A prominent New York brokerage has signed an exclusive deal with real estate startup imageSurge to equip its offices with interactive storefronts that will allow passersby to explore property listings in real time.
The deal between imageSurge and Halstead Property stipulates that, for a limited time, no other companies in the brokerage firm’s coverage area will have access to imageSurge’s products, which include the company’s indoor, touch-based kiosks.
Boston-based imageSurge, one of the new companies featured in Start-Up Alley at last week’s Real Estate Connect New York, launched interactive storefronts about 90 days ago. An interactive storefront is a large, slim display that consumers navigate using five buttons at the bottom of the screen.
"The window is almost the last frontier — we’re bringing digital technology to the window," said Oleg Vyadro, the company’s chief operating officer.
In Europe — where such window display technology is much more pervasive — they call the window "the fifth screen," he added.
While it is common for U.S. real estate offices to display listing photographs in windows, such marketing can lack a certain panache.
"I think if people have a nice real estate location with windows, (an interactive storefront is) much more elegant looking. It draws attention and people can interact with it," Vyadro said.
Interactive storefronts also offer real-time information, not only about property listings, but can also offer details about open houses and community events, Vyadro said. The displays can include QR codes, which passersby with smartphones can scan to get more information about a listing, and text numbers so that passersby can contact an agent at any time, he added.
"It’s a 24/7 platform: the office is closed, the system is open," Vyadro said.
The company claims that, because of its patent-pending technology, it is the only such display available that is capable of operating through insulated, double-paned windows. The interactive storefronts also use "sun-readable" screens that allows for clear visibility even in bright light. The platform’s content management system can also pull listing information from multiple listing services or other third-party sources, the company said.
ImageSurge’s first deal was with Pondside Realty in the Boston area last fall. Since then, the company has signed deals with five other Massachusetts-based brokerages with a total of eight offices and one Rhode Island-based brokerage. ImageSurge is in the process of deploying the technology now, Vyadro said.
"We are very excited about entering the (New York) market with a partner that is an industry leader and consistently at the cutting edge of real estate technology," said Ilya Alshine, imageSurge’s CEO, in a statement.
Halstead has nearly 1,000 sales and rental agents in 23 offices in New York, New Jersey and Connecticut. All but two of those offices are storefront offices.
"I’m very delighted. It’s an exclusive arrangement in our areas, and I’m just thrilled that we’re the first local firm to have this, I think, very innovative technology," said Diane Ramirez, president of Halstead Property.
"I’m beyond excited because we are very much the technology firm and the innovative firm so it just fits right into the direction we’re always looking at," she added.
She said she’s not sure how many of the firm’s storefront offices will incorporate ImageSurge’s interactive displays.
"It’s very early on in implementation, so obviously we’ll want it in the offices where it’ll make the most sense, if not all," Ramirez said.
She said imageSurge approached her because she was slated to speak at the Real Estate Connect conference.
"It sounded very intriguing. We had been thinking of this concept because we’re always in well-trafficked areas in the communities that we sell," Ramirez said.
"I believe the product is going to evolve and continue to get even better, so it’s not an open-and-shut case. I think it’s going to be a wonderful, evolving product that fits our thought process," she added.
Currently, Halstead offices sport "very attractive displays," she said, including plasma TVs. But imageSurge’s advantage is in the interactivity of its products, she said.
"It’s what the consumer wants; it’s all about instant information," Ramirez said.
She said Halstead had "lots of ideas" for what to display on the storefronts, but had not yet decided on specifics. The displays will definitely show property listings, however, Ramirez said.
"My agents haven’t even been told about it yet, so we’re really just in the creative process," she said.
A long-distance sensor feature allows the imageSurge system to recognize when someone is looking at the display screen, as well as his or her age and gender, Vyadro said. Halstead has not yet decided whether to target messages to users by demographic, Ramirez said.
"We haven’t fine tuned just how granular we will get with this," she said.
ImageSurge offers two standard sizes, 32 inches for $6,800, and 42 inches for $7,500. The company also offers custom sizes. There is a monthly fee for the company to monitor and update the system.
Ramirez said the firm had yet to decide on display sizes.
"I don’t think it’s going to be one size fits all. We’re thrilled with the flexibility of it," she said.
Vyadro said Halstead’s interactive storefronts will likely be live sometime in early spring.
ImageSurge has plans to go national and will be coming to Florida and San Francisco later in the year.
"The Real Estate Connect show has generated a significant spike in demand nationally and internationally. As a result, we have signed one additional deal at the show that we will announce later, and are close on others," Vyadro said.