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Q and A with Michael Becker of Mountain of Agents

July 15 2011

When we heard about the new iPhone/iPod Touch app from Mountain of Agents, we were interested in learning more about the agent directory itself. So we called Michael Becker, CEO, to get the 4-1-1 on this growing online community.

If you'd like to see the Mountain of Agents directory in action, you can visit MountainofAgents.comMountainofAgents.com. Click on to the next page for our discussion with Mr. Becker.

RE Technology: What inspired you to create an agent directory?
Michael Becker: My wife and I were looking to buy a house – and we were having the most difficult time finding the right agent. Other online directories we looked at just weren't giving us what we needed. Buying a home is already such a complex process; we decided to make it our mission to take some of the guesswork out of picking an agent.

RET: So what were the "problems" with the other directories you looked at.
MB: We saw several key problems with existing directories. I think two of the most significant of these are:

  • Usability. Even at this point, with the Internet as such a key factor in the real estate industry, I'd say 95% of real estate websites have a poor user interface. They're frustrating and unhelpful. You just can't find what you're looking for.
  • Lack of ratings. I know that many agents feel ambivalence (or downright negativity) toward agent ratings sites. I understand the concern. I've heard people say that they're worried their competitors could set up dummy accounts and trash their reputation with fake negative ratings. I think we've found a good solution for this. We require email address verification in order to rate an agent. Thus, on our site, the worst thing that can happen is LACK of ratings, not negative ratings. Now, although we've added agent ratings to our directory, I want to be perfectly clear – we're a directory first and foremost; the agent ratings are ancillary.

What we've done with Mountain of Agents is specifically addressed those concerns. Our user interface is clean and simple. Our ratings system balances agent concerns with consumer interest.

RET: Talk to me about the new app.
MB: Right now, it's available for the iPhone and iPod Touch (you can get it on iTunesiTunes). I think it's a really nice mobile implementation that keeps the easy navigation and clean look of the site. With the ever-increasing popularity of Smartphones, I think having a mobile app is just a "must" for any directory.

RET: I have a Droid. Will I be able to get the app soon?
MB: We'll definitely have an app available for Android in the future.

RET: What's next? How do you plan on building and expanding Mountain of Agents?
M.B: We're faced with an interesting challenge. In order for agents to be excited about the project, they need to see that consumers are using the site. However, in order for consumers to use the site, we need to populate the directory with a robust community of agents. We're currently working on both.

As of today, we're nearing 600 agents. That's huge growth in a relatively short time period. Our directory is completely free, so I think we'll have an easy time encouraging adoption as long as we get our message out there. We also perform basic checks to make sure our members are whom they say they are, providing a more reputable pool for consumers to choose from.

We've recognized the rate at which social media is growing throughout the real estate industry, especially within the real estate agent space, and we've focused on that and really tried to harness its power from the get-go, which has really resonated with both consumers and real estate professionals. We have some terrific agents on the site!

For more information and to join in the conversation, you can find them on Facebook (http://www.facebook.com/MtnOfAgents), or follow them on Twitter (http://www.twitter.com/MtnOfAgentshttp://www.twitter.com/MtnOfAgents).

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