Inman News is pleased to announce the finalists for the 2014 Innovator Awards in five categories. Winners chosen from the list of finalists below will be announced during the Real Estate Connect conference in San Francisco, which takes place July 16-18 at the Hilton San Francisco Union Square.
This year’s award categories are:
- Most Innovative Real Estate Agent
- Most Innovative Brokerage or Franchise
- Most Innovative MLS or Real Estate Trade Association
- Most Innovative Real Estate App, Tool or Vendor
- Most Innovative Use of a New Technology
An additional annual award, the Innovator of the Year Award, recognizes an individual who embodies the spirit of real estate innovation. This award, which is not open to nominations, will be announced at the Real Estate Connect conference.
Most Innovative Real Estate Agent (2014 finalists)
Lindsay Bergeron, founder and associate broker, Military Movers Real Estate LLC, @lindseybergeron
Lindsay Bergeron is out to be the go-to broker for military families. She’s planning to turn her Alaska-based brand, Military Movers Real Estate, into a national franchise.
Brandon Doyle, Doyle Real Estate Team, Edina Realty, @DoyleRealtor
Brandon Doyle, who has a degree in real estate from St. Cloud State University, says he enjoys helping first-time homebuyers and using the latest technology to market his team’s listings. Lately he’s been using drones to shoot aerial photography that can be incorporated into MLS listing detail pages.
Gary Gold, executive vice president, Hilton & Hyland, @soldbygold
Gary Gold is a marquee name in Beverly Hills real estate and one of its most successful technology marketers. He’s an internationally recognized marketing and luxury real estate expert in Beverly Hills real estate, Bel Air real estate and Sunset Strip real estate.
Anthony Lolli, founder and CEO, Rapid Realty, @Anthony_Lolli
A colorful character who casts himself as the embodiment of the American dream and gives raises to employees who have themselves tattooed with company’s logo, Anthony Lolli launched New York City-based Rapid Realty as a franchisor in 2009, and is now in cities including Boston, Philadelphia, Miami and San Diego.
Brian Murray, agent, Houlihan Lawrence, @BrianSMurray
Brian Murray produces listing videos that transform home tours into short stories. His portfolio includes a spoof on a Nike commercial and a home tour starring golden retrievers.
Mauricio Umansky, CEO, The Agency, @MauricioUmansky
One of California’s leading agents by sales volume, Mauricio Umansky has expanded from his Beverly Hills base, opening offices Shanghai, Cabo San Lucas, Venice, Marina del Rey, Palm Springs and Las Vegas.
Zach Schabot, founder, Go Realty, @zachschabot
Go Realty is known for its responsive website, blogs, videos, community outreach, and creative use of social media including Pinterest and Vine. Zach Schabot is the author of “My Brand New Home,” an interactive children’s book designed to teach kids about the homebuilding process. He’s also developed a free agent app, “GoConnect,” with comprehensive transaction checklists.
Raj Qsar, founder, The Boutique Real Estate Group, @RajQsar
Raj Qsar employs an in-house production team to create storytelling videos that creates a better experience for buyers and sellers.
Nick Segal, founding partner, Partners Trust, @nicksegal
As founding partner and president of Partners Trust, Nick Segal says he’s out to create a company that “strives to raise the bar of professionalism at every touch point of a real estate transaction.”
Hans and Steve Wydler, The Wydler Brothers
The Wydler Brothers team functions as a high-end boutique within Long & Foster Real Estate, allowing the small team to combine hands-on, high-quality and professional service with the marketing horsepower and resources of Long & Foster. Their use of branded Starbucks cards, and of drones to produce neighborhood video tours, are examples of their innovative approach.
Most Innovative Brokerage or Franchise
Warren Buffett’s brand-new real estate franchise brand, Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices, can not only claim to have the strongest “brand equity” in real estate, but has already mapped out a plan to transition the leadership of parent company HSF Affiliates from Earl Lee, the veteran Prudential Real Estate executive who helped launch the brand, to Gino Blefari, the founder of Intero Real Estate Services. Intero was recently acquired by Buffett’s brokerage firm, HomeServices of America Inc.
Better Homes and Gardens Real Estate Generations (Mobile, Alabama)
Broker-owners Leighton Dees and Josh Tanner have tripled the size of their company in two years using technology and tools provided by franchisor Better Homes and Gardens Real Estate, and also developing some of their own.
Century 21 is getting its name in front of millennials and other heavy users of social media including YouTube with “real time” marketing campaigns around holidays and news events that it hopes will go viral. The company’s also made sporting events a centerpiece of its brand marketing efforts, buying Super Bowl ads, and sponsoring U.S. Soccer and an IndyCar, and the U.S. Bobsled team at the 2014 Winter Olympics.
Memphis, Tennessee-based Crye-Leike has captured the industry’s attention by pulling listings from Zillow and Trulia in a number of markets where it’s a dominant player.
Ryan Crecelius founded founded Wilmington, North Carolina-based Do Good Real Estate with the aim of enhancing customer experience and promoting social change by giving 20 percent of its sales commissions to local charities. As a “B certified” benefit corporation, Do Good Real Estate must meet rigorous standards of social and environmental performance, accountability and transparency, including a 12-month audit.
Having grown its agent count by 18 percent in 2013 and broken through the 100,000 mark this spring, 2014 could be the year Keller Williams becomes the world’s biggest franchise network by agent count.
An online brokerage and referral site now owned by Tokyo-based global human resources giant Recruit Holdings Co., Movoto has jumped into the top 10 most visited real estate sites in the U.S. and recently signed a referral deal with Houses.com.
Offering concierge-style services and charging clients 12 to 13 percent of lease value, Next Step caters to recent grads relocating to New York City. The firm’s social media following trails only Douglas Elliman’s and Corcoran’s among New York brokerages, the New York Observer reports.
Redfin co-founder David Eraker is back with another tech-focused brokerage, this time focusing exclusively on sellers with virtual tour technology that uses digital cameras and laser scanners to build a virtual model.
Although Urban Compass has taken on more of the trappings of a traditional brokerage as it’s expanded into home sales, its value proposition to consumers remains having the best agent and the best technology to work with.
Weichert’s new customer relationship management system, WeichertPro, helps differentiate the company from competitors.
Most Innovative MLS or Real Estate Trade Association
ABoR voted to stop syndicating its members’ listings to Zillow, Trulia and other portals through ListHub last year. That move may have helped it negotiate a new syndication agreement with Trulia, under which Trulia has agreed to comply with a set of data quality standards.
The nation’s biggest MLS, California Regional MLS is working to build a California-wide MLS, has partnered with MLSListings Inc. and pioneered new technology from Bridge Interactive Group to pull in data straight from brokers’ own systems that also makes sharing between MLSs easier.
CLAW became the first MLS in the U.S. to delay its listing feed to portals in February. Zillow says it gets direct broker feeds from more than 90 percent of brokers in the market, so effect may be minimal, but it’s a bold move.
Hosted a hackathon along with MLS vendor Solid Earth.
The Houston Association of Realtors was the first MLS to sign up as a publisher through ListHub, launching a Texas-wide real estate portal allowing other Texas brokers to take advantage of HAR.com’s high traffic volume and cachet.
Lisle, Illinois-based Midwest Real Estate Data (MRED) is sharing listing information with a dozen other MLSs across the country using CoreLogic’s MLS Data Co-Op, a map-based interface that allows agents from different MLSs to share listing information accessible via a single screen through their MLS.
NAR granted realtor.com operator Move.com permission to add new-home and non-Realtor-sourced listings to realtor.com, created a predictive analytics group and has been a big advocate of patent reform.
North Alabama Multiple Listing Service is taking control of syndicating its listings to third-party portals, employing software from MLS service provider Bridge Interactive Group and negotiating syndication agreements directly with third-party sites like Zillow, Trulia and realtor.com.
Implementing Internet data exchange (IDX) listings.
A nonprofit trade group designed to help fight data pirates, REDPLAN is gaining steam.
RESO’s mission is to standardize real estate data so that tech developers spend less time trying to make products compatible between MLSs and more time creating products that boost efficiency in real estate transactions. MLSs like California Regional MLS are also using RESO’s “RETS Update” standard to allow brokers to feed listings to the MLS instead of the other way around, a feature that will allow MLSs to take listings from The Realty Alliance’s “Upstream” project.
Most Innovative Real Estate App, Tool or Vendor
Most Innovative Use of a New Technology