The IDX search race heats up!
Finally we’re seeing some movement in the real estate IDX space as softRealty.com launches free ad based IDX search combined with Social CRM and Lead Capture at a tiered price level starting at free! Ad based idx designed to draw in and capture consumers attention, and providing the ability to communicate with the home shopper even before they’ve registered- consumers like the arms length, but what you’ll like is the opportunity to get in front of them.
We know what you’re thinking, ad based? We wondered about that as well, but having piloted the search function from the search perspective, I found the ads to actually add value as opposed to competing with the agent. Further, if the consumer is really searching seriously, chances are, they’ll be busy adding and saving homes searched. According to softRealty.com Founder, David Carroll, they intend to offer a non-ad based model very shortly.
Lead Capture Redefined
The intent behind the social CRM is providing you the ability to actually communicate with your consumer the same way you would face-to-face while they’re in the buying mood, online. We all know the ability to convert often requires a personal connection to the homebuyer, and softRealty.com understands this. We expect many of the upgrades and tools to center around this ability in 2009 and 2010.
Over all impression
I think it’s worth looking at, it’s free and I was actually surprised at how modern the IDX is, I expected clunky and old fashioned, but what consumers get is a completely real estate 2.0 experience. It’s got all the basics like brochure printing, a beautiful image gallery, virtual tour viewer, details, and more. What it lacked were partnerships with 3rd parties such as Onboard, or Walkability, and others, but I’m not sure they’re missed in this early version.
I asked David to tell me what softRealty.com really was, an IDX search, Lead Capture, or CRM, and his quick answer was essentially why are they separate? The system is designed to be all of the above, and I think they’re on their way to doing just that, softRealty.com is creating a system that is lead capturing redefined, and at a price that rocks.
Here are my screenshots from my consumer side experience
This is the result of my search by zip code, note the ask us button to the left.
Here’s the result screen, your typical landing results page, nice layout with the agent details handy with a messaging button. Buyers are able to rate the property, and save it or ask you a question.
Simple and clean registration form
Like I said, have a look, create an account and decide for yourself, and let us know what you think! Are you a softRealty.com customer? We’d love to hear from you!
softRealty.com Real Estate IDX | Follow on Twitter
Agent Genius has no affiliation with softRealty.com
July 4, 2009 at 12:00 am
This sounds very interesting, I will have to check. Not everyone can do the Las Vegas MLS but what I work with and pay for through my board sucks.
July 4, 2009 at 12:11 am
Anymore detail on how the CRM portion works? That is by far what is lacking in IDX software. What good are the leads if you have to struggle to follow up with them? I use Diverse Solutions now by their follow up system is lame.
July 4, 2009 at 12:34 am
Benjamin, I need more time to really work over the crm, search is easy, but if I don’t have a client base, there isn’t much I can test myself, which is why I was asking for any current customers to weigh in.
July 4, 2009 at 8:56 am
Sounds OK but it’s only available in 2 MLS’s… Georgia and Mid Florida.
July 4, 2009 at 10:23 am
I’m with Fred…not available in my area.
July 4, 2009 at 11:22 am
Yeah, like I said, it’s new, but this is from the FAQ
July 4, 2009 at 11:25 am
Benn, thank you for the great write up. Being relatively new to the RE.NET scene, we are just getting started with many amazing new features and raising the bar with improving the home search experience for both agents and home buyers alike. We have learned so much from our strong base of grassroots followers. We look forward to learning more about how to continue helping agents and improving our product.
There are over 900 MLSs in the country. Each MLS has different challenges and fees for initial setup. However, we have a great process, a custom automation platform, and a brilliant team for bringing these MLSs online. We currently cover areas in GA, FL, CA, and AL and are processing new ones every week. If we are not in your current MLS, please register a free account and contact me directly at david.carroll@softRealty.com. We are working with agents across the country to bring on as many MLSs as possible this year.
Chris, contact me directly regarding the Las Vegas MLS. Sounds like a good excuse for my first visit out there ;).
Fred, we’d love to be in Connecticut in the next month or so. After meeting Amy Chorew at REBARCAMP Philadelphia this past May, Connecticut has made it to our MLS expansion list.
Matt, we’ve been looking for a NWMLS contact. They use Rapattoni and we’ve integrated with them in other areas. Can we talk on Monday?
July 4, 2009 at 1:44 pm
Myself and several other RE.net rockstars had an extensive conversation with David at RETechSouth regarding this system. I see it as a great way to make a vital component to any RE professionals web prescense both more obtainable and more useful.
To everyone who is talking about their coverage being limited yes they are working to expand their MLS coverage. I can say from from personal expereicne being a broker providing IDX feeds for other home search system it takes time to figure out the rules and regs for each MLS system in the US.
July 4, 2009 at 2:16 pm
I love seeing how broader social media concepts can be harnessed and tweaked to be industry-specific. I’ve heard today’s youth be referred to as “Generation F”. These kids are heavily into social media and social networking and like it or not, they represent the buyers and sellers of real estate tomorrow.
The big question is… who is going to be building the types of tools they will demand in order to do life?
Soft Realty is clearly on the right track.
July 4, 2009 at 2:59 pm
I think the consumer experience is most important- lead capture and conversion is really becoming a consumer-driven event. Keep the consumers profiting from their experience- and getting more than they could elsewhere, and any other issues that present will be able to be solved. From a consumer point of view, this looks good- clunky won’t work.
Nice interface with the consumer- you are there, but it doesn’t seem to be too intrusive, which absolutely doesn’t work. I have no issue with the ads- consumers are used to seeing them and ignoring them or not.
Nice to see the integration of all 3 components. Just need to get the MLSs onboard to see theory shift to practice.
Frank LL0SA- FranklyMLS.com
July 4, 2009 at 5:51 pm
When somebody finally nails a good CRM it will be a hit.
I’ve been offering ad-free FREE branded IDX and branded email alerts for competing brokers for a few months now. Once they get over the “aren’t you my competitor” concept and gravitate to the co-opetition model, they can see how savvy agents can all work together for a better user experience and more business for all.
July 4, 2009 at 9:01 pm
Signed up and like what I’ve read and seen so far. The CRM integration seems to be key to this working. And I’d imagine if you want to be able to have more than 100 contacts, we’ll be paying, but it seems pretty reasonable if it does what it has the potential to do. Looking forward for MRED in the Chicagoland area to be included.
Benn, as always, thanks for the great suggestions!
July 4, 2009 at 11:46 pm
I’m a fan of softRealty and David. they are good guys and working hard to keep their IDX fresh and better than the competition. And it isn’t easy.
I know that for me, leveraging the platform is limited by me, not by the platform.
July 5, 2009 at 8:17 am
Free is great but when choosing an IDX service, agents and brokers should consider other factors. One big one is how they will integrate the service into their website. Using a frame is not always the best option.
I have used https://idxbroker.com/ in the past and find their service, for $39 a month, the best out there. They use CSS to “wrap” their service, so your website is perfectly displayed. I use WordPress and found it very easy to work with.
The tools, control options, and lead management on the back side are equally impressive. Well worth the money. I mostly deal with sellers now, so I stopped using it, but if my business ever shifted back to buyers, I would definately signup with them again.
Their customer service is fantastic, and they also have a large coverage area, most likely they will have your MLS available.
July 5, 2009 at 11:17 am
Consumer home search – and particularly “social search” is going to be the game to win for Realtors in the next few years.
softRealty.com has really got it figured out. I’ve been using their stuff since the very beginning (over a year now) and I’m a big fan. In recent months, I’ve been working closely with David and his team and I can tell you that there’s not a sharper group of engineers anywhere. If you wanna track the leading edge of customer search, you want to be using softRealty.com IDX/CRM.
July 6, 2009 at 1:23 am
Fred, it’s common for people to mistakenly association our “Free IDX” with the adage, “You get you what you paid for.” I wrote a blog entry regarding this at: https://blog.softrealty.com/index.php/2009/07/free-idx-getting-more-than-what-you-paid-for/. Like Google, YouTube, FaceBook, Twitter, Zillow, Trulia, etc, consumers get so much more than they paid for and these services continue to raise the bar with innovation.
Today, we are LIVE with a great set of core functionality and are just getting started. You can expect new features from us every few weeks, if not weekly, throughout the rest of this year. Even now, our features surpass most of our competition. What we do have now, we do well.
Regarding your comment on frames… we’re working on a variety of layouts to accommodate various framed solutions. More importantly, customizing the search interface is one such area we will continue to improve. Our initial property search design was built with custom CSS styling in mind. Pulling this together will be the next step later this year. We’re also working on the launch of our new website template solution / CMS that will blow your mind. Before you consider any other IDX vendor and pay a couple hundred in setup costs on top of your high monthly fees, check us out first. You’ll be surprised what you actually get for free, and even more so what you get for just a little bit more.
July 6, 2009 at 2:30 am
Interestingly enough, I just discovered this “oh-so-relevant” article from Benn back in April 2008: https://agentgenius.com/g-rants-insanity-more/real-estate/whats-a-lead/. If you want to really understand the problem softRealty.com addresses with Lead Capture Redefined, read this article and the comments that follow. I posted a comment that presents our solution to this very real problem of expanding your clientele online, (a.k.a. online lead capture). In case you don’t get down to my comment, check out our video on the subject at: https://www.softrealty.com/Video/LeadCaptureRedefined/.
July 6, 2009 at 9:39 am
I would defiantly check out the service is you had it available in Connecticut!
July 6, 2009 at 11:55 am
I have been talking with David and the guys at SoftRealty for over a year as they have been developing the software and expanding to MLSs. They will have mine up very soon, working over 2 different MLSs and I am very excited about it. My main MLS is a relatively tiny one – yet they have stuck with me, calling me instead of the other way around (refreshing) and have been excellent in walking me through the process to sign up and get going. After working with their demo versions and figuring out what they will offer, to me it’s a no brainer. I can’t wait to be fully up and operational. I am planning a big promo campaign, solely focused on (what I think will be) my huge competitive advantage in SoftRealty.
July 6, 2009 at 11:16 pm
I would love to test it here in Indy – or just about any IDX with a great CRM. They all seem to lack in the CRM department, in one way or another.
July 7, 2009 at 8:34 am
I’d like to see more screen shots or even a live video demo of what a consumer would see and interact with. I think it would boost your ability to show both agents, brokers, consumers, and MLS’s the value of the service by doing a few short demo videos on each key feature. Maybe even compare them with your competition or the stock IDX stuff agents get (and show them how much business they are missing by not going “soft”). Good stuff man, looking forward to seeing more.
July 9, 2009 at 1:47 pm
Paula, I sent David an email over the 4th, received a call from him on Tuesday, and they are days away from being live in Chicago. Talk about mind blowing service! They’re easy to talk with, understand the process and so far are making this about as easy and enjoyable as it can get.
Matt, glad to hear someone I know who has a track record with them. Confirms my feelings.
I’ll share more once we get it going on my site.
July 18, 2009 at 12:47 pm
SIMPLY PUT….SOFTREALTY ROCKS!!!!!!!!!!!