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Help-U-Sell to launch mobile site – why brokerages should take note

New device-agnostic mobile site to launch

Help-U-Sell is the largest fee-for-service real estate franchise with nearly 200 offices in 35 states. “Help-U-Sell has been experiencing a revitalization in the past couple years. Everything from our websites to our systems and tools has been completely modernized,” Ron McCoy, Help-U-Sell Real Estate’s Vice President of Business Development said in a statement.

In an AGBeat exclusive interview, we learned that one of their updates is to the Help-U-Sell mobile site which will be rolled out to the public in January. Rather than creating an app for iTunes, Android, RIM and the like, the company chose a modern coding language called HTML 5 and combined it with Java to create a website that behaves like an app depending on what device a user has in their hand.

The benefits of creating an HTML 5 site is that consumers do not have to download any app (which studies continue to show is not only an annoyance to consumers, but they often download an app then rarely use it again), nor are they required to go through the process of updating an app to use it – everything is automatic, all they have to do is go to the site and it automatically knows what device a user has and it only uses one source code, but custom style sheets meaning that if you’re on an iPhone, it knows and it looks and acts like an iPhone app, but if you’re on an Android, it knows and so it looks and acts like an Android app, but no downloading of an app is required.

Because the brokerage automatically generates a QR code for their signs and flyers, when it is scanned, it takes the user to the mobile-ready site automatically. There is a buyer’s login and a seller’s login coming soon that allows buyers to save listings and get email alerts about listings, while sellers can log in through the mobile site to see stats on their listing’s traffic, leave notes or even files for their agent, and download files.

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The website that behaves like an app has the industry basics covered, even map search which cleverly highlights Help-U-Sell listings in their branded red while all other listings’ map markers are blue. The app allows users to see full screen listing photos that they can swipe through just like on standard smartphone apps.

A world without apps?

Robert Stevens, COO and CTO of Help-U-Sell told AGBeat that he believes apps are prohibitive to the user and that their mobile traffic has at least tripled in the last year. Regarding their choice of using HTML 5 and bucking the app ecosystem, Stevens said, “I believe this trend is not just in real estate. Companies will begin to build true web apps with more functionality to better serve the user.”

The company started planning in the first quarter of this year, began development in October, by November had a beta version in the hands of their brokers as a demo, and plan to launch to the public in January. The company places high emphasis on serving their agents, but in discussing the new mobile site with AGBeat, they continually emphasized the consumer experience over all else.

Screenshots of the new mobile site

As a bonus, we wanted to share with you that the company has a sense of humor as shown when there is an error in search (for example, we searched for extremely expensive large homes in a very rural area with a median home price around $100,000):

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  1. Brad Blumberg

    December 13, 2011 at 12:03 pm

    You should have HTML.5 and apps. The iTunes store is not going away in 2012 and apps perform better than HTML.5 implementations. Your top competitors have apps and HTML.5. Just having HTML.5 will not get you a lot of downloads, don't you want your apps in the iTunes store, Android marketplace, etc. I have never read a study that says consumers find apps annoying, you will have Steve Jobs rolling over in his grave.A rule of thumb is to have the best user experience on whatever phone a potential prospect has, today that is an app.

    HTML.5 will get better and better and may indeed replace apps 3 years from now, but you compete today. For $550 per month a broker can get a full suite of iPhone, Android and Blackberry Apps, plus an HTML.5 and iPad app, plus get everyone of his/her agents the same. Not for those that is a lot of money, but marketing leading brokers can afford that. For under $300 a year there are also options for brokers/agents.

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