Buying a house is a lot more complicated than ordering a pepperoni pizza, but Edina Realty wants to offer its customers the same kind of real-time progress reports they’ve come to expect making less stressful purchases.
The company recently launched MyAtlas, an online dashboard that lets buyers and sellers track all the major milestones including the status of their offer, mortgage application and their progress toward closing.
“The reality is that on any given Friday night they can track their pizza order,” said Greg Mason, Edina Realty Home Services CEO. “Consumers have come to expect that type of transaction transparency, but we wanted to improve on that concept and offer it to our clients for their home transactions,”
Edina Realty’s system aims to give customers the ability to track virtually every aspect of a transaction, whether buying a house, selling one or refinancing a mortgage.
The new dashboard, which lets customers log into a single account with one username and password, integrates the multiple services that are offered by Edina Realty or one of its affiliates, including its mortgage, title, insurance and warranty companies.
Mason said such a project has been on the company’s wish list for more than 20 years and that it took nearly two years to develop the technology to operate the dashboard, which integrates information that’s already held by each of Edina’s companies.
“Historically that information has been ‘siloed’ because every one of those companies has its different tech systems and this really pulls it all together,” he said. “It was a very complicated, complex project.”
Mason said that thousands of people have already used the dashboard, but it’s not mandatory.
The tracker is still in its early phases and will be updated and upgraded regularly, he said. The long-term goal is for the dashboard to be used not just during the buying and selling process, but for the duration of ownership. So Mason said the company is planning upgrades that will include the addition of remodeling and maintenance tracking services.
“Our long-term vision is to offer homeownership recommendations as well,” he said. “Whether that involves a home renovation or a second look at insurance coverage.”
The current iteration, Mason said, makes MyAtlas the first of its kind for a full-service real estate company. But other more specialized companies in the real estate industry have already embraced the “track-my-pizza” philosophy.
That includes CloseSimple, a Twin Cities-based title company that’s trademarked the “The Pizza Tracker for Title” phrase.
Jim Lesinski is the Twin Cities-based senior general manager for Opendoor, an online, tech-driven real estate brokerage that aims to upend the traditional buying and selling process. He said the real estate industry been slower adopt an “integrated communications process” than other industries in part because the home buying process has so many moving parts.
“There are many players. Buyers, sellers, agents, appraisers, lenders, title companies, county recording offices,” he said. “Handoffs can be difficult and confusing. Better communication tools and a more transparent, simple process will make life easier for the consumer.”
Lesinski said the company is trying to address that issue with its own tap-of-a-button portal, which it calls Opendoor Complete. While it’s not yet available to buyers and sellers in the Twin Cities, Opendoor Complete is now available in 16 other metro areas.
Lesinski said there’s plenty of evidence that consumers want a more integrated approach to the buying and selling process, which usually involves several different companies. The company recently conducted a survey that found 82% of consumers would prefer to use one company for all real estate transactions.
“For most people, the real estate transaction process is not something they encounter on a regular basis,” he said. “The two keys to bridging this gap are simplification of the journey and way-finding along the path.”
Amanda Bremness said that being a first-time buyer was intimidating, so she was eager to sign up for MyAtlas after learning about it from her real estate agent. She was among the first wave of people to use it and said that such a tool would definitely be a factor when considering which real estate company to use next time she buys and sells.
“Compare it to the Domino’s app,” she said. “With every completed step the customer is one step closer to tasting their mouth-watering order. It’s the same with home buying, each step of completion is one step closer to moving into the house they’ve been longing for.”