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Realtors Property Resource® (RPR®) provides robust data on more than 166 million parcels of property in the United States and is a trusted website and mobile platform that enables REALTORS® to obtain critical and timely information, and produce rich and attractive reports for their clients. Upping the ante on this comprehensive offering, RPR recently launched a free Broker AVM (Automated Valuations Model) specifically for brokers…and brokers are glad they did.

Ray Gronowski, vice president, Broker & Specialty Services, for RPR, says the company decided to create the AVM based on talks with some of the largest real estate companies in the U.S.

“They kept saying, ‘We’re tired of losing traffic or losing eyeballs to Zillow,’ and there was a need for something better,” Gronowski explains. “They thought of RPR because of the Realtor Valuation Model® (RVM®), which utilizes MLS data, but the RVM cannot be provided directly to the consumer, so we decided to produce an AVM using the same algorithms and underlying technology to create this model without using MLS data.”

Gronowski believes the RPR Broker AVM can be a great option for attracting eyeballs and also has the potential to be a solid lead generator for brokerages who choose to implement it. Plus, it allows consumers to check out prices on their own time, at their own convenience, right from the brokerage’s own website.

“We’re providing brokerages with the results generated by the AVM, but they need to determine how they want to set it up to capture the consumer’s information,” he says. “Are you trying to generate traffic? Are you trying to provide a service? Are you trying to make sure they don’t leave your website? I personally think one of the best ways to use this tool is to generate leads.”

Wendi Iglesias, chief information officer for The Keyes Company in Miami, Fla., says the RPR Broker AVM was very easy to implement on the firm’s site, and that the accuracy is pretty reliable in most market areas.

“We are in the information age. Consumers want access to information that is immediate and dynamic,” says Iglesias. “AVMs allow them to have access to property value information, which is very useful to a consumer whether they are looking to buy or sell. It allows them to make informed decisions.”

For that reason, the RPR Broker AVM has been beneficial to The Keyes Company as a new business generator.

“We are finding that many homeowners prefer engaging with an AVM first to understand the range of value for their home. By making it available to them on our public-facing site, we have many users that start there and then engage with our associates to begin the listing process,” Iglesias says. “The product certainly gives them a quick reference for values. Equally as important, however, it is a great lead generator as it provides much sought-after information for consumers directly on our website.”

Mark Stokoe, marketing director with Irongate Inc. REALTORS® in Dayton, Ohio, calls the tool a win-win for REALTORS® and their customers as it can be used as a “third-party” validator for the REALTOR® who has to inform clients that their home may not be worth all they thought it was; the RPR Broker AVM helps the seller price a home more realistically from the outset.

“This tool allows the website of a medium-sized, local independent like Irongate to offer even better service to our clients than the big aggregators can,” says Stokoe. “Among the standard problems in listing a home is a client’s often unrealistic expectations as to its value. By using the AVM before they have even spoken with an agent, they have a more realistic notion of what their house may be worth. This saves the REALTOR® time, effort and trouble.”

AVM in Action

Jodi Dines, chief information officer for Real Estate One in Southfield, Mich., added the RPR Broker AVM in December as a test and has received positive feedback in the few months it has been active.

“We have a call-out on our home page about how much a home is worth and then we embedded the Zillow estimate widget side-by-side with the RPR estimate widget,” says Dines. “We’ve had hundreds of people use it and tons of people asking us for more information for a better estimate. Not huge numbers yet, but it seems to be working well, so I will be trying to drive more activity for that page.”

“Because it is REALTOR®-friendly, the assumption with RPR was that it would add another view, and possibly a more accurate view,” Dines says. “We want to educate the public about how both values can vary and that you really do need a REALTOR® involved to help you assess the market and the proper valuation.”

Coldwell Banker is using the RPR Broker AVM as a widget as part of its new CBx tablet application, designed as an exclusive iPad app for its more than 87,000 sales associates.

Sean Blankenship, chief marketing officer at Coldwell Banker, says that in its first three weeks of adoption, agents are reporting positive feedback, and much content on its Facebook page has been from those praising its features.

“It added a level of credibility to CBx right out of the gate,” says Blankenship. “It makes it easier to understand value, and complements the things we have developed to support the pre-launch and launch of CBx to educate and train. It’s a fantastic tool and product.”

Blankenship notes that one of the unique facets in the way the company is using RPR data is in the visibility and artistry of the presentation, doing so in a dynamic way that agents can understand.

“AVMs can be scary to the average person, but when presented in a way that’s simplified, it’s a great tool. We have always felt that the opportunity to use RPR data directly with consumers is important,” he says. “Agents can showcase not only RPR, but also their local knowledge, and it’s incredibly powerful. CBx allows them to use the number that appears, but also showcase why they came up with a listing price and how it makes sense.”

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