Of all the mobile apps that we have seen till the day, real estate mobile apps remains a conundrum. It is because they do solve their intended purpose but the utility cannot be established. The amount of work is reduced, finding properties become easier but something remains missing.
However, that does not stop the mobile app from being installed by more and more people. Multiple installations of the real estate mobile apps happen every day, however, every few days, the uninstalls happen too. The mobile apps were launched with the thought that they will replace brokers. However, the brokers still remain and have been flourishing well too. Rather, they are putting the real estate mobile apps to good use.
Not really and this holds true for almost all the developing and developed economies. One can say that this is because one still needs detailed information and human of trust before deal finalisation. Agreed, but then at least the real estate websites should have seen any less traffic. Has that been the case?
There are multiple reasons one can attribute to such events. One can say that the real estate websites are mostly from the builders and so one gets more detailed information. We give you that. However, why do then real estate websites of aggregators like 99-acres or Magicbricks show an increase in web traffic despite having their own real estate mobile apps?
Secondly, the number of registered brokers in the European and American markets has gone up by 12%.
Again, a counter logic is that a lot of people engage in brokerage as a side income. Valid point! How does one explain the 3% increase in the number of full-time real estate agents even in economies with high mobile and technology penetration?
And having said all this, why are there so many real estate mobile apps being launched still? The aggregator apps have been increasing because of the utility that they have at the offer. In addition, the individual builder firms are also looking at having their individual real estate mobile apps.
Is this just a fascination with the idea or does this phenomenon actually hold some merit? Let us discuss this in the sections below.
The Problems with a typical Real Estate Mobile App
There has to be a reason for real estate websites continuing to do well in the time of mobile apps. What is the problem with a real estate mobile app that it is not able to replace a website?
Let us have a look:
The Unreal Postings!
There are two aspects to this problem. The first is the human side and the second is the property side. Let us explain both of them for a better understanding.
When it comes to real estate mobile apps, esp. the aggregator ones- there is no verification required for one to post the listing. Almost anyone can post anything. We are sure that a lot of our readers would agree with the fact. You must be reminded of the beautiful houses which turned out to be pretty shabby in person.
Plus, so many people do not give adequate information about the listing. Some will mention the floor size to be 2100 sq-metre when it will turn out to be a little over 1500 in reality.
These are just some of the minor hiccups which become a huge problem and a major trust issue later. Consider it from the point of the person who lives in one part of the city and has to come to another part to verify the property. Would that person then take a chance with the mobile app or directly contact a broker instead?
Secondly, a lot of the time, the people posting the listings are brokers themselves. Many mobile apps provide the option to identify oneself as a broker or owner but it is easy to miss. If one gets on an app and then realizes they had been talking to a broker, why would they get on a real estate mobile app at all?
When it comes to real estate websites owned by builders or agents, there are usually only a few people, a single person or a team which is responsible for handling such postings. The availability of a single point of modification and up-gradation ensures that no wrong listing goes on the website. However, if one considers an aggregator real estate website then we feel that the problems would be the same as the app because they are essentially two versions sharing the same piece of information
The No-Nearly NO updates
Another major issue comes in the form of people not updating the listings. Many times it happens that one finds something on the real estate mobile app calls the owner and finds out that the property has been sold already. Now, this can be a major killjoy if one has their heart set on the property.
The entire factor behind seeing the property before finalising, which most real estate mobile apps offer goes for a toss because of this.
This option may not sound so true for an aggregator website. However, if you go to the real estate websites of brokers, agents or even individual builders, all of the information is updated real-time. Be it the images, the layouts, even the number of apartments or rooms available.
This is because their business runs on this quick update. Hence, a real estate website offers more real-time updates than the real estate mobile app
The Lack of Human Touch
There are just so many things that are involved when one has to buy a house. One has to be extra sure of the locality. One needs to check the amenities around. One also has to see how exactly the building looks like in person or how the nearby locality is.
These are the things which an app cannot offer.
Plus, most real estate mobile apps do not have the option to personalise the offerings. One can just apply the basic filters and then touch. A lot of time, what you see isn’t what you want.
For instance, you cannot put a filter in the app whereby you can select houses with marble floorings or wooden floorings or say blue coloured walls. These are the things which need an advanced level of personalisation which for now, only a human brain can provide.
Fast forward your typical broker and he understands you as a person. A few conversations and he knows exactly that kind of place you would like to see. Needless to say that most brokers can tell you right there in the first meeting if they have a relevant property or not.
This not just saves time but also provides you with the confidence that you want.
Also, a lot of brokers take you around on their own vehicles. So no hassles of google maps or wading through the unknown roads. The broker or your real estate agent will take care of that for you. So you get superior customer service and literally no hassles at all.
The UI/UX design (Look and feel of app vs website)
You must be surprised at seeing this point here but yes, it holds a lot of relevance especially when we compare a real estate mobile app to a real estate website. A typical real estate mobile app or even a website has a lot of information that it needs to put on display. An app isn’t usually equipped for that. One big reason for the same is the size of the screen.
Take this example to understand better. Even if a mobile app can display the information on the world map, the amount of zoom-in and zoom-out involved will kill the experience and not really solve the purpose. The same goes for a real estate mobile app too. There are so many features that you would want to check about the house. Usually, to see all of them, you will have to scroll a lot.
A real estate website, on the other hand, will display all of it pretty easily right above the fold.
One typical problem with most real estate mobile apps is when they have to display the photos. Unlike the real estate websites where you can simply scroll horizontally or the photos open in a different tab, on a mobile app, the same becomes an issue.
We will not say that this is the fault of a real estate mobile app structure but it definitely puts them at an altar lower than that of a website
The Types of Real Estate Mobile Apps
We have, in bits and pieces tried to touch the various real estate mobile apps. Most of the time when we talk about real estate mobile apps, we talk about aggregator apps such as No broker and Housing. However, there are other types too. While we could have skipped this section and just concluded. However, a lot about what we are going to say in our conclusion will derive its merit from this section.
So, without wasting any more time, let us have a look.
Aggregator mobile apps
The typical mobile apps we all have downloaded at least once on our phones either to post or to search. These apps include a number of postings about properties that are available. The real estate mobile app revolution essentially started from these aggregator apps.
The websites were there but the apps quickly caught up on the trend and became the norm. The real estate website saw a huge downfall in their traffic once the apps got launched.
However, that phenomenon was pretty short-lived if we talk about the entirety that this sector has existed. A few years from the day of launch, the mobile apps had a higher uninstallation rate than the installation one.
At most, the aggregator apps became a source of information with little or no action accounted to them.
Inter-society communication Apps
The new stream of apps which got much fanfare starting the year 2018. Real estate mobile apps such as MyGate and others targeted the bigger societies which saw a lot of movement. Such apps store all the relevant information of the occupants in a database. Entry restrictions are imposed only when someone other than them enters. The approval for a new entrant is done through the app as well.
It isn’t uncommon in many good societies now that you can directly go to the host’s place. The host sends a picture of yours to the security guard, and sends you a unique code. At the time of the entry, you have to just share the code with the guard. He enters it, checks your picture and there you go!
This field has been advancing fairly fast and with the advent of Computer Vision, the future looks really promising.
Builder & Developers Apps
The need to constantly interact with your prospects has now become basic hygiene. Even for a high ticket or once in a lifetime purchase like that of a house, such kind of interaction is a must. Needless to say, a lot of developers have been mulling over the concept of having their own app.
It might not make so much sense for people or builders with single properties. However, if there is someone with multiple properties, having a personal app makes sense. Let us take the example of luxury lovers or Ex-pats or even people who believe in investing in real estate. Now, the like Total or Shapoorji who have the former as their prospects would definitely be interested in the app.
We need to understand here that a mobile app is not always for the masses. Sometimes, it is for very specific people too.
We hope that through this blog piece, we were able to put a lot of questions at rest. We, do no mean to say that these apps are futile. However, we definitely want to throw some light on what can be done better. We are not trying to take any side here. We just want to lay out the points so that when you as a business contemplate over having a real estate website or a real estate app, you know exactly what all to think about.
And, if you wish to have any further discussions- please feel free to get in touch!