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How Much Did that House Sell For?

Smarter Agent delivers on-the-spot real estate data to users of GPS-enabled cell phones.CAMDEN – Homebuyers driving through a neighborhood can quickly find the most recent selling price of homes on the block thanks to a cell phone-based application from Camden’s Smarter Agent.

The six-year-old company has developed a program that provides location-specific information to property hunters and those curious about how much their neighbors got for their homes. “You are immersing yourself in wherever you are,” says Smarter Agent CEO Brad Blumberg.

The company, which expects to close its first round of venture funding next week, plans to double its current staff of 12 employees within 90 days.

It’s first piece of software, dubbed Recent Sold Homes, went live last fall and can be downloaded for $4.99 a month to cell phones equipped with global positioning system (GPS) technology. Retrievable information includes sales prices going back three years and details of the property’s history, including the architect and any previous structures on the site.

The information is culled from multiple listing service (MLS) systems across country.

The company’s second program, called APTS for Rent, shows available apartment listings for $2.99 per month. Blumberg plans to launch a third program, Homes for Sale, by September; it will list houses currently on the market.

The company also plans to offer mobile GPS ad space to future clients.

Smarter Agent programs are currently available to Sprint customers with GPS-enabled mobile phones.

Blumberg says negotiations are under way with other carriers.

Smarter Agent gets its apartment listings from Apartments.com and other media sources that include newspapers listings. “Classified Ventures [an online listing service] is giving us the feeds from about 150 newspapers,” says Blumberg.

“Soon, if you own apartment you could go to our Web site [www.smarteragent.com] and upload information.” Both the apartment listings and the property sales information are updated by the listing providers as new data becomes available.

Smarter Agent makes its home at the Applied Communication and Information Networking Camden Center for Entrepreneurship in Technology. Blumberg says he and his brother, Eric, the company’s president, have invested between $5 million and $10 million in Smarter Agent, representing funds gleaned from another family business.

Both brothers had previously worked for Blumberg Associates Architecture in Atlantic City, which is run by their father, Martin. Brad Blumberg has a master’s degree in city planning while Eric has a master’s in architecture.

The brothers found a way to combine their knowledge of the real estate world with advances in mobile technology. “We started looking at this at the height of the Internet boom,” says Brad Blumberg.

After Sept. 11, “the federal government was mandating that every carrier was going to have to locate their customers,” Blumberg says. “The trend was more emergency calls were being made from cell phones than landlines and no one knew where [the callers] were.”

Before Smarter Agent applications could go live, mobile phone technology had to develop further. “We knew the real boom would come when every phone had location detection in it,” says Blumberg.

“The [application gives you the] ability to stand in front of a [property] and hit a cell-phone button and all the information about that property could be streamed to you. You are just seeing the beginning now.”

Software developers are creating other types of location-centric services for mobile phones. Dodgeball.com in New York City connects friends and acquaintances through mobile phones.

A Dodgeball user sends a text message alert to friends to meet at a bar or restaurant. Friends of those friends within a 10-block radius are also alerted.

“People don’t want to just search, they want to find,” says Lubna Dajani, CEO of Stratemerge, a business-services provider in Washington Township in Bergen County. “Location-enabled services allow people to find [one another] much more easily and allow brands to find people much more easily.”

“As location services get adopted more,” Dajani adds,” you can get

pushed content such as coupons in a certain neighborhood.”

E–mail to jpruth@njbiz.com

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