In a market where many companies are scaling back just to get by, we've actually been pretty busy in our Agent division here at a la mode. In the last few months, we've released an IDX product, announced several new products for the iPhone and became a preferred technology provider for the North Carolina Association of REALTORS®. Even though these milestones are mainly geared towards agents and brokers, it's important to note how these things will benefit our appraisal customers down the road.
Building an Infrastructure
XSites IDX was released at the National Association of REALTORS® Expo in early November. IDX (Internet Data Exchange a.k.a Broker ReciprocityTM) is a policy handed down by NAR that allows brokers to exchange consent to display one another's property listings on the Internet via their personal or office websites. XSites IDX connects to the local MLS via RETS (Real Estate Transaction Standard) and provides a front-end property search on an agent or broker's website. RETS makes this process easier since it's a set of standard protocols that allow the exchange of listing data between business entities. (pq)
This has obvious benefits to appraisers down the road. In building XSites IDX, we had to essentially build a whole new infrastructure to support RETS data feeds from multiple sources. This same infrastructure can be used to eventually provide access to listing data through our appraisal products - with the local MLS or association's permission, of course. There are many possibilities when it comes to using listing data to benefit appraisers. The key to bringing these benefits to fruition is getting the state and local associations to provide access to this data to its appraisal members. We find many times that even though that capability exists to provide this data, providing it to appraiser members isn't always available for a myriad of reasons. Regardless, we'll continue to work on getting this data to appraisers using the tools we've built for XSites IDX.
A History of Mobile Innovation
As many of you probably know, we've always been on the leading-edge when it comes to mobile innovations. From Running TOTAL designed for use on the HP 95LX to DaVinci Mobile Pro designed specifically to support tablet PCs, we've always looked for ways to make appraisers more efficient in the field. Agents and brokers have similar challenges in the field that we can help them overcome with new mobile products.
With the introduction of the iPhone, we've looked at building tools for agents as well as marketing and educational tools for consumers (regular everyday users). One product specifically designed for the iPhone will let agents respond to buyer requests immediately and even allow agents to chat in real-time with potential buyers directly from their iPhone. This type of real-time collaboration is necessary for agents, as well as appraisers. Another iPhone product in the works lets an agent record what potential buyers like or dislike about properties they've seen. Mobile products that allow efficient data gathering and processing are more important now than ever for appraisers and agents alike.
What we learn by creating solutions for the iPhone and other mobile platforms in other markets can easily be used in existing and new products for appraisers.
The REALTORS® Choice
Just before the holidays, we had the honor and privilege of being chosen as a preferred vendor for the North Carolina Association of REALTORS® through its REALTOR® Partners Program. This means that NCAR specifically recognized us as a leader in real estate technology which will be beneficial to its members.
Just like we did in the appraisal market, we started in the agent market as an underdog. And, just like the appraisal market, our products made an impact and set the standard for real estate technology, ease of use, and affordability. The impact in the agent market was also apparent to formerly dominant vendors too. So when the NCAR Service Corporation Board of Directors voted to make a la mode a REALTOR® Partner, we knew that our impact on the market was significant and positive. We also knew that this was a great opportunity to give appraiser members of NCAR a bigger voice in the association.
In appreciation for being selected, we decided to offer NCAR members a 20% discount on any product or service we offer. We know that many of NCAR members that have a sales license also hold an appraisal license so we made sure that as part of this partnership, we extend the benefits to appraiser members as well. In addition, NCAR arranged for a portion of any purchase to be sent directly to the local boards and associations. While our relationship with NCAR will benefit agents and brokers, we look forward to working closely with NCAR to develop products and solutions for appraiser members as well. This is something we'll continue to do as we create similar partnerships with other state and local associations. We definitely encourage you to check with your state association to see if they're working with us on providing similar benefits in your area.
Moving Forward With Appraisers in Mind
Every day that we walk into our building, we're reminded of the industry that made us who we are today. Real estate appraisers helped build our core company and allowed us to expand our way of innovation and creativity into building solutions for other areas of the real estate market. We'll always look for opportunities and benefits for appraisers as we move forward in other markets, and that's something that will never change.
While the real estate market continues to find its equilibrium, we'll also continue to innovate and position all of our customers so they have every advantage when the market begins its upswing. To learn more about the tools available to all real estate professionals today, visit www.alamode.com/Agent.