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

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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.

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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29 Comments

29 Comments

  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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Austin

Austin tops the list of best places to buy a home

When looking to buy a home, taking the long view is important before making such a huge investment – where are the best places to make that commitment?

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Looking at the bigger picture

(REALUOSO.COM) – Let us first express that although we are completely biased about Texas (we’re headquartered here, I personally grew up here), the data is not – Texas is the best. That’s a scientific fact. There’s a running joke in Austin that if there is a list of “best places to [anything],” we’re on it, and the joke causes eye rolls instead of humility (we’re sore winners and sore losers in this town).

That said, SelfStorage.com dug into the data and determined that the top 12 places to buy a home are currently Texas and North Carolina (and Portland, I guess you’re okay too or whatever).

They examined the nerdiest of numbers from the compound annual growth rate in inflation-adjusted GDP to cost premium, affordability, taxes, job growth, and housing availability.

“Buying a house is a big decision and a big commitment,” the company notes. “Although U.S. home prices have risen in the long term, the last decade has shown that path is sometimes full of twists, turns, dizzying heights and steep, abrupt falls. Today, home prices are stabilizing and increasing in most areas of the U.S.”

Click here to continue reading the list of the 12 best places to buy a home…

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Housing News

Average age of houses on the rise, so is it now better or worse to buy new?

With aging housing in America, are first-time buyers better off buying new or existing homes? The average age of a home is rising, as is the price of new housing, so a shift could be upon us.

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aging housing inventory

The average home age is higher than ever

(REALUOSO.COM) – In a survey from the Department of Housing and Urban Development American Housing Survey (AHS), the median age of homes in the United States was 35 years old. In Texas, homes are a bit younger with the median age between 19 – 29 years. The northeast has the oldest homes, with the median age between 50 – 61 years. In 1985, the median age of a home was only 23 years.

With more houses around 40 years old, the National Association of Realtors asserts that homeowners will have to undertake remodeling and renovation projects before selling unless the home is sold as-is, in which case the buyer will be responsible to update their new residence. Even homeowners who aren’t selling will need to consider remodeling for structural and aesthetic reasons.

Prices of new homes on the rise

Newer homes cost more than they used to. The price differential between new homes and older homes has increased from 10 percent traditionally to around 37 percent in 2014. This is due to rising construction costs, scarcity of lots, and a low inventory of new homes that doesn’t meet the demand.

Click here to continue reading this story…

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Housing News

Are Realtors the real loser in the fight between Zillow Group and Move, Inc.?

The last year has been one of dramatic and rapid change in the real estate tech sector, but Realtors are vulnerable, and we’re worried.

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Why Realtors are vulnerable to these rapid changes

(REALUOSO.COM) – Corporate warfare demands headlines in every industry, but in the real estate tech sector, a storm has been brewing for years, which in the last year has come to a head. Zillow Group and Move, Inc. (which is owned by News Corp. and operates ListHub, Realtor.com, TopProducer, and other brands) have been competing for a decade now, and the race has appeared to be an aggressive yet polite boxing match. Last year, the gloves came off, and now, they’ve drawn swords and appear to want blood.

Note: We’ll let you decide which company plays which role in the image above.

So how then, does any of this make Realtors the victims of this sword fight? Let’s get everyone up to speed, and then we’ll discuss.

1. Zillow poaches top talent, Move/NAR sues

It all started last year when the gloves came off – Move’s Chief Strategy Officer (who was also Realtor.com’s President), Errol Samuelson jumped ship and joined Zillow on the same day he phoned in his resignation without notice. He left under questionable circumstances, which has led to a lengthy legal battle (wherein Move and NAR have sued Zillow and Samuelson over allegations of breach of contract, breach of fiduciary duty, and misappropriation of trade secrets), with the most recent motion being for contempt, which a judge granted to Move/NAR after the mysterious “Samuelson Memo” surfaced.

Salt was added to the wound when Move awarded Samuelson’s job to Move veteran, Curt Beardsley, who days after Samuelson left, also defected to Zillow. This too led to a lawsuit, with allegations including breach of contract, violation of corporations code, illegal dumping of stocks, and Move has sought restitution. These charges are extremely serious, but demanded slightly less attention than the ongoing lawsuit against Samuelson.

2. Two major media brands emerge

Last fall, the News Corp. acquisition of Move, Inc. was given the green light by the feds, and this month, Zillow finalized their acquisition of Trulia.

…Click here to continue reading this story…

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