Two questions parents ask realtors when shopping for a home are “Which schools would my children attend?” and “What are the schools like?”
Frustrated with the time it took them to answer those questions for their clients, two local real estate professionals, who also happen to be moms, put their heads together to solve the problem. Santa Claran Mattie Baker and Kimberly Leal from Sunnyvale—colleagues at Keller Williams Realty-Silicon Valley—launched School Scout Professional July 17 in Santa Clara County.
School Scout Professional is a Web application for real estate agents that, in one quick search, layers real-time Multiple Listing Service home data, school boundary maps, and school information such as ranking.
“Current trends show that schools are factoring more into the value of a home and becoming one of the top criteria considered when people are making a move,” says Leal, School Scout, Inc., president and chairman of the board. “Real estate agents need to be extremely knowledgeable about schools in order to better serve their clients.”
“School and school boundary information is often fragmented and sometimes out of date, requiring hours of research, making calls or visiting multiple websites to gather the data one needs to make an informed decision,” says Baker, School Scout, Inc., co-founder and chief executive officer.
School Scout Professional is the first service of its kind.
“What we’ve developed is the fastest, easiest and most accurate way to match homes with schools, as well as allowing consumers to easily find a great real estate agent that specializes in those school boundary areas,” says Leal.
Baker and Leal teamed with mobile app developer Matt Drance and other technical software designers to develop their Web application. School data is sourced from the California Department of Education, school districts, and local schools.
“Our vision and architecture of the software is based on what we know real estate agents need. We conducted surveys and focus groups and came to the conclusion that we were not alone and that a service such as School Scout is definitely needed in our industry,” says Leal. “There is no easy way to get the information, which is why no one else has created a service such as ours.”
School Scout Professional has the support of the Santa Clara County Association of Realtors, where Baker and Leal recently conducted a seminar showcasing the web application.
“When you create a start-up, you have to juggle a lot of balls and keep them all in the air. We feel like we need to be active real estate agents in order to keep our finger on the pulse of the real estate industry, but our main focus is on making School Scout a successful Silicon Valley technology company,” says Baker, who does business from her Santa Clara home.
Though it debuted in Silicon Valley, School Scout Professional is expanding to counties throughout the Bay Area, then to major counties in northern and southern California, and, finally, nationwide. Real estate professionals can expect a phone app this fall.