Eight companies will compete for the Inman Innovator Award this year in the real estate technology category. The 2004 finalists are Weichert Realtors, Upward Motion, Sonic Eagle, Imprev, Criterion Corp., Mirra, Smarter Agent and EasyShow lockboxes.
Weichert Real Estate has created an in-house online lead network that may well be the industry’s first substantial Internet lead business inside an existing full-service real estate company. The network pulls in leads from various sources, including pay-per-click advertising and content syndication of listings. Weichert then scrubs the customers, identifies which office would best match their needs and passes them on to the appropriate office or sales associate.
Upward Motion’s Real Estate Simulator uses simulation technology to recreate the real-life challenges that real estate agents encounter each day on the job. The person being assessed plays the role of a real estate agent and must interact with virtual clients who are interested in buying or selling property.
Sonic Eagle’s Agent Achieve combines real estate technology tools into one service. The service provides agents with a personal Web site, contact manager, comparative market analysis report builder, personal and property marketing tools, mapping and direction services, a client relationship automation program, MLS property search AgentSync, a software program that enables agents to download MLS data onto mobile devices.
Imprev’s Design Center is a Web-based sales and marketing application for real estate agents. The application provides multimedia and print designs, which agents can post to the Web, link to an e-mail or download to their computer and burn onto CDs or floppy disks.
Criterion Corp.’s REDTablet Mobile Office suite includes the Motion Computing Tablet PC, built-in wireless WAN card, portable printer and a digital camera. Real estate agents can choose to have anytime access to the Multiple Listing Service and e-mail via the Internet. They also can use the Tablet PC’s digital pen to take handwritten notes during an open house, complete real estate contracts, snap a photo and print out a “Just Listed” flyer for a listing presentation, and maintain electronic files for each transaction.
The Mirra Personal Server provides hands-free continuous and secure backup of personal files. The files then can be accessed from any Web browser. Users can restore lost files, search for an earlier version, and share a photo or file over the Web.
Smarter Agent developed and patented a location-aware information service that transmits home data to consumers via cell phones or personal digital assistants (PDAs) equipped with the satellite-based Global Positioning System. The idea is that buyers will spot for-sale homes while driving around various neighborhoods, then connect to the Smarter Agent service using a Web-enabled cell phone or PDA device while sitting in their cars in front of the property. The service automatically detects the caller’s location via the GPS satellite, and then relays the property information back to the caller in real time.
John Williams of the North Shore-Barrington Association of Realtors developed the prototype for the EasyShow lockbox after toiling for decades and investing about $600,000 of his own money. The product is now manufactured and marketed by the local association. This alternative lockbox features codes that can be issued over the Internet and can expire within a specified amount of time after use.
The most innovative real estate and mortgage industry companies will be honored at Real Estate Connect, July 28-30 in San Francisco. Real Estate Connect brings together the top leaders from the real estate industry, including mortgage lenders, technology firms, industry analysts and news media.
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