By Nick Caruso
Thanks to the Internet and its mobile offshoots, consumers have the power of information directly in the palm of their hands. But technology can be a double-edged sword in today’s digital age, bringing misleading information along with it and giving REALTORS® the challenge of not only educating their clients, but correcting them as well. In order for brokers, managers and agents to properly do their jobs, they must trudge through dozens of different sources while simultaneously analyzing data to fit the needs of their consumers. Or they could check just one source: Realtors Property Resource® (RPR®).
Created in 2008 as one of the National Association of REALTORS®’ (NAR) Second Century Initiatives, RPR is the largest comprehensive database of parcel-centric property information in the industry, aggregating hundreds of datasets on more than 147 million properties. A single-source database created by REALTORS® for REALTORS®, RPR removes agents’ reliance on consumer-centric search methods and provides one streamlined system that real estate professionals can utilize based on their needs and the needs of those they serve. Completely closed to the public, real estate professionals using the system have full control over when and how to share information with consumers.
“RPR was designed to think like a REALTOR®, allowing users to show consumers that they’re working with the best advocate in the market,” says Jeff Young, senior vice president of operations. “We’re keeping REALTORS® central to the transaction and keeping them ahead of the technology curve that consumers are on.”
Thanks to its contracts with more than 420 MLSs, RPR represents more than 65 percent of all REALTORS® and covers data such as public records and tax assessment information; liens, stand alone mortgages and refinancing loans; school district data, reviews and test scores, and more, also providing geo-spatial imagery, heat maps and historical property photos. This only scratches the surface of what a powerful tool RPR can be for NAR members who, in turn, pay no additional fees to use the system.
By creating this tool, Young along with Dale Ross, CEO, and Marty Frame, president, aimed to create a system that would give real estate professionals access to any information in the real estate spectrum. While armed with a tremendous range of data, real estate professionals can alleviate consumers’ concerns and start building trust from a ground floor of accurate and comprehensive information. Not to mention that the RPR system is a huge time-saver for busy agents and brokers who now have everything they need in one easy-to-find place.
“If you look at all the different participants in a transaction, everybody’s drawing on information from the same and different places than the consumer,” says Frame. “We wanted to establish an authoritative database with the REALTOR® brand on it that becomes, over time, defining in terms of how REALTORS® and their partners in a transaction view a property in terms of its valuation.”
Establishing and agreeing on value is one of the major hurdles real estate professionals face in this market, according to Frame. From the time a price is set “at the kitchen table,” value is often a major factor that has a large difference of opinion among those involved.
“Our objective is to put out a highly credible valuation database to streamline the time it takes to get an opinion, and to harmonize these opinions of value so transactions can move faster,” says Frame.
Key Features of RPR
RPR’s products and features are targeted toward six of NAR’s major constituents: agents, brokers, commercial, appraisers, MLSs and associations. In each of these industry sectors, segment-specific tool sets and features are included to assist and simplify real estate professionals’ research processes. For example, RPR’s commercial application includes site selection tools and consumer trend features, while the broker tool sets include branding functions, support for affiliated services, and a management-only Data Tool for creating company-wide trends.
To help create their products, RPR enlists the help of industry volunteers which Ross calls “absolutely critical” to the development process. “We have task forces set up for each one of our constituents. There are 10-15 practitioners per segment that we integrate from various parts of the NAR family. We pre-beta test with their ideas ahead of time before conducting a 90-day beta test with 120 agents and brokers,” he says.
Adds Frame: “We take the perspective that the members own this and should have a lot of input into what we build for them. We ask, ‘If you had a database like this, what aspects of your job could be made better?’”
Throughout all of this in-family collaboration, RPR has laid out a plethora of enhanced features to expand its value proposition, all based upon user feedback:
-Integrated mapping: The RPR system has a number of sophisticated maps, including overlap maps and heat maps. Geographic maps are easy to turn on and off, or users can create their own search areas, examine flood zone data or search by drive time or distance.
-Historical listing comparison: Users can see all of the listings that have occurred on any given property and put them side by side for comparison.
-Investment tool: This tool helps users choose between different investment strategies and tells them what they can expect to put down and what to expect on return.
-Customizable reports: RPR’s new reports interface helps users compile any selected information into easy-to-read reports, which can then be tailored to the needs of buyers and sellers.
“There is a list of 30-35 checks that can be checked off or on to decide how long of a report is generated,” says Ross. “The agent selects or deselects the information they’ve looked at and decides what to show their customer depending on the specification of that customer.”
Placing a very important focus on training and service, RPR employs three different methods to get all of its members up to speed. First, there is a steady flow of training videos available online. The videos range from three to 25 minutes long and work to help answer some frequently asked questions that users may run into. Next, RPR will “train the trainer” for entities that want to train their own people. Whether it’s a training director for a brokerage or a technology expert for a state association, RPR works hard to educate companies and corporations that want to keep their training in-house. Lastly, RPR also employs contract trainers who train local associations or MLSs in any given market.
“What’s important to us is that there’s zero barrier for an MLS or association to partner with RPR,” says Young. “There’s no cost and it doesn’t create a staff resource need. Our goal is to provide all the support you need.”
In addition, RPR has a 24/7, 365-days-a-year call center in Omaha, Neb., which handles phone calls, live chat and emails for additional support around the clock.
Testimonials from clients who claim RPR’s reports helped them seal a deal go to show the powerful advantage RPR can give its users.
“Being able to do that for a member shows the long-term value of an asset like this,” says Frame. “We’re talking about doing this on a scale of one million members in 50 states in more than 900 different MLSs and 1,500 different associations. You can take a platform like that wherever those one million members want it to go.
“Right now, we’re geared to produce valuations that are the best automated valuations in the marketplace and empower members to do the best work that they can possibly do.”
For more information, visit www.narrpr.com.
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