The idea was right. In theory it worked great. But somehow it’s never taken hold. The TV wristwatch? Beta-max? A talking car? Stove-Top popcorn? Nope, nice try, though. I’m talking about TMP’s. Transaction Management Platforms for Real Estate.

Transaction Management Platforms, or TMPs, are software applications designed to help manage various projects. In Real Estate, a TMP will help monitor the progress of a home sale from start to finish by allowing all parties involved the ability to view the assorted “action items.” When a real estate agent completes a contract then that contract would be sent to a title agency to open up title and establish a settlement date, electronically or otherwise. A TMP would monitor who ordered a title report, when the order was fulfilled, who fulfilled it while allowing the various parties to view the transaction. Online. And in darned-near real time.

When a home buyer applies for a mortgage, the mortgage company would let everyone know that the borrowers applied for a mortgage and then issue an approval. The mortgage company could also order an appraisal with the status of that appraisal being available to everyone in the process. When the appraisal is completed, it can be delivered electronically to all interested parties.

Surveys, escrows, home inspections, engineering reports, home warranties, closing papers, hazard insurance, and pretty much anything else involved to complete a home sale can be ordered, tracked, monitored and fulfilled with a TMP automatically.

Want to check on the status of your loan application? Instead of placing a call to your lender’s voice mail, log onto your TMP instead and see when your appraisal was ordered, make sure your title work has been completed and check on the status of your approval. While you’re there, you can view your inspection report, a termite and apply for a home warranty. All at your convenience.

So where are all these TMPs? If they’re so popular, then why isn’t everyone using them?

Foremost, most computer applications still don’t “talk” to one another very well. One application speaks Greek while the other converses in Korean. My loan software is pretty good at processing a loan application but it’s not as efficient at ordering a survey. And while a real estate agent can open up an escrow for their client with relative ease that agent still must usually fax the sales contract to a title agent or lender to get the wheels turning in other areas.

Each segment of the home buying industry has their own “language.” Appraisers have their own software while lenders have another. Real estate brokers use still other software programs for a variety of tasks including database management, communication and selling tools. Attorneys have their stuff, inspectors have theirs and escrow companies have theirs. They can barely “speak” to one another, much less share data seamlessly.

Before I get a jillion emails from companies touting their TMP, let me say that I’ve seen them and they’re great, but at this stage of the game they’re just not ready to play in Peoria. Too many current TMPs are proprietary, clumsy or both.

One day, TMPs will be as common as a digital watch, but until TMP software can cruise the Internet in a universal language, they’ll be nothing more than a novelty.

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