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Realtors should have a tool for combing through listings that matches their level of expertise and knowledge of the industry, rather than resorting to using real estate search tools aimed at consumers.

That’s the pitch Realtor.com operator Move Inc. is making to multiple listing services (MLSs) in offering a new "natural language" search interface to them in exchange for MLSs’ historic listings data.

In Move’s talks with MLSs, one thing that keeps coming up is that consumers have the ability to access a wealth of information, not all of which is accessible to Realtors through their own MLS systems, said Curt Beardsley, vice president at Realtor.com.

"One of the mantras we hear is that as a real estate professional, you never want to be more blind when you’re in your (MLS) system than when you are out," Beardsley said.

Realtor.com, the most visited real estate portal on the Internet, for example, provides consumers with a valuation tool that provides access to public property records. The site also serves up school and neighborhood data for individual listings on demand.

What Move’s new "Find" search interface for Realtors is designed to do is provide Realtors with a more sophisticated interface for mining the data Move has put together, Beardsley said.

In putting the search interface through its paces to demonstrate its capabilities for Inman News, Beardsley showed how it’s been designed to be flexible and intuitive to use.

The interface "removes the penalty for making a mistake," Beardsley said, by making it simple to continually modify and refine searches without starting again from scratch.

Search the 91 million properties in Move’s database by entering the term "homes for sale in houston school district over 100K," for example, and you may find yourself looking at five properties in Houston, Miss.

A click of the mouse relocates the user to the intended search area — Houston, Texas — where the 3,679 homes for sale within the boundaries of the "Houston Independent School District" are served up without the user having typed in the school district’s correct name.

Search boundaries can be customized by redrawing polygons on a map, or hovering over a subdivision.

If a search for comparable properties in say, a one-mile radius, doesn’t turn up enough results, the user can adjust a slider to loosen the search parameters to include homes that aren’t quite as exact of a match.

Users can compare neighborhoods against each other (Move has defined about 80,000 neighborhood boundaries, using boundaries licensed from Maponics and EDS), evaluating not only school and demographic information, but details like airport flight paths — a potential noise issue — and flood plains, earthquake fault lines, and past tornadoes and hurricanes.

Properties can be "tagged" — labeled as perfect for a particular client, a first-time homebuyer or an investor, for example — so that they can called up later or included in reports that can be printed up for clients.

The interface can generate heat maps using many criteria — even properties owned by a particular lender — that can help homebuyers or investors make decisions.

The "Find" search interface’s capabilities are so deep, they would probably be overkill for most consumers and perhaps even some Realtors, Beardsley said. …CONTINUED