Minnesota REALTORS(R) Give Homes "TLC" for Valentine's Day and Beyond

New Technology Helps Consumers Find Homes They'll Love

Saint Paul, Mn, Minnesota, UNITED STATES

ST. PAUL, Minn., Feb. 11, 2015 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- Realtors throughout Minnesota and western Wisconsin are helping consumers find the homes they'll love using a little "TLC" this Valentine's Day weekend, touting a powerful new technology to help match consumers with their ideal home while searching among any of the 25,400 single-family homes listed for sale today on NorthstarMLS.

The TLC being used stands for "True Lifestyle Cost," part of TLCengine technology that NorthstarMLS rolled out in all its markets in the fall. This new technology takes "big data" – from over 31 unique lifestyle cost variables – to help local Realtors show consumers a bench-mark to compare total ownership costs among different homes, customized to each consumer, based on their family budget.

"Buying a home is a lot like dating," said Todd Shipman of Lakes Sotheby's International Realty in Edina, and a past president of The Minneapolis Area Association of Realtors. "They always look better in pictures, and when you find the right one, you know it."

Shipman notes that when consumers use TLC in a home search, it is like speed dating: "It expedites the buying process," he said.

"What TLC does is crunch all the numbers in seconds, calculating what it would take the average home buyer weeks to replicate," Shipman said. TLC uses real world data to estimate an array of costs that include estimated energy bills, car insurance rates, commuting costs for two different work locations when there are two working household members, and it takes into account such factors as exact family size and the need for extra services, such as daycare.

"TLC is really smart technology that allows a Realtor to help someone find the home they are going to love, faster," Shipman said, noting it exposes consumers to a "practical and holistic home buying process that forces them to look past where homes fall on a map."

Krishna Malyala, founder of TLCengine and a former vice president of technology for Citigroup in New York, agrees with Shipman, pointing out that many Minnesota consumers use a map search online to find a home, often settling on location based on commuting distance.

"But this can lead to homeowner heartache," Malyala said. "TLC helps consumers look beyond the radius of a map search, because there are so many more factors that you need to consider when trying to compare the true cost of homeownership," he added.

"For example, many times there is more than one person commuting and their offices could be located in two different directions. And while conventional wisdom says you need to go further from a city center to find a lower priced home, TLC often shows that lower priced homes actually cost you more than a home close to the city, when you factor in all the extra expenses. TLC accounts for each of¬ those hidden costs and gives you the information you need for your specific home search criteria, be-cause everyone has different circumstances and different lifestyle needs," he explained.

And as those lifestyle needs change, it is the predictive ability of TLC, Malyala said, that helps consumers find a home they will love not just today, but in the future.

"It can be quite a shock when a couple that's expecting a child, and have been living in a 1,100 square foot home, move into a 3,200 square foot house and open their first $400 heating bill," he said. "TLC prepares them while they are searching for a home so they know exactly what they are getting themselves into."

Shipman adds, "When someone falls in love with a home, they also want to be sure they are making a smart decision, not just an emotional one. They need to look at all of the practical reasons they should buy the home, and that is what TLC does – it's a matchmaking tool for helping consumers find a home that provides the quality of life they are seeking at a price they can afford."

Consumers looking at homes this Valentine's Day weekend can see for themselves how TLC works by contacting their local Realtor to get started. "It's completely free and available from every real estate agent who is a member of NorthstarMLS, which operates throughout Minnesota and western Wisconsin," Shipman said.

About NorthstarMLS

NorthstarMLS supports nearly 15,000 Realtors and appraisers in Minnesota and western Wisconsin, providing participating brokers and agents with fast and reliable information services and resources that make local property markets perform efficiently and effectively for both buyers and sellers. NorthstarMLS facilitated nearly 70,000 real estate transactions, valued at $15.1 billion, in 2013, and provided access for real estate professionals to more than 45,000 active list-ings, more than 1.4 million comparable and sold properties, and millions of property records from all Minnesota and Wisconsin. NorthstarMLS is owned and operated by the Regional Multiple Listing Service of Minnesota, Inc. (RMLS). RMLS is owned by the Realtor shareholder associations of Minneapolis and St. Paul, and provides services and support to the Western Wisconsin REALTORS® Association, St. Cloud Area Association of REALTORS® and the Greater Lakes Association of REALTORS®.

About TLCengine

TLCengine provides a patent-pending TLC (True Lifestyle Cost) engine that takes into account 31 lifestyle cost variables, helping real estate agents for the first time provide consumers with the "true costs" of home ownership. Local real estate agents help home shoppers use this technology to compare the real "cost to own" among homes in different neighborhoods and cities. Founded by Krishna Malyala, a Keller Williams Real Estate agent and former technology vice president at Citigroup, TLCengine launched in 2013 at Real Estate Connect in San Francisco, the industry's leading technology conference, and was one of 23 firms its Startup Alley. Learn more at www.tlcengine.com.

*Editor's note: "TLCengine® is a comparative tool — your actual costs of owning a particular home will vary depending on your personal circumstances, such as borrowing costs, type of heat-ing/cooling system, age, others."

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