Following the outbreak of COVID-19, many people made the decision to abandon cities for more suburban refuge, resulting in a massive homebuying boom. The demand for houses was higher than ever, but the home buying process was also more difficult. Who wants to attend a crowded open house in the middle of a pandemic? And for homebuyers looking to move out of state, traveling to look at homes was made even more difficult by travel restrictions. To service this sudden need, mobile apps for real estate agents have emerged. Savvy realtors began implementing digital alternatives to the traditional home buying process. Virtual tours and 3D photography replaced in-person showings. Mobile real estate apps not only allowed homebuyers to browse endlessly customizable criteria for houses, they also provided realtors an efficient way to connect with prospective homebuyers and quickly communicate information in a rapidly changing housing market. SensorTower reports U.S. real estate app installs grew 21% year-over-year in 2020.
The truth is, even before the pandemic homebuyers were increasingly enticed by real estate apps. According to a 2019 study by the National Association of Realtors, “81% of Older Millennials, 80% of Younger Millennials and 78% of Generation X found their home on a mobile device.” As these younger generations start dominating the housing market, mobile real estate apps are poised to become the primary means of homebuying. Future projections reflect this — PR Newswire reports the global market for IT in real estate is forecasted to reach $15.8 billion by 2027.
If you’re in the real estate business and don’t already have an app, it’s a great time to get one — a new “done for you” method of app development called turnkey has emerged, capable of delivering a custom mobile app in a matter of weeks. To make your app development even easier, enCappture has compiled the most important features — and the biggest benefits — of mobile real estate apps.
8 must-have features for mobile real estate apps
Given the recent popularity of mobile real estate apps, homebuyers have come to expect certain features. Here are the eight most important things a real estate app should offer:
- Easy onboarding. The easier and faster it is to sign on and access an app, the more likely it is a user sticks around long enough to use it. Integrated authentication — through an existing social media profile or email address — is a great way to facilitate a fast, secure sign-on experience. Phone number verification is another good option. Better yet, offer users multiple paths to sign-on and appeal to a wider range of preference.
- User profiles. Real estate apps have two different users with two different goals: customers looking to buy a home, and agents trying to sell homes. Mobile apps that accommodate multiple user profiles — complete with different interfaces and functionality — allow buyers and sellers to use the same app to access the same data, but perform different actions. Not only is this convenient, it’s more scalable.
- Maps. You know what they say, “Location, Location, Location.” Beautiful pictures and eye-catching videos are certainly must-haves for selling houses on an app, but equally important is a good mapping system. And not only do prospective buyers want to know where a house is, they want to know where it is in relation to other locations — meaning GPS integration is a must.
- Filters. One of the major benefits of a mobile real estate app is the ability to quickly sort through a large database of houses. Filters, tags, and categories that distinguish everything from property type and price to the minimum number of bathrooms streamlines the search process by eliminating hours of mindless scrolling.
- Favorites. What’s the point of looking at houses if you can’t keep track of the ones you like? A feature that allows users to like or save their favorite properties — and adds those favorites to a central location — is definitely a must for any successful real estate app.
- Scheduling. Once a home buyer has amassed a list of properties they love, they’re going to want to take some tours (virtual or otherwise). Real estate apps with a built-in scheduling feature can display an agent’s availability for showings or the month’s calendar of open houses. The best scheduling features allow users to book and confirm an appointment in-app.
- Direct messaging. People are curious, and often have questions an app can’t anticipate or answer. That’s why a direct message feature is a critical component of any real estate app. As with onboarding, direct communication is often most successful if you give users different options to connect — such as an online chat, a direct call, or schedule a consultation.
- Push notifications. The best real estate apps leverage mobile features to increase user engagement and move prospective leads along the sales funnel. One of the most effective ways to do this is with push notifications. Push notifications allow agents to share everything from new listings and price drops to breaking real estate news in real-time — which is especially appealing to buyers in a seller’s market.
Real estate app benefits
There are myriad benefits to having a mobile app, but for real estate companies, we’re going to focus on the three most significant advantages.
First and foremost, real estate apps facilitate deeper customer connections. For real estate agents — who rely on positive relationships to make sales — the superior communication endowed by a mobile app is a huge advantage over the competition. Direct messaging allows for the fast resolution to quick questions, or easy scheduling for more in-depth consultation. Customer service can be conducted in-app, cutting down on wait times and avoiding dreaded telephone tag. Customer input and feedback can also be easily solicited through an app, and changes quickly implemented to improve the user experience.
Another major benefit of a mobile app is the ability to target specific customers and provide a more curated experience. Let’s say a millennial buyer has been using a real estate app to search for two-bedroom apartments in Manhattan. With this information, a well-designed app can send them location-specific messages about properties that fit their search criteria. Relevant recommendations like this not only retain leads, they result in more sales. This kind of targeted messaging can be taken even further. If the millennial buyer tends to browse properties after 5 p.m., messages and push notifications can be timed to coincide with this behavior, increasing their likelihood of being opened.
Last, but certainly not least, mobile apps offer real estate agencies unique opportunities to build brand recognition. Real estate is a saturated space, but with a custom mobile app, you can stand out from the crowd with a streamlined, personalized user experience that’s both useful and engaging.
Get an edge over the competition
Now that you know what makes a good real estate app, check out how realtor Capri Truvillion leveraged a custom turnkey app to gain a competitive advantage, build brand identity, and facilitate a superior customer experience.
Curious about what it actually takes to launch a branded mobile app? Schedule your free product demo with enCappture today.