Ain’t no secret where buyers are looking for house porn these days: on their telephones! Today we hear about the new Iphone 5 as if it were a movie star — in effect, it is! The three big boys — Zillow, Trulia and Realtor.com — all know this and that’s why they got smartphone apps when there were only 3 people using them. In August, the CEO of Zillow, Spencer Rascoff, who I have seen a zillion times at Inman Connect, told the folks at Techcrunch that, in second quarter 2012, for the very first time, more homes were viewed on Zillow through a mobile device or a tablet than on a desktop computer.
I’ve been hearing this for years, and it’s why I tell agents they are wasting their hard earned dollars advertising in print. But will consumers find their Realtors this way? And will they find the actual ones listing a home? According to a recent study from a property search site called The Real Estate Book — ha ha, it’s actually online –more than two-thirds of prospective buyers who use a mobile device in their home search said they called a real estate professional for a showing as a result of their mobile search. The Real Estate Book conducted the survey between Jan. 26, 2012 and Feb. 3, 2012, so fairly recently.
“Consumers who had shopped for either a home or an apartment in the last 90 days in 55 real estate-related websites were asked to participate, and they got 4,051 responses. 52 percent reported using a mobile device to hunt for a home, while 48 percent said they had not.”
They try, they like: 85 percent of the “minority group” said they next time they would consider using a mobile device to search for a home.
Here’s the take-away nugget: 68 percent said they had contacted a real estate professional to view a home based on their mobile search, according to the site’s research.
“Our research supports that homebuyers are turning to their smartphones and tablets in their search and taking action to reach real estate professionals,” said Scott Dixon, president of the real estate division for Network Communications Inc. (NCI), The Real Estate Book’s parent company, in a statement.
All very cool, but listing agents sometimes get miffed when these companies send prospective buyers to other agents who buy leads or higher search ranking.
Well well well. A company in Garland, Texas, may just have solved that problem. Smartactic.com has created a cool new iPhone and Android app – “Real Estate by LooknMove.com” that lets buyers search for real estate on mobile devices but can be custom-made to fit any Realtor’s requirements. Smartactic.com CEO, Russ Kabir, says “With the iPhone 5 being announced by Apple today, this is the perfect time to stamp your presence on your buyer’s smartphones.”
It’s like having your very own personalized, branded Realtor.com app but with features not available on any other real estate apps. And it’s so local they even have CandysDirt.com right there on the screen! The search is geo-location based and full MLS since the CEO and founder of LooknMove.com, Tim Brown, is a Realtor. But trust me, Tim wouldn’t mind getting first dibs on the the countless new DFW buyers using his real estate app. He tells me agents can also upload their own or a professional video. In the app is a YouTube player, so upload a video and go!
Oh and it’s cheap: way less than the cost of advertising in any print pub. I guarantee it!
So playing devil’s advocate here, I see that this is a nice app for consumers and really nice for a real estate blogger to have a direct link to CandysDirt. But why should realtors use this and not Zillow and Trulia or Realtor.com, which the NAR essentially pays for?
“You get instant contact from the app to call, text, or contact the LISTING agent,” says Tim.
With Zillow and Trulia, even Realtor.com, you have to look hard to find the agent. Leads are given to those who pay big bucks for advertising or bid on zip codes – shocker!
The app updates NTREIS information every two hours, so content is more fresh and accurate, vital in our blazing hot, low-inventory market. You can search by a new listing or location. Zillow and Trulia, BTW, take at least 24 hrs to update. And Realtors get mad at Zillow for famously “low-balling” home values, something that happens in non-dosclosure states like Texas where they cannot find published home sale records.
Russ also oversees the app development and designing of the iPhone & Android apps to match the Realtor’s website & logo.
“We spend a minimum of 25 hours per app depending on how much customization the Realtor wants, ” says Russ, pictured, who also used to be a one-time real estate agent. ” I personally make sure each app is beta tested and uploaded to the Apple App Store and Google Play Store.”
Tim says he has built other things into the app to keep people using it long after they have bought or sold, to solidify and retain the relationship with the client. These would be the bill tracker and other home-related financial gizmos. How much has your home appraised since you bought it? Check LooknMove.com iPhone & Android App, ’cause maybe it’s time to move!
“We have ways to keep people in the app, using it, like how people used to keep someone’s info on the refrigerator door,” says Tim.
How are you able to use the MLS data, I asked? Tim says he pays a monthly fee like any Realtor. Any Realtor can do this, he says, if you have the programmer and pay the data feed price.
Why does a Realtor want this customized app? Their buyers, says Tim, are on their phones searching for homes and downloading Trulia and Zillow, who were smart enough to get into this game early. In order to capture the lead, the agent has to have his or her face on the listing… people more likely to request a showing, says Tim, if they see the agents’ contact info on the listing. The app can be custom branded for the Realtor, as customized as they want. Tim swears every home in NTREIS is in there and he can can add cities easily.
Again, tell me Tim: why do Realtors want these? The cost to Realtors is minimal, he says, but the results are great.
“I’ve had the app out for a month and saw 400 downloads on the app itself,” he says. “Much better than Google ads, and it helps the consumer get the info they want faster.”
Eventually, says Tim, everyone is going to have their own mobile app, like a chicken in every pot. Video is growing, he says, and home buyers are really moving quicker than they ever have before, weeding out bad homes with photos and videos.
No kidding. Frequent activities reported for mobile house hunters includes viewing photos and videos of homes (reported by a whopping 78 percent), asking for more information about a listing (66 percent), finding listing details, including contact information (60 percent), locating a listing via GPS (57 percent), searching for listings by city (55 percent), downloading a for-sale property search application (42 percent), and sharing listing information with family and friends (30 percent).
Smartactic.com launched in August and has already signed up several agents. In fact, if you mention that you read about the company on CandysDirt.com you will get a special discount. If they start giving you champagne, please stop — that’s MY treat!
— Daily Local Real Estate Dish By Dallas Real Estate Insider — Candy Evans at CandysDirt.com