NAR’s REACH Lab program expands into Chicagoland

Local associations are teaming up to launch the National Association of REALTORS® (NAR) REACH Lab for Chicagoland. Run jointly by the Mainstreet Organization of REALTORS® (Mainstreet), the Chicago Association of REALTORS® (CAR), the North-Shore Barrington Association of REALTORS® (NSBAR) and Midwest Real Estate Data (MRED), the program is a multi- association multiple listing service REACH Lab: the first of its kind.

REACH is a technology scale-up initiative that was created by Second Century Ventures, an arm of NAR, in 2013. Since then, REACH has expanded worldwide, aiming to connect adjacent start-up companies with the real estate industry. And, according to a NAR press release, Chicagoland’s own REACH program will maintain a particular focus on the city’s booming tech sector.

“Chicagoland has an incredible technology ecosystem,” said Kate Sax, vice president of professionalism and career development at Mainstreet. “REACH Labs will allow us to connect Mainstreet members with new technologies and provide them with a path of entry to local startups.”

CAR Chief Operating Officer Zack Wahlquist also voiced his enthusiasm. “Chicagoland is rich in new technology, and the Chicago Association of REALTORS® is excited to help bring emerging technology to Realtors throughout the area,” he said.

With three associations participating, Chicagoland’s REACH lab caters to the 46,000 Realtor association members. “We could not be more excited to work with our neighboring associations to bring the latest in technology to all our members,” said Michael Gazdzik, IT and member support director for NSBAR.

Since the lab is not a physical place, the primary mode of connection for those agents will occur through quarterly innovation showcases. There, participating companies can present their new solutions to agents. The first showcase in the Chicagoland area is scheduled for the fourth quarter of 2022.

In regions where REACH Labs have already been established, outcomes have included home tour modernization and the development of tools to optimize deal management and connect homebuyers with local contractors.

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

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