By LESLIE MLADINICH
SAN FRANCISCO — Analytic data that rates everything from residential safety to how a Realtor’s expertise extends in a particular neighborhood was a common ingredient in many entrepreneurial Web businesses participating in Start-Up Alley at Real Estate Connect San Francisco.
About 20 young companies got a chance to share their sites and spark interest among agents and industry insiders in a one-on-one setting at Wednesday’s conference.
"Data rules, analytics and application. It’s Web 3.0," said Jonathan Cardella, founder and CEO of Neighborcity, a site that takes MLS and privately obtained data and enables agents to compete for sellers in a few different ways. Sellers can view the agents’ statistics on sales in the key neighborhood, and Neighborcity rates how responsive the agent is to the potential customer.
"We make agents compete for listings," said Cardella.
One of the more sophisticated real estate ratings site is SmartZip, which launched its site this summer of properties in California and Florida. There are currently 15 million properties on the site, which plans to roll out nationwide next year, says Avi Gupta, vice president of marketing. The creators cull data from 20 different sources, aggregate statistics, and offer ratings for two different audiences: investors who want income and homeowners wanting to see how their property’s value will grow.
The ratings at Start-Up Alley companies don’t always involve crunching financial data. AgentWorld supports professional networking and reputation management by allowing agents to rate fellow agents. "Check the correct box" questions and answers on values and ethics allows the site to display information while avoiding the potential reputation slamming that could result with open-ended questions, said Tyler Kraemer, AgentWorld co-founder. In addition, Realtors can also post messages — or "buzz" — of what they are selling and areas they know well to the AgentWorld site and have those posts directly routed to Twitter, where potential buyers can follow them. A similar application for Facebook is next.
Buyers were catered to on some of the sites. …CONTINUED
"We are a bit like a dating service,’ " says Duncan Logan, founder and CEO of National BLS (buyer listing service). Buyers who have an agent and are qualified for a loan are put on a board on the site so sellers can shop directly to them. Logan says the more information the seller posts, the more likely they will be courted. We are marketing the buyer."
"If nobody puts details, no one is going to make an offer," Logan said.
Some companies offered tools to make floor plans more virtual and sophisticated.
"I don’t understand why floor plans aren’t marketing tools," said Kori Covrigaru, co-founder of Planomatic. As a New York native where properties are ruled by square footage, Covrigaru said he saw a market for software tools that calculate exact measurements, present a 3-D picture, and let potential buyers design their home by dragging and dropping furniture icons into their blueprint. There’s also an iPhone application.
Other start-ups were looking at tapping into underserved markets, such as Workforce Resource, which serves properties that qualify for government assistance during a sale.
"Agents are avid supporters of the site because they are specialists and they know what a nightmare it is," said Rob Chrane, president. If a listing qualifies for any type of down-payment assistance from federal, state or other authorities, the Web site streamlines the sources and presents the information and conditions to agents and buyers in a manageable way.
Some of the Start-Up Alley sites operate on business plans involving subscription, while others operate through referral fees from agents who make sales with help from their service.
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