Online real estate portals are working on a rating system for brokers to enhance user experience and bring more accountability into the dealer community.

While Makaan.com (Elara Technologies Pte Ltd) has already introduced such a system, Quikr.com (Quikr India Pvt. Ltd) has a basic user rating option and is planning to enhance it with more inputs. MagicBricks.com (Magicbricks Reality Services Ltd) has tied up with Crisil Ratings to come up with a broker certification system.

Ratings have gained currency after cab aggregators such as Uber and Ola introduced them for users and drivers, and e-commerce portals featured them to give buyers the option of rating and reviewing a product.

“We rate our brokers high up on the search page. These ratings are generated from consumer feedback," said Dhruv Agarwala, chief executive officer of Makaan.com.

“How was the call, did the person pick up the phone, did he speak politely, all these are factored into the rating," Agarwala explained.

India has more than 200,000 brokers according to MagicBricks.com, but given the highly fragmented nature of the market and lack of information, it is hard for consumers to choose a broker.

Users have a mixed experience of brokers listed on real estate portals. Many say they have been deceived with listings that have already been rented out or sold and pushed into choosing other offerings, said Delhi-based Vishakh Unnikrishnan, who has connected with several brokers through online portals.

The ratings will help users find out about other consumers’ experience with the same broker and make a decision, he added.

Real estate portals and brokers have a bone to pick with ratings that are purely based on user experience. They contend that user experience should be combined with other data.

“The pool for individual rating is going to be very limited considering the limited number of transactions conducted by a broker. A rating based on lower number of users could be an unfair rating," said Sam Chopra, president of the National Association of Realtors India, a countrywide association of real estate brokers with 20,000 members.

“Aggregating a sufficient number of ratings for each broker and to do that in a manner where all those ratings are above board has been a bit of a challenge," said Sudhir Pai, CEO of MagicBricks.com.

The portals are already working to add multiple inputs to arrive at more accurate ratings.

Quikr is looking at various parameters such as the numbers of years a broker has been on the platform, his/her responsiveness to leads and credit worthiness.

The programme is still in the pilot stage and Quikr is expecting to launch it on both Quikr.com and Commonfloor.com, a portal it acquired in January.

MagicBricks.com is also working on the same lines, combining data from various parameters to assign ratings. The portal has launched a comprehensive “Agent Score", which is derived on the basis of an agent’s activity on the site as well as inputs coming from consumers.

Besides this, MagicBricks.com is collaborating with rating agency Crisil towards broker certification and is in the process of building a broker directory to group them based on their activity levels.

About 1,900 of the nearly 25,000 brokers listed on MagicBricks.com have so far been rated by Crisil in categories of gold, silver and bronze, said Pai.

There have also been concerns about the conflict of interest among real estate portals, as many of them earn revenue based on listing packages sold to brokers. Some have got around this by making the listings free for brokers and introducing premium offerings for agents looking for some promotion.

“We don’t have a paid portal for listings. It was not so for Commonfloor but we changed that after we acquired the company. You can still buy premium listings, which will put your listings on the top," said Manish Sinha, head of QuikrHomes, adding that the power is finally with the customers and it is them that the market will serve.

“Previously, when Uber and Ola came, everyone said drivers don’t care about ratings and consumers won’t give ratings. Tell me now," said Agarwala of Makaan.com.

“The user should rate brokers on several parameters such as after-sales service, credibility, knowledge of the field, conduct and office," said Ashwin Jain, a Gurgaon-based realtor.

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