Where Real Estate Gets Its Dirt

NuOffer launches new website.

Have you checked out NuOffer yet? Super cool iPad app created by LA real estate agent, Imraan Ali.

“NuOffer is the first mobile app that lets real estate agents write complete, binding, and secure offers in five minutes on tablet or laptop. By making all necessary property data and transaction forms accessible within the application, NuOffer lets agents spend more time focusing on the terms of a deal, not the paperwork.

Founded and angel funded by real estate agents, NuOffer was developed by Imraan Ali and Kevin Hincker to satisfy their frustration with the time involved in putting together even the most straight forward real estate offer.”

I really love the design of this app. They’ve really done a great job of complementing the tablet form factor with a software experience that is both useful and fun to use. Very rare to seen this done so well.

Also their newly launched website, http://nuofffer.com, kicks ass. I’m told it was done by Tracy Weir and her team at Eight11.

The bummer of course is that NuOffer is currently only available in Texas. Many states won’t license their real estate forms to third party software vendors like NuOffer. DotLoop famously got it to a bit of kerfufle with C.A.R. over the use of their forms. This app is so far ahead of any of the proprietary solutions available that its a shame that it will most likely be shut out due to politics.

Is WestsideRentals.com a scam?

lgsANMFcWSKJtD3q4MzR3k9PQtpnfKnMJd0EejKTgjgSomeone I work with is looking to rent a home. They pulled up a rental listing on their trusty realtor.com iPhone app. Right area, right price range, perfect. So they give the company (WestsideRentals) a call. The person on the other end of the call said that in order to get anymore information or see the home they needed to buy a membership to their company.

Really?

My question is this, is this common practice nowadays with rental listings? Does realtor.com (or any of the other portals) allow this “pay to see more” type of rental listings?

DOORSTEPS SWIPE

SWIPEI got a chance to preview and now playing around with a fun app called SWIPE, created by Michele Serro’s team at DOORSTEPS. DOORSTEPS was was acquired by MOVE last year.

The premise is easy, you are presented with a single property photo and the street address. If you like the home you swipe the photo the left in you “PASS” on the home, or swipe to the right to “SAVE” a home. It also aggregates statistics about your preferences. Like I said, easy peasy.

It reminds me of the old website “Hot or Not”, and I’m told mimics a new popular app, Tinder (which for martial reasons I have chosen not to install on my phone). : )

The design is exquisite. Too me it functions basically as a triage for choosing homes.

If I had one quibble it would be that I would rather have the price, beds, and bath on the main screen. I found myself tapping on every photo for more detail. One photo and an address were not enough for me to give a decision to “Pass” on the house or “Save” it for later. Having said that I fear adding too much to the screen might make the app less fun.

I love the fact MOVE is releasing stuff like this. More please! Real estate needs to be more fun. Great job Michele!

New Book => Social Media for Salespeople

Screen Shot 2014-03-19 at 7.03.04 AMMy good friend Alice Myerhoff (formerly of Inman News) has penned a new e-book titled “Social Media for Salespeople“. It’s not just for salespeople, but anyone trying to gain contact and influence. I especially like the section on using LinkedIn. She’s done an amazing job, and I know all the bright, talented and good looking readers of Vendor Alley will benefit from buying a copy (Less than $5.00!) So c’mon people lets get clicking!

Vendor Alley 2012 Holiday Gift Guide

Back by popular demand is our 2012 Holiday Gift Guide. I’ve searched the interwebs to find the best things to get your favorite Vendor. Enjoy.

Griffin PowerJolt Duel

This thing is so good you are going to head back to the rental car station to retrieve it.

25 Foot Slim SVGA Cable

The great thing about this cable is how thin they made the wire. Perfect to carry for hooking in to the flat panel TV at the hotel suite or your projector for the next big demo. Why 25′? You have enough length to position your laptop/iPad where you want.

1960s IBM 13.5 Standard Issue Clock

I just love the atheistic of this clock, and the geek in me loves the backstory. Time is important so this perfect for your workshop or office.

Anti Slip-Pad by Uguard

This is great to help keep your smartphone at the ready in your car.

Is Your Love Big Enough? – Lianne La Havas

I love, love, love chick singers. Lianne is incredible. Favorite Track: Forget.

Swiss+Tech UKCSB-1 Utili-Key 6-in-1 Keychain Multi-Tool

Need to open that box with your order forms and sales flyer at your booth but TSA didn’t let you carry on your leatherman? No worries, this little goodie is a perfect way to sail through security and open your beer later. (thanks to Kevin Greene for this submission)

If you have any other ideas please feel free to add them to the comments.

Happy Holidays!!!

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MLSLI’s 11th Annual MLS Tech Fair – Love on Long Island.

I’m not sure about you but my list of “go to” trade shows is shrinking. But I was pleasantly surprised last week when I attended MLSLI’s 11th Annual Tech Fair. Jenny Natale and the rest of the MLSLI staff did a fantastic job putting a great show together. Here’s a few take-aways of why I think this show has been around for 11 years.

1. Membership. MLSLI has over 20,000 members. That’s a big pool of agents to draw upon for attendance.
2. Lots of vendors. They even had a guy with helicopter drones for that aerial shot of your mansion in The Hamptons
3. Speed dating for Vendors (not what you think!); It’s a breakfast where agents could sit with vendors and ask questions.
4. Boxed lunch kept agents in the venue.
5. Great speakers for breakout sessions. (BTW: If your MLS or association is looking for someone to help you with a great strategy for Facebook and other social media sites you should really hire Stacey Harmon, she gets it.)
6. An “Appy Hour” at the end of the show where you could demo your latest CMA software over a Tanqueray and tonic. No wonder I loved this show!

Pro Tip: La Parma for Italian food, east on the Jericho Turnpike. Amazing food!

My thanks to MLSLI for all their wonderful hospitality.

See you next year!

Why FBS’ new Spark platform matters

I just had to say something about the new Spark platform that FBS announced earlier this week. Often the word “game changer” is used but in this case I think it’s truly warranted.

As a 3rd party software developer in the real estate space I can attest its not easy. I see 3 points of friction to get products in to the hands of real estate professionals.

1. Data standards
2. Permissioning
3. Awareness

Credit card processing and billing is also a huge factor, and new entrants are going to appreciate an e-commerce solution. For the purposes of this post I’m going to focus on the challenges listed above.

Data standards and Permissioning.

At a recent Inman Conference I sat in on a session moderated by Mike Wurzer and Rebecca Jensen. The topic swirled around data standards. I raised the issue that even if we had a single data standard for all MLS systems in the country 3rd party data developers would still have the issue of Permissioning to deal with. As an example we can get Cloud CMA up and running with a proper RETS feed from an MLS in less than 48 hours, but it sometimes takes months to go thru the approval/permissioning process.

I’m not saying that MLS providers should just open its data to all 3rd party developers. They have the responsibility to the safeguard that data. But that problem needs to be solved. After reading FBS’ post on Spark their new Spark API looks to have the ability to manage and streamline the permissioning/approval process. This is HUUUGE.

I’m super excited knowing that our next app could realistically launch and be available to hundreds of thousands of real estate professionals, DAY ONE!

Awareness

I’m flattered that at most events I go to Cloud CMA seems to be the poster child for 3rd party MLS apps. We’ve been working hard with many MLS providers to integrate Cloud CMA in to their online stores. You can see some examples of these stores below:

Metrolist Marketplace
MLSListings PERKS
MRIS Products
Coastal Carolinas Storefront

I think all these MLS providers/vendors have done an excellent job with these sites. And I love the fact we can tailor the message to each market. But there is a fundamental issue with all of them. For the most part, they stand alone and don’t get much traffic. Little traffic means little sales. Not good for me or my revenue sharing partner (the MLS provider). The Spark Platform looks to be a way to bridge this gap.

My belief is the best solution would be to have a direct link to an MLS App Store from the MLS system itself. Not a link buried somewhere, but visible at all times. The Spark Bar solves seems to solve this issue in a very innovative and elegant way.

This is why I’m so excited about this news. With the Spark platform, Spark API and Spark Bar the whiz kids at FBS have really studied these issues and come up with what appears to be a winning solution.

Now I’m not naive enough to believe that this will be an overnight success. They will have a lot of work to do. But, the framework and thought process is solid. And it looks like the big MLS providers are jumping in.

The only problem is…. I want it now! Hell, I wanted it 20 years ago. Imagine being in Stellar and downloading Lightning. Boom.

Listing Syndication 3.0

I got a chance to take a look at the new ListHub interface a few days ago. The product/service is what I would term a 3.0 release. “3.0” is software parlance for a “mature” product/service.

One thing struck out at me though, “MLS Preferred Publishers”.

For some reason, and it may just be me, but the ability for MLS providers to call out (by non inclusion) publishers they don’t condone seems problematic. It reminds me of the early days of IDX when new business models (internet only brokerages) were popping up and MLS providers (via broker members) would come up with rules and regs to keep them out. We all know what happen next. Three little letters: DOJ. As I’ve said, I could be wrong here, and I understand the spirt of this feature but it will be interesting to see how many MLS provider actively participate and denote publishers “preferred”.

Other than that concern I think this is a solid release that shows that the people at MOVE and ListHub have been listening to feedback from all participants, and that’s a good thing.

For a great overview of the new features see the video below:

Demo of Solid Earth’s new “Spring” MLS system.

At the NAR EXPO 2011 in Anaheim I had a chance to get a demo from Bill Fowler, from Solid Earth, of their new “Spring“, MLS system. Hope you enjoy.

Nextdoor launches. Includes Rich Barton of Zillow on board of directors.

“Before I built a wall I’d ask to know
What I was walling in or walling out,
And to whom I was like to give offense.
Something there is that doesn’t love a wall,
That wants it down.”

Excerpt from “Mending Wall” by Robert Frost

Know Thy Neighbor, is what Nextdoor, a new social network site that is launching today, wants you to take to heart. I admit being new to my neighborhood I have only made causal contact with my own neighbors (polite waves in the driveway). But Nextdoor wants to change all that. By setting up a neighborhood website you can engage with your neighborhoods online. So instead walking over and asking for a cup of sugar, you can write a post asking them for a cup of sugar. Progress!

Part of me thinks this a great idea and part of me thinks its sad that we need to hunch over our computers inside the cocoon of our homes in order to interact with people who are literally right next door (no pun intended).

But I can say that many relationships I’ve made online have then led to IRL meetups that have turned out to be great. Then again Mr. Frost’s poem, I referenced at the beginning of this, post does end with the old English proverb…”Good fences make good neighbors”

Check out Gigaom for a good write up about the new site. And below is a video.

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