Jennifer Archambeault, a broker-owner of a 20-agent firm in Austin, Texas, didn’t see the need to have a mobile app. After all, she thought, the mobile version of her firm’s website let consumers search for homes and find her agents’ contact information.

Then Archambeault came across Dizzle, a San Diego-based startup that provides branded iOS and Android mobile apps to brokers and agents. The apps are designed to help real estate pros stay top of mind with their network by letting them share their recommendations for service professionals like handymen, dentists, attorneys and more.

Each of Dizzle’s clients get an app with a design and logo that is customized and branded exclusively to them. Agents’ contact info is also baked into the app, so consumers who are searching for agent-recommended vendors have that info at their fingertips if they need to talk to a real estate agent.

Screen shot of the Jennifer Archambeault's contact page in her Dizzle app.

Screen shot of Jennifer Archambeault’s contact page in her Dizzle app.

Unlike competitors like OwnerAide and HouseCall, which also help real estate pros stay in touch with their contacts by recommending service professionals, Dizzle provides an app that is exclusively branded to an agent or firm. There’s no Dizzle branding on the app — see Archambeault’s app as it shows up in the Apple App store.

It’s the agent or brokerages’ own native mobile app, priced at $30 per agent, per month.

Mobile apps, including the agent-branded variety, are plentiful. But consumers are learning that when it comes to property search, big companies like Zillow, Trulia, Redfin and realtor.com offer mobile experiences that smaller brokers and agents can’t match.

Dizzle is an opportunity for agents to stay in a consumers’ mobile life by providing a valuable service — opening up their directory of recommended vendors, Dizzle founder and CEO Will Caldwell told Inman.

Archambeault bought Dizzle accounts for all her agents, hoping it will help them to “keep clients forever.”

Without a tool like Dizzle, it’s easy to lose touch with clients after a deal closes, Archambeault said. The app also offers a service not found on her website.

Dizzle launched in July and now has approximately 400 users. That includes 100 members of the Greater San Diego Association of Realtors, who have yearlong subscriptions the association purchased for them. The 12,000-member association has negotiated a discount on Dizzle for members who didn’t get one of the free accounts, Caldwell said.

“Dizzle is an exciting new app that promises to help Realtors stay top of mind and provide value after closing,” said SDAR board President Leslie Kilpatrick in a statement.

Dizzle allows agents to create stickier relationships by providing advice they used to give to clients without always seeing a benefit. Now all their recommended service professionals are in one list, at a contact’s fingertips with their branding, which reinforces their brand in their contact’s eyes.

In the future, Caldwell says Dizzle will offer analytics showing users how many vendors were called from their app, how many times it has been downloaded, how many times they’ve been contacted through the app, and how many times a user has added their contact info from the app to their phone’s database.

Dizzle’s also experimenting with push notifications. Currently, users can choose to receive weekly push notifications for up to three recently sold homes for a ZIP code they’re following, Caldwell said.

Dizzle users can also share the app by text or email with their recommended service providers, who may be inspired to recommend a Dizzle agent to their clients, Caldwell said.

Other firms are out to provide consumers with streamlined access to service professionals, too.

The home remodeling site Porch, for example, connects consumers with home improvement professionals in its database. It even offers a concierge service, where homeowners can call in to talk to a Porch representative who helps connect them with the right pro.

Today, Porch launched a new service, in beta, to its Seattle customers, Porch Booking Beta, which allows them to coordinate small maintenance projects at prenegotiated prices.

Porch CEO Matt Ehrlichman hinted to Inman that the firm has a mobile app in the works that’s geared toward real estate agents, but couldn’t provide details.

Agents providing referrals to providers of services like settlement services, such as title insurers, attorneys, mortgage loan officers and home inspectors, have to be careful not to run afoul of the Real Estate Settlement Procedures Act (RESPA), which prohibits those providers from paying for business referrals.

RESPA allows settlement services providers to enter into marketing services agreements with companies in a position to refer business to them, but payments must be based on the value of advertising or other services provided, and not tied to the volume of business generated. Marketing services agreements (MSAs) must be nonexclusive, and consumers must be provided with disclosures describing the real estate professional’s role in selling third-party services.

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau “has been active in initiating enforcement actions in this area and appears to take the view that these agreements are going to almost always be an improper referral fee, so anyone entering into an MSA [with a settlement services provider] will need to be exercise extreme caution” in regards to RESPA, the National Association of Realtors advises.

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