How to Build a Real Estate App: Benefits, Features, and Cost
With an idea to build a real estate application, you want it to bring real value to people. Especially with 97% of home buyers using the internet in their search. And you surely want your project to make profit. How to do it when there are such huge real estate apps like Zillow and Trulia out in the market?
The success of the market leaders is not something that stops ambitious entrepreneurs. There are always options to make a product that will be your audience’s best choice. To find out how to build a real estate app that will conquer the hearts of users, how much it will cost, and how to monetize it, read on.
Why are Real Estate Apps So Popular?
People are constantly moving out from their places and looking for new ones to move in — that’s how it is and how it’s always been. And the COVID-19 is no longer a deal-breaker.
The main difference between, say, 20 years back and now is that people don’t quite need real estate agents and brokers assisting in their search in real life anymore. These are replaced by mobile applications available at any moment with no third parties involved. No wonder that people choose instant access to a huge base of houses over scheduling viewings all over the town.
Why Does a Real Estate Business Need an App?
Considering the above, it appears that if you own an agency and are planning to grow in a real estate domain, having an app would be a huge advantage for you. Customers appreciate when the business cares about their time, so you should make the most to help them solve problems with no effort on their part. It’s a win-win case: you as a business gain competitiveness by going digital, and customers have their needs satisfied with your mobile solution.
Who Uses Real Estate Apps?
To answer this question, it’s important to see people behind usernames and identify their types. Real estate is a very broad industry, and still, it involves very specific categories of people.
- Buyers/tenants or people who are looking for accommodation. For them, mobile apps are an accessible source of up-to-date information on what’s open to buy or rent. Customizable filters allow for very specific search queries which is time-saving, not to mention the ability to evaluate a house/apartment without actually going there.
- Sellers are those willing to sell a house/apartment. When approaching to property selling with enough responsibility and creativity, they have much better chances to find the right buyer fast using an app. Firstly, real estate applications allow sellers to show the inside and outside of a place at its best. The power of the right photos in terms of marketing can’t be underestimated. Secondly, in-app messaging allows sellers to be in touch with multiple potential buyers at a time, which adds to faster deal closure.
- Realtors (brokers) are intermediaries between the two. Although they seem to have lost in popularity, the U.S. buyers still work with agents 87% of the time even when the search process starts online, the National Association of Realtors stated. People still need professional assistance in making serious financial decisions, in which realtors are of much help. Specialized apps help these specialists automate their routine tasks and get fast and easy access to their clients.
- Property managers — landlords and people working at hotels. Their duties can include setting rental rates, property maintenance, paying bills, attracting new tenants, managing complaints, and much more. Special mobile apps help them optimize their routine and communicate with tenants faster.
- Construction and development specialists, including engineers, architects, technicians, contractors, and other construction specialists. This category of users opts for specialized apps to simplify their routine processes, get a centralized tool for managing projects, and have all the information on construction in one place.
Benefits of Real Estate Applications for Business
Benefits for users are very clear, but what about business? How can a real estate app add value to your company?
Going online is no longer a privilege for a business but a necessity. What does a person do once they hear a company name? They google — or sometimes search it in an app store, and if they don’t find you, they find someone else. Thus an app adds to the company’s visibility and brand awareness. More visibility means you can reach more people, which, in its turn, provides for a durable business.
Types of Real Estate Apps
In addition to the buying/selling and renting solutions that come to mind first, there are many field-specific types of real estate apps. Our list may help you better formulate the idea of your future project — or maybe give you an idea of one.
- Buying/selling apps
This is the most common category of real estate apps, which name explains itself. Most of them are multiple listing services (MLS), or multiple listing systems, that compile databases of various real estate agencies. This way, agencies and homeowners get a channel for promoting their offers, and homebuyers get easy access to all of the available ones. Search by location, adding neighborhood description, uploading photos, and other less common features help them find each other. With or without real estate agents, the two sides meet and tie up a deal.
Examples: Zillow, Trulia.
- Renting mobile apps
A rental mobile app is an instrument that helps people find accommodation for rent for a long period or shorter periods — weekend, vacation, or business trip. The more filters the app has — by location, price, amenities — the easier it is for users to find the desired accommodation.
Examples: Airbnb, Booking.com, Zillow Rentals.
- Property management systems (PMS)
To automate routine procedures and save time, apps for property management offer landlords tools to control rent payments, utility payment collection, move-ins and move-outs, as well as provide a channel to communicate with tenants.
Examples: Buildium, InnQuest.
- Vacation rental management apps
The vacation rental apps, or hotel property management systems, are designed for owners and hosts aiming to provide a better experience for their short-term guests. These tools allow owners to manage hotel reservations and services, communicate with guests, and automate other day-to-day activities.
Examples: Guesty, Lodgify.
- CRM apps for real estate
Customer relationship management (CRM) apps for real estate are tools for solving business issues between real estate agencies and their clients — homebuyers or renters. The purpose of CRM apps is to improve clients’ experience with business, which is achieved via constant communication with them, answering their feedback, and responding to their requests.
Examples: LionDesk, Contactually.
- Home appraisal tools
Tools for home valuation, or home appraisal apps, allow suggesting the value of housing. They come useful when the owner decides to sell their property and needs to calculate how much they can sell it for. The result is based on the house’s size, year built, location, and other data. The calculations can be made with the help of Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Machine Learning (ML) technologies.
Examples: PriceHubble, Zillow, Trulia.
- Investment apps
Investing in real estate is a common source of passive income, and apps for real estate investment provide users with an easy start. Just in several minutes, users can be investing in actual land parcels. An investment mobile app assists them in decision making, helps calculate risks and determine future taxes. Auctions, trusts, crowdfunding projects — there are so many things to implement in your app.
Examples: DiversyFund, EquityMultiple.
- Construction apps
Construction and real estate development apps are designed for construction firms and include a broad scope of features, from bidding and cost estimates to time tracking, property management tools, and financial control. From project planning to closeout, a real estate construction app accompanies the firm in all of the significant real estate development steps.
Examples: Procore, Box.
Must-Have Features in a Real Estate App
If you’re planning on creating a platform for buyers and agents, consider including the features below in it.
- Listing feature
The most common and easily perceived way of displaying databases to users is via listings. What users expect from your app is a list of housings with information about their price, location, and amenities. Longer lists assure users’ maximum retention and increase their chances to find a living on their needs.
- Map & geolocation feature
A built-in map allows users to see all of the available accommodations in the area while driving around or sitting on the couch. Commercial real estate apps and multiple listing services like Trulia and Zillow use GPS-based search to show you what properties are for sale or sold in a certain area.
- 3D virtual tour
Visual tours, or immersive tours, recently started gaining much popularity in the real estate industry. An app user can see the inside of a house in 3D and even walk through it as if they’ve actually been there. It’s enabled thanks to photos of rooms merged together to form a seamless picture.
- Signing documents online
When it comes to getting documents signed, which realtors have to do constantly, the electronic signature feature is the fastest way to do it on the go. It is also great to have an app that can connect with cloud services like Dropbox, Evernote, Google Drive to import and save documents, track their status, and send reminders.
- Using the smartphone’s camera
Access to the phone’s camera allows users to quickly make floor plans by moving their phone around the room. Viewing space in 3D, editing floor plans in a single tap, adding objects, furnishing home — this is a goldmine for real estate agents. Another way to use the camera in apps for real estate agents and buyers is for the search option, e.g. like in Homesnap where a user can take a photo of any house with their smartphone and find out the estimated value, the number of rooms, interior photos, and other details.
- Mortgage calculator
A realtors app that can give the exact info about mortgage rates and payments is the perfect tool when a real estate agent needs to figure the cost of the home or to determine which loan is more suitable for the client. A mortgage calculator by Zillow is a nice example of how this feature may work.
- Value calculator
Earlier we identified tools for property cost evaluation as a separate category. Still, the value calculation feature can be found in a number of popular real estate apps like Zillow and Trulia. Since people mainly use apps for one particular feature, separate apps for property valuation are still in demand. However, adding a value estimator to your app makes sense — unless the app is at the MVP stage.
- Keeping real estate team organized
CRM and task management apps for realtors can boost the productivity of your real estate team. With such an app, you can see what each agent is working on, send notifications about new leads to each team member’s phone, set to-do’s, and schedule reminders.
How to Create a Real Estate App
Identify the Idea & Target Audience
Think through the idea and features you’d like to see in the app. What kind of solution will it be: a rental mobile app, a property management app, a real estate investment app, or some other one? The needs of which group of users should it fulfill: homebuyers, home sellers, realtors, property managers, or maybe constructors?
Conduct a Market Research
Go through listings and app stores and check out projects with an idea similar to yours. Think over their strengths and weaknesses and figure out what will highlight your app among them. How will your app be better than anybody else’s is the question.
Find a Developer
Hire specialists with expertise in real estate app development. On choosing the right team of engineers to create an application, see our article: How to Find an App Developer for Your Project. Also see the list of Anadea’s real estate projects.
We strongly recommend the following team composition to work on your application:
- Business analyst
- Project manager
- Back-end developers
- Front-end developers
- Android developers
- iOS developers
- UX/UI designers
- QA engineers
When the product is developed, you’ll need to fill it with proposals right away. Empty real estate platform is useless: a user that downloads it and sees no houses for sale or lease will never come back. What we want to say is you will need a database from somewhere. You can get one or several from the nearby real estate agencies on their terms. As a result of such cooperation, you will fill the app with offers, and agencies can get additional advertising.
Monetize the App
Think over the monetization model of your project — the point of a mobile app for real estate company is still bringing profit to the business. There are several revenue models most apps use.
Good old ads banners are the most common way of making money with an app. You can charge money from businesses offering services related to real estate, such as: building supplies stores, cleaning services, interior designers, home security systems installation services, etc.
- Premium plans
Another common practice is giving users access to a limited set of free functions and making the rest available by subscription or after a single payment. If you offer users several subscription plans, they will choose one to suit them best and avoid unnecessary functions. For users to know what they will pay for, consider a short free trial period.
For mediation services, the app can charge a fee, or a commission, from users once the deal between a buyer and a seller is closed.
- Featured lists
A property owner can request the platform administrator to promote one or several of their announcements so that more people can see them. For some money, home sellers and landlords can reach out to a wider audience.
Promote Your Project
Databases integrated, the app uploaded to the stores — at this point, it’s time to market it to the target audience.
A typical marketing strategy for app promotion includes:
- App Store Optimization (ASO) — making the app more visible in App Store and Play Market.
- Search Engine Optimization (SEO) — making adjustments to your project’s website in a way that your target audience sees it in their search results.
- Pay-per-click (PPC) advertising — a type of advertising which implies that each click on the ad’s banner is paid for.
- Social Media Marketing (SMM) — marketing the app on the project’s pages on social media by posting all kinds of content (text posts, videos, giveaways) and, most importantly, communicating with followers.
- Influencer Marketing — outreaching to the app’s users via bloggers (influencers) on different platforms: Instagram, YouTube, Facebook.
Professional marketers and SEO/ASO specialists will help you with implementing these strategies.
Top Real Estate App Market Players
Those are the names others look up to. See the examples of successful real estate apps that people use worldwide.
This real estate marketplace is considered the best in the market for a reason, thus the demand for developing real estate apps like Zillow is so high. Zillow is a one-stop shop for buying and selling houses, valuating their cost, and taking control of budgeting.
Another leading real estate database for homebuyers and landlords, Trulia has a more simple interface compared to that of Zillow but still offers users comprehensive information on the neighborhood and even has crime map data in it.
The HotPads app is a map-based tool that shows the user houses and apartments near them. Advanced filters allow users to narrow their search. Highly usable and efficient, this app has become very popular among users in the U.S.
One of the largest real estate MLS with homes listings that refresh every 5 minutes. With this app, users can instantly schedule video and in-person tours and plan visits to open houses.
Need to find a realtor, calculate mortgage payments, or estimate your home’s value — Realtor.com has an answer to all of these problems. Less popular and innovative than Zillow, it still has many loyal users.
How Much Does it Cost to Develop a Real Estate App?
Pretty much like with any other type of apps, real estate app development cost depends on the complexity of the solution, the selection of features, and hours of work. Here’s a couple of examples from our experience with real estate application development:
- A real estate listing portal that enabled communication between property searchers and realtors costed our client $56.000. The project duration was 12 weeks.
- The development of a platform for property cost prediction costed one other client $18.000 and took us approximately 5 weeks.
To stay on the wave of new technologies, a real estate business should respond to the innovations and best practices in the industry. While websites have become the norm for home searching, a real estate app opens huge opportunities and can move your business to a new level.
Looking for a company to create an efficient and profitable app for your business? At Anadea, we gladly take on real estate mobile app development. Contact us, and our specialists will answer all of your questions.
Originally published at https://anadea.info on November 23, 2021.