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Introducing Inman’s 2012 Innovator Awards Winners

August 13 2012

Inman News recently announced the winners of their 2012 Innovator Awards during this year's Real Estate Connect conference in San Francisco. Here's a look at the creative thinkers and companies shaping the real estate industry today.

Innovator of the Year (individual award)

Austin Allison DotLoop SuitAustin Allison, co-founder and CEO, DotLoop - As a former real estate agent, Austin Allison found that the greatest threat to his efficiency was "the 'choke points' in the paperwork process." DotLoop was his solution--transaction management software that integrates online forms, e-signatures, and a custom CRM onto a cloud-based platform that's accessible from anywhere.

Allison's success has been impressive. His business savvy helped DotLoop gain over 100,000 paying subscribers in its first year alone. In 2011, he appeared on Forbes' "30 Under 30" list and was named as one of the 100 Most Influential Real Estate Leaders by Inman News. This spring, his company launched DotLoop-NOW, a free version of their popular transaction platform.

Perhaps RE Technology's own Victor Lund best summed up Allison's forward thinking mindset in our Follow the Leader profile: "Austin reminds me of Steve Jobs at Apple. The reason: he has created a product that is not underdeveloped or overdeveloped. This is difficult for a leader, as they are so personally invested in their products – they have a hard time stopping, even when they've hit the 'sweet spot' of usability and functionality. Austin is a leader because he understands this balance."

Most Innovative Real Estate Startup

mobilerealtyappsMobileRealtyApps - Today's real estate consumer demands instant access to information. With solutions like text and phone sign riders, mobile websites, and smartphone and iPad apps, MobileRealtyApps allows agents to provide buyers and sellers exactly that. Their products also fully integrate with the agent's or broker's existing website, CRM, or other backend systems.

What really sets this company apart, however, is HomeSpotter, its "augmented reality" app. With it, consumers can view property data overlaid onto the live camera feed of their smartphone or tablet. Users simply turn their device's camera on, and the app provides information about which homes are currently for sale, their distance from you, listing price, square footage, and more.

Most Innovative Real Estate Social Site, Social Service or Blog

socialbios logoSocialBios HyperSocial Tools - One of three repeat winners on this list, SocialBios won "Most Innovative Real Estate Startup" in 2011. They're back this year, after being acquired by Move, Inc. last summer.

"Real estate is inherently a social business," said Scott Boecker, chief product officer at Move. "We're uniquely positioned to lead our industry and connect people naturally through their social graph."

HyperSocial Agent Profiles integrate directly into and tap into Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Google and Foursquare to connect real estate professionals with potential leads. When a prospect visits an agent's profile, SocialBios searches for "mutual connections, extended relationships, and shared interests by layering the social networks of agents and consumers."

Most Innovative New Technology

Zillow Logo 300x170Zillow Premier Agent websites and contact management platform (CMP) - Integration is Zillow's game-changing idea. The company combined IDX listing feeds and a CRM into its Wordpress-powered agent websites, creating a potent lead generation and management tool.

Most Innovative Mobile App

tech award 200pxHomeSnap by Sawbuck Realty - Four years after winning the "Most Innovative Franchise or Brokerage" award in 2008, Sawbuck Realty shows that their creative spirit is still thriving. HomeSnap is a location-based mobile app that lets consumers see the value, date of last sale and price, and local school info of a home simply by taking its picture on a mobile device.

What's most impressive is that HomeSnap is truly a universal application. In areas outside of the markets that Sawbuck Realty serves, HomeSnap draws on tax data and public records to provide property information.

Most Innovative Real Estate Website or Web Service

ZipRealty, Powered by Zip - Another previous "Most Innovative Real Estate Brokerage" winner (2004), ZipRealty handily won this category thanks to its creative downsizing. Other companies may have folded under the strain of the current economy, but ZipRealty's innovative thinking helped it survive.

After closing several brokerages, the company began to power IDX listings in the markets it had to pull out of. Its "Powered by Zip" listing feeds now provides referrals to other brokers and has helped remain the most visited brokerage website in the US.

Most Innovative MLS or Real Estate Trade Association

Denver Metro Association of REALTORS® (DMAR) - DMAR was born out a common REALTOR® complaint--that there were too many Associations that agents had to join in a single metropolitan area. This led to the consolidation of three Denver area associations--the Denver Board of REALTORS®, the North Metro Denver REALTOR® Association, and the Jefferson County Association of REALTORS® - into what is now DMAR.

Most Innovative Brokerage or Franchise

Village Real Estate Services - "Old meets new" is the direction Village Real Estate Services takes in selling property. Instead of focusing on outlying subdivisions and new housing developments, Village looks to strengthen Nashville's community by selling homes in older, established neighborhoods at the core of the city. They call it "recycled housing." Broker and social media expert Brian Copeland leads the charge by bringing a high tech touch to selling older housing.