The real estate industry continues to be intrigued by mobile technologies, especially those that offer simple access to data in real time.
Retrieval Dynamics Corp. thinks it has one solution with its Mobile Listing Advantage, a hosted wireless application for agents, brokers and appraisers. The MLA application allows portable access to MLS databases. The technology currently is available through BlackBerry handheld devices, though George Stolpe, marketing director for the company, said MLA data will be available through Java-enabled cell phones or Palm-like devices in May or June of this year.
“This technology enables real estate professionals to search and retrieve property listings while they’re out of the office,” Stolpe said. The concept is intended to help Realtors speed up the sales cycle, increase productivity and lower overhead costs.
The service was launched a year ago, when Retrieval Advantage announced it would provide wireless applications for RE/MAX real estate agents. The subsequent Mobile Advantages for RE/MAX system gave those agents secure wireless access to information and communications via e-mail, telephone, SMS (Short Message Service), an Internet browser and organizer applications as well as access to MLS property information.
The company expects to announce an agreement with GMAC Real Estate in which the MLA system will be used by 20,000-plus GMAC sales associates in North America.
In the last year, Stolpe said, the understanding and acceptance of wireless real estate devices across the industry has been striking.
“A year ago, few in the real estate industry knew what a BlackBerry was. They looked at it like it was kryptonite,” Stolpe said. “Now, there is widespread awareness of what (these technologies) can offer, and what advantages a mobile real estate solution like Mobile Listing Advantage can provide.”
Stolpe predicted the real estate industry will embrace the technology as mobile technologies continue to become simpler and easier to use.
“Say you’re out with a client and you’ve printed out information on the four properties you want to see that day. You drive by a house with a for-sale sign, and the client says, ‘I wonder how much that one is going for.’ Using this technology you can access the listing information and in 30 seconds, have the information at your fingertips, ” he suggested.
The MLS database can be updated several times during the day, “so if you access data in the morning and are gone all day, things can change quickly, especially in quickly moving markets like Las Vegas or Orlando,” Stolpe said. “This technology allows Realtors to be the first to respond.”
Back in the office, the agent can review specific queries by using the request history feature. Users can also customize what information gets sent to the BlackBerry device. Results are returned in the form of an e-mail message.
The service is available through the Middle Tennessee Regional MLS in Nashville, Tenn., MLS PIN in Boston, North Texas Real Estate Information Systems in Dallas/Ft. Worth, Multiple Listing System of Northern Illinois in Chicago, Information and Real Estate Services in Northern Colorado, CambriaSomerset Association of Realtors in Pennsylvania, Tucson Association of Realtors and Greater Las Vegas Association of Realtors. Realtor associations in Miami, Sarasota, Venice, West Palm Beach and mid-Florida offer the service as well.
Retrieval Dynamics plans to add new markets in the second quarter, including Phoenix, Los Angeles and Atlanta.
Retrieval Advantage won’t disclose its subscription base, but says the MLA is available to 200,000 real estate professionals in several markets. Subscribers register for a six-month subscription service and pay $19.95 a month for unlimited MLS searching, not including the cost of the handheld device. MLA subscriptions are also sold through wireless carriers such as AT&T Wireless, Nextel, T-Mobile, Cingular and Verizon.
The MLA system works differently than the download and sync approach, in which an agent syncs a handheld device with a PC to download property listings, or a browser-based solution in which an agent accesses the MLS database through the Internet. Another unique feature is the ability to search all of the user’s MLS databases simultaneously, Stolpe said.
“The system unchains the real estate professional from the office and enables the Realtor to provide more responsive service to their clients,” he said. “Realtors are seeing this as a very useful too.”
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