Solid Earth delivered the public facing MLS website (lead generator) and client collaboration portion of their “Spring” platform to GCAR in Chattanooga today, and it will officially launch to the public on May 15th. Until then it can be previewed at https://homes.gcar.net.
The full-screen search results are illustrated above and the mobile view for refining a search below.
The consumer side looks good on several different web browsers on my computer and mobile devices, and the UI for the search is pretty slick. Letting consumers sign up with their Google account is nice – Facebook would be a great next step. Spring provides consumers some useful statistics alongside the listing information – such as the number of housing units in an area, broken out by for sale, rental, and vacant, also an average discount (LP/SP?) in an area, and DOM (average, maximum, and minimum). However, it doesn’t appear to have the neighborhood and statistical content – or the sold listing or public records information for that matter – that draws consumers to the big portals and other vendor offerings. I also found a few minor UI glitches here and there. But, Spring is off to a very good start.
On the professional side, there are some of the search and client collaboration features MLSs are used to seeing – but core features (i.e. listing maintenance) are in progress, and Bill Fowler says that the goal is to finish “as many MLS-like features between now and NAR in November”.
It’s obvious in the design, and from discussions with Bill, that Solid Earth is trying to find a new balance between having a deep feature-based platform and providing ease of use. Will agents want to give up having a feature rich system? Some will, I think. But isn’t feature-richness one part of what differentiates consumer-grade tools from professional-grade tools and part of what professionals are paying for? Bill admits that the new system will be a tough sell for some. But, I’m keeping an open mind. I’ve always had respect for the creativity of the Solid Earth folks, and I’ll be keeping a close eye on how Spring evolves toward completion over the next half year and how the full deployments go for their customers in the year that follows.
UPDATE – June 16, 2014: From GCAR on Facebook – Our “old” residential search portal is back by popular demand! Check it out – go to www.gcar.net and click on “residential search.”
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