By Jeff Lasky, MRED Director of Communications and Training
Midwest Real Estate Data (MRED), which provides the Chicagoland multiple listing service (MLS) to nearly 8,000 offices and 40,000 real estate professionals, has responded to the rapid adoption of the iPad by brokers, agents and appraisers.
“We are always tracking the tools our customers need and use,” said MRED Chief Executive Officer Russ Bergeron. “The popularity of the iPad or other mobile devices must be considered in what we do and all that we provide for our customers.”
When designing and creating apps, MRED focuses on two things it considers most important: mobility and immediacy. Therefore, it made the most sense to provide services in the form of iPad apps; this way, agents could access the MLS while out in between appointments or to show listings to clients instead of waiting until they got back to their offices. For instance, MRED’s Cloud CMA tool has an app for agents who need a CMA put together while on the go. If an agent’s clients see a home on their own they like and send the listing to their agent and request a CMA, the agent can type the address into the Cloud CMA app, which will create a CMA on the spot and e-mail it to whomever the agent chooses – him or herself first to look it over, and then the clients so they can compare that CMA with any other properties they’re looking at.
“Being able to call up complete property information while touring homes with a client or ordering a CMA to be e-mailed directly to a client no matter where you are translates into immediate and exceptional service for your customers,” said Bergeron. “This type of service is no longer an option, but a requirement for all agents in order to meet the expectations of today’s buyers and sellers.”
MRED is known for providing a major service – the MLS system – and the company’s connectMLS™ system functions on virtually any Web browser, whether on a computer or the iPad. In addition to connectMLS™, other upcoming services, such as eNeighborhoods Envoy™ and Realtor.com’s FIND natural search, can and will be supported on tablets like the iPad.
“The importance of browser neutrality and connectMLS™ cannot be understated,” Bergeron said. “The ability to easily access the multiple listing service on any device from any location the practitioner is doing business means more listings, sales and income.”
Similarly, Down Payment Resource (DPR) and the Goomzee Real Estate Connect tool offered through MRED help agents in mobile ways. DPR, which was named Inman’s Most Innovative New Technology of 2011, connects homebuyers and properties with government-funded programs for down payment assistance, rehab loans and other loan programs. The product helps bridge the gap for prospective homebuyers and move real estate transactions forward in a difficult lending environment. Goomzee Real Estate Connect is a text/QR code app, where buyers can text a photo of the QR code to the designated number, and immediately receive property information from the agent as they continue strolling the block.
By the end of the year, MRED will be introducing a line of subscriber search, IDX and branded apps, all with mobility and immediacy in mind. These will run on iPhone, Android, Blackberry, iPad and other “smart” devices, and functionalities will include GPS search, criteria search, map search, full agent detail, photo slideshows, e-mailing, social media integration and contact management. One exciting upgrade will be the ability for an agent or brokerage to create branded “vanity” apps for their clients’ use.
Adobe Flash-based programs and applications don’t work on iPads and other Apple devices, but there are several apps which can be downloaded that will enable these programs to work with most, if not all, of their functionality. One of these is called “Puffin,” an alternate browser that can be used as a workaround should you encounter the Adobe Flash roadblock.
“MRED always welcomes input from its brokers, agents and appraisers as to how we can best serve them,” added Bergeron. “The sky is the limit on technological advances, so we need to be responsive to our customers’ needs when it comes to any future products and services we may want to offer.”