Industry News, Story, Story Archive

Start-Up Alley companies: Information is power

Agent ratings, virtual floor plans among offerings


SAN FRANCISCO — Analytic data that rates everything from residential safety to how a Realtor’s expertise extends in a particular neighborhood was a common ingredient in many entrepreneurial Web businesses participating in Start-Up Alley at Real Estate Connect San Francisco.

About 20 young companies got a chance to share their sites and spark interest among agents and industry insiders in a one-on-one setting at Wednesday’s conference.

"Data rules, analytics and application. It’s Web 3.0," said Jonathan Cardella, founder and CEO of Neighborcity, a site that takes MLS and privately obtained data and enables agents to compete for sellers in a few different ways. Sellers can view the agents’ statistics on sales in the key neighborhood, and Neighborcity rates how responsive the agent is to the potential customer.

"We make agents compete for listings," said Cardella.

One of the more sophisticated real estate ratings site is SmartZip, which launched its site this summer of properties in California and Florida. There are currently 15 million properties on the site, which plans to roll out nationwide next year, says Avi Gupta, vice president of marketing. The creators cull data from 20 different sources, aggregate statistics, and offer ratings for two different audiences: investors who want income and homeowners wanting to see how their property’s value will grow.

The ratings at Start-Up Alley companies don’t always involve crunching financial data. AgentWorld supports professional networking and reputation management by allowing agents to rate fellow agents. "Check the correct box" questions and answers on values and ethics allows the site to display information while avoiding the potential reputation slamming that could result with open-ended questions, said Tyler Kraemer, AgentWorld co-founder. In addition, Realtors can also post messages — or "buzz" — of what they are selling and areas they know well to the AgentWorld site and have those posts directly routed to Twitter, where potential buyers can follow them. A similar application for Facebook is next.

Buyers were catered to on some of the sites. …CONTINUED