From the Inman News Blog today, here’s a roundup of some new online services and applications for real estate released this week:
1. Scotty, give me info on 123 Main St.: Fidelity National Real Estate Solutions, the folks who brought you Cyberhomes, today launched Hi-Fi VoiceSearch for MLSs that use the company’s Paragon system. What this does is enable real estate agents to search the MLS database using simple voice commands from any phone. So in practice, agents would drive by a property, call a number and say either the property’s address or MLS# to get more details.
2. Estately pushes further with real estate search: Estately, the Seattle-based, home-search site formerly known as Shackprices, on Wednesday released a tool that enables its site users to search beyond traditional boundaries or search parameters. Users create either an area outline of where they want to show available homes or they can use it to search for homes within a mile or so from an area or address. Why? Because people wouldn’t necessarily rule out a house that is one block beyond a particular ZIP code or neighborhood definition.
We saw John L. Scott do something similar recently, where site users can basically redefine their search by drawing a line around the area they want to look in, rather than relying on neighborhood definitions or ZIP codes.
3. Realtor.com goes mobile: The official NAR home listings site has released a free downloadable application for Realtors and consumers, enabling them to perform property searches from their cell phones or handheld devices.
Mobile MLS applications have been around for ages, but they still appear to be rare in use by the rank-and-file agents. Will this ever catch on? Maybe the spread of the iPhone will define a tipping point.
4. More companies jump on text messaging: Following CellSigns’ lead, a number of companies have launched text messaging services for real estate properties. They all operate along the same premise: Home shopper sees house while driving by, texts a specified number from the for-sale sign, and either enters property address or a different number (again from the sign). Shopper then gets some info via text message about price and property basics and how to contact the agent. In some cases the agent gets a message alerting him or her that someone is checking out the listing.
Text messaging services that have launched recently include HouseFront, which has expanded its coverage area this month and says it now has home-value information on more than 100 million homes; CellularRE; and Text to Rent, a new text messaging and SMS service from Primedia for renters.