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RISMEDIA, March 9, 2010—Prudential Real Estate & Relocation Services (PRERS) announced yesterday at its annual sales convention in Austin, Texas, the launch of a first-of-its-kind research and development laboratory designed to build a new generation of tools for real estate professionals.

With “Make it Happen” as the theme of its 2010 convention, PRERS Chairman Jim Mallozzi introduced the Prudential Real Estate Collaborative Innovation Partnership (PRECIP)—a program that will bring together the real-world knowledge of key Prudential Real Estate Network brokers and sales professionals with leaders in immersive world technologies, web 2.0 applications, mobile technologies and more.

“I want to talk to you today about change and innovation,” said Mallozzi from the stage of the Austin Convention Center, “but talk about change and innovation is cheap – we hear it every day. I’d like to borrow on the success of James Cameron (creator of the film “Avatar”), and invite you on a tour of another world…not really another world, but the future; a future that’s right around the corner. I’d like to welcome you into my imaginary home.”

With that, Mallozzi took attendees on a life-size virtual home tour that allows both real estate professionals and prospective buyers to interact by immersing themselves into the tour—no matter where their respective physical location happens to be. Serving as a preview of new technology to come from PRERS’ imminent relationship with Montreal-based Immersive Design Studio (IDS), these next-generation virtual home tours are designed to be as emotionally compelling as the real thing.

“This is a real house tour, not a power point or a video,” said Mallozzi. “This is something we can interact with. If we want to turn right, we turn right. If we want to go upstairs, we go upstairs. If the client doesn’t like the color of the walls, then snap—change it. IDS is the leading-edge innovator in the realm of immersive experience, responsible for building one of the top video game engines. Why not use this amazing technology for business? As I think about our business, I think we should be led by this simple, but powerful, phrase: why not?”

According to Mallozzi the immersive home tour technology will allow agents and clients “from opposite ends of the continent, from opposite ends of the world” to come together in the virtual home and exchange thoughts with each other in real time. “You can participate from your own PC or iPad…or real estate professionals can create their own interactive space within their office,” he added.

New technology, however, is nothing without the input and exchange of ideas from the Prudential Network, stressed Mallozzi, referring to the new R & D lab as a “collabrotory.”

“Our mandate is to take new ideas and technology and turn them into the types of tools we need to compete in the future. PRECIP is a network of thinkers and doers, including many of you.”

“It’s a new year, it’s a new time,” PRERS President Earl Lee told the audience. “Like you, we’re very confident of our destiny and it’s in our own hands. You all make it happen.”

According to Lee, in today’s challenging marketplace, embracing change and innovation is a must for the brand as well as its affiliates. “Fundamentals are more important than ever, but the most crucial aspect of our business is how we communicate with our customers. We must transform that ‘how.’”

As part of its innovations aimed at further enhancing communication with consumers, PRERS also announced the following online tools at the convention:

– Prudential Media Center: A centralized, online repository for presentations, videos, photos, etc., allowing agents to easily create and customize listing presentations.

– Rent-to-Own Calculator: A website tool enabling consumers to see how much home their current rent payments would allow them to buy. The calculator displays Prudential listings in the area whose estimated mortgage payments would match the buyer’s rent payments.

– Upgrades to the Online Seller Advantage (sm), including direct interface with more than 200 social media sites, allowing agents to share listings.

– Mobile solution: Allows consumers to receive Prudential Real Estate listings via their smartphones