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Product Review

Approved Products – ds Search Agent

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idx-map-searching.jpg  


Skip the fluff 

A few weeks ago I wrote a post called “Whats a lead?” that was meant to grab agents by scruff to wake them up to the idea that they are buying crap rolled up in a tortilla.  The idea that we as a profession can continue to purchase pie in the sky products that promise everything and deliver nothing must cease- at once.  Why? because we as agents are the standard in the industry, we establish what is and isn’t good for our consumer, the products we deliver to our consumer is a direct reflection on us, our business, and our standards. 

Agent Genius Seal of Approval

It is in this vein that Agent Genius will begin approving products with our Seal of Approval.  So far Real Estate Shows has made that list and now we want to introduce you to dsSearchAgent.  Diverse Solutions presents to agents a web2.0 search product that not only thrills home seekers, it delivers home buyers from the comfort of their home to your office.

The Consumer Side

  • Simple to use slider’s allow users to target their search easily
  • Ajax means your home seekers never wait for page reloads
  • Advanced search means your consumer can narrow down to specifics
  • Details page provides
    • Printing, PDF, Direct Linking, RSS feed of their search & chat live feature
    • Offers an area and neighborhood profile information
    • Schools, neighborhood info, nearest shopping feature
    • Valuate the home on Zillow.com (optional)
    • Calculate their payments
    • View map or results with a single click
    • Contact you directly from the same screen
    • A search box for “find nearest pizza, library, school, directions & more
    • Did I mention with Ajax, the page never changes? Superb
  •  And yes, Google Street View is integrated already!

The simple navigation limits the complexed nature of map searching and makes home shopping fun, leaving your buyer excited to click the contact or speak to an agent button to talk to you about listings in your market.

Building Opportunities

Everyone is hawking leads these days, but I say, build opportunities with buyers and sellers by offering fantastic products to your consumers.   We spend wild amounts of cash on our websites but search and presentation of current listings has always fallen short- but not anymore. 

The Agent Side

(opportunity’s clicking)

  • Well laid out control panel
  • Downloadable chat client allows you or 4 other agents to chat in round robin with seekers
  • When seekers contact you, the listing in question is embedded for quick information delivery
  • Create forms that you can use with form builder- CMAs, Contact forms and more
  • Completely change the color of search site to match your current site
  • Build your own brand by using modules (widgets) to broadcast
    • Create individual modules to highlight various neighborhoods
    • Create RSS feeds to your blog sidebar of just listing properties
    • Create modules to embed in your neighborhood blogs
    • Create modules of your office listings
    • this option is just limitless and fantastic- a custom clickable module embedded anywhere
  • Stats – know where your shoppers searched
  • Create reasons for them to return by encouraging registration
  • Help is built in (Ajax) for your consumers so you don’t have to be tech savvy
  • Email Campaign from the backend – completely customizable and simple to use
  • and there’s a lot more…

The Cons I found

Before I get into the cons, let me just say that I’ve been working with Robert Luna Director of Business Development for Diverse Solutions and I warned him a list of cons would be coming.  Believe it or not Robert welcomed the input with open arms and delivered my questions to CEO, Justin LaJoie where I had answers in a matter of just a few hours.  What that tells me is that Diverse Solutions is growing, and they’re eager to make their product even better.  Often in this business most of what we see is a great product created and then forgotten.  Rarely updated, these products become antiquated and left behind by technology.  This makes dsSearchAgent a fantastic investment for any broker or agent.

What’s up with the cons?

Q: iphone and Palm is not yet compatible with dsSearchAgent

A: I know our developers are chomping at the bit to be able to work on a version that would work with the iPhone. So keep an eye out. JavaScript and AJAX are at the core of dsSearchAgent and is how we deliver such a nice seamless quick experience. 

Q: The Diverse Solutions logo seems intrusive and competes with Agent branding

A: I can definitely agree with that.  No one has really said anything.  I think it was initially done for page balance. But there is no reason why we can’t back it much smaller. 

Q: More control of where module (widget) clickers are delivered

A: We can’t agree with you more.  It is actually already on our development list and will be in our next round of improvements.  The development schedule has not been set for this yet though.

Q: I’ve seen MLS updates get as far behind as 3.5 days.  I think all services have this problem, but what can be done to minimize the delay?

A: Thank you for the heads up on this.  3.5 days behind is way too long between updates.  I checked with one of our developers and it seems it is a problem with ABOR and how and what they are delivering as far as data.  We are in contact with them now to resolve this problem.  Once the data becomes available it is downloaded and processed between 1 to 6 hours usually. 

Customer Service

dsSearchAgent comes complete with a fantastic customer service team designed to assist you in setting up your IDX all the way to creating custom sites.  All services offer support and a great team to answer all of your questions, and take suggestions all designed to deliver a fantastic search product to your potential clients.  So check out what the cool kids are offering your customers- dsSearchAgent!

Not all areas are covered yet

As of today not all MLS IDX systems are covered, but your demand creates that coverage.  So check today to see if your city is available and if not, ask to be informed of when the service will be offered. 

Get an Agent Genius Discount!

For a limited time Diverse Solutions is offering to waive setup fees on dsSearchAgent for our readers through May!  This saves you $200.00!   All you have to do is give this promo code when signing up [AG6108].

Benn Rosales is the Founder and CEO of The American Genius (AG), national news network for tech and entrepreneurs, proudly celebrating 10 years in publishing, recently ranked as the #5 startup in Austin. Before founding AG, he founded one of the first digital media strategy firms in the nation and also acquired several other firms. His resume prior includes roles at Apple and Kroger Foods, specializing in marketing, communications, and technology integration. He is a recipient of the Statesman Texas Social Media Award and is an Inman Innovator Award winner. He has consulted for numerous startups (both early- and late-stage), has built partnerships and bridges between tech recruiters and the best tech talent in the industry, and is well known for organizing the digital community through popular monthly networking events. Benn does not venture into the spotlight often, rather believes his biggest accomplishments are the talent he recruits, develops, and gives all credit to those he's empowered.

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13 Comments

13 Comments

  1. Jay Thompson

    April 30, 2008 at 12:43 pm

    I recently began using dsSearchAgent in Phoenix. I love it, and more importantly, so do the clients I’ve heard from. The “modules” they provide allow a lot of flexibility — embedding interactive search in blog posts/web pages, “featured listing modules”, etc.

    Very responsive to customer requests. Easy to work with.

    I’m working on a “blog site” right now to utilize some of the tools DS offers. It’s here (much work still to be done.)

    Two thumbs up!

  2. Daniel Rothamel, The Real Estate Zebra

    April 30, 2008 at 1:27 pm

    This is great stuff, Benn. I am most certainly going to check out ds Search Agent. It looks very promising. . .

  3. Aria Schoenfelt, Austin Real Estate

    April 30, 2008 at 1:51 pm

    Thanks for the post, Benn!

    I have also been eying RealBird’s map-based IDX because at $19/mo it sounds like a great deal, but there is still no coverage for Austin. I was disappointed when I asked for an ETA and received a quick, canned answer telling me what I already knew… that there was currently no Austin coverage and that I should request it on their site.

    Set-up fees are what deter me from IDX offerings so I just may have to take Diverse Solutions up on their offer. Thanks a ton for working that out!

  4. Kris Berg

    April 30, 2008 at 4:11 pm

    I’ve been using the platform for a couple of months now, and it utterly rocks. My only issue is with the chat feature, which still doesn’t quite work. Through sms, the delay is too long, rendering it virtually useless. If they can implement a desktop chat which works with your IM of choice ala plugoo.com, then I am a happy, happy girl.

  5. Jonathan Dalton

    April 30, 2008 at 4:39 pm

    I received my first client feedback yesterday from someone who was using the old list of homes that I had through Killer IDX. He and his wife loved the interactive platform.

    It’s a tremendous step up in technology from what was available here. I’ve made a couple of small suggestions to Robert, and I’m still hoping for more control of the modules akin to what’s available for the search pages but I’m confident that will come in time.

  6. Benn Rosales

    April 30, 2008 at 5:27 pm

    Thanks everyone, and Aria, go dsSearchAgent, you’ll really love the functionality and so will our Austin home finders!

    @Kris, from the CEO Diverse Solutions on the issue of chat:

    The chat has a multitude of technologies incorporated into it. For the downloadable version we are using Adobe Air. They recently released a new version which broke what we had since it forces users to download it. This will be fixed shortly. Justin LaJoie

    So let’s cross our fingers!

  7. Mariana

    May 4, 2008 at 7:50 pm

    Can I get txt when a new visitor signs up?

    How would this compare to 1ParkPlace?

  8. Jay Thompson

    May 4, 2008 at 9:17 pm

    Mariana – I get emails when new visitors sign in, but no text… comes to the Crackberry though, same difference..

  9. Benn Rosales

    May 5, 2008 at 7:17 am

    Mariana, I tried to review 1parkplace but their site was down, I’ll have a peek later and let you know. I get mail notifications, setup correctly phone notifications are a snap.

  10. Mariana

    May 5, 2008 at 11:31 am

    Thanks Guys!

    Benn – Visit my site and select “Search For Homes” and play around that end a bit … If you register I promise we wont call you. 😉

    Another question: Am I able to set people up on “listing drips” or do they have to do it on their own?

  11. Doug Francis

    May 3, 2009 at 11:16 am

    When I started researching IDX sites a few months ago, it made me realize that my MLS (known as MRIS in Virginia) was selling me a 1999 product. Needless to say that I was a p.o.’ed!

    Then they reintroduced homesdatabase.com free to consumers which made the site they sold me look even worse.

    Agents need to know their options but most, especially top-producers with myself included, are asleep at the wheel paying for old technology that home buyers aren’t even using. My wake up call came when my clients kept meeting me talking about their web search using another agent’s IDX site.

    As I have said before, use the technology is a compliment to your sales skills.

  12. Atlanta Real Estate

    September 3, 2009 at 11:43 pm

    This is a very cool post. Sorry about being so late to the party.

    Can anyone still using it comment on how it’s been since April/May.

    I’m going to cehck it out. Here in Atlana, pne of the defacto IDX providers is ListingWare.

    I’m not gonna trash em but the UI leaves a lot to be desired.

    Thanks, RM

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Housing News

Avoid Blah-Blah Conversation With This Voicemail Cloaking Device

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Please Dear Lord, Don’t Let Them Pick Up, So I Can Leave A Voice Mail and Make A Quick Get Away.

You know those times when you have to return a phone call, share an update, remind someone about something?  And those times where there’s no getting around it, you have to make the call and deliver your message, but you’re short on time, patience, courage, or ___________?

Guess What? I Have Good News For You.

There’s an App. for that, and it’s called SlyDial.  At the Inman Reboot event in HoustonChris with TechSavvyAgent dropped this cloaking device on us.  Basically, SlyDial is a clever smart phone tool.

SlyDial allows you to make a call from your cell phone to their cell phone, but their cell phone won’t ring. Instead of their phone ringing, SlyDial lets you dial directly into their voice mail, and leave a message. Yeah, that’s right, call directly into their voice mail, and their phone doesn’t ring. Check it out, it probably works on your smart phone.

You can get more details and info here.  The App. is free and straight forward.  It looks like the picture below when it’s launched on the iPhone4.

It’s that simple.  Good luck with it.  I was wondering in which situations you’d use something like this?

Thanks for reading.  Cheers.

Photo Credit

PS.  fyi, I don’t work for, nor am I in any way associated with, employed by, or even know anyone at SlyDial.  In other words, there’s nothing in for me by saying nice things about SlyDial, except the pleasure of telling you about a tool you might find handy.

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Product Review

New Realtor.com iPhone App

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Realtor.com launched their new iPhone application and gave a few of us the chance to play with it and tear it to pieces before the launch (maybe they didn’t quite put it that way, but it’s the way I’m approaching it).

When I first open these new apps, I always think of the intent and this one is pretty obvious.  The Realtor.com iphone app iss totally and completely designed with the end consumer in mind (sorry Realtors if you thought it could be about you).  It’s about providing the latest property information in the quickest, easiest and most user friendly fashion possible.

When you open the app, a home screen gives you several options, including searching for nearby homes for sale, nearby open houses or perform a new search by location or MLS ID.  You can allow for the app to use your current location and it actually gives you nearby listings currently for sale (also giving you the option to narrow down your criteria).  This can be really cool if you are driving in a neighborhood and just want to get property information without having to even get out of the car or make a phone call.  (Bad for agents that rely on the client to actually make that call to capture their business).

Realtor.com iphone app screen shot

You can view a map option or a list option of properties and are able to actually click on any given one and get detailed information, not only on the property, but also the listing agent and the brokerage (very similar to what you see on Realtor.com).  You can scroll through photos of the listing and turn the phone to get bigger photos and you can save the property and include notes to go with it.

Realtor.com iPhone app screenshot

What’s even more fascinating is the option to contact the listing agent on the spot.  You can call them by clicking on their telephone number, you can email them,  visit their site and add them to your contacts.  (I know I’m an over achiever, but wouldn’t it be cool if you could tweet or facebook them as well?).

Realtor.com iphone application
My favorite feature is the “drive around and use your location” to find listings – but you can also enter an address for a particular listing and/or its surrounding competitors and even enter the MLS number.

Great move on Realtor.com to empower the consumer.  Personally, an educated consumer is the best one in my book, but here’s the beef many will have…You can now say “Buh Bye” to Buyers’ Agents, with this app, listing agents will have the upper hand – this will give quick and easy information to the local consumer (not the end for those buyers agents that work with absentee and relocating clients).

Problem?

I can now see me getting bombarded by calls from people who “forget” to tell me they are working with another agent and just wanted quick info.  I can also see my clients calling other agents just because their information was handy.  We’ll just have to see how this extra communication tool will evolve….it could be detrimental for many.

The question of who does Realtor.com work for will inevitably come up.  Many will criticize this as a tool of disintermediation, but if we are smart, we will not only know how to use this information in our favor, but we will welcome it with open arms.  I do wonder if it could be possible to personalize this particular iphone app for a fee so that Realtors can offer it to their clients (of course I would try to come up with a win-win for everyone).

For now it’s time for everyone to make sure their contact information is correct on their listings, and especially Realtor.com.  Listing agents will have the ability to answer inquiries on the spot, staying above the competition with customer service always at the top of the priority list.

And for the record, I’m not associated with Realtor.com, so feel free to kill it if you have the itch.

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Product Review

Desktop Analytics – Polaris

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Keeping Track

polaris2 I’m a big fan of keeping a pulse on the health of my blogs and sites.  Polaris has released a desktop application that allows you to keep track of your Google Analytics, on your desktop. 

The free version only allows monitoring from one account, while the $15/year version will allow multiple accounts.

The system features are very easy to setup and it works on the AIR installation system, which most of us already have with the Twitter apps.  It was quick to download and install. 

 

Polaris shows total visits, pageviews, activities by date, visits statistics and tons more.  Essentially anything that you would benefit from in Google Analytics, but on the desktop.

newpolaris

The current product is cool, but the company is also advertising some interesting upcoming products.

    • Dopac
      • Dopac is our flagship web analytics solution that brings Google Analytics to your desktop with a host of new features and possibilities. Based on the success and experience of our previously released beta product, the “Google Analytics Reporting Suite”, Dopac takes the original experience to the next level and brings a lot of new concepts to the table.
    • Rayet
      • Rayet is our strange kid on the block. It’s experimental, funky and fun!
        With Rayet we are aiming to make web analytics reporting smarter. Instead of generating a lot of good looking graphs and charts Rayet will cut to the chase and analyze your data for you. Rayet will give you suggestions on how to improve your website experience based on the analytical data available. By comparing different time samples it will tell what works and what doesn’t. Being in very early development there’s currently no release date planned yet.
    • Phobia
      • Phobia is made for one single purpose; impress your boss, client or anyone else you need to suck up to. It gives you data ownership by allowing you to export or synchronize your data in any given format. Anything from smart looking spreadsheets, pretty PDF’s or entertaining presentations is entirely possible! More info on features and release will be up here soon.

       

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