The staff at ReferralCloud is excited to announce that we are doing an important improvement to our site that we believe will let more agents give and get referral assignments. We believe the best way to do this is to turn ReferralCloud into a real estate agent search engine.
Over the past few months, we have had hundreds of real estate agents sign up and create accounts. Most of them ask how long until they will get a referral or if we have referrals in their area. The answer for most is that eventually we will have referrals in their area, but we have found out that most agents are completely fine accepting referrals though the platform (we haven’t had an agent turn down a referral yet), but most agents on the platform aren’t using it to place their outbound referrals.
Since our referrals are 100% sourced by real estate agents, we have decided to pivot that will allow us to open up our list of agents so that any agent that is registered on the platform can just give a referral to any other agent the old-fashioned way, which is call or email them and send them the referral.
One important feature we have added is the ability for agents to use a map-based search for other agents. This way instead of going into a FB Referral Group and asking “Who knows an agent in Orlando?” (Which is a huge area) they can just see the agents themselves, and are given the choice to just contact them directly or use our platform to coordinate it, saving them the paperwork hassle, as well as being placed ahead of other agents for inbound referrals to their market.
Why would we offer agents a way to bypass allowing us to do the coordination for them?
Building a real estate agent search engine
When we first built the platform, we knew that many agents that had used our previous product, Homing In, would know us, trust us, and want to be a part of this new service. There are many agents, however, that aren’t familiar with us personally, so we haven’t earned their trust yet. Also, there are many sites that promise “leads”, and of course our service doesn’t give real estate leads, but in fact actual agent-to-agent vetted referrals.
To build trust, grow adoption and get more agents creating accounts we are implementing a new feature that will let agents just place referrals themselves without our coordination.
When an agent places a referral this way, they aren’t doing anything differently than they would by using a Facebook group like Lab Coat Agent’s Referral Group, or Real Estate Mastermind Referral Group or even just using google to find an agent.
Something else we are going to do is allow agents to see how many referrals other agents have closed. Eventually we will let agents do reviews of some kind, but they won’t be made public. The reviews will be held internally, similar to how Uber passenger ratings are done, or Airbnb guests are rated by hosts. An ongoing problem with public reviews is that real estate agents are motivated to “stuff” their profile with positive reviews, just like all consumer products and services. Certainly reviews are better than testimonials, which can’t be readily verified, but reviews end up being a very small portion of an agent’s skill set, especially when referrals are taken into account. An agent may have had a referral to represent a buyer, but that agent’s primary business might be listings. So they may be a great listing agent, but an average buyer agent.
We will also be adding the ability for agents to have information like which languages they speak and what their service specialties are.
The benefit of our service is we are building a network of agents that WANT to do referrals with each other.
There are a few things that the agent that places referrals outside the platform won’t get from our service. They won’t be able to use our agent matching service. They won’t be able to use our software to keep track of the clients progress with the other agent. Most importantly, they aren’t going to be able to be a higher priority for inbound referrals that we coordinate with through our agent matching feature.
We wanted to expand the role of ReferralCloud to more than just the marketplace matching of referrals and assigning clients based on priority. We want to be the de facto real estate agent referral platform and real estate agent search engine. Over time we will add features such as allowing agents to have links to their personal or company websites, expanded biographies, and even a scoring system that will give agents points (similar to status that airlines give) so that other agents will know that the agent is successful in successfully closing referral leads from other agents and also is using the platform to place referrals in the system.
What about other companies doing similar things?
First of all most companies doing referral based lead-generation like Opcity are actually only giving leads. A lead is not a referral. Those companies are no different than paying up-front for leads, other than how the agent pays. We are a referral platform. Most of those other companies are NOT referral platforms. They are lead generation companies.
We have been in talks with other actual referral company founders like Referral Recon and others to actually have an API to share so that agents will be able to use both platforms seamlessly and have their activity shared across the systems. The benefit will be that an agent who does an off-line referral, but then hires a company to track and find out if the referral closes, will be able to “get credit” for that referral on our platform and vice versa.
Here are some common questions we get about the ReferralCloud platform.
“When will I get a lead in my area?”
We don’t give leads. We coordinate referrals. The referrals are the same quality as any other referrals. The first referral ever placed in the system, a seller in Las Vegas who wanted to buy in Kennewick Washington, was assigned an agent and that buyer was placed under contract within a week on a home. Within a month the transaction closed and the Las Vegas agent was paid the same day the closing check arrived. Both agents are now higher priority in their market for referrals.
“What if me and another agent in my market have given a referral and a new referral comes in. Who gets is?”
While we do currently manually assign referrals to agents, this is the rough framework we use for how to assign when we have numerous agents in a market.
- Agents who have placed referrals through the system that have closed.
- Agents that have placed referrals pending closing.
- Agents who has closed an inbound referrals.
- Agents that are geographically closer to the listing address or area buyer wants to buy.
- Agents who have completed their profile, including picture
- Agents based on when they created their profile.
“What if my office address is not the area that my expertise is in?”
Our system uses the Google Map API for agent location, so just put in a different address than your physical office. We will eventually add a way for agents to just select an area of the map and also a place for their office location. Maybe REO asset managers used office address, which was arbitrary, since agents don’t all work out of the office, and an agent who’s office was in the same complex but maybe closer to certain residential areas would get more REO assignments strictly based on office address.
Real Estate Referrals in Other Countries
ReferralCloud is currently operating in the US and Canada.
Since we are a licensed real estate broker in Nevada doing business as Nevada Realty Solutions, we can accept referrals from any broker, including foreign countries. We are building a network of agents in Canada as well, so that real estate agents in both Canada and the US can easily find and give referrals to agents in Canada. This model is not as popular in Australia, but we are keeping our eye on that market. There is a company there doing something similar, but since buyer representation is not common in Australia, giving referrals are much less common.
Eventually our goal is to be a real estate agent search engine for all real estate agents everywhere in the world.
What if I already have an agent I want to give a referral to?
You should both set up accounts. When you place the referral in the system, under notes you should specify the agent you want to use and why. Since you can obviously do this without our service, the next agent in the market wouldn’t have been assigned that referral anyway if it had just been a direct referral.
“What if my client doesn’t like the agent he was assigned?”
We will talk to both agents and potentially reassign the client to another agent. One scenario we would not be able to do this would be if the agent and client have already signed a buyer broker agreement or a listing agreement. It is a very common practice in many markets to do buyer broker agreements, just like it is almost a universal practice to do a listing agreement. Otherwise we will find an agent more suited to the needs of the client.