A new real estate service gives potential home buyers a view of the market they may not have seen before.

A free service for real estate agents, Realbird from DonationChannel is a mapping system that allows consumers to view aerial photos and topographic maps of any U.S. location or point of interest.

Just think: Potential clients looking at your Web site could see a view of their future home or the entire neighborhood from high above.

The system is designed as a promotional tool to differentiate a real estate company’s Web site and promote return visits. Users can add a customized graphical icon that will link their site to the Realbird site.

Using Realbird, a real estate office can set up a mini Internet site that links back to their home site. Maps are provided by the U.S. Geological Survey, and DonationChannel organizes them in a Web-clickable form that allows users to map any U.S. area, and zoom in, zoom out and pan to navigate the map.

Customers can visualize landmarks on the map, such as churches, parks and schools, and get real-time weather information with each map.

For a fee, DonationChannel will also incorporate listings, lead-collection data and other Java and Flash visualization tools on an agent’s Web site.

Realbird was created by DonationChannel in mid-February as a way to link up real estate agents and home-buying parents of school-aged children, said Gabriel Gross, founder of DonationChannel. DonationChannel, a Redwood City, Calif.-based company founded in May 2003, solicits charitable donations for elementary schools.

At the beginning of March, the company had signed up 850 agents to Realbird.

Approximately 150 agents and brokers are participating in the school donation process, although Gross said it is not mandatory for agents to provide donations to join the Realbird service.

“Some parents would prefer to do business with an agent who also donates time or money to a school system,” Gross said.

To strengthen the agent/community tie, DonationChannel also began linking services with GradeSchools.net. This online Web service allows individuals to search for information on local pre-, middle and high schools.


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