Minneapolis-based HomeSpotter announced Thursday that it snapped up Spacio, a company that creates lead generating tools Realtors can deploy at open houses.

Since time immemorial, the open house has been a low-tech affair. Would-be homebuyers show up to a physical address, flip the light switches, peak in the oven, and most importantly for Realtors, sign their names and contact information on a stack of actual paper.

It’s not the most efficient system — papers get lost, hand writing is illegible — but now a pair of tech companies have teamed up in an effort to pull the open house experience into the 21st Century.

Minneapolis-based HomeSpotter announced Thursday that it has snapped up Spacio, a company that creates lead generating tools Realtors can deploy at open houses. In a conversation with Inman, HomeSpotter founder and CEO Aaron Kardell said that the acquisition “is one of our first steps in really evolving to more of a multi-product company.”

Aaron Kardell

“Our goal as a company at HomeSpotter is to really be known as the relationship engine,” Kardell continued. “We do think tech solutions like the products that we provide can go a long way to further facilitate a lot of that.”

HomeSpotter was founded a decade ago with the goal of improving the experience of searching for homes on a mobile device. Over the years, it evolved into a portal that could connect agents and consumers, and today provides automated marketing and custom app-building services.

Kardell told Inman hundreds of thousands of agents in brokerages across the U.S. and Canada use HomeSpotter’s technology. He also said the company’s services are integrated with about 300 different multiple listing services.

HomeSpotter has significant experience building apps, Kardell said, but his company was eventually drawn to Spacio due to its strong client list and “very talented founding team.” Homespotter had also been looking for years to expand its services so they were integrated with open houses. The company initially considered building its own proprietary software, but ended up finding what it wanted in Spacio instead.

“We believe we will go further and faster together, and are excited about how the company will continue to evolve to help agents, brokers and the consumers they service facilitate better relationships around real estate,” Kardell said in a statement.

Many open house visitors may have already interacted with Spacio technology without knowing it. The company designs custom apps that open house visitors use to sign in. The app appears on a tablet and, because it is all-digital, can connect agents to a wealth of data and social information related to their visitors.

The pitch is that going digital provides a more efficient and data-rich take on the traditional open house experience.

“We help agents, teams and brokerages automate open house lead capture for 100 percent follow up,” the company explains on its website.

The financial terms of the acquisition have not been made public.

However, the deal does show the trend toward digitization of practices that have stubbornly remained analog, and how digital marketing companies like HomeSpotter are pushing their technology further into the physical world. Open houses in particular have been ground zero for these trends, and last year Spacio co-founder and CEO Melissa Kwan herself said that the long-standing paper-based system doesn’t work any more.

Melissa Kwan

This week, Kwan framed HomeSpotter’s acquisition of Spacio as a positive development that filled in a missing piece of the puzzle for her company. In a statement, she explained that Spacio “always knew that in order to complete our product offering, we needed to give agents a way to market their listings before their open houses.” The company didn’t have the ability to do that on its own, but with HomeSpotter will now be able to more fully realize its vision.

“With HomeSpotter’s digital advertising product, Boost,” Kwan continued, “we can finally deliver the complete solution to agents.”

Email Jim Dalrymple II

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