Realtors across the country will soon be able to use a tool that converts Web-based leads into cell phone calls, the National Association of Realtors announced today.

Messenger, a software product that uses voice synthesis to translate consumers’ Web-based real estate inquiries into voice messages that are sent to a Realtor’s cell phone, is scheduled for release before April.

A prototype version of the software was developed by the association’s Center for Realtor Technology in collaboration with the Houston Association of Realtors during the latter part of 2004.

“Realtors are always on the move as they serve clients. Nowadays many members use the telephone, especially cell phones, as their primary mode of communication. At the same time, our research indicates buyers want almost instant response to their e-mail inquiries about property,” said Toni Nelson, president and chair of the Houston association.

“When Realtors receive notification of an e-mail through Messenger, they are able to respond quickly, and this leads to higher customer satisfaction and building better relationships.”

The Messenger software can be added to existing lead generation systems. Messenger is automated and its customizable options allow Realtors to specify the telephone number to which they want messages delivered.

Messenger is an open-source product – its source code is not proprietary. There is no charge to Realtors for using or licensing the application, according to an association announcement. Members can obtain more information on Messenger and download a free copy at http://www.crt.realtors.org./projects/messenger/index.html or by contacting CRT at info@CRT.realtors.org.

“Our two organizations brought complementary skills to this project,” said Mark Lesswing, CRT director and vice president for the national association. “CRT was able to fine-tune the product development, based on the Houston association’s real needs. It is an excellent example of the resources and technology CRT makes available to Realtors and their member associations.”

In the latter part of 2004, CRT released three other new applications: Retriever, a system for downloading MLS listings; NoScrape, for preventing listing piracy; and reCaptcha, to deflect unauthorized attacks by remote computers. CRT is a division of the national association that provides advocacy, implementation and information on technology to the real estate industry.

The association is not alone in its efforts to convert Web leads to phone calls for Realtors.

A technology team formed by former Homestore employees in 2002 launched LeadPhone, a product that converts Web leads into phone calls to agents for $15 per month. The same technology team has sold a more comprehensive form of the product, LeadRouter, to real estate giant Cendant Corp.

Cendant Corp. announced in November that it had purchased exclusive rights to LeadRouter, which uses a system of broker and agent rules to quickly route Web-based leads to agents via automated phone calls. A group of 38 Cendant franchisee brokers, with 250 offices and 7,000 sales associates, participated in a pilot program for the LeadRouter product from April to November. And in the first two weeks following the product’s launch, 250 more Cendant-affiliated brokers signed up for the product.

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Send tips or a Letter to the Editor to glenn@inman.com or call (510) 658-9252, ext. 137.

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