Agent Receives Prestigious Designation After Recent Relocation

Joy Bender
Joy Bender of Canter Brokerage has been a HouseHunt agent since 2012, representing several communities in the San Diego area. She relocated to San Diego from Minnesota in 2011, and after only a few years and with help from HouseHunt, has already received some very prestigious designations.

On October 24, 2013, Bender was named a Certified Luxury Home Marketing Specialist (CLHMS) by the Institute for Luxury Home Marketing (ILHM). The IHLM, according to their website, is “the premier independent authority in training and certification for real estate agents working in the luxury residential market.” It helps real estate professionals provide high quality service to both luxury home buyers and sellers. The CLHMS designation is recognized as “the mark of accomplishment in luxury markets around the world” and is given to those who have documented performance in the top 10% of their markets.

Joy Bender is one of only 13 members to be named a Certified Specialist in San Diego County. As an agent new to this market, her accomplishment is even more impressive.

Joy not only merited the International Designation for Luxury Home Marketing Expertise, she also earned membership into the prestigious Million Dollar Guild. Both of these honors came after closing four sales—all from HouseHunt sites. “I earned both of these as a direct result of HouseHunt sites. All four sales to qualify for [these] certifications came from them: one from my Fairbanks Ranch site and three from my La Jolla HouseHunt site.”

She continued by explaining that her success resulted not only from the sites, but from HouseHunt’s membership, pipeline, training and qualifications. She also owes her success to her dedication to following up with and nurturing leads.

We are extremely proud of Joy Bender and appreciative of her ongoing partnership with HouseHunt. She is an incredible agent who is honored and committed to her community and its residents. Congratulations Joy!

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LinkedIn for Realtors

By and


LinkedIn, the social media network for professionals, has over 238 million registered members across the globe. Unlike other social media sites, LinkedIn is all business. It’s where you put your best professional foot forward, from your personal profile to your company page. LinkedIn will not only help brand you as a professional in the world of real estate, it’s also a great place to promote your business. Here’s an inside look at LinkedIn for Realtors.

Personal Profile

When creating your account, make sure to use a professional headshot as your profile photo. Some people have these taken by professional photographers, but as long as your face isn’t obscured and there isn’t too much going on in the background, you should be fine. Next, you can either input all of your previous and current employment information manually or upload your resume, which will automatically fill in the “Experience” field in the “Background” section of your profile. You may need to correct a few stylistic errors after you upload, but LinkedIn does a pretty good job of formatting your information correctly.

A great, newer feature of LinkedIn is that you can add videos, documents, images, presentations or articles as uploaded files or added links to each job you’ve held. This can be great if you have a lot of original content up on your real estate business’s blog, or if you have made videos of properties. There are also fields for education, languages, honors and awards, skills and expertise (where people can endorse you for certain skills), interests, personal details, how to contact you, and a personal summary. Other sections that will show up on your LinkedIn profile include your recent activity, connections, groups and people and companies you follow.

Once your profile is set up to your standards, connect your Facebook and/or other social media accounts so you can easily find your friends and colleagues and add them as connections.

Company Page

According to LinkedIn, “a company page helps LinkedIn members learn about your business, brand, product and services, and job opportunities. Any LinkedIn member can follow a company page.” This is a great platform for your real estate business; not only will it raise awareness of your company, it will allow you to engage with past, present and future clients as well as generate leads.

In order to set up a company page, you will need to meet the following criteria:

  1. Be a current employee of the company and have your position at said company listed in your personal profile’s Experience section.
  2. Add and confirm a company email address ( on your account. This company email name must be unique to the company (it can’t be, etc.). If your business doesn’t have one, you can create a group instead.
  3. Fill out the company profile with enough information to reach the Intermediate or All Star level (you should do the same with your personal profile).
  4. You will need several connections, so ask your employees, colleagues and past clients to follow your page!

If you do, indeed, meet these criteria, go to Interests?Companies?Add a Company from your personal profile. You can also follow LinkedIn’s easy guide which not only walks you through how to create a company profile, but also shows you how to add a products and services tab and spotlight customer recommendations.

Once you have your personal profile and company page set up, it’s time to start engaging.


Now that the leg work is done, it’s time to build your real estate business by engaging on LinkedIn.

Start by joining groups. Find groups, both open and members only, pertaining to the real estate and overall housing world. Once you’re a member, start liking and commenting on discussion posts. If you come across a discussion that you feel is memorable or is particularly interesting, consider “liking” the post. Once you like a discussion, your photo will automatically show up on the news feed on the front page of LinkedIn’s “Discussions” page. Remember to only look for discussions that are relevant to your industry or interests and don’t go overboard by liking every single discussion on LinkedIn; you won’t be taken seriously. Find one discussion topic a day to participate in and in due time you’ll get noticed by other LinkedIn users as an active participant of the group.

Leave meaningful comments on any discussion that’s relevant to your industry or profession. Liking a discussion will add your photo to the front page of that post’s feed, and commenting on a topic will do the same. Find a discussion or post that resonates with you and add an insightful, informative comment to the thread. LinkedIn users who have commented ahead of you will be notified of your comment (if they checked the box marked “send me an email for each new comment” at the bottom of the comment box). This is by far one of the best ways to get your brand or business noticed and engage with other users. It also serves as a great, non-intrusive way to put your product out in the open. Don’t overdo it on the comments though. Much like “liking” a discussion, you’ll want to start by finding a discussion from your groups and adding a comment a day.

Share your discussion across a few social media platforms. While this feature is only limited to LinkedIn’s open groups, it doesn’t hurt to open the floor up to other professionals who aren’t yet a part of LinkedIn. This is useful if you come across a discussion that is particularly interesting, that you’ve commented on, or feel is too good not to share on Facebook or Twitter.

Most importantly, try to start a discussion. Sure this may not come easily at first, but after all the perusing, liking and commenting you’ve already done, you already have a pretty good handle on what kinds of topics are relevant and get noticed by the community. Furthermore, if you start a discussion of interest often enough, you may be spotlighted as LinkedIn’s “Top Influencers of the Week,” which will list your name and photo in the side margin of the Discussions page. If this happens, more and more professionals within the network will want to reach out to you.

Overall, LinkedIn is a great tool for promoting both yourself and your business as professional and social media-aware. In order to stand out from the crowd and represent yourself as the expert in your field, engage with others by liking and commenting on discussions that are relevant to the real estate industry. Keep at it and be patient, by building your online social media presence your expertise will shine through and people will take notice.

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Why Google Authorship is Essential to Your Real Estate Business



As a real estate professional, you may be publishing a lot of original content on your website, whether it be home buying tips, step by step guides or expert advice. As many website owners/operators know, original content is key to a successful site, and with Google Authorship, now you can get credit for all of that content while potentially improving your Click Through Rate (CTR).

We all know what Google is, but what is Google Authorship? Essentially, Google Authorship links any online content you publish on a specific domain (like your real estate business’s website) to your Google+ profile. By doing this, not only do readers know the content was written by an actual human being, your headshot shows up next to your article’s title in search results.

For example:

Google Authorship Snippet

How cool is that?

Why Should I Do This?

As previously stated, not only will your photo prove your content was written by a human, your face will show up in Google Search and, more recently integrated, in Image Search results as well. This photo will catch more eyes than text alone, which can increase your Click Through Rate. In fact, you can see how many more eyes are drawn toward an image than text alone on Google Search results by checking out this Eye Tracking Map (the higher concentrations of eyes are in red).

Furthermore, using Google Authorship will help prevent theft of your original content. By having to double link—your Google+ profile to your website and your website back to your Google+ profile—it’s nearly impossible for thieves to lift your content.

Lastly, Google Authorship is tied to AuthorRank, which identifies all of your online content and begins to identify you as an authoritative source on whatever your content is about (in our case, real estate). Eventually, AuthorRank will help boost your SEO (Search Engine Optimization). According to Mark Traphagen, Director of Digital Outreach at Virante, “Once AuthorRank kicks in as a ranking factor, it will serve as an additional signal to Google that your highly-trusted content should rank higher in search.”

Set It Up

The first step in setting up Google Authorship is to create a Google+ profile. You can read about the advantages of Google+ for your business and how to set up and use this social media platform by reading our article “Harnessing the Power of Social Media Series: Google+.”

While setting up your profile, make sure that your photo conveys the right amount of personality and professionalism you want to impress upon readers. This is the picture that will show up next to your content in search results, and could even improve your Click Through Rate by up to 35%, so it’s incredibly important!

You’ll also want to ensure that your name appears the same way on your Google+ Profile as it does on your bylines. By the way, in order for Authorship markup to work, you’ll need a byline on each article and/or page of content.

Since you’re already setting up your profile, you might as well add your real estate business’s website URL to the “Contributor To” field under the “Links” section of the “About” tab. By putting this URL here, you’re completing one of the necessary steps in successfully linking your content. Next, you have a few options. I have tried both of these methods, and successfully achieved Google Authorship markup using each one on different sites.

  • Option 1: Email Verification

If you go through Google’s steps for setting up Authorship, you’ll be directed to input an email address that’s on the same domain as your content. For example, I write for a blog on and my email address is Since the domain name of the URL and my email address match up, email verification is a viable option. If this is a possibility for you, then it will also automatically set up the “Contributor To” link in your profile.

I used this method for Authorship markup on my content for the blog, but was unable to setup markup on the blog because, alas, my email is and not Therefore, I had to use the following method.

  • Option 2: Rel=author

I’m far from a professional coder, so inserting this little “rel=author” snippet of gibberish seemed a bit daunting at first. However, implementing it to successfully set up markup was not difficult at all. In fact, this option may be more straightforward than the email verification method. First, you’re going to need the URL of your Google+ profile. Go to the section of your profile you want readers to land on when they click on your byline or photo in search results. Some people have it land on their “Posts” tab while others prefer to link to their “About” section. Copy the URL of the section of your profile from the address/navigation bar and paste it where you see the money signs ($$$) in either of these code snippets:

<a href=”[$$$]?rel=author”>Google</a>

OR (this one includes a byline)

By <a rel=”author” href=”$$$”>YOUR NAME</a>

Once you have your information plugged into one of these snippets, put it somewhere in the text of your blog post or page. For example, when posting content on this blog, I put the second snippet, which doubles as a byline, into the top of the text field when I start writing out a post on WordPress.

Now that you’ve (hopefully) successfully completed one of the above methods, it’s time to see if your Google Authorship markup is working. Go to Google’s Structured Data Testing Tool and plug in the URL of a blog post and hit “Preview.” Make sure it’s the URL of the actual blog post, not of the blog. For example, I would plug in, not On this page, Google will tell you if your markup is working successfully:

Successful Authorship Markup

And which method is functioning:

Rel=author markup working

If your Authorship markup is not working, it will let you know what steps you may have missed or completed incorrectly (thanks Google!).

True Perks

With Google Authorship, you get credit for your online written content, your face becomes famous—and in real estate, having your face out there is important—you improve your CTR, it’s harder for content thieves to steal the fruits of your labor, and you can rank higher organically in Google Search results. In short, Google Authorship is a warm, fuzzy ball of SEO goodness and it’s free! So, what are you waiting for? Get to getting credit for your work!

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Sales Activity and Home Prices Continue to Rise

By Michael Bearden


According to the most recent Current Market Conditions national grass roots survey conducted by, home prices continued to accelerate in most areas of the country with over 89% of the areas surveyed reporting positive price appreciation and 54% of the areas reporting double-digit price appreciation. This is compared to 43% in the last quarter and 6% in the third quarter of 2012.

HouseHunt member-agents are reporting that both buyer and seller activity increased in the third quarter. Seller activity increased in 49% of the areas reporting and buyer activity increased in 74% of the communities surveyed. Repeat buyers and investors dominated the buyer activity in 85% of the markets, while only 15% of the markets reporting that first time buyers were the most active in their communities.

HouseHunt’s random survey of member-agents, conducted in the third quarter of 2013, found the following:

• 89% of the local markets surveyed reported home price increases over the last year with 54% of the markets reporting home price increases in excess of 10%, an increase of 11% over last quarter, and 48% over the 3rd quarter of last year.

• Activity increased for both buyers and sellers. Buyer activity increased in 74% of markets, decreased in 12% of markets, and remained unchanged in 14% of markets. Seller activity increased in 49% of markets, decreased in 25% of markets, and remained unchanged in 26% of markets.

• Home buyers reported the main reasons for purchasing are low interest rates and rising home values as their motivation for purchasing a home today, along with good economic news. Population and job growth also created buyer activity in certain communities especially in Texas, California, Florida and the Carolinas.

• First time buyers continue to decline with only 15% of the markets reporting that first time buyers represented the greatest amount of home buyer activity. This is the all-time lowest reading since HouseHunt surveys began in 2000. Repeat buyers and investors are dominating buyer activity in 85% of the markets surveyed.

• More homeowners listed their homes for sale in the third quarter, but inventories remained tight in 74% of the markets compared to 53% one year ago. As a result, the overall market is still a sellers’ market. This is reflected in 77% of the markets reporting that sellers received more than 95% of their asking price and multiple offers were common in 91% of the markets surveyed. Additionally, 65% of the markets reported that homes were sold in less than 60 days. Short sales and foreclosures represent less than 15% of the inventory in 77% of the markets surveyed.

“Our third quarter survey results are a clear indicator that the housing market is in full recovery, prices are increasing and both buyer and seller activity has also increased significantly. We expect the rate of price increases to decline in the fourth quarter and throughout 2014. While activity should remain strong, we expect increases in inventory, higher interest rates and tougher loan standards to balance the market between buyers and sellers. As a result, we expect home prices to move upward but at a much slower pace than 2013,” said Mike Bearden, President and CEO of HouseHunt, Inc.


2011 2012 2013
Quarter 2nd 3rd 4th 1st 2nd 3rd 4th 1st 2nd 3rd
Buyer-Seller Ratio
More Buyers 35% 39% 40% 39% 55% 58% 64% 76% 67% 57%
More Sellers 52% 38% 36% 35% 23% 21% 15% 10% 17% 26%
About Even 13% 23% 26% 26% 22% 21% 21% 14% 16% 17%
Avg. Time On Market
0-60 Days 16% 26% 22% 30% 31% 39% 40% 46% 65% 65%
Sold in 60 Days Plus 84% 74% 78% 70% 69% 61% 60% 54% 35% 35%
Unsold Inventory
Good Supply 82% 68% 68% 62% 48% 47% 34% 29% 24% 26%
Tight Supply 18% 32% 32% 38% 52% 53% 66% 71% 76% 74%
Annual Price Appreciation
Up 0-5% 19% 22% 21% 24% 26% 29% 35% 33% 21% 18%
Up 5-10% 7% 4% 6% 9% 7% 19% 16% 21% 24% 17%
Up 10% Plus 5% 8% 7% 7% 10% 6% 18% 29% 43% 54%
Unchanged 5% 8% 15% 10% 9% 18% 9% 7% 6% 5%
Negative Appreciation 64% 58% 51% 50% 48% 28% 22% 10% 6% 6%
Buyer Activity
Repeat / Move-up / Investors 66% 73% 71% 71% 73% 67% 73% 74% 81% 85%
First-time Buyers 34% 27% 29% 29% 27% 23% 27% 26% 19% 15%
Ask vs. Sale Price
Less Than 95% 45% 49% 58% 54% 44% 38% 37% 31% 30% 23%
More Than 95% 55% 51% 42% 46% 56% 62% 63% 69% 70% 77%
Multiple Offers?
Yes 65% 65% 65% 66% 76% 76% 77% 87% 88% 91%
No 35% 35% 35% 34% 24% 24% 23% 13% 12% 9%

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Tumblr for Realtors



Tumblr for Realtors: connect with Generation Y.

You may not be familiar with Tumblr, but it’s kind of a big deal. Tumblr is among the top 15 websites in the US and is currently home to over 130 million blogs. With a young user base, Tumblr is a great place to target millennial homebuyers and sellers.

Unlike WordPress, another popular blogging site, Tumblr is simplified and puts more emphasis on visuals than text. Therefore, this is a great place to highlight your most expensive listings or the best pictures of active properties along with pertinent information about each listing. For example, on our HouseHunt Tumblr, “Love the Hunt,” we highlight one luxury HouseHunt property every day, including information about price, location, number of bedrooms, bathrooms, square feet and a short written description of the home. Furthermore, we provide a link to the HouseHunt community page where the property is listed as well as linked photos from our Pinterest board dedicated to homes in the area. By posting a beautiful picture of one home a day, we’re visually appealing, not exhausting our followers with an abundance of content, promoting the homes for sale on our site and cross promoting our other social media platforms. What’s even better is that Tumblr makes the execution of all of this incredibly simple.

Create Your Account

To set up an account, Tumblr will request an email, password and username from you. For your username, try to use your business name or a username you’re already using on another social media site. For your profile picture/avatar, use a professional headshot or your business’s logo.

Next, you’ll need to select a name for your blog. Here’s your chance to get creative. Sure, you can have your blog name be your business’s name, but since it’s likely you already have a well established website, why not try a catchier name that relates to your business? For example, if you are an agency located in California, why not use “Pure Gold in the Golden State” or if you’re in Florida, “Orange You in Love with This Property?” Make it fun and refreshing—it will show your business isn’t stuffy and has a bit (or a lot) of personality.

At this time you’ll also have to pick a Tumblr theme for your page, which can say a lot about the type of blog you’re running and the image you are trying to portray. Theme categories range from single to three column, minimalistic, high resolution and super customizable. You can choose a free theme or pay for a fancier one. Here at HouseHunt, we use the Solstice theme which has a clean design, customizable background (ours is roof shingles, get it?) and sidebar with search field and archive. Make sure to pick a theme that highlights photos, as you’ll probably want to use Tumblr primarily to spotlight listing pictures.

Actively Tumbling

During set up, Tumblr will prompt you to follow three to five blogs. To associate yourself with other blogs pertaining to the real estate world, begin by following those dedicated to home design, gardening, and search for other real estate agents, companies and key influencers. Reblogging other content will be totally up to you, depending on if you want your Tumblr to showcase your own content exclusively or push other people’s relevant content as well. If you decide against reblogging outside content, make sure you continue to engage with other users by liking their posts or following their blogs.


Tumblr allows you to post text, photos, quotes, links, audio, video, and to chat from your dashboard. The most recent posts from the blogs you follow will show up here, as well as suggested posts from Tumblr. From the dashboard, you can access your blog(s) page, see your followers, keep an eye on your activity (including likes and reblogs) and put posts in the queue for later (great for scheduling out posts for the weekend). You can also message other users, search for specific tags and blogs as well as use and connect to other applications. Speaking of tags, make sure to include seven to twelve relevant ones in your posts—Tumblr lists search results as both tags and blog titles.

Another great thing about Tumblr is that it’s very mobile friendly. Furthermore, you don’t have to have a Tumblr to see content on Tumblr (unlike other social media sites), so more potential clients can find you.

Tumbling On

Overall, Tumblr is a great site to host pictures of your most beautiful and/or exclusive listings. It’s a great way to connect on a new platform and attract the attention of a different user base. Remember that Tumblr users are on the younger side, 50 percent being 25 and under, making it a great way to connect with millennial buyers. So, why not give Tumblr a try? Who knows, you may find yourself connecting with clients who previously weren’t even on your radar.

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Agent Success Story: Tammi & Brent Sullenberger

Tammi Sullenberger
Tammi Sullenberger is a realtor in Peachtree City, Georgia. She worked for Prudential Georgia Realty from 2006 to 2011 and has been with the Keller Williams Realty Atlanta Partners, Peachtree City, GA team since January 2012. Tammi and her husband Brent Sullenberger became a dynamic HouseHunt duo in June of 2013 and they’ve already closed a client!

Tammi states that she never would have found the client had it not been for HouseHunt. The client came to Peachtree City from Texas, and only had two weekends to look for a new home. Luckily, Tammi and Brent were able to find the client a house in that timeframe and have now closed the deal!

“The leads are good, quality leads, some active buyers looking right away and some looking six months to one year from now,” Tammi explained. “We have already closed one HouseHunt lead.”

Additionally, Tammi and Brent have recently been referred to a new client by another HouseHunt agent in Roswell, Georgia. This agent “was representing a HouseHunt buyer that had a home to sell in Peachtree City (PTC), so she looked up the HouseHunt agent that handles PTC and found me to possibly list their house on this end.”

Closing a deal within four months of teaming up with HouseHunt and receiving referrals from other HouseHunt agents are fabulous perks of using HouseHunt’s online lead generation service.

Do you have a HouseHunt success story? Please email us at

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Twitter for Realtors



So far in the series, we’ve discussed how to use Facebook, Pinterest, Instagram and Google+ to boost your real estate business. Today we’ll talk about Twitter for Realtors: its basic functions, how to use it and why it can be a great marketing tool. With 500 million users, your business needs to be tweeting.

Building Your Nest (Getting Started)

Like all social media sites, you’ll first have to set up your account. Twitter only allows one account per email address, so if you already have a personal Twitter account, you’ll have to use your business or another email address to set up a business Twitter account. Creating a “handle” or username can be frustrating, as what you want will probably be taken. So, feel free to get creative but keep it professional.

Next, Twitter will ask you to follow people from a given selection. Later, you can connect your other social media accounts to your Twitter—this will not only allow users to see your multiple accounts, but can make it easier to follow people you’re already connected with on other sites.

Make sure to keep your handle, 160 character bio, profile photo or “avatar” and background photo or “header” professional and consistent with the branding of your real estate business. Also make sure to include your business’s website URL on your page.

Do not enable the option to connect your Facebook so your tweets (the short posts you will be publishing) post automatically to your Facebook page. Facebook and Twitter are very different platforms. Whereas tweets are short and published more frequently, Facebook posts are normally longer and cranked out more infrequently. Therefore, if you start putting your tweets on your Facebook timeline, your friends and/or fans may get annoyed by all of the short, constant updates.

Tweeting (Posting)

Your Twitter posts or tweets will be limited to 140 characters, so be concise and to the point. These 140 characters include any links or hashtags (#keywords) you want to include, further limiting the space for your actual message. In order to keep some of those precious characters, shorten the URLs you’re including in tweets with sites like TinyURL or Bitly. These websites allow you to plug in any length URL and then they automatically shorten it for you. For example, I went to TinyURL, plugged in the URL:, hit the “Make TinyURL!” button and got this: The original 101 characters have now been shortened to 26, giving me more characters to express myself in a tweet!

Be an active tweeter. Don’t take the time to set up your account and then just use it as a personalized newsfeed, even if 40% of users are doing just that. Tweet about active properties, but break up your listing tweets with fun tidbits about your community as well as words of advice. When you do tweet about active properties, include links to the associated MLS listings and relevant hashtags like #homeforsale, #realestate, #cityoflisting, #etc. Remember that it’s just as important to tweet about the community you work in. Did you go out for lunch with coworkers at a great local spot? Tweet about it from the restaurant, making sure your location sharing is enabled so people can see exactly where it’s at. Also post tweets including expert advice from a seasoned real estate professional (you!).

The number of posts you publish daily may vary, but it’s recommended that businesses post about ten times per day. Remember: people use Twitter for a quick bit of news and then they’re gone, averaging 46 seconds per visit (that’s not very much time to catch a reader’s attention). Therefore, don’t be afraid of posting too much or recycling content, since the first time you post may go unnoticed by most followers.

Peak times for Twitter traffic are between 1pm – 3pm Eastern time/10am-12pm Pacific time, so publish most of your content during those times. If you don’t have the luxury of spending time on social media sites during these hours of the day, you can create tweets ahead of time and schedule them out on a social media management system like Hootsuite.

Making Feathered Friends (Engagement)

Engagement is also an important aspect of Twitter. This platform is a great sharing and conversational tool, so take advantage of it. To start a conversation with someone, whether you follow him/her, s/he follows you, or you have no connection to him/her at all, simply type the @ symbol immediately followed by his/her or the business’s username (ex: @househunt). This will show up under their Connect tab, which is where you’ll find all of your interactions and mentions.

Another great thing about Twitter is that it’s a search engine in itself. You can search for real estate, other agents and your local community in the search field and read the conversations people are having about any given topic. You can then engage with these users by replying, “retweeting” or “favoriting” an ongoing conversation or posting a new one of your own.

Lastly, make sure your feed isn’t constant self-promotion. People don’t want to follow a business that is constantly advertising, they want to follow a business that is generally interested in spreading knowledge about their field. Always ask yourself why the consumer will care about the content you’re pushing.

Fly Birdy Fly! (Closing)

In short, Twitter is a great platform for boosting your online presence with minimal effort (140 characters minimal!). It’s an effective and different way to engage with users when compared to other social media sites, and a great place to build a community of followers.

Please feel free to post any questions in the comments section, and happy Tweeting!

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How to Battle a Bad Review

We’ve all had them, those nagging negative reviews. Although we like to say we’re not affected by them, they still hurt our feelings. What’s more detrimental is that they can hurt our business. Here are some tips for battling a bad review and how to pull in more positive ones.

These days, there are a lot of review sites: Google Places reviews, Angie’s List, Insider Pages and Yelp to name a few. The best, and potentially worst, thing about these sites is that anyone can write a review for any business or business professional. So what happens if you come across a negative review of yourself or your services?

1. Don’t reply right away
Take time to consider your response. One of the worst things you can do is reply right after you read the comment—this is when you’re at your most vulnerable emotionally. Take time to consider what is being critiqued. Is it you personally? Your methods? Something out of your control? Take note of what exactly is being poorly reviewed and rack your mind to remember under what exact circumstances it took place. Also, if the reviewer’s complaint is valid, make a mental note not to repeat the transgression.

2. Respond—offline
If the reviewer is a former client or someone you’ve done business with, go into your files and look for her/his email address. Send s/he a private message explaining that you read the review and would like to remedy the situation. This way, you take the discussion out of a public forum and personally address the issue. If there is anything they request of you, make sure to handle it as soon as possible.

3. Respond—online
If the negative comment isn’t removed or updated (saying that you contacted the user) after you’ve reached out, post a simple reply on the review board. Do not explain, justify or defend your position. Instead, state that you would like to remedy the situation and ask that they please contact you at their earliest convenience. This way, others can see that you tried to engage with the reviewer and fix the problem.

4. Conduct a survey after you close the deal
This is a great away to avoid negative reviews completely. After you’ve wrapped up business with a client, hand them a survey allowing them to review all aspects of your service. This way, if the client takes issue with something, it can be addressed before s/he gets within reach of a keyboard.

5. Beef up the positive reviews
Another great advantage of conducting closing surveys is that if someone absolutely loved working with you, you can ask them to post their feedback online. Ask for online posts of positive reviews from satisfied clients either in person, on the phone or via email. Warning: do not send them a link to your Yelp/Google Reviews/etc. page in your email –this will most likely be considered a solicited review and is less likely to be published and seen by other users. Furthermore, you may want to request that the client also review the broker or another agent you worked with—the more reviews a user posts on a review site, the more likely they are to be seen. Even by rating their favorite restaurant, a client’s review of your business will become more creditable and therefore more valuable.

At the end of the day, having one or two negative reviews isn’t the end of the world. We’re all human, and not everyone is going to think we’re simply fabulous. Plus, who trusts a business or professional with all five star ratings? No one wants to work with Mr. Roboto!

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