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
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?
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.”
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.
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.
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.
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
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