SAN FRANCISCO — Inman News today named Austin Allison, co-founder and CEO of DotLoop, the 2012 Innovator of the Year, and also announced winners in seven other categories during the Real Estate Connect conference.

The awards, created in 1997, honor real estate companies, technologies, services and individuals who have pushed the real estate industry forward by improving the real estate transaction process for both consumers and real estate professionals.

Winners are selected by an Inman News review team after a reader nominations process. The review team considers the full list of nominees and may also consider other additions to this list. This year there were 56 finalists in seven categories.

The winners are:

Most innovative new technology

Zillow Premier Agent websites and contact management platform (CMP)
Zillow created a buzz this spring when it announced that it would offer free websites with IDX listing display to its “Premier Agent” advertisers, charging $10 a month for others. The sites feature integration with another new tool from Zillow — a customer relationship management (CRM) platform for managing leads and customer contacts generated online.

Most innovative brokerage or franchise

Village Real Estate Services
Founded in 1996, Nashville-based Village Real Estate Services strives to “recycle housing,” by focusing on older, established neighborhoods, and infill condo and loft developments. The company’s elegant website is user-friendly and information-rich. Broker Brian Copeland is a social media marketing expert who helps educate agents nationwide.

Most innovative real estate website or Web service

ZipRealty — Powered by Zip
When ZipRealty closed down brokerage operations in a dozen metro areas in 2011, it sought to make the most of the audience it had built in those markets by securing Internet Data Exchange (IDX) listing feeds from other brokers for display on, providing referrals to those brokerages in return. The Emeryville, Calif.-based brokerage’s “Powered by Zip” program is now up and running in eight markets: Atlanta; Philadelphia; Tucson; Salt Lake City; Nashville; Raleigh, N.C.; Jacksonville, Fla.; and New York’s Hudson Valley. According to Web metrics firm Experian Hitwise, remains the most visited brokerage website in the nation.

Most innovative MLS or real estate trade association

Denver Metro Association of Realtors (DMAR)
Brokers and agents sometimes complain about having to join more than one Realtor association in metropolitan areas that are carved up among several associations. But when merger talks get started, it can be tough to convince association members that cost efficiencies that can be achieved by consolidation won’t come at the expense of reduced services and less accessible leadership. In Denver, talks that began with seven Realtor associations culminated last year in the merger of three boards: the Denver Board of Realtors, the North Metro Denver Realtor Association, and the Jefferson County Association of Realtors. The merged associations are now known as the Denver Metro Association of Realtors.

Most innovative real estate startup

Minneapolis, Minn.-based MobileRealtyApps offers integrated mobile solutions to brokers and MLSs that provide text message and phone response on listings. The company’s HomeSpotter augmented reality feature overlays property information on images seen through a device’s live camera feed. This year, MobileRealtyApps partnered with St. Paul-based Northstar MLS to provide what it said was the first MLS-branded augmented reality mobile application.

Most innovative mobile app

HomeSnap by Sawbuck Realty
Users of online brokerage company Sawbuck Realty’s HomeSnap iPhone app can retrieve details on more than 90 million homes in the country including current value, last sale date and price, and local schools by snapping a picture. The app relies on information about the user’s location, rather than the image that’s captured, to determine what property to retrieve information for. In markets where Sawbuck Realty operates as a broker, the HomeSnap iPhone app taps into multiple listing service (MLS) data on current and recently sold listings. For properties not listed in the MLS and in markets where Sawbuck Realty lacks access to MLS data, HomeSnap relies on property tax and other public records to serve up details like last sale date and price, number of bedrooms, bathrooms, lot size, and school attendance boundaries.

Most innovative real estate social site or social service or blog

Move Inc./SocialBios HyperSocial Tools
Using “technology and talent” acquired in its acquisition of social media search platform SocialBios, operator Move Inc. this year began offering “HyperSocial” profile pages and agent recommendations integrated into the “Find a Realtor” directory and spanning Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, Google and Foursquare.

Allison_Austin_headInnovator of the year (individual award)

Austin Allison, co-founder and CEO, DotLoop

Cincinnati, Ohio-based DotLoop is out to transform the real estate industry with its paperless transaction management platform, a secure online platform where agents can share and electronically sign transaction documents in real time. More than 200,000 real estate agents in 700 U.S. and Canadian cities use the company’s platform to negotiate, sign and close deals. This spring, the company released DotLoop NOW, a “light” version of the platform that it’s making available at no charge to individual agents. Allison co-founded DotLoop in 2009, after studying real estate development at the University of Cincinnati and corporate law at The University of Cincinnati College of Law.

Austin Allison, co-founder and CEO, DotLoop

Complete List of Inman Innovator Awards Winners (1998-2011)

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