From a marketing perspective, the importance of having a mobile app is self-evident and needs no repeating. We won’t labor the point here. But every industry has its nuances, so in this piece, we explore the ins and outs of real estate apps development. What are the biggest benefits of mobile app development for real estate companies? What should you consider when doing your own real estate mobile application development? What examples can we look to for a glimpse of what it looks like when it’s done right?
There isn’t a more iconic symbol of the impact of technology on modern-day life than the mobile device. Our smartphones go everywhere we do – literally everywhere. They facilitate even the most mundane every-day activities, support our personal management, and inform our decision-making on everything from what we wear, eat and drink, to where we live. For the real estate industry, there are also the unique capabilities with AR, VR, and interactive web tours that become possible with a mobile app.
From the marketer’s standpoint, the potential there cannot be ignored. With a well-designed application, you can provide cutting edge solutions for real estate challenges that your clients have, as well as get valuable feedback on their needs, behaviors, preferences, and so on. This information gives you the ability to understand your clientele better, and measure the effectiveness of your marketing efforts at any stage of the sales funnel – an invaluable tool to have for the growth of your business.
You also get more effective lead generation, with the cost per lead much lower than it is in traditional channels. Leads that download your app are more likely to convert. And by targeting the people that have your app, you can be sure of the quality of your audience, better impact from your marketing campaigns, and higher-quality insights from the data you get back.
Getting that mobile strategy right is therefore a crucial, all-important undertaking that could bring tremendous success to your business. Let’s first take a look at the most common needs an app in the real estate industry might meet.
The real estate industry is vast, with lots of niches for different profiles of clients, and some very particular needs. Apps in those spaces will reflect those needs, but here are some of the more common groups that real estate solutions fall into.
Finding a new home isn’t easy. Without the search capabilities real estate aggregators provide, it involves a lot of legwork, haggling with agents, organizing visits and tours, and then finding a way to properly evaluate the options you find against each other. Mobile apps in this category are meant to assist clients who are on the search for new homes. They provide the information you need to evaluate a property, complete with pricing, locations, and images and media showing the property. You can take virtual tours of the property without ever leaving your home. They provide tools that make searching through lots of options and making comparisons easy, and facilitate communication with the property owners or managers.
If you’re a real estate investor, there are a lot of variables to keep track of as you manage your properties, current and potential tenants. This category of apps helps you stay on top of all that. You can take care of tenant applications, evaluate potential tenants – check things like their credit and their background, collect rent and pay vendors and suppliers. Apps can also help you with advertising your properties, and manage finances related to your real estate.
These help real estate agents find clients who are on the lookout for property, manage documents and paperwork – preparing contracts, reviewing documents and e-signing them, and just generally giving you a panoramic view of your business. They also help manage relationships with customers by giving you information that would be vital to your clients. They can make communication much less of a hassle by unifying your messages from various platforms into one view, and provide marketing and sales insights by providing you with information on price fluctuations. Information like this is often requested by clients, as they often ask for ballpark estimates as they plan.
Killer apps always first get the basics right. If you want to build an app your clients will love, ensure you have at least the following covered:
Patience is an extremely scarce resource in this day and age, so you don’t want your app dropping the ball on that front. Users want to get where they are going fast. Advanced search options help them do just that. Your app should, at a minimum, enable users to filter listings, or search through them using as many attributes – and combinations of attributes – as you can possibly afford. This will let your clients quickly sift out the options that are relevant to them, instead of wasting time and energy discarding options outside their price range, or area, or property type, and a dozen other factors.
Given how pivotal a role location plays in the value and suitability of a property, not including map integration in your solution would be a glaring oversight. Integrating maps will give your users the ability to see your property in its neighborhood, and with features like Google’s street view, they can see the property itself and its surroundings. Integration will also bring all the familiar features of a service like Google Maps to your app. Users can see the traffic situation, parking options, nearby public infrastructure like parks, schools, hospitals, and more. You can also customize maps to show the listings your clients want to visit.
With the freely available services on the Internet today, the average user has grown accustomed to a certain level of convenience. Navigation is one of those features that has become commonplace enough to make users reasonably expect it. Make sure your app doesn’t lag behind on this front either. Helping your clients get to your listed properties more easily will only benefit everyone involved.
Set your app apart by adding the ability to explore your listings without having to physically visit them. Your clients can tour the facilities of your listings and get a much better feel of what they have to offer than they would by just looking at pictures. Features like this make your app much more appealing, and a lot more helpful. But aside from the convenience benefits your clients get, giving immersive detailed virtual experience like this helps improve the quality of your leads. You know that if a client has done a virtual and wants to visit the property in person, they are more than just curious, and are much more likely to close the deal with you.
You won’t always be around to answer even the simplest questions. An FAQ section on a website and on your app should be a given, and for those people who want an immediate response, a chatbot is a great solution. By adding a chatbot to your app, your clients can get immediate answers to simple questions at any time of the day. From your perspective, getting statistics on what your clients are most curious about, and what matters most to them, is vital to helping you create better content and serve them what they need.
This is a part of your app that users won’t see, but is still a very important element to have. The admin panel gives you access to the workings of the app. This means you have the power to make changes like editing or removing categories, and tweaking different elements of your application – widgets, text, images, and so on. The flexibility and control you get with an admin panel helps you constantly keep your app aligned with your users’ needs.
Most of us are not blessed with an innate love for numbers. And even when we are, we usually want a calculator to tell us we got that quick back-of-the-envelope calculation right. When it comes to real estate, arriving at a final valuation can involve quite a few different costs. Fees, interests, and so on. Any burden you can take off your customers will only make your solution that much more appealing. So make sure you add features to sort out the numbers for them. Your clients will thank you.
This makes life easier when searching. Users can quickly bookmark something they like and come back to it later. This feature will also provide a valuable data point. If, for instance, users like a listing but don’t follow through, you have the opportunity to determine why, and rectify the issue. Perhaps there is missing information you can provide, or you can entice them with some kind of special offer.
Even if your app works perfectly, you want to ensure you keep improving it. The best way to do it is at the direction of your users. Ensure you give them a way to communicate their experience with you. Be open to suggestions and make any necessary changes quickly. You earn the trust and goodwill of your customers if you demonstrate to them that their opinion matters.
Obviously developing an app takes quite a lot of work. There are many details that need to be hashed out before it makes it onto your customer’s phone. But generally speaking, here are the stages that you should have gone through to give your app the best chance of being the high-quality solution that will satisfy your customers.
When you know an industry well, it is tempting to make assumptions. That is all fine, as long as your gut feeling is supported by actual data. Before you invest in developing that mobile application, first ensure that it is going to fulfill a real need. The best way to do this is by actually researching your audience, your target group. Look at other solutions and see what feedback they have been getting. What is good about them, and what isn’t? Find out what your customers need and then build it. In the process, you will pick up elements that you may not have predicted on your own.
Once you have a concept of what you want to make, you (or your developers) now have to identify the best technology stack to actualize it. There are different programming languages, development environments, libraries and tools that are best suited to solve different types of problems. What will you use to store your data, and what will the front-end be built with? You may not necessarily have the skills to code it yourself, but you’d still be well-advised to get acquainted with these solutions and the role they play.
With your research done, and your tech all sorted out, you can now start to build a solution that achieves the aims you set out during your research. Remember to put the user at the center of this process. The point isn’t to impress them with a shiny new app. That novelty fades very quickly. You want to solve their problem with the minimum of fuss.
When you finally settle on a design that satisfies your demands, you can now start the development process. Here, you may employ the services of experienced developers who will also ensure best practices are followed in the development process. This makes future updates and maintenance that much easier. When the app is fully functional, make sure it goes through thorough testing and that everything works perfectly before you proceed.
Your app is ready, it works like a charm, it fulfills the needs you identified. It is now time. A common misconception is to assume that quality sells itself. However, you want to make sure people know that your solution is available, and how it makes life better for them. Be proactive and market and promote your new app to ensure you get as many users as possible.
Once your app is released, it will require constant updates and maintenance to ensure it keeps running smoothly. Smartphone technology is constantly getting better, with major updates to mobile Operating Systems being released roughly on a yearly basis. Security concerns are ever-evolving, with new threats and new solutions being developed all the time. Regularly update your app in order to adapt to these changes, otherwise you put your users at risk, and it all starts to fall apart.
An estimate for how much your app will cost to develop will depend on the range of functionality that it has. Estimates vary from a few thousand dollars to six-figure sums for very complex apps. Also take into account the post-release maintenance, updates, and additional development that you may need.
There are many different apps on the market, all serving their own niches’ needs. Here are a few examples that you can look at for inspiration for your own project:
Business today is done digitally, and marketing has moved along with it. However, it is no longer enough to have just a sleek website with a clever SEO strategy for your digital marketing to be successful. For the real estate industry in particular, there are significant advantages to be gained from developing a mobile app for your users. Experienced web and mobile app developers can help you tap into the more advanced marketing capabilities that a mobile app brings, and slot this into the rest of your digital marketing strategy to get the best results.