How to Build a Real Estate App: Benefits, Features, and Cost

Why are Real Estate Apps So Popular?

Why Does a Real Estate Business Need an App?

Who Uses Real Estate Apps?

  • 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

Types of Real Estate Apps

  • 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

  • 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

Conduct a Market Research

Find a Developer

  • Business analyst
  • Project manager
  • Back-end developers
  • Front-end developers
  • Android developers
  • iOS developers
  • UX/UI designers
  • QA engineers

Monetize the App

  • Advertising
    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.
  • Fees
    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

  • 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.

Top Real Estate App Market Players

  • Zillow
    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.
  • Trulia
    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.
  • HotPads
    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.
  • Redfin
    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.
  • Realtor.com
    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?

  • 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.

Bottom Line

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