Access to listing data at Realogy ‘hackathon’ spurs innovation

150 coders converge on San Francisco event to create a winning real estate app

SAN FRANCISCO — At hour 27 of the around-the-clock “hackathon” hosted by Realogy in a huge room on the ground floor of San Francisco’s Moscone Center, about 40 energy drink-fueled coders busily put the finishing touches on the apps most started building just a day before.

At 12:30 p.m. on Thursday, the 15 teams who completed the event that started Wednesday morning began pitching their ideas to a panel of Realogy exec judges for a chance to win a cash prize and a spot in the National Association of Realtors expo on Friday and over the weekend in conjunction with its national meeting.

Andrew Lockhart, whose three-person "RealKick" team won Realogy's hackathon competition, shows off the initial sketches for the winning app.
Andrew Lockhart, whose three-person "RealKick" team won Realogy's hackathon competition, shows off the initial sketches for the winning app.

The winner, Team RealKick, a group of three led by Web designer Andrew Lockhart, took home $2,500 for a mobile app that helps agents guide consumers through the home shopping process. Lockhart spent the whole night coding, pointing to the collection of a half dozen empty Red Bull cans on his table as proof.

The app, conceived and built in just the one day, takes in a consumer’s stated interest in a property and surfaced listings from a multiple listing service based on a proprietary algorithm.

Consumers could accept, deny and communicate directly with the agent through the app about each specific listing. Agents, who would purchase the service and then share the app with clients, would be able to see in a dashboard view which homes their clients liked, didn’t like and why. They would also be able to send notes about specific properties to clients through the app.

What brought Lockhart and his team and the 150 other coders who participated in the event to the Moscone Center for an all-day, all-night hack was a chance to build real estate apps with a tool that gave them access to normalized listing data from six of the largest MLSs in the country, including California Regional MLS (CRMLS), Midwest Real Estate Data (MRED), Sandicor, Connecticut MLS (CMLS), InterMountain MLS and MLSListings.

Article continues below

The tool, built by Vancouver-based startup Retsly Software Inc., also gave coders access to more than 2 million listings sourced from proprietary listing databases from Realogy brands Century 21 Real Estate, Better Homes and Gardens Real Estate, Coldwell Banker Real Estate, ERA Real Estate and Sotheby’s International Realty.

The event, a follow-up to Realogy’s inaugural “Innovation Summit” held in June that featured a startup pitch competition, was a way to capitalize on the great software development talent that the Bay Area offers, said Alex Perriello, CEO of Realogy’s franchise wing Realogy Franchise Group.

Perriello said he was impressed by the innovation he saw bear fruit in just one full day.

Access to real estate giant Realogy was a pull for the developers, but the chance to work with a big data stream from the large MLSs and Realogy was even more attractive.

“This data was not available before,” said Daniel Jurek, who built the app “Home or Not” during the event, with partner Brian Curliss, that allowed users to look at photos of homes for sale in the MLS one at a time and quickly decide if they wanted to know more or not. The app, whose idea and execution were hatched in about 27 hours at the event and a spinoff of the dating app Tendr, were one of four runners up at the event.

homeornot

Team “Home or Not” put the final touches on their app before their presentation.

Jurek and Curliss, who run Mail Lift, a startup that sends handwritten letters on a salesperson’s behalf,  say they would love to work in real estate, but the opportunity to work with the scale of data that the event provided through Retsly’s tool hasn’t been available before.

“It would have taken months and a lot of money to get the data itself,” Curliss said. Having the data allowed them to focus on what they do best, they said, and incentivized them to pour their coding talents into real estate technology.

Josh Taylor, a product designer from Evernote, whose app that allows agents to list and market homes easily from a mobile device with MLS data was named a runner-up at the event, agreed.

Data access is a “huge barrier to entry,” Taylor said. The ability to access all the data in one spot was an incentive to build something innovative.

The data feeds Retsly negotiated were specifically for the hackathon, but Retsly’s co-founders Joshua Lopour and Kyle Campbell hope that the MLSs and Realogy will consider licensing their data for its platform going forward for developers to use.

Tribus, a provider of real estate technology services to agents and brokerages, announced today that it has taken an investment stake in Retsly, and will build a number of products that rely on Retsly’s services, including customizable Internet data exchange (IDX) interfaces, market data reports, and broker recruiting systems.

Jamie Goldman, a vice president with Realogy’s ERA Real Estate brand, said the event’s success will make Realogy consider doing more hackathons and consider bringing some high-quality coders in house.

The other three runner-ups were EverDwell, which built full-screen micro-sites of listings from MLS data with a tap of the finger, “Rent or Buy,” an app that showed whether it was more economical to rent or buy in any one ZIP code, based on home sale data from the MLS, and “Curb Call,” an app resembling the hot taxi startup service Uber that connected agents and consumers based on their locations and availabilities.

Editor’s note: This story has been updated to include mention of runner-up winner “Curb Call,” which connects agents and consumers based on their locations and availabilities.


Related Articles