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This time of year, Colorado’s slopes, canyons and scenic suburbs are swathed in some of nature’s most dramatic paint strokes. In many ZIP codes, the aspen tree’s varied yellows and the searing blazes of a thick, stream-side cottonwood contrast the foreground with early-season snows on distant 14ers. For many, it’s a scene made for Instagram. For real estate agents, it’s the ideal backdrop for capturing their next mountain home listing.
But Colorado isn’t that colorful for everyone, which is why the Centennial State’s largest multiple listing service has entered into a relationship with Lundy, a software company that translates property databases into voice search-capable applications for the vision-impaired.
REcolorado shared a press release with Inman stating that its entire database is now accessible via any Amazon Alexa-powered device. During its transcription process, Lundy also addresses data inconsistencies and ensures listing information is current and accurate to overlap with the natural language processing required to match human voice requests.
The MLS is behind 75 percent of residential real estate transactions in the state, according to the announcement.
“We believe home search should be accessible to all,” said REcolorado President and CEO Gene Millman, in the release. “Technology that improves the real estate process for the visually impaired population is one way to do that. We are committed to making the dream of homeownership easier and more accessible for everyone.”
In an Inman review of Lundy, the product was lauded for its ability to address a range of issues with industry-wide data standards. It’s not only the dependence on imagery and visual brand that holds back accessibility goals; it’s the prevailing burden of inconsistency across multiple listing services, third-party portals and enterprise brand search experiences. Real estate data integrity runs a distant second to notoriety.
“[Lundy] serves to cast a searing light on how poorly orchestrated so many home search destinations are when it comes to serving the blind, or nearly blind,” the 4-star review read. “Lundy’s voice skill works with partner multiple listing services to translate its listing data fields and longer form property descriptions into categorized audio narratives powered by Amazon’s voice technology. Lundy works with its partners to map fields with its software, after which, all new listings entered will be immediately available for the voice skill to translate.”
REcolorado shared data from the U.S. Census Bureau in its release, which stated that “more than 100,000 people in Colorado report blindness or severe difficulty seeing even with glasses.”
In addition to pictures often serving little purpose to the visually impaired or blind, long-form listing narratives can also be burdensome to those who have limited vision. Lundy creates shorter, more digestable voice descriptions of home features, location and financials.
Use of the tool is as easy as requesting Alexa begin a search for a home. It will respond by asking for details about size, price, location and features. Matching homes will be described thoroughly to offer an “audible picture” of a potential home.
“This alliance with REcolorado is an example of the proactive role MLSs are taking to address difficult, pressing issues like fair housing and accessibility, particularly for the visually impaired population,” said Justin Lundy, co-founder and CEO of Lundy, Inc., in a statement. “Our technology, with the data provided by REcolorado, revolutionizes ADA accessibility of data by accommodating consumer search obstacles such as being able to access information through voice commands while multi-tasking or driving.”
Lundy has gone so far as to partner with the National Federation of the Blind to benchmark its functionality and co-create an agent training program and agent certification. The NFB also helped Lundy arrange focus groups to discuss the current state of homebuying when visually impaired.
The company learned that the vast majority of the nation’s blind aged into their disability, meaning many are experienced homeowners with equity and plans to buy again.
Lundy is also in place within Park City MLS, MetroList, Wardex, Stellar, RMLS, Valley MLS and FMLS.