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Merge: if Apple and real estate made a baby

Merge was born to help Realtors better communicate their value proposition and the detailed nature of their jobs with consumers, and they nailed it with this slick mobile-ready app.

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New app for the real estate world

Managing a real estate process is extremely detailed, and much of the hard work is never seen by clients, or the public, so the perception remains that Realtors don’t work for their commission. With Merge, agents report listing activities to their seller in an extremely streamlined and beautiful interface, reminiscent of what we imagine an app would look like if Apple and real estate made a baby.

“Real estate agents are constantly having to justify their commission,” explains Joel Beasley, Merge Founder and Developer. “Yet, they’re not doing this effectively. In fact, research indicates that the typical agent communicates only 31% of what they actually do for their sellers. If you’re only explaining 31%, how can you justify 100% of your commission? That’s what I had in mind when I created Merge.”

Communicating tasks and worth

Updates are visible on the “timeline” for each transaction and updates can be sent to you and your clients either daily, weekly, or bi-weekly to allow them to see movement on their listing, even when you’re not ringing their phone.

According to the company, timelines are either built directly by the agent, with the option of templates to save time, or through pulling data from the broker’s real estate software, including accounting tools, showing systems, call centers, transaction management, document management, CRM and more.

Add, track, share. Simple. Super simple.

“Over more than a decade in the real estate technology space, I’ve developed a unique process that allows me to pull data from the numerous platforms used in most brokers’ offices,” Beasley explains. “This solves one of the problems that most real estate professionals face – multiple technology systems that don’t ‘talk’ to each other. And I can even accomplish all this in less than 3 days for any broker’s office.”

Merge is also popular with mortgage, insurance, and title companies, and the company says they are “the answer for individuals and companies who want to provide a level of service and selective transparency that a “fully integrated platform” offers, yet still want to avoid the expense and hassle of more cumbersome software.”

In the near future, Merge will be rolling out a variety of industry-specific widgets to help each user with their unique needs, like the “Email Connector” which pulls emails into the timeline based on keywords or email addresses, “Requests” for obtaining files and info without having to assign a task to a client (which we always thought sounded rude, so thanks for fixing that, Merge), and “Collaboration,” wherein users can create permissions to allow other people to view timelines in a way that allows third parties to only have access to view specific widgets (updates, for example), but not others.

Check in at a property

“I also recognized the highly mobile nature of today’s real estate professional,” said Beasley, “So I made it a priority for my platform to work seamlessly on mobile devices. For example, I’ve added a feature that allows users to ‘check-in’ at a property and have it appear on the timeline for that transaction.”

The app has a week of free use so users can test it out without even sharing a credit card number. Merge aims to help agents to better communicate their value, and with a sexy interface and responsive design (which they don’t brag about enough), this company is most definitely going to disrupt the real estate technology sector.


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Tara Steele is the News Director at The American Genius, covering entrepreneur, real estate, technology news and everything in between. If you'd like to reach Tara with a question, comment, press release or hot news tip, simply click the link below.

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15 Comments

15 Comments

  1. Roland Estrada

    June 5, 2012 at 12:42 am

    Hmm… Being the massive Apple evangelist that I am, i’ll have to delve into this more before rendering an opinion an opinion. It has to be pretty amazing before I give it the Apple seal of approval. 😉 Of course that goes for any tech. I’m hard to please. Think of me as the John C Dvorak of real estate tech. 

  2. abodograph

    June 5, 2012 at 12:41 pm

    I really like the idea – simple but effective. Looks pretty good, too, though I agree with Roland that it might not be Apple-quality yet 🙂 #fanboy

  3. Merge

    June 5, 2012 at 1:31 pm

    Hey – It’s Joel from MergeApp. If anyone has any suggestions, questions, or anything at all just speak up. We want people to know we are accessible and want to make the best product possible.

    • Roland Estrada

      June 5, 2012 at 3:05 pm

       @MergeApp It’s pretty cool. Although I’m pretty invested in Daylite. I’ll play around with it. I like the overall concept. I’m not sure I want to do dual data entry. Their are some features you just can’t duplicate from desktop to web. My favorite feature in Daylite is the ability to tag incoming and outgoing email to transactions and people. 

      • Merge

        June 5, 2012 at 5:23 pm

         @Roland Estrada Would you like us to put a Daylite “widget” together? We are making connector widgets to many SaaS apps, so when you do stuff in Daylite the activity will appear in the timeline, based on your preferences. Also, your favorite feature is mentioned in the press-release above but it’s called “Email Connector” widget. It will be released on or before the 15th of this month. You will be able to say wether you want the entry in the timeline to simply show that you had an email, or actually include the email content.

        • Roland Estrada

          June 5, 2012 at 9:36 pm

           @MergeApp The Daylite widget would be pretty cool. Have you seen Daylite 4? Marketcircle says some third party add-ons will break once you migrate from 3 to 4. I’m all the kinks will be worked out eventually. I think you can you can make the comparison of Apple moving from OS9 to OSX

        • Merge

          June 7, 2012 at 1:21 am

           @Roland Estrada Sorry about the delay, the response we have gotten from the press release has been overwhelming. 
           
          I looked over Daylite 4, thanks for the heads up, and it looks like we won’t have a problem integrating with them.
           
          API version control is defiantly something that has to be watched carefully, and if it is, things go smoothly. 
           
          I’ll make sure to track you down with an official date for the Daylite widget. Let me know if you’d be willing to test it out and give us feedback on it.

    • jmichaelmanley

      June 7, 2012 at 2:24 pm

       @MergeApp Does the app handle the transaction from contract to close also?

      • Merge

        June 7, 2012 at 5:48 pm

         @jmichaelmanley Yes, we are working this week on setting up live and recorded webinars to show examples of how you can use MergeApp to do different things. 
         
        We are also creating templates for buying, selling, follow up, and more.
         
        If you aren’t convinced yet, no worries, throw some suggestions our way and make sure to keep an eye on us. I promise at one point or another over the next 2months we will blow your mind 🙂
         
        Also – If anyone needs an extension of the trial just shoot us an email hello [at] mergeapp.com and we will be more than happy to bump it up to 30 days or however long you need in order to see if we are right for you.

  4. BigREBroker

    June 5, 2012 at 4:04 pm

    Can you provide a link to the research you quote regarding the 31% of communication.  I would love to share it with my agents to prove a point.   Are there specific accounting systems you are more comfortable with?  Do you work with showing time?

    • Merge

      June 5, 2012 at 5:51 pm

       @BigREBroker Absolutely, I am going to publish our research officially (with graphics and such) at some point this week because we have had interest. To give you a quick something now… We rans 2 polls on FB with roughly 50k (48-50k) agents/brokers responding to each.
       
      One asking how they relay listing activity, one asking if they have a “schedule” for updating the seller. 83% said they communicate listing activity verbally, from memory –  9% said they have a set “schedule” to provide updates. I asked my brother, and step-mother who are doctors if there were any definitive statistics on how we as people “forget”. There are, it’s called “the forgetting curve” https://www.google.com/search?q=forgetting+curve
       
      From there I researched what happens throughout the selling process, which affects the curve based on how they learned what happened. After that I just did the math and completed the formula and it came out to 31% 
       
      Let me know if you have any more questions!

    • Merge

      June 5, 2012 at 5:57 pm

       @BigREBroker 
      Q – Are there specific accounting systems you are more comfortable with? 
       
      A – The only requirement is that YOU have the ability to access the database or an api. As long as we have access to the data we can connect to and generate activity from any data source.
       
       
      Q – Do you work with showing time?
       
      A – We have talked with them about opening up their api to the public. But until we have a broker that “wants” the integration we can’t build the connection. So we need a broker on showing time who wants showing time data. You might be perfect for that! Obviously we would NEVER charge to build a connector thats planned to be built. Takes about 1-2 weeks to build, test, deploy a connector.

  5. c21goldbroker

    June 6, 2012 at 8:31 am

    I just started reading this site and happened to see this as it relates to real estate.  I would be interested in talking with someone about installing this in my office.  Can you email me, c21goldbroker@gmail.com, to arrange a time to talk.

  6. JosetteSkilling

    June 7, 2012 at 8:21 am

    Have you worked with ixactcontact yet? I keep the transaction in there with all my checklist for both buyers and sellers.  I can see how sending these reports would be a good thing 🙂

    • Merge

      June 7, 2012 at 5:52 pm

       @JosetteSkilling We have defiantly seen them around. Though I haven’t talked with them or used their product. I don’t seen an open API on their site.
       
      If I reach out to them and ask them if we could develop a widget to get their users data to us, can I drop your name as a user of their platform that would be interested in this?

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Austin

Austin tops the list of best places to buy a home

When looking to buy a home, taking the long view is important before making such a huge investment – where are the best places to make that commitment?

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Looking at the bigger picture

(REALUOSO.COM) – Let us first express that although we are completely biased about Texas (we’re headquartered here, I personally grew up here), the data is not – Texas is the best. That’s a scientific fact. There’s a running joke in Austin that if there is a list of “best places to [anything],” we’re on it, and the joke causes eye rolls instead of humility (we’re sore winners and sore losers in this town).

That said, SelfStorage.com dug into the data and determined that the top 12 places to buy a home are currently Texas and North Carolina (and Portland, I guess you’re okay too or whatever).

They examined the nerdiest of numbers from the compound annual growth rate in inflation-adjusted GDP to cost premium, affordability, taxes, job growth, and housing availability.

“Buying a house is a big decision and a big commitment,” the company notes. “Although U.S. home prices have risen in the long term, the last decade has shown that path is sometimes full of twists, turns, dizzying heights and steep, abrupt falls. Today, home prices are stabilizing and increasing in most areas of the U.S.”

Click here to continue reading the list of the 12 best places to buy a home…

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Housing News

Average age of houses on the rise, so is it now better or worse to buy new?

With aging housing in America, are first-time buyers better off buying new or existing homes? The average age of a home is rising, as is the price of new housing, so a shift could be upon us.

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aging housing inventory

The average home age is higher than ever

(REALUOSO.COM) – In a survey from the Department of Housing and Urban Development American Housing Survey (AHS), the median age of homes in the United States was 35 years old. In Texas, homes are a bit younger with the median age between 19 – 29 years. The northeast has the oldest homes, with the median age between 50 – 61 years. In 1985, the median age of a home was only 23 years.

With more houses around 40 years old, the National Association of Realtors asserts that homeowners will have to undertake remodeling and renovation projects before selling unless the home is sold as-is, in which case the buyer will be responsible to update their new residence. Even homeowners who aren’t selling will need to consider remodeling for structural and aesthetic reasons.

Prices of new homes on the rise

Newer homes cost more than they used to. The price differential between new homes and older homes has increased from 10 percent traditionally to around 37 percent in 2014. This is due to rising construction costs, scarcity of lots, and a low inventory of new homes that doesn’t meet the demand.

Click here to continue reading this story…

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Housing News

Are Realtors the real loser in the fight between Zillow Group and Move, Inc.?

The last year has been one of dramatic and rapid change in the real estate tech sector, but Realtors are vulnerable, and we’re worried.

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zillow move

Why Realtors are vulnerable to these rapid changes

(REALUOSO.COM) – Corporate warfare demands headlines in every industry, but in the real estate tech sector, a storm has been brewing for years, which in the last year has come to a head. Zillow Group and Move, Inc. (which is owned by News Corp. and operates ListHub, Realtor.com, TopProducer, and other brands) have been competing for a decade now, and the race has appeared to be an aggressive yet polite boxing match. Last year, the gloves came off, and now, they’ve drawn swords and appear to want blood.

Note: We’ll let you decide which company plays which role in the image above.

So how then, does any of this make Realtors the victims of this sword fight? Let’s get everyone up to speed, and then we’ll discuss.

1. Zillow poaches top talent, Move/NAR sues

It all started last year when the gloves came off – Move’s Chief Strategy Officer (who was also Realtor.com’s President), Errol Samuelson jumped ship and joined Zillow on the same day he phoned in his resignation without notice. He left under questionable circumstances, which has led to a lengthy legal battle (wherein Move and NAR have sued Zillow and Samuelson over allegations of breach of contract, breach of fiduciary duty, and misappropriation of trade secrets), with the most recent motion being for contempt, which a judge granted to Move/NAR after the mysterious “Samuelson Memo” surfaced.

Salt was added to the wound when Move awarded Samuelson’s job to Move veteran, Curt Beardsley, who days after Samuelson left, also defected to Zillow. This too led to a lawsuit, with allegations including breach of contract, violation of corporations code, illegal dumping of stocks, and Move has sought restitution. These charges are extremely serious, but demanded slightly less attention than the ongoing lawsuit against Samuelson.

2. Two major media brands emerge

Last fall, the News Corp. acquisition of Move, Inc. was given the green light by the feds, and this month, Zillow finalized their acquisition of Trulia.

…Click here to continue reading this story…

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