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RateMyPorch.com promises to change the way people look at home sales, ratings, and renovations

Innovative web-based platform offers anonymous rating system among other great features

Columbia, SC (James Bowers) - The internet has changed the way that products are marketed and sold, and real estate is no exception. Sites like Zillow and Pinterest are where many would-be homebuyers and decorators get ideas for where their dream home should be located and what it should look like. Despite all of these tech-based tools and the presence of traditional real estate marketing methods, there was still one thing missing from the real estate marketing landscape. That was a way for people to provide honest feedback on homes without having to identify themselves.

Using your real name to give negative opinions of decor, design and condition can be awkward, and most people simply wouldn’t for this reason. Sumter area real estate agent Aimee Vora and her husband Anand realized this obstacle when selling homes they had “flipped.” This was one of the reasons they developed Ratemyporch.com. The couple introduced their service to one Lexington County community during the contentious meeting that was held by the town of Irmo about their parking ordinance, and when the problem of property values was brought up last week.

The site, part of a broader platform the Voras dub “PORCHD,” allows everyone from homeowners, renters, and realtors to post photos of all parts of their homes anonymously, with no name or address attached. Then, they can receive honest feedback from users known as raters.

The raters can use a 1-5 star system to rate facets such as exteriors, flooring, appliances/furniture and bedrooms. The raters may also leave comments on the properties. Criticism may be constructive and even blunt, but personal insults and profanities are filtered out. There is no character limit, so raters can provide as many ideas to change or improve a property as they like.

The rater and poster roles are not mutually exclusive, but users must have a valid real estate license if they want to register as a realtor on the site. Realtors can receive sales leads via Ratemyporch.com by purchasing one of 50 available “spots” which allow them to receive every PORCHD-generated sales lead in the state of South Carolina and create a “referral network." Real estate companies can also advertise homes on the site. Century 21 Vanguard will be the first company to partner with the PORCHD project. There may be more advertising opportunities for other businesses in the future.

Users would view these “sponsored” posts as they would any other on RateMyPorch.com listing, free of a name and address. The only difference being the presence of a button that notifies the agent of the user’s interest in the home. Regardless of their specific status, RateMyPorch.com posters will receive a file detailing not only the ratings and responses they receive, but key demographics of these responders such as age and general location.

Aimee Vora says Ratemyporch.com’s system eliminates the barrier to honest feedback created by the traditional etiquette used at a real estate open house or people’s unwillingness to hurt other’s feelings. “People can tell the poster how ugly the paint is because of the anonymity,” Vora says, “You would never say that to a friend or real estate agent.” The anonymous nature of Ratemyporch.com also helps the poster, as the lack of a name or location info eliminates the bias this info can create.

Posters may be looking to sell their home, or could simply be looking for renovation ideas. If the benefit of being able to give and receive valuable feedback on homes and home décor isn’t enough to get people interested, rating is incentivized. Users can win prizes for rating a certain number of homes in the form of gift cards from retailers such as Home Depot as well as VISA gift cards. Vora says that those who receive $600 or more in gift cards will have to receive a tax reporting form (1099), effectively making them a professional rater. “You could quit your job to do this,” Vora jokes. Ratemyporch.com plans to add more gift options for users such as electronics and even vehicles.

Ratemyporch.com features a simple, clear interface that is easily navigated by its users. “It’s so beautiful,” Aimee Vora said, “We’re really excited about it and what it can do for the community.” The site will initially operate solely in South Carolina; however, the Voras plan to expand nationwide. Aimee Vora said expansion could occur in, “either a month or a year,” depending on how quickly the site gains a following and further funding.

PORCHD also plans to add future services such as “virtual staging,” which allows the users to simulate the addition of new features like furniture, flooring, and paint. This gives the user a better idea of how each room will work for them. PORCHD could also eventually develop a virtual reality program that allows the user to, “walk through the house,” and view its features, utilizing technology such as Google Glass. A specialty television channel is also on the table for the PORCHD concept.

The Voras and Barnhill presented their concept last Tuesday at Irmo’s Town Council meeting because of the issues some residents having been having with the appearance of some older properties in the area. This is exactly the type of issue that Ratemyporch.com can help correct. The P0ORCHD team plans on more appearances in area meetings to showcase Ratemyporch.com and its benefits in the future. For more information, visit Ratemyporch.com or call (803) 795-7676.

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