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New real estate tools from 7 ‘New Kids’

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SAN FRANCISCO — Representatives from seven startups showed off new services for real estate businesses and consumers on stage at the Real Estate Connect conference Wednesday.

A list of the services the seven startup businesses introduced to the Connect crowd:

  • Honest Buildings, a social network at the individual building level.
  • Happy Inspector, a paperless home inspection tool.
  • HomeVisor, a matchmaking service that helps buyers and sellers choose the right real estate agent.
  • Dream Commerce, which is "socializing" real estate search.
  • Lovely, facilitating an apartment search in a supply-scarce rental market.
  • reVinta, which brands a consumer’s complete real estate search through a specific agent.
  • Videolicious, helping agents create real estate video, quickly and easily. 

"Each building is a network in itself," said Riggs Kubiak, co-founder and CEO of Honest Buildings, a company that gathers info and facilitates connection among the various entities associated with a specific building, including tenants, service providers, owners and others. Currently in the seed phase of capitalization, the company of eight employees just expanded to London and currently has 700,000 buildings profiled on the site, according to Kubiak.

After learning that home inspectors still were using paper, Jindou Lee, CEO of Happy Inspector, decided to develop an application that removed the paperwork. The tool he and his team developed, Happy Inspector, offers an iPad app that allows home inspection documentation to be completed electronically via portable document format (aka PDF). It’s free to download from the Apple Store and includes five free uses, after which the service moves to a pay-as-you-go or a monthly fee structure, Lee said.

Those in the market for a real estate agent — the critical step many take before a home search — have a new service to consider. HomeVisor helps buyers and sellers choose the right real estate agent for them by employing a team who search the Web and even make phone calls to find good matches. For each client, said HomeVisor founder Brett Doshan, the company starts from scratch to find an agent who specifically meets that client’s needs. The privately funded company, based in Minneapolis, expanded nationwide five months ago and has generated more than 1,000 leads so far, Doshan said.

DreamCommerce has developed an app that facilitates a homebuyer’s ability to share his or her home shopping experience via social media, especially with an agent. It also helps clients — and their agents — find the listings that are most relevant to them, said David Ragones, founder and CEO of DreamCommerce. Currently used by five MLSs, the DreamCommerce apps — one for agents (Dream Pro) and one for clients (Dream Score) — automatically score listings on a scale of 1 to 100 based on a homebuyer’s preferences, a matching system analogous to one that Match.com uses to bring people together. The service is expanding to 10 MLSs by the end of the year, Ragones said.

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Ever had trouble finding an apartment to rent in a place like San Francisco or New York City where apartment supply is extremely low? Places go fast. That’s where Lovely comes in, a website focused only on cities with a scarcity of apartments for rent. Lovely works to make prospective renters stand out in the apartment application process and thus up their chances to get the place they want, said Blake Pierson, CEO and founder of Lovely Inc.

There are many ways to search for a listing. It’s difficult for an agent to stay top of mind with a lead who has a plethora of search tools at his or her fingertips. To address this, Utah-based reVinta provides an app to agents — who can then share it with leads or clients — that acts as a branded portal for all of their users’ property search activity, wherever that search may go. Users can save their favorite listings with the agent’s contact info prominently displayed always nearby. Currently, the software has 120,000 users nationwide and is actively looking for agents, who may pay $40 a month to get the service, said reVinta founder and CEO Grant Bigler.

Videolicious CEO Matt Singer wowed the crowd with his company’s video creation software, which, he said, can be used to produce video within seconds, with just a few clicks. Videolicious adds transitions and text to listing photos, allows users to upload their own music, film their own intros and upload a logo as part of the video-building process, Singer said. Users can customize where they want to, or add stock music and text where they don’t; bottom line, Singer said, Videolicious provides a surprisingly easy — and quick — platform to create quality video, which can be shared on a user’s Facebook page, Twitter account or website.

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