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Local Expertise, Trulia and Neighborhood Reviews

In 2015, I asked the following question:

How long until one of the big multi-billion dollar companies — Zillow or Realtor.com/NewsCorp –takes a stab at the local expert opportunity (in real estate)?

Perhaps we have our answer. I recently received the following email from Trulia…

Clicking “Leave A Note Now” took me to the following page (after filling in the ZIP code I live in)…

It’s nice to see I’m not the only one who believes the local expert opportunity is one worth pursuing. That said, I’m a little lost as to why I (as a consumer) would help Trulia by leaving a review. In the email, they say:

Every day, home seekers turn to Trulia to see what it’s like to live where you do. You can help. Share something about your Seattle neighborhood. Your new neighbors will thank you.

What if I don’t want more home seekers to buy in my neighborhood? What if there is actually a disincentive to increase the appeal of my area (travel advice suffers from the same dynamic)? If I don’t know my neighbors (most people don’t), how are they going to thank me?

What do I get out of leaving a review? The answer is nothing, which is why I deleted the email. If someone I knew asked me to do it, perhaps I would. But to me Trulia is a faceless entity which I have no allegiance to.

That said, real estate agents and sellers absolutely have a vested interest in making their areas more desirable to buyers. They also have relationships with clients and past clients to make the ask in a personal way. I’m still beyond puzzled why the industry hasn’t invested heavily in local expertise (read here for some context). Local advice/expertise is literally the one thing they have that the portals can’t easily replicate. If I was NAR — or RE/MAX, Realogy, Keller Williams — I would seriously seriously consider buying StreetAdvisor.

[Disclosure StreetAdvisor is a former consulting client of mine]

About Drew Meyers

Founder of Geek Estate Blog / Geek Estate Labs. Zillow Alum. Travel addict & co-founder of Horizon. Social entrepreneurship & microfinance advocate. Fan of Red Hot Chili Peppers and Kiva.

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  • I tried something like this before. As you stated there was no motivation for anyone to do it, so I decided to pay for some reviews. That did not work out well either, as people wanted to money, but still did not really care about the quality of the review.

    The only good neighborhood reviews I received were from friends who did me a favor by answering questions about their neighborhood.

    I wonder if Trulia will filter the reviews. I am sure some will be very negative. If they filter out negative reviews that would not be fair, but if they leave them in sellers will not be happy seeing the negative reviews for a neighborhood they are selling in.

    I also tried reviews/comments on properties, and each time the negative reviews made me cancel this feature.

  • Interesting perspective. This is what I feel. Homebuyers are bombarded with
    information and are often left confused by contradictory reviews. Also, people are more vocal about bad experiences than they are about good ones. So, reviews are not a very reliable source of information, especially when you’re making a huge financial decision like buying a home.

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