According to a recent study by Realtor.com, more than half of the listings viewed online were viewed on a mobile device. They also found differences in which devices used as they found in markets where property prices are high, IPads and IPhones led in usage where in lower priced markets Androids led.
Realtors have always been a group that embraces technology, particularly tech that makes the job of matching buyers with homes easier. Now Realtor.com in its guidance has begun to sing the praises of mobile. There are a handful of propriety apps already on the market and increasingly Real Estate agents are providing video tours of properties via their websites. Virtually all are moving as quickly as they can to responsive webs and are themselves utilizing the same mobile devices and apps that their potential customers are using.
In a piece that recently appeared in the Wall Street Journal, Irvington New York house hunter Ms. Goyzueta and her husband Jason Velez took a video tour before quickly buying their new home. “I was a little on the fence and wondered if I’d really see all the little minute details [in the video],” says Ms. Goyzueta, a 35-year-old film mother of three. “But I loved the property. I loved the location. I was shocked that after the tour, I was ready to make an offer.” She made an offer that day.
Large global real estate firm Cushman & Wakefield is an example of the large early adopters of both cloud and mobile technology as part of a “mobile first” strategy. The strategy included migrating thier 15,000 strong workforce to Office 365 and Salesforce.com for CRM. The also adopted the use of Box.com for storage, Oracle’s on-demand Human Resources service, and a service desk via ServiceNow.com.
Seems like a big change but John McKeown, Cushman & Wakefield’s European CIO, says the secret is to go slow. Part of the reason for that is there were challenges, “One of the biggest challenges has been managing the change within IT in terms of support, security and cost,” stated McKeown. “At first, we empowered users to choose their own devices, layered in a company data plan, and provided best-endeavor support,”. The company also kept it small in device choice when employees preferred the company provide the device by only supporting one version of Android on one device.
As real estate markets continue to show signs of improvement and more firms are engaged in reaching out to prospective customers, mobile applications and webs will be key to their success. However most don’t have the resources of a Cushman & Wakefield and not all of the “off the shelf” solutions will be useful in all markets. Branded applications continue to add value in multiple industries like manufacturing and logistics, so it is likely large and mid-sized real estate companies will need to build solutions specific to their needs.
The good news is there are many well structured and knowledgeable outsourcing firms that can help these companies develop mobile webs, tools and applications that will drive sales. Often these firms are located nearby yet utilize programming resources located in areas where coding costs are lower. By taking advantage of these sources for application development it won’t cost you a ton of money to make your Real Estate business more successful and your properties easily found by the right buyers.