Mobile real estate may be the next big thing

Technological advances and their impact on real estate are something I speak about quite often, and I’ve talked about the internet and applications such as Kindle before. CENTURY 21 is committed to providing our customers with the technological applications they demand, but one thing I haven’t mentioned in the past which is becoming more prevalent in real estate, particularly overseas, is the use of mobile phones to obtain housing data.


With an increasing proportion of the population using devices such as the iPhone and Blackberry, being able to get online is no longer linked to being in front of a computer. With the growth of software and websites that enable mobile searches of listings and neighbourhoods, both agents and consumers alike will increasingly be doing instant home searches on the go.


There’s no denying that customers are becoming more demanding, and I don’t mean that in a negative way. People’s expectations when it comes to customer service and the ability to source information has changed, and almost everyone wants and expects everything on demand.


While the internet has revolutionised home shopping, the designers of phones with mobile applications say that phones with internet capabilities are tapping into consumers' demand for even more flexibility. For example, when it comes to real estate, prospective buyers want to walk or drive through neighbourhoods and do searches then and there based on any number of variables - their current location, price range, size of property, comparable homes. They want instant photos, alerts to open houses quick links to the agents who can show them the home.


Overseas, the increasing demand for these types of features are prompting online listings companies to rush to offer features to users who are still operating standard mobile phones, not just those on iPhones and Blackberries. And although it’s in very early stages for the most part, there is confidence that the use of the technology will take off in a big way once people get used to the idea.

In the USA, Trulia, (a real estate site that lists homes for sale) touts itself as one of the first companies to come up with an iPhone real estate application. It launched in August and has since been downloaded 200,000 times. The application can be downloaded free from Trulia's Web site and is GPS enabled and allows filtered searches - by price range, number of bedrooms and other features. It sends out alerts about upcoming open houses and has a button that will instantly call or e-mail an agent. The idea was to make the application a real utility for people, and it’s been designed with that in mind. If someone wants to attend four different open homes, the application will provide directions to all of them.

Another offering taking off in the USA is Smarter Agent, which launched in January and is available on almost any mobile device and with all carriers. The consumer pays a monthly fee to the phone carrier for the service, but this doesn’t seem to have been a deterrent as the application now has more than 200,000 users and was picked up 20,000 new users in April alone. Smarter Agent taps into a consumer's location through GPS technology and returns information about properties in the immediate area, including sales prices, description, pictures and neighborhood information. Searches can be done by city, postcode or community. A "call to see' button connects them with the agent.

  It will be great to see this type of technology make its way onto our shores, and when real estate agents begin to use this technology, it means we’ll be equipped to provide even better advice and information.

Posted by Charles Tarbey on 27/05/2009 at 9:33 AM | Categories:


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