Realtor.com launched their new iPhone application and gave a few of us the chance to play with it and tear it to pieces before the launch (maybe they didn’t quite put it that way, but it’s the way I’m approaching it).
When I first open these new apps, I always think of the intent and this one is pretty obvious. The Realtor.com iphone app iss totally and completely designed with the end consumer in mind (sorry Realtors if you thought it could be about you). It’s about providing the latest property information in the quickest, easiest and most user friendly fashion possible.
When you open the app, a home screen gives you several options, including searching for nearby homes for sale, nearby open houses or perform a new search by location or MLS ID. You can allow for the app to use your current location and it actually gives you nearby listings currently for sale (also giving you the option to narrow down your criteria). This can be really cool if you are driving in a neighborhood and just want to get property information without having to even get out of the car or make a phone call. (Bad for agents that rely on the client to actually make that call to capture their business).
You can view a map option or a list option of properties and are able to actually click on any given one and get detailed information, not only on the property, but also the listing agent and the brokerage (very similar to what you see on Realtor.com). You can scroll through photos of the listing and turn the phone to get bigger photos and you can save the property and include notes to go with it.
What’s even more fascinating is the option to contact the listing agent on the spot. You can call them by clicking on their telephone number, you can email them, visit their site and add them to your contacts. (I know I’m an over achiever, but wouldn’t it be cool if you could tweet or facebook them as well?).
My favorite feature is the “drive around and use your location” to find listings – but you can also enter an address for a particular listing and/or its surrounding competitors and even enter the MLS number.
Great move on Realtor.com to empower the consumer. Personally, an educated consumer is the best one in my book, but here’s the beef many will have…You can now say “Buh Bye” to Buyers’ Agents, with this app, listing agents will have the upper hand – this will give quick and easy information to the local consumer (not the end for those buyers agents that work with absentee and relocating clients).
I can now see me getting bombarded by calls from people who “forget” to tell me they are working with another agent and just wanted quick info. I can also see my clients calling other agents just because their information was handy. We’ll just have to see how this extra communication tool will evolve….it could be detrimental for many.
The question of who does Realtor.com work for will inevitably come up. Many will criticize this as a tool of disintermediation, but if we are smart, we will not only know how to use this information in our favor, but we will welcome it with open arms. I do wonder if it could be possible to personalize this particular iphone app for a fee so that Realtors can offer it to their clients (of course I would try to come up with a win-win for everyone).
For now it’s time for everyone to make sure their contact information is correct on their listings, and especially Realtor.com. Listing agents will have the ability to answer inquiries on the spot, staying above the competition with customer service always at the top of the priority list.
And for the record, I’m not associated with Realtor.com, so feel free to kill it if you have the itch.