Ten properties viewed every second
According to Realtor.com, ten properties are viewed every second on their mobile apps on covers iPhone, Windows Phone 7, and Android which have been downloaded 3.6 million times.
Now, Realtor.com announces their iPad app to cater to the rapid growth in mobile. Errol Samuelson, Realtor.com President and Chief Revenue Officer said that Realtor.com offers the most accurate real estate listings and the iPad app appeals to consumers’ rising “need for instant gratification.” In line with that sentiment, Realtor.com notes that their system updates listings every 15 minutes. The app focuses on flexibility and a special emphasis is placed on geolocation which has become less of a buzzword and more of a consumer demand.
Steve Berkowitz, CEO of Move, Inc., parent company of AG advertiser Realtor.com said, “Mobile is changing the way people buy and sell homes and our iPad app opens real estate up to millions of people with an amazing visual search experience.”
Samuelson notes that with half of all iPad users in the 26-40 age range and 30 being the median age of first time buyers, this new app will likely have a large concentration of first time buyers as users.
iPad app features
There are several key features in the Realtor.com iPad app that we think are pretty cool, mostly surrounding their use of GPS location technologies. First, when opening the app, it doesn’t assume user preference, rather offers a manual location search up top followed by “find homes near me” options based on the iPad’s GPS location and finally by map searching, all streamlined and on one page (no swiping or scrolling to see search options).
For the mapping junkies, the app is akin to an “etch-a-sketch for real estate,” says Samuelson. Users can use their finger to outline any boundary for example a school district or an area near the grocery store or homes on the river banks. Custom boundaries are testing very highly in user groups we have (and are) conducting, and we like that Realtor.com has included this feature. Consumers don’t like being bound by what the industry thinks is an “area,” as it is so subjective (see list of boundary ideas previously mentioned).
Because mobile apps are used, well, in a mobile scenario rather than a stationary scenario, the app offers “Area Scout” wherein the map updates as you move and in real time, listings nearby show up in your search and those outside the area fall off with all averages (listing price, etc.) update in real time. This is one of the better uses of geolocation we’ve seen on the market so far.
The app puts a lot of emphasis on Open Houses as it is an entire function of the program and the cool part for consumers is that it offers “nearby” open houses, and the cool part for you is that when you tell the MLS you’re hosting an Open House, it tells Realtor.com and consumers can click one button to add any open house to their calendar already built into their iPads. Although listing and buyer agents won’t see who has planned on attending open houses, it would be a neat opt-in feature for consumers open to being contacted or simply welcomed in advance.
One of the more innovative measures in the app is the ability for users to take notes on listings with common phrases built in, so when they’re on the go, there are predictive phrases to save typing time (especially given that typing isn’t exactly easy on an iPad). Users can give each listing a star rating for their own reference so they can look back and remember their preferences more clearly.
Another feature we like is that the app keeps a history of listings viewed and once viewed, a listing appears in results differently which seriously streamlines the process for those consumers who mentally insist on seeing every single listing online before getting in your car.
Current Realtor.com account holders’ notes and ratings on the iPad app will be visible when they search from their computer online or on another mobile app and properties as all account use syncs between devices.
Social sharing is built into the app– users can share listings on Facebook or Twitter or shared via email.
As with other Realtor.com mobile apps, listing agents still get reporting like the number of times their listing has been seen, email leads and the like, but Samuelson notes the data reporting to agents is limited as a privacy measure for consumers. Agents using the Realtor.com Showcase program will still see their additional branding on search results on the iPad in addition to existing mobile and desktop applications.
Agents, you should probably not skip this part:
Buyer’s agents, you need to do your homework and prepare your consumers for this part… there is a really handy “ask a Realtor” button on all listings and users can immediately contact the listing agent which is fantastic in theory (and we wouldn’t recommend Realtor.com change this feature), but can be confusing to consumers when they get scolded for hurting their negotiation power by not going through you. So make sure when they start their search after hiring you that they understand that they should stick with you to safeguard themselves. Listing agents may disagree with us here, but it is akin to a lawyer telling their client that they shouldn’t talk to opposing council without them present. It’s not a big deal if the consumer understands the dynamics.
We asked what the biggest challenges getting to market were (given the complexity of the app and the focus on geolocation). Mike Leavy, Mobile Engineering Manager at Move, Inc. said that it was “honing in on the optimal user experience and feature set. Optimizing performance, especially for the larger display area on the iPad [and] balancing ease of use with feature depth.”
Comparison chart by Realtor.com
While this doesn’t likely take into account features that Zillow or Trulia would probably want featured, it highlights some key differences between the apps nonetheless:
Tour of the app in pictures