SAN FRANCISCO — Mark Lesswing, chief technology officer and senior vice president of the National Association of Realtors’ Center for Realtor Technology, received a special Inman Innovator Award for “Individual Innovator” Wednesday during Real Estate Connect SF 2006. The Innovator Awards honor forward-thinking technology, business models and pioneers in online real estate, brokerage and mortgage companies.

Lesswing plays a critical role at the Center for Realtor Technology where he has helped spearhead important technology initiatives and educate NAR members about crucial technology issues in real estate such as data scraping, Internet security, and industry technology standards. He oversees the association’s information technology initiatives and strategies, identifies Web-based services for members and evaluates existing services and programs.

The Center for Realtor Technology serves Realtor and Realtor associations as an industry advocate, implementation consultant and technology information resource. The center publishes surveys and white papers, keeps a blog, and has launched many products and initiatives to help Realtors stay on top of technology trends

Lesswing began programming robots in high school, which led to management positions with Sybase and Oracle. While at Oracle, he began to work with object-oriented technology and went on to found STR Consultancy in 1992. Later, he spent three years involved in high-tech turnarounds before joining NAR in 2001.

Past recipients of the Individual Innovator Award include Prudential Real Estate Affiliates President Earl Lee in 2005, HouseValues CEO Ian Morris in 2004, and eRealty CEO Russ Capper in 2003.

Inman News for the first time this year gave an award for the Most Innovative Real Estate Blog, adding a new category. The winner of this first-time award was Urban Digs, published by New York City real estate agent Noah Rosenblatt, who launched the blog last September. In addition to entries about real estate situations and questions, Rosenblatt offers live chat sessions with site visitors every weekday.

Other finalists in the blog category were SocketSite, Rain City Guide, Matrix, The Walk-Through and the Center for Realtor Technology’s Blog.

Inman Innovator Awards were handed out Wednesday in eight additional categories, including Most Innovative Real Estate Brokerage, which went to RE/MAX International. The company in April launched the first phase of a national network of broker IDX Web sites, offering more than 1.7 million available home listings through www.remax.com.

The other finalists in the brokerage/franchise/Realtor category were Weichert Realtors, Intero Real Estate, Chase International, Michael Saunders & Co., and Alain Pinel Realtors.

Trulia captured the award for Innovative Web Service for its real estate search engine. Other finalists in this category were VisiStat, HouseValues’ HomePages, PropSmart, Homethinking, Google Base, RealLiving.com, HomeGain’s Neighborhood Maps and Coldwell Banker for its online video library.

The award for Most Innovative New Business Model went to Redfin Direct, an online buyer’s agent service. Other finalists in the category were BuySide Realty, Expert Realty, Move Inc.’s Top Marketer and RebateReps.com.

The award for Most Innovative Real Estate Data Site went to PropertyShark. Zillow, HomeSmartReports, RealEstateABC and RealtyTrac also were finalists in the category.

CellSigns grabbed the coveted Most Innovative Technology Award for its real estate text messaging service. Other finalists for most innovative technology included Stewart Title’s SureClose, Blogging Systems, RealPING, Smarter Agent’s Mobile GPS, WolfNet’s MapTracker and LocoModa’s StreetSurfer.

The award for Most Innovative Mortgage Company or Service went to Air Force Credit Union, which competed with The Loan Page, LendingTree, NationPoint and Bank of America’s Real Estate Center as finalists.

Most Innovative Media Site went to October Research, which publishes BrokerNewswire, Valuation Review, The Title Report, The Legal Description, Real Estate Technology News and RESPA News. Finalists in this category included YourHub.com, Realtor Magazine Online, Planetizen and RIS Media.

The award for Most Innovative Rental or New Home Online Service went to MyNewPlace, which competed with HotPads, CityCribs, RentClicks and Rent.com/eBay as finalists in the category.

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