Editor’s note: This is the first of a three-part series.

Real estate’s movers, shakers and innovators once again convened in San Francisco for this summer’s Real Estate Connect searching for the newest tools and strategies to give them a competitive edge.

A visit to Start-Up Alley is always one of the highlights of attending Connect. While many companies who launch at Start-Up Alley never become viable, others such as Zillow and Trulia have become superstars. Below you’ll find a rundown of some of the best tools and systems that may very well be the superstars of tomorrow.

Mobile transaction management

If you haven’t shifted to being paperless and mobile, it’s only a matter of time before the entire real estate industry makes this move. The three key players at Connect in this area were Cartavi.com, DotLoop.com and REPREE.com.

Cartavi launched its transaction management program at last year’s event. This year it launched a brand-new app making Cartavi the only transaction management program currently available on the iPad, iPhone, Android and Android tablets. Cartavi has both a free and a premium version. Both versions are integrated with DocuSign; however, there is a separate fee for using the DocuSign system.

Cartavi also supports the ability to send and receive emails and faxes from people who don’t have a Cartavi account. "Our belief is that since our customers are in a service-based business that we need to provide support for all of the ways that they exchange documents," the company said.

DotLoop is an Inman Innovator Award winner. Agents open a "loop" and the DotLoop dashboard shows all active clients in a format similar to Facebook. Like Cartavi and REPREE, you can add your transaction documents in much the same way that you would using Dropbox. When the agent finds the right property for a buyer, the agent can add the "forms to the loop from a form library (or upload one if not in the library), and in the final step, the agent adds the client to the loop … These parties now act through a collaborative data layer and collect all the necessary signatures to close the deal electronically." DotLoop currently has a mobile application in development.

REPREE just launched its transaction management system that has DocuSign integration with no additional fee. "It is totally seamless to the customer." It also has an email marketing tool plus an automated showing feedback system. The automated feedback system sends an email request asking for feedback from every agent who shows your listings. All feedback is organized in one place making forwarding the feedback to the seller as simple as "point and click." Unlike Cartavi and DotLoop, REPREE charges a flat rate per month with no storage limits or additional fees for digital signature integration.

Help buyers find their dream home with Dream Score

Dream Commerce has a terrific free mobile app called Dream Score that helps buyers determine which house is the best fit for them. To locate their dream home, the app asks buyers to rank which features in a home are most important to them. When the buyers actually visit the property, they rank each of the selected features on a scale of 1-10. The system also integrates with Walk Score allowing buyers to tell which neighborhoods are the most "walkable." Once the buyers finish the process, the app then takes all of these factors into account to generate each buyer’s personal "dream score" for each property they view.

This is an especially useful tool for people who are uncertain about which property is right for them. For example, when you have two buyers who disagree about which property is best, have each person rank the houses using the Dream Score. Next, add the scores to see which house scores highest based upon both of their scores. This app is currently available on iPhone and iPad; the Android apps are under development.

Happy Inspector

This free app was developed in Australia and is a real time saver, especially if you handle rentals, foreclosure properties or REOs. While the app was originally designed for property managers to use when tenants occupy or leave a property, it can also be a great platform for establishing the condition of normal residential sales properties before and after the seller moves out. Happy Inspector allows you to complete the entire process from your mobile device. You can take photos, use the inspection checklist to verify property condition, and the app aggregates this data in one easy file that can be converted to a PDF and sent to all the parties involved.

Need more tech ideas from Real Estate Connect? Don’t miss part 2.

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