A revamp of Real Living Inc.‘s consumer-personalized Web sites revolves around a single word: “share.”
The beta site, which launched Monday night, allows users to create a list of company agents who they potentially would like to work with, and to create and save lists of properties. Site users are asked to type in their name and e-mail address to become registered at the site and gain access to the site’s personalized functions.
Company officials are calling the launch MyRealLiving version 2.0. Real Living is one of the largest independently owned brokerage companies in the Midwest, with about 4,000 agents and 130 offices in 10 states.
There are about 59,000 registered members for the RealLiving.com site, and about 2,000 new members sign up each month, company officials said.
Harley E. Rouda Jr., CEO and managing partner at Real Living, said the company imports data from about 25 MLS systems each day, and the company reformats that data to share it with consumers.
He noted that the new Web site lists properties in a format that “looks like a Monopoly card,” referring to a classic board game, and these property cards provide details about property prices and other features, such as the number of bedrooms and bathrooms and the square footage.
Agents and consumers can share information with each other about properties via the Web site. An agent and consumer can agree to a date and time for a meeting appointment, for example, and agents can share open house dates, educational information and transaction documents with consumers.
Consumers can choose to receive alerts whenever there is a change in the status of a property.
“Half of what we’ve developed here is based on getting information to the consumer. The other part was how can we really use the latest technology to make the experience more engaging and more fluid,” said Kaira Sturdivant Rouda, chief operating officer.
Among the features at the rebuilt site: Buyers can bookmark articles and quizzes relating to the home-buying process; and keep all appointments, open houses and other events in an online calendar. Sellers can track the number of online views for their listed property on a daily or monthly basis, store a copy of purchase offers in their account, and view marketing materials to see how their agent is marketing their property.
The initial site launched three years ago, and Sturdivant Rouda said the new version has been in the works for about two years.
The latest version is an effort to make the real estate process more visual and transparent, said company officials.
“We are trying to duplicate online the offline experience. If they want to engage an agent they can,” said Rouda.
And while some real estate Web sites haven’t made much process in the use of rich multimedia, he said that the new Web site seeks to deliver “a much more immersed opportunity for the consumer.”
Sturdivant Rouda said that behind the scenes of the new Web site is a tight integration of many real estate technologies, such as customer relationship management, transaction management, and lead generation and lead management systems.
The site design, she said, is an effort to build a relationship with consumers while giving consumers an opportunity to access data on their own. “The bottom line is not to get in the way of the data (consumers) want to get to,” she said.