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Written by Julie Vanderblue | CEO, Vanderblue Team | President, Higgins Group Real Estate

We have seen significant change in behavior since the advent of Web 2.0 consumer generated content, and much of this transformation has to do with the world of ratings and reviews. We can now go to Yelp and either suggest or caution our fellow consumers regarding how we were treated at a restaurant or to Trip Advisor to seek vital information regarding the merits or demerits of a particular hotel spa.

Well, what then about real estate reviews? Should they be viewed as fact or fiction, authentic or fabricated?

As president of both the Higgins Group and the Vanderblue team, I am not only concerned regarding the legitimacy of real estate reviews, but also with what is being received. I am finding that most consumer reviews have more to do with service than skill.

Regrettably, I have seen too many home sellers rave about their full-priced sale within days of coming on the market when many might agree that their property was under-priced.

Buyers may complement their agent online for always being available and “knowing their market,” but shouldn’t that be a given?

In my opinion, service is frosting on the cake btu the substance (the “cake,” if you will) is the skills beyond the service. The act of selling is a skill, as is negotiating, communicating, staging and merchandising, target marketing, strategic networking and uncovering opportunity. I encourage consumers, both buyers and sellers, to be more vigilant in assessing skills, whether reviewing online or actually taking the appropriate time to choose the right Realtor.

That said, we need to provide both exceptional skills and service and more has to be done to educate regarding not only what they should expect from a Realtor, but what they should demand. Otherwise our ratings may be too high for what means less (service) and too low for what means more (skills).

Read reviews carefully and try to weed through the fluff and uncover the skill. But most importantly, interview before you make a decision. Ask tough questions. Focus less on the suggested price of the house and more on the strategic approach and experience of the Realtor. Reviews are a great start, but dig deeper and find the gold.

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