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NAR's REACH Labs Program Expands To Chicago

Sarah Wolak
Aug 02, 2022
National Association of Realtors (NAR)

The National Association of Realtors announced its expansion on Monday, which will launch its first multi-association and multiple listing service REACH Lab.

KEY TAKEAWAYS
  • The new REACH Lab will be jointly run by the Mainstreet Organization of Realtors, the Chicago Association of Realtors, the North-Shore Barrington Association of Realtors, and Midwest Real Estate Data.
  • NAR says the purpose of the REACH Labs program is to assist realtor associations in engaging with the startup community and source innovation.

The National Association of Realtors' (NAR) REACH Labs program, which identifies and connects innovative early-stage startups to the Realtor community, on Monday announced its expansion to Chicago to launch its first multi-association and multiple listing service (MLS) REACH Lab.

Representing over 46,000 realtors, the new REACH Lab will be jointly run by the Mainstreet Organization of Realtors, the Chicago Association of Realtors, the North-Shore Barrington Association of Realtors, and Midwest Real Estate Data.

Chicago represents a wide range of startup innovation, with local tech firms raising $7 billion in 2021, according to Pitchbook. Through the REACH Labs program, Chicagoland startups mortgage, home services, and insurance programs have a significant opportunity to connect with thousands of real estate professionals.

"Chicagoland has an incredible technology ecosystem, and the Mainstreet Organization of Realtors is committed to bringing opportunities to our members that keep them on the cutting edge," said Kate Sax, vice president of professionalism and career development for the Mainstreet Organization of Realtors. "REACH Labs will allow us to connect Mainstreet members with new technologies and provide them with a path of entry to local startups that will help build their businesses with an eye on the future."

NAR says the purpose of the REACH Labs program is to assist realtor associations in engaging with the startup community and source innovation. REACH Labs are staffed and operated by local associations or MLSs, with support from the REACH scale-up program, created in 2013 by NAR's venture arm, Second Century Ventures.

Each REACH Lab presents selected startups to their members during quarterly "innovation showcases". REACH Labs Chicagoland will host its first innovation showcase in the fourth quarter of 2022. "Chicagoland is rich in new technology, and the Chicago Association of Realtors is excited to help bring emerging technology to realtors throughout the area," said Zack Wahlquist, Chicago Association of Realtors chief operating officer.

In other regions where REACH Labs is already established, real estate professionals have connected with tech companies that modernize the home tour experience, allow agents to manage deals more seamlessly from start to finish, and provide home buyers with connections to local contractors, according to NAR. 

"We are thrilled to establish the first multi-association REACH Labs program in Chicago, where the startup scene is thriving," said Dave Garland, managing partner, Second Century Ventures. "This partnership will set the stage for tech entrepreneurs to scale their businesses by meeting the needs of a dynamic realtor community."

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