Smarter Agent going for universatility



May 22,2009

By Peter Key, Staff Writer

Although there are lots of applications written for mobile devices, few of them can run on virtually every device.

Smarter Agent Inc. is trying to make its real-estate application among the first.

The Camden company’s CEO, Brad Blumberg, said its application, which allows users to see prices of homes for sale, homes recently sold, and apartments for rent near their location, is available on all the major wireless carriers except Verizon Wireless and will launch on it sometime this summer.

Versions of it are available for nearly every mobile device, including Apple Inc.’s iPhone, Research in Motion Ltd.’s Blackberry and phones that run Google Inc.’s Android operating system.

“Anyone will be able to use Smarter Agent, no matter which phone they have,” said Blumberg, who started the company with his brother, Eric, in 2000.

Smarter Agent has several methods of getting its application to the masses, as well as making money off of it.

One is by striking deals with real-estate agencies that allow the agencies to make the application available to their customers from their Web sites.

Blumberg said Smarter Agent has deals with 50 of the country’s 100 largest agencies, including Prudential Fox & Roach in the Philadelphia area.

When a broker makes Smarter Agent’s application available that way, the application is tailored so that users with questions about homes they’re looking up can contact someone at the brokerage with one touch.

“This is another way they can market to you,” Blumberg said. “You put this on your phone, then, if you think about it, Prudential Fox & Roach is always in your pocket.”

Smarter Agent also markets its application to individual agents to provide to their customers.

In some of its early deals with brokers, the amount Smarter Agent got paid depended on the number of leads its application generated. It now pretty much charges monthly fees that depend on the size of the agency for brokers and are about $30 for individual agents.

In addition to marketing its application itself, Smarter Agent is marketing it through multiple listing service organizations and through Web hosting companies.

Blumberg said the application is so popular that Smarter Agent sells it to 95 percent of the people who inquire about it and has signed up 1,200 agents over the last three months.

Smarter Agent’s track record and future prospects pleased its current investors and board of directors so much that they and the company’s management recently provided Smarter Agent with another $6 million in equity capital.

The funding comes a little more than a year after a $6.2 million funding from a group of individual investors that included private-equity magnate Ira Lubert; sports entrepreneur Pat Croce; Howard Needleman, the president of Needleman Management Co., a Cherry Hill, N.J., commercial property owner and manager; and Robert Turner, the founder and chairman of Turner Investment Partners Inc., a Berwyn, Pa. money-management firm.

Smarter Agent plans to use the money to keep developing versions of its application and to keep marketing the application. Its market is a big target.

“Less than 1 percent of Realtors have mobile solutions,” Blumberg said.

John Lauber belongs to that less than 1 percent. The Realtor at Prudential Fox & Roach’s West Chester office got Smarter Agent’s application through a deal his agency made with the company. He has the application branded under his name and on his Web site so he can direct clients to it. “People like it,” he said. “I like using it myself because we don’t have a way when we’re on the road necessarily to look up the price of a home.”