The phrase, “Your place or mine?” may take on a new significance with the introduction of MyPlaceConnection, a new multiple listing system platform.
Created by industry veteran David Keillor, the technology features special spaces, or “places,” where agents and their clients can collaborate on the Web, along with two other features not found in other MLS systems, Keillor said.
Keillor’s company, Rochester, Minn.-based Technology Concepts, has been offering its automated MLS system since 1995. Currently, about 30 Realtor boards and associations across the country use the company’s original offering, Ultrex. MyPlaceConnection is a new system replacing Ultrex that will be rolled out beginning in January 2006. The formal unveiling will be at the National Association of Realtors convention in San Francisco in late October.
“This product creates a Web space where each participant has their own place,” said Keillor, the company’s president. “The customer would be doing things that are common for clients, saving searches and lists of their favorite houses they’ve seen.”
The agent’s space allows agents to see what the clients have done, Keillor said. On the left-hand side of the agent’s Web space, a list of clients appears along with their current status.
“You can see what properties the clients have looked at and visited,” Keillor said. When a client goes into contract to buy a house, as soon as this information is entered into the MLS, the information is reflected in the agent space.
“If you’re the agent selling the house you know they are in contract, but you don’t have to take any overt action to reclassify your client,” Keillor said. “The system moves the client from inactive status into a pending buyer status.”
While most MLS systems have a transaction manager function, the transaction manager is usually a separate standalone program not tied directly to the MLS, according to Keillor.
In this system, the data that is entered into the MLS is available to the agent in the agent’s space, as soon as any change is made.
In addition to the individual spaces, the system also has an area similar to a bulletin board where agents and clients can talk to each other.
“E-mail can get trapped in peoples’ spam filters, and it doesn’t reflect the whole series of communications,” said Tom Ress, MyPlaceConnection’s product manager. “This collaboration space allows communication without a need for e-mail or phone calls.”
Another distinctive feature is a market performance analysis function. Colorful charts and bar graphs display various statistics on how the market is doing, using data drawn from the MLS database.
“You can see how many houses sold in a given town for the last five years, going year by year,” Ress said, a function that could show whether the market is hot or cooling. “You can track the average asking price for homes, the final asking price and the actual selling price.”
“This can help you see how hot the market is,” the company president said. For example, according to the database, on average, homes in Byron, Minn., sold for far less than their asking price in 2003. Keillor said this was because the market grew overheated for a time and sellers overestimated the value of their homes.
“If someone is selling, this helps them figure out what to ask. You can zero in on a lister’s city or subdivision and show them what has been going on in the last week, month, quarter or year,” Keillor said.
The third distinctive feature of the new upgrade is a market meter. This looks a lot like the mortgage calculators common to many real estate Web sites. You put in the number of bedrooms and baths, style of house, location and square footage, and a given price, and the system will tell you how many people are interested in a house of that description in that price range.
“That would be good as a marketing tool when you go out to list the home,” said Bob Reisinger, executive vice president of the Waterloo-Cedar Falls Board of Realtors in Iowa. Reisinger’s group has used the Ultrex technology since 1995.
“It’s similar to a market analysis, giving the probability if you price it at this price, here’s your chance of selling it,” Reisinger said. “It would be a good tool for the Realtor, plus for the homeowner. When a homeowner sees this, they would be less likely to waste time asking too much for the house.”
Also, he said, the feature would help buyers get an idea of how much they should have to pay for a house.
Reisinger said the collaborative space would be useful for his group of Realtors.
“AOL will sometimes not let our e-mails through,” he said, referring to the Internet service provider’s rigorous spam filters. “This (the collaborative space) would be a lot handier, a lot faster.”
The market performance function also sounded good to Reisinger.
“We use statistics a lot. We would especially use them in presentations to someone who has been listing their home to show them how the property in their area has gone up in value,” Reisinger said.
Reisinger said his 400-member group has worked with Technology Concepts since the company launched in 1995.
“When Ultrex started, we were just a distributed system,” Reisinger said. “We would put the data on our server and members would call in on a modem and download the data to their computer. The clients still had to go to the Realtors and get the information.
“Now it’s evolved to where they can go out on their own and find every listing we have in our database. The public is a lot more aware now and it’s because of a lot more Web sites like these,” Reisinger said.
The executive vice president said he is happy with Technology Concepts’ work.
“They’re easy to work with, they’ve got great support and that is one of the keys. Because if something goes wrong, it’s got to be fixed, you have 400 people without any data. Ultrex has been reliable. In the course of a year there might be two or three hours’ down time, and part of that is maintenance,” Reisinger said.
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