Technology

Dotloop releases new version of paperless transaction software

CEO: Updated platform represents 'fresh start for the company'

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Dotloop has released a new version of its paperless transaction management software with extensive changes that founder and CEO Austin Allison says amount to a “fresh start for the company from a product perspective.”

Allison also said the company will soon make its application programming interface (API) public, opening the door for unaffiliated tech companies to integrate dotloop into their products.

The product rollout and imminent API release represent a muscular push by the company — which says its product line is already used by 40 percent of real estate agents — to strengthen its hold on the industry, as it battles competitors and continues to court wary Realtor associations.

“The new dotloop actually puts people front and center,” Allison said, while its previous version “put documents front and center.”

A redesign of the cloud-based platform’s loops — which allow parties in a real estate transaction to manage documents and communicate with each other — may represent the most significant change to come with the overhaul.

Previously, dotloop offered a limited number of loop types that were designed to accommodate certain documents and parties involved in a transaction, Allison said.

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Now, loops are completely customizable, enabling users to add any documents or people to them. The new version also offers permission controls somewhat akin to privacy settings offered by Facebook, by enabling an administrator to set what activities and documents a user may view.

“Now, there’s only one loop type for infinite possibilities,” Allison said.

The revamp also elevates “tasks” to the same level of importance as the two other main loop components — “people” and “documents.” The new task functionality is designed to help users more effectively set goals, collaborate and track progress.

Dotloop also has made navigation more intuitive and infused “personality” into its interface. Photos of parties involved in a transaction are displayed, for instance.

First mobile app

To complement the new product, dotloop has also released its first mobile app. The app features a mobile-optimized user experience and offers all of the functionality provided by dotloop’s browser version, Allison said. With the app, users may navigate the site much more easily on mobile devices as well as sign documents with their fingers.

The product debut represents the latest step taken by the company this year to further entrench itself in the real estate industry and strengthen its grip on a claimed user base of 600,000 professionals serving 10 million buyers and sellers.

It won’t be the last step, either, Allison said.

Perhaps most notably, the company is on the verge of serving up APIs to programmers everywhere. That would allow all manner of companies to integrate dotloop into products including customer relationship management software, marketing tools and accounting systems, Allison said.

“We’ve heard time and time again from large companies that they want all that stuff to be integrated seamlessly,” Allison said. “Dotloop is going to invest heavily this year in enabling that ecosystem functionality.”

So far, dotloop has allowed only a handful of companies to weave its technology into its products. Companies that it has partnered with include software providers Market Leader and Lone Wolf Real Estate Technologies, listing site Trulia (which recently announced plans to purchase Market Leader) and brokerage Keller Williams.

Dotloop also intends to create a Facebook app that would enable users to sign in through the social media site and import photos from Facebook into dotloop, Allison said.

Those innovations will build on strategies that the company has recently deployed to bolster its business.

In January, Dotloop announced partnerships with LendingTree, ClosingCorp and White Fence to allow agents to help their clients choose services offered to buyers and sellers through those companies.

The company also offered Re/Max broker-owners a 60-day free trial last August — and as of February had converted 16 percent of all the franchisor’s agents into users.

Competition

As the company pushes ahead, it continues to face competition from other paperless transaction management services like zipLogix, Cartavi (acquired last month by DocuSign) and Reesio, the last of which recently introduced a version of its software for brokers.

In addition, dotloop continues to struggle to win over Realtor associations that refuse to license their copyrighted documents to dotloop.

To date, the company has successfully licensed forms from about 40 regional or state Realtor associations, allowing 50 to 60 percent of its users to skip uploading forms and access them directly through dotloop, Allison said.

But some agents and consumers have difficulty using the service because some associations won’t permit members to use their forms on dotloop — even if they are manually uploaded, Allison said.

“Whether you write the price down with a Sharpie pen or point pen shouldn’t matter so long as nobody is altering the integrity of the document,” Allison said. “But for whatever reason certain associations have taken a different stance, and we think it’s unfortunate for the industry.”

The company has found it particularly difficult to penetrate California’s housing markets due to licensing roadblocks, he said.

Allison said that’s partly because the California Association of Realtors (CAR) has an exclusive agreement with dotloop competitor zipLogix, which is a joint venture between CAR subsidiary Real Estate Business Services Inc. and the National Association of Realtors.

Allison, who was named Innovator of the Year by Inman News in 2012, noted that CAR CEO Joel Singer (an Inman Innovator Award winner in 2000), is also the CEO of zipLogix.

Editor’s note: This story has been updated to note that Cartavi was acquired last month by DocuSign.