The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office has granted a patent to an Austin, Texas-based startup that connects prospective buyers of new homes to real estate agents.

BuildersUpdate.com is an online search engine that aims to be “a national MLS (multiple listing service) for new homes.”

It allows registered homebuyers to search for new homes either on BuildersUpdate.com, or through the websites of participating agents. Homebuyers must either be already represented by a licensed real estate agent or have an agent assigned to them in order to get full use of the site, the company said.

The company’s prospect registration system, launched in January, includes date and time stamps to eliminate commission disputes between builders and agents. Homebuyers cannot see builders’ contact information or property detail sheets without agreeing to be represented by the specific real estate agent offering them that information.

The company’s patent, U.S. Patent No. 8,510,031, is titled “Systems and methods for information transformation and exchange.”

The company said it received the patent for its “unique system of identifying new-home construction and offering critical information needed by real estate agents to help their clients purchase a new home.”

Its patented technology “solves the dilemma that has faced builders across the country wanting to gain visibility with agents eager to sell new homes,” the company added.

“With this patent, the team has received the recognition it deserves for identifying a need and solving a problem with an innovative process that is both simple and efficient,” said Bill Gaul, CEO of BuildersUpdate.com, in a statement.

“The possibilities are endless for my team as they create additional tools for agents, builders and potential homeowners.”

Gaul said the company had rolled out new additional patent-pending technology “practically monthly” and “additional patents are expected soon.”

BuildersUpdate.com covers 100 of the nation’s top metros and claims to display more than 80 percent of the total new-home inventory available in the U.S. The service is free for real estate agents.

So far, more than 20,000 agents have registered on the site, according to Lee Goldstein, the chief operating officer for BuildersUpdate.com.

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