There’s no doubt that the latest internet revolution is throwing a number of industries for a loop, and the real estate business is as affected as anyone else. Real estate web platforms like Zillow and Trulia provide potential renters and homeowners with a wealth of new tools for their search, offering an alternative to traditional real estate brokers and agents. But that doesn’t mean that everything is hopeless for real estate agencies. By adopting these technologies themselves and moving beyond the traditional real estate website, they can compete with these more disruptive approaches to how we shop for homes. But regardless of which areas these clients come from, it’s fertile ground for people with mobile app development experience. Here are some common mistakes you should avoid when building out a real estate platform.
Neglecting the Search Interface
When you really separate the process of real estate app development down to its component parts, it’s not that dissimilar from building a traditional marketplace shopping app. For the majority of startups trying to create a real estate app, the service itself will operate as a third party provider connecting supply to demand. It’s a model employed in countless industries today, but whether you’re operating an airfare shopping service like Expedia or a more traditional shopping app like Wish or eBay, the core objective is the same. You need to provide the users with the tools they need to identify their needs and receive accurately and appropriately filtered results.
That means that the search engine is going to serve as the core of any real estate app, and the options therein are going to be what causes it to sink or swim. Regardless of the platform, there are a few fundamental filtering options that tend to serve as the core of the real estate search experience:
The location of the property. Many buyers will come to the home shopping experience with some understanding of their ideal neighborhoods, and that means that in addition to a functional map system (which we’ll address below), a simpler way to sort homes by location is integral. This could be broken down into neighborhood names, zip codes, or both.
Listing and home types. Whether a user is looking to buy, sell, or rent their property, their needs are going to be very different. You may want to integrate the selling process using a different interface, but that will depend on how deep is a feature set you want to create for sellers.
The number of bedrooms. A single college student will have very different demands from a family of four, after all.
Pricing. This is a fundamental variable in any shopping experience, and a slider is the most effective way to make it work within your app.
Those are just the fundamentals. A number of other filters like the number of secondary rooms, available amenities, floor space, and smart home features can greatly improve the interactivity of your app. If you’re putting a particular emphasis on renting, additional filters that cover policies like pets and smoking can be of great use as well.
Choosing Only One Listing Type
The search filters only provide half of the story for shoppers, and that’s why more in-depth listings are a necessary component for any app. The two predominant visualizations in apps of these types are maps and paneled lists, and most real estate apps that want to stay competitive will make use of both, normally in conjunction with each other.
Listings allow your sellers or landlords to put their best foot forward. Photos can make a huge difference when trying to find a renter or buyer for a property, and that’s why it’s important to make these options as interactive as possible. Setting standards for resolution, size, and a format is critical here, as it creates a level of consistency with your platform, and you’ll want to make sure that your retailers have access to a simple interface that allows them to upload images easily, manage their galleries, and edit the write up for their listings. On the other end of the equation, the ability to like, bookmark, or favorite listings is a quality of life component that may seem simple but is a practical necessity for apps like these.
Maps might not offer the same dense level of information as listings, but they help the user get a good frame of reference for their prospective properties. Location is one of the biggest determinant factors in the home shopping experience, and it shouldn’t be neglected. Fortunately, the Google Maps API is easy to integrate into most platforms, and there’s a decent level of customization that can be used to create your own brand identity. Another advantage of implementing Google’s map function is that it offers a street-level view, a useful choice for customers who don’t want to rely on the listing galleries alone.
Used in conjunction with one another, these two listing formats allow the users to shop how they want, and it essentially creates two layers of immersion into the experience: a top-down view in the form of the map and a more focused perspective in the form of the paneled gallery.
Focusing Exclusively on Buyers and Renters
If you’re a third party designing a real estate app, it can be easy to look at the people trying to rent and buy a home as your direct consumer. That would be a mistake. As the endpoint in the transactional relationship, the owners and landlords will ultimately be the consumers for your product, and appealing to them should be a top priority. You should strongly consider putting a feature rich interface in for agents and independent sellers.
Monetizing the option to place listings can be one of the best ways to keep your app in the black, but that means that you can’t lag behind the big names in the industry. A calendar constitutes the bare minimum here, and it should absolutely be a part of your infrastructure. If your agents and sellers can’t effectively share information on open houses and showings, your app could be dead on arrival. As with maps, there are a number of options that can be easily implemented via API here, from Google Calendar to Outlook.
But you should consider map functionality a bare minimum here. Many sites offer priority advertising for premium customers, and some even incorporate full-blown customer relationship management platforms directly into their interface. Exactly how far you want to dig in here is going to depend on the ambition of your app, but you should at least build your application with the opportunity for expansion into CRM territory. Marketing tools, landing page integration, and dynamic communications options like chat, voice, and email are all reasonable goals to set for your app’s development process.
In Conclusion, Pace Yourself
Real estate apps may occupy a comparatively small part of the overall software marketplace, but they can be highly lucrative. As with any development cycle, coming in with a strong proof of concept and direct goals for development. By setting a blueprint from the start and determining how your app is differentiated from the variety of other services on the market, you can carve out your own unique niche. Just don’t neglect the fundamental necessities in pursuit of the next big thing.
Editor’s note: This sponsored post was provided by Victor Osadchiy.
Victor is a creative writer who formerly worked in the Ed Tech industry. By day, he’s a writer about app development for business. By night, he’s an online gamer and a big fan of Esports. You can find more posts by Victor on the Yalantis blog