Real estate market undergoes reconstruction as mobile curb appeal escalates
Real estate technology-powered brokerages such as Redfin and realtor.com are upping the ante for reaching on-the-go house hunters via mobile with new initiatives to pull in relevant data from sources such as Facebook and Porch while traditional brokers continue to lag.
With reports that 90 percent of home buyers searched online during their home buying process in 2012, Redfin recently integrated Facebook Messenger into its app , enabling users to share listings with contacts. Realtor.com, which saw nearly 60 percent of viewed listings accessed through a mobile device in March, recently integrated home remodeling portal Porch to provide deeper insights to potential home buyers.
?We know that it?s all about mobile right now - with mobile traffic across the board up way more than web traffic. People are on the go, they're using their mobile devices more, and they're using them as integral tools while they're actually out visiting a home,? said Andy Taylor, director of product at Redfin, Seattle.
?Additionally, people who are shopping for homes right now are finding themselves competing over a limited number of homes for sale, which means it is crucial that they schedule tours of their favorite homes as soon as possible, so they can be the first to make an offer.?
?In this type of environment, people rely their smartphones to know when new homes hit the market, or when the status changes on one of their favorite homes. In the past, consumers could wait until they got home to check real estate websites, but now they want to be able to shop for homes and schedule tours while on the go,? he said.
Mobile house hunters
Over the past decade, the search of house hunting has become increasingly digital. Consumers are turning to online and mobile for information to support their buying decisions, a trend that has carried over from retails uber-connectedness. As 9 in 10 home buyers rely on the Internet as one of their primary research sources as reported by the National Association of Realtors, online real estate portals are following suit in creating a digitally driven media environment to capture and build shopper attention.
However, traditional real estate brokers have been slower to innovate in this area.
This may be starting to change.
For example, RE/MAX locations in Memphis have a new mobile app that enables users to view what properties are available for sale in real-time. The quick view shows all listings within a one-mile radius.
Users can also target searches based on their desired commute time.
Prospective home buyers face no shortage of questions during their hunt for the ideal property: How many bedrooms does the home have? When was it built? What types of amenities are surrounding? And for how much?
With 52 percent of individuals turning to web as their first step as discovered by NAR, the answers may be right at their fingertips, as one fifth of all real estate searched happened on mobile devices in 2012, a 120 percent increase from just the year prior.
Additionally, the number of mobile applications designed for on-the-go buyers continues to grow and evolve, as agencies and databases alike become more fit for time sensitive processes.
?Mobile devices have without a doubt changed the way consumers shop for housing,? said Melody Adhami, president and COO of Plastic Mobile.
?Real estate brands that have optimized their mobile offering to meet the changing demands of consumers are ensuring convenience.?
?Personalization is key to offering the best user experience on mobile and achieving stickiness. In real estate, brands can optimize their offering by notifying customers when a property becomes available, when the price changes, or when a property is sold and off the market,? she said.
Mobile social approach
RedFin is a real estate brokerage present in twenty-five markets throughout the U.S. and is accompanied by a real estate search site.
Last week, it announced an upgrade to its iPhone app, which now features integration with Facebook Messenger that allows users to share listings with contacts directly from Redfin using the popular social network?s messaging app.
When users click on a link to a Redfin listing via Facebook Messenger they will be taken directly to the listing on Redfin?s iPhone app.
The wiki has also added a three-button menu bar across the screen footer, providing access to home search from anywhere within the app. The menu also conveniences buyers by allowing them to set up a home tour with a Redfin agent and store their favorite listings by prompting the ?visit homes? button.
The app also lets users view saved searches, Redfin-recommended homes, and notes and photos with a new search display layout similar to Zillow and Trulia, where listing photos slide up on the bottom of the screen to reveal more details.
In April, Redfin attracted 3.2 million unique visitors to its mobile Web site and mobile apps, according to comScore. That ranked it Number 5 among all real estate networks behind Zillow (30.7 million), Trulia (10.9 million), realtor.com operator Move Inc. (13.3 million) and Homes.com (4.6 million).
New enhancements to residential listing site realtor.com are purporting features that are consumer ?must-haves? to ensure the reliance and trust of properties are the most fresh and comprehensive among competitors.
Steve Berkowitz, the CEO of Move inc. and operator on realtor.com said that during March of 2014, nearly 60 percent of viewed listings were accessed through a mobile device.
In response, the company upgraded site enhancements to include larger photos, increased mapping and search capabilities and greater insights into neighborhoods and home sale histories through a new partnership with remodeling website Porch.
With the launch of new Windows 8 paired apps earlier this month, realtor.com is more equipped to compete, as its coverage on Microsoft platforms is also supported by Zillow, which reported that 79 million users visited its site on mobile and desktop in April.
The rising popularity of searching for listings across mobile platforms means consumers using mobile devices spend more time reviewing listings and photos than desktop computer users, which likely means they are more ready to buy or sell and wanting accurate, real-time listings
?At the end of the day, mobile technology in real estate provides consumers with added convenience to access information on-the-go and arms them with relevant information to help make their final purchase decision,? Ms. Adhami said.
?Because there is so much content for real estate out there, marketers need to leverage mobile as a tool to simplify the home buying experience for consumers. Through providing a seamless real estate mobile user experience, real estate brands can increase customer engagement and acquisition.?
Michelle is editorial assistant on Mobile Marketer, New York