New Realtor.com iPhone App

Realtor.com launched their new iPhone application and gave a few of us the chance to play with it and tear it to pieces before the launch (maybe they didn’t quite put it that way, but it’s the way I’m approaching it).

When I first open these new apps, I always think of the intent and this one is pretty obvious.  The Realtor.com iphone app iss totally and completely designed with the end consumer in mind (sorry Realtors if you thought it could be about you).  It’s about providing the latest property information in the quickest, easiest and most user friendly fashion possible.

When you open the app, a home screen gives you several options, including searching for nearby homes for sale, nearby open houses or perform a new search by location or MLS ID.  You can allow for the app to use your current location and it actually gives you nearby listings currently for sale (also giving you the option to narrow down your criteria).  This can be really cool if you are driving in a neighborhood and just want to get property information without having to even get out of the car or make a phone call.  (Bad for agents that rely on the client to actually make that call to capture their business).



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Realtor.com iphone app screen shot

You can view a map option or a list option of properties and are able to actually click on any given one and get detailed information, not only on the property, but also the listing agent and the brokerage (very similar to what you see on Realtor.com).  You can scroll through photos of the listing and turn the phone to get bigger photos and you can save the property and include notes to go with it.

Realtor.com iPhone app screenshot

What’s even more fascinating is the option to contact the listing agent on the spot.  You can call them by clicking on their telephone number, you can email them,  visit their site and add them to your contacts.  (I know I’m an over achiever, but wouldn’t it be cool if you could tweet or facebook them as well?).

Realtor.com iphone application
My favorite feature is the “drive around and use your location” to find listings – but you can also enter an address for a particular listing and/or its surrounding competitors and even enter the MLS number.

Great move on Realtor.com to empower the consumer.  Personally, an educated consumer is the best one in my book, but here’s the beef many will have…You can now say “Buh Bye” to Buyers’ Agents, with this app, listing agents will have the upper hand – this will give quick and easy information to the local consumer (not the end for those buyers agents that work with absentee and relocating clients).

Problem?

I can now see me getting bombarded by calls from people who “forget” to tell me they are working with another agent and just wanted quick info.  I can also see my clients calling other agents just because their information was handy.  We’ll just have to see how this extra communication tool will evolve….it could be detrimental for many.

The question of who does Realtor.com work for will inevitably come up.  Many will criticize this as a tool of disintermediation, but if we are smart, we will not only know how to use this information in our favor, but we will welcome it with open arms.  I do wonder if it could be possible to personalize this particular iphone app for a fee so that Realtors can offer it to their clients (of course I would try to come up with a win-win for everyone).

For now it’s time for everyone to make sure their contact information is correct on their listings, and especially Realtor.com.  Listing agents will have the ability to answer inquiries on the spot, staying above the competition with customer service always at the top of the priority list.

And for the record, I’m not associated with Realtor.com, so feel free to kill it if you have the itch.

Ines is all Miami, all the time. A Miami Beach Realtor® with Majestic properties, Ines authors Miamism.com, PrimeMiamiBeach.com, and MiamismPix.com and is always on communication's leading edge. She goes out of her way to engage and be engaged, often using Mojitos to keep the mood light and give everything she does a Miami flavor. You can find her goofing off or instigating trouble at Twitter, Flickr, Facebook or LinkedIn.


39 Comments

  1. gotta love realtor.com. nothing is more ridiculous than a company that takes our MLS information for free, and then SELLS it BACK to the very same realtors they got it from. I think that eventually it will catch up, as real estate information gets more and more commodified.

    But I must say I disagree with your comment about buyers agents not being needed anymore due to the information about the property listings being readily available. In my experience, buyers work with a buyers agent because that is who they feel comfortable working with and they have the expertise they are looking for. Of course it must matter what the agency laws are in your state, as in Vermont, if you are working with the listing agency as a buyer you are getting the short end of the stick for sure.

  2. How do “enhanced” listings look in the app?

    Seems like another reason to keep agents paying for placement.

    “Want your listings enhanced in the app? Pay up, sucker.”

  3. Robert,
    I think I heard the enhanced ones will have more photos, but not really sure. I’m sure they will think of ways for us to dish out some $….it is what it is

  4. Oh how I wish there was a way that I could print this out. This is true of many other articles that I don’t know how to print.

    • Thing GREEN Jerry :) – there used to be an “email” or “share” button at the end of the posts – maybe we can ask Lani to put it back

  5. New Realtor.com iphone app http://twurl.nl/wz3zem – my take and some screen shots

  6. bthomas78 – There’s always a little hate to spread for Realtor.com, how dare someone make a business from our information? and how stupid are we that take them on and pay for their services because it actually benefits our business? I know this post can go into a hate fest against R.com and there are so many points for and against them is not even funny. I’ve been on the short end of the stick many times with them but let’s talk about the app (at least I will)

    Right after I published this @Fresyes (Jason Farris from Fresno, CA) mentioned on twitter that he would be one of the “buh byes” and we started brainstorming on how buyers agents can turn this information around and use it to their benefit. It’s all about being creative and staying on top of the information readily available to everyone. I actually think that it could be an interesting tool for buyers agents as well. Starting by sending the app to clients and asking them to save your settings under their “realtor” and having them send you properties that interest them while they are driving around (not a bad way to anticipate usage by the consumer).

  7. You took a big chunk of your valuable time to share this excellent overview, thanks.

    Two things pop into my head.

    First, the simple fact the it exists and apparently works well is impressive and surprising. I’m not a fan of Realtor.com for the reasons BThomas 88 shares above, but, well done Realtor.com – this is good for consumers and for listing agents.

    Second, as augmented reality, mobil location apps, etc. roll out and improve, listing agents will win bigger and bigger, agent who focus on buyers will have to rely more and more on there sphere, the random opportunity calls are going to the listing agent. Slowly, but surely, listing inventory is one the pillars to success.

    My 2cents. Thanks for sharing.

  8. Ines,
    Realtor.com’s Showcase Listing are identified in the mobile app and the same parameters apply on the website as the mobile app such as non-showcase listings are only allowed 4 photos and showcase listings can have up to 25 photos. You must have showcase listings because non-showcase listings do not have the agent’s name and contact information only the broker’s name and contact information.

  9. Ken – it’s a business we all love to hate, but crucial for us not to turn our backs and use it to our favor. My first reaction was that it was only good for listing agents and the advantages are obvious, but then I realize that other agents can be smart with it as well or just simply ignore it, let the consumer find the tool on their own and then they are really history.

    Jill, didn’t realize that (because I’ve always had enhanced listings) – not including the agents name to me is huge and will have to watch that – it will be interesting to study the usage of the app in the coming months.

  10. What’s new??? The consumer has been calling on signs for eons, calling phone numbers on signs “just for information”, stalking neighborhoods etc. A good buyers agent doesn’t get business just because they can provide price, beds and baths. They provide representation, expertise, negotiation skills, knowledge of neighborhoods, other professional contacts, service ……….. They counsel the consumer so that they understand the value of hiring them .BTW many of us already use (pay for) a similar service and offer it for free to the consumer. If the consumer “forgets” to tell you they are working with someone it’s also perhaps because you forgot to ask the question.

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  12. Thank you Pat, that’s exactly what I was waiting for, someone to contradict my argument because the truth is that this is just another tool – good professionals will use it to their benefit and will even find ways for it to empower their business

  13. There are alternatives – I have my OWN mobile app, where people can do exactly the same thing except EVERY call goes to my cell phone and my office AND an email is sent to me at the same time.

    It’s just that you have to pay for that privilege if you want it.

    youtube.com/watch?v=EhTJmgFwXI0

  14. Two positive outcomes from this new app. First, this could actually help the listing agent’s conversion percentage of iphone inquiries to “buyer prospects”. Second, a more educated “buyer” could end up saving us endless time in getting the buyer to a purchase agreement i.e. they do their own preliminary”market” legwork driving around etc.
    Third, anytime you can increase the “exposure” of a given listing everyone wins! I feel this is a game changer for those agents who embrace technology and run with it.

  15. Robert, check out what I did today. I was showing a property to buyer clients and the listing agent mentioned another property they have close by – I grabbed my iphone, clicked on the app, found the other listing and was able to show photos of the other property on the spot to my clients. Not only were they impressed, but the listing agent just sat there in complete shock.
    Good moment and put a smile on my face – now to ask Realtor.com to include rentals in the app

  16. One of my big problems with Realtor.com…..I have asked for a sales call to see about getting a brokerage account. The sales people keep calling me to get phone #s for our agents (no I don’t give them to these sales people….they should already have them). Then I ask them to have some one call me (it is a different sales group for brokers) and it never happens. I have called in direct and left messages and never had the calls returned. Typical of their service when I was an agent. Bugged me to pay up….took months to cancel account….support was terrible.

    Then don’t ask me why I don’t support this service.

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  18. Wow, this is a great post with even more to digest from reading the comments… thanks!

  19. Rich,
    you are not the first one that complains about Realtor.com customer service (or lack of thereof) – maybe someone important will read this and contact you. Now do look at the app if you have an iphone, it could be a helpful tool.

  20. Great review Ines.

    As was mildly debated and resolved in this thread, this is not the end for buyer’s agents. All my buyers are captured off my web site and 95% of them are out of towners.

    The iPhone app does nothing for that segment.

  21. I just couldn’t get excited about this app. I admit I learned about it on Facebook from I guess are the over zealous agents who love to pay realtor.com to post their listings online. These are the same agents who ONLY talk about real estate. But my reply was simply “isn’t it about time?”

    Seriously, Trulia and Zillow to my knowledge have had a very similar and comparable app out for over a year. The fact that realtor.com took 3 years to develop the app, almost around the time a 4th gen iphone is due to be released is ridiculous. I really have trouble getting behind and touting a company that is suppose to be there to put us in front of the consumer, and is so slow about adapting to new technologies.

  22. My listings have my broker name and number on them. I refuse to pay for the Enhanced listings. I was on there the other night, trying to find a foreclosure a buyer client called me on. It sold in Dec according to the MLS and I verified with the Realtor.

    I looked around as I hadn’t been on in awhile. Nothing could be found except in white pages with NO links if you don’t pay.

    This site has never been about Realtors but about Move and the profit they make from selling us placement back to our “enhanced listings.”

    Our MLS provides access on our smart phones (any smart phone) to all of our listings, agents names and numbers etc…

    I’m glad it worked for you Ines. You must pay for enhanced listings if not they go to your broker’s office phone. That means the front desk gets it and gives it to the person on floor.

  23. Jay – according to R.com, they took a long time because they wanted to make the application superior to what’s already out there.

    I gave up thinking a while ago that R.com is there to put us in front of the consumer, there there as a business and nothing else. We can continue to be frustrated at their customer service and business practices that we don’t always agree with or we can just expose their flaws and see if they react accordingly.

    I personally have not tried the other apps so can’t really give an objective point of view. The 3 companies are third parties between us and the consumer and the reality is that the consumer is using all 3 and we need to figure out how to make that work for us.

  24. Missy,
    I was asked by someone we both know why the animosity with Realtor.com and not with Zillow and Trulia. My response is that Zillow and Trulia have found ways to obtain our information whether through tax records or syndication.
    R.com gets their data from us and that undoubtedly pisses many people off because we then have to pay to enhance the information we provided in the first place. We can sit here and sound like a broken record. Yes I choose to pay R.com for a few services the same way that I have chosen to pay Trulia or Zillow – I weigh ROI and R.com seems to pay off better. Does it annoy me, absolutely!! But I choose to play with them instead of against them.

  25. I should have pointed out – “being put in front of the consumer” was the sales pitch I used to hear from r.com, I am not naive to believe that was their intentions.

    Of course r.com’s new “value add” is to get my office to sign up for a group account, which then forces me to pay for the service, albeit a huge discount if you have had a modest amount of listings over the past year.

    Ines – I feel the missed they missed the mark on a superior product, superior for them and those that pay perhaps.

    Missy – Our MLS just recently added another portal from MarketLinx which now lets us finally use our smart phones too. But, it is only updated every 12 – 24 hours, it is not the main system in which we enter our listings. So – if we are driving down the street and say “Hey look at that new listing!” and then go to look it up even if it has been entered into the MLS it may not show up in that portal yet, same as r.com basically they just scrape and populate on a schedule the same as Trulia or Zillow would from KWLS.

  26. We are using a 3rd party vendor. I don’t remember their name off the top of my head. Since I don’t work with buyers much I rarely use it, but when I do it has been fine.

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  36. Rudy, somehow your comment made it out of moderation a bit late. I agree with you that there are alternatives and more power to the agent that gets their own app.
    The question is whether or not we recognize that r.com is a powerful tool for the consumer and they won’t think twice about downloading the app. The consumer will, however, think twice about downloading an agent’s app (IMHO). Promotion and incentives are no easy task.

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