eyes to trick them into hiring someone. Generally, consumers are quite unaware of how they are being manipulated. The old latin phrase from long ago still applies today, “Caveat Emptor,” or “Buyer Beware.” 

Bottom line: Do not depend on Realtor referrals sites. Do your own research on Realtors online. There is a tremendous amout of information online today that you can easily access to do your own independent research on Realtors before you hire one. It’s not even hard to do, but it takes a little effort and time online. In the end, you’ll know you did hire a qualified and honest Realtor, and possibly avoid a lot of stress and frustration. You’ll find a lot of articles on this site objectively sharing how you can research and hire the best Realtor in your market. You can use the menu above for “Buyers” and then “Hiring an Agent,” or you can go to Hiring an Agent.

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