Vilmate Blog

How to Build a Mobile Real Estate App:
Tricks of the Trade

App DevelopmentReal Estate AppsTechnologies

A look at recent statistics only proves what we have known from the horse’s mouth, having implemented several projects for the Real Estate vertical: it is an ever lucrative trade to ply.

Judge for yourself: according to CNBC, the price of a median US home in the recent year of 2016 was up to 7.5% higher in comparison to 2015. It constituted a hefty $ 273 000. Though making the trillions of dollars, the US housing market was worth all the more difficult to calculate.

Notably, this growing tendency holds true for most major international Real Estate markets. If India’s property market was worth some $ 105 billion back in 2015, it will have reached $ 462 billion by 2025, Morgan Stanley predicts. Seems like enough of an incentive for both IT entrepreneurs who are considering a digital Real Estate startup and those Real Estate agencies that are still at sea about going digital, mobile or about expanding their business presence on the Web.

Are you considering real estate app development, and, in particular, real estate mobile app development? Are you still in doubt as to whether developing a mobile real estate app is worth the investment? What should you be mindful of in order to make it with your Real Estate app?

As long-time real estate app developers, we can answer some of the questions, dispel some of the doubts and share a handful of tips that can help you raise the odds of your real estate application.

Why Your Real Estate Business Needs a Mobile App

It can be mentioned upfront that for a Real Estate business, a mobile app is an absolute must, and increasingly so. But why?

Firstly, this is so due to the very nature of this business. Real estate agents often do things on the fly. Frequently, both they and their clients have to be quick in responding to events in order to be able to clinch a good deal.

Secondly, yet back in 2015, 48% of all searches for services in the Real Estate and Property sector were initiated on mobile devices (SmartInsights). Since then, the percentage has only grown.

Thus, on no account should you regard a mobile app as an accessory or a welcome, but too costly an addition to the rest of your business tools and facilities. In all probability, mobile will shortly render your brick-and-mortar and Web-enabled business secondary. It will become your principal earner and means of communication with your clients and business partners.

Developing a Mobile Real Estate App: Must-Haves, Subtleties, and Niceties

To go about developing software within your chosen app niche, you should understand and be able to apply the basic principles. So, let's start with the easy part: 

Search functionality is paramount. Use proven approaches and new technologies

Powerful and refined search functionality is paramount for most real estate apps. It is imperative that you make your property profiles searchable using a diverse range of relevant criteria.

In addition to the must-haves — which, among others, can include location, year built, on-site parking and so on — you should take into account the local specifics, for example, the availability of some sales documents of that kind.

There are three ways in which you can enhance the functionality of your real estate application:

    • A/B test your set of criteria and the order in which they are displayed to the user.
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    • Start with an MVP and then gradually expand your criteria range, testing each of the new criteria as it is added.
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    • Enhance your app with Artificial Intelligence and Data Science.

The functionality of your mobile real estate app

While Data Science analytics can help you analyze the search-related data your app has amassed and, thus, allow you to give prominence to the more frequently searched criteria, the AI-techniques of Natural Language Processing (NLP) and Machine Learning can enable your real estate application to analyze search queries at much greater depth. NLP can give your app the ability to fathom the meaning of entire search queries rather than that of individual keywords. Thus, the “long tails” of search queries that often include important information on your visitors’ preferences will not be disregarded. They will be used by your real estate app to better refine the search results and choose those that suit your visitors’ needs best.

Additionally, if you intend to provide support for a long-term property search (for example, some of your clients may want to find a home that meets an extensive set of requirements and is based in a specific, in-demand area), you could implement an NLP capability to help such users. This capability would scour all added properties for those that meet the users’ requirements and inform them accordingly, for example, by email.

Implement efficient support for a three-way communication process

It is, certainly, important to implement easy-to-use and detailed property profiles. However, the functionality of your real estate app must also effectively support and facilitate the interactions between your agency, your real estate agents and your clients. This means that you should implement a chat feature that allows comprehensive communication and interaction between the three parties, including the sending of audio and video files.

You may also want to consider implementing the following features in order to enhance the communication process:

    • Sharing of property profiles with multiple users (both agents and prospective clients) with the ability to add comments.
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    • Auto-responder and call-recording functionality, which is a great feature that can personalize your interactions with prospects and make them a lot more engaging.

How to Develop a Real Estate App

Use a large number of graphic elements in your real estate mobile app

Such is the nature of mobile devices that things have to be presented on them in a succinct manner. This means that most of the property-related information that can be categorized must be presented to the user in the form of graphic elements and information.

Be prepared to spend part of your development budget on creating a large number of icons and other graphic elements, compelling and easy on the eye.

Provide detailed and relevant neighborhood-related information

When buying a home, we buy an environment that is characteristic of a range of important things, such as infrastructure, crime rate, or close availability of sports facilities. This information must necessarily be provided by your real estate mobile app.

There are several things that should be factored in here:

1. Firstly, similar to your prioritizing when selecting the right property search criteria, you must first identify the categories of neighborhood information that are more likely to be of interest to the user. This information must be made searchable and your app must default to it.

It is up to you which approach to take in creating the neighborhood map. Not to clutter up the map and make it better navigable, you can make it clickable (the way it is done in the famous real estate app Zillow) and display the neighborhood info after the map is clicked on, or you can build a heat map that uses the color spectrum and overlays the regular map at a click.

2. Secondly, it would be smart to implement a separate screen that displays neighborhoods with similar characteristics and allows the user to select one of them to get a close-up.

3. Thirdly, in many cases, the concept of boundaries is not applied in its usual sense. Instead, the notion can often be used to refer to the user’s family, friends and places of interest that make a good neighborhood. The users must be given the ability to define (or — in the case of mobile app development for Real Estate — rather, to draw) their own boundaries and display the neighborhood info for the drawn area.

4. Lastly, one can say that implementing the neighborhood map functionality of a real estate app is very much akin to implementing the functionality of a navigation app. Your app developers will face the same set of difficulties. However, it is experience and expertise in navigation app development (and not just mobile real estate app development) that can help make the similar functionality of a real estate mobile app more sophisticated and usable. Also, a development team that has such experience can deal with the kind of technical hurdles that are bound to arise more efficiently, and, consequently, more cost-effectively.

Mobile, no doubt, makes a strong impact in a real estate sector. Go for it — improve property management (i.e. its buying, renting, and selling) and contribute to the real estate industry digitalization!  

Mobile apps for real estate agents

© 2018, Vilmate LLC

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