What’s Driving Mobility in Real Estate Technology?
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IRVINE, CA—Real estate service and data firms have been introducing a variety of new mobile applications for use on smartphones and tablets lately. As GlobeSt.com reported earlier this week, RealtyTrac has launched a mobile app specifically for use on an Apple iPhone or iPad that gives users the ability to view detailed real estate information on virtually any residential property, which is available on the data source’s website, including foreclosure status and details, estimated market value, property characteristics, property taxes, sales history, open loans and equity. And, as we also reported this week, a new mobile application from Auction.com allows buyers to bid on both commercial and residential real estate anywhere they use their iPads. GlobeSt.com spoke with RealtyTrac’s CEO Jamie Moyle regarding what’s behind the sudden influx of mobile apps in real estate and what’s next in terms of service for our industry.
GlobeSt.com: Many strides have been made in recent weeks regarding real estate apps for iPhones and iPads. What’s driving this need for mobility all of a sudden?
Moyle: People are getting real estate data from a lot of different sources, and most people are buying within a few miles of their existing residence, so a mobile app is a logical extension of their home search. They’re not using a GPS-enabled phone to find and view homes, so it’s very appropriate to have an app that can help them with that. Why now? Maybe it’s just the closing of Q2, and firms are eager to get out new product.
GlobeSt.com: Will the apps take away from people’s use of websites?
Moyle: I don’t think anybody has figured that out perfectly yet. It’s an extension of a website, since people are out in the field and need to get data. We have too much data for people to consume on an iPhone, but they can start their search on one and then go home and look on our website at the properties they’ve saved. Our goal is to get more data to more people. You could look at it as a stock or mutual-fund analysis: they can see a property’s sales history, building permits, fire history, the schools associated with it, whether there are earthquake or tornado risks. It’s a lot to digest on a smartphone, but they can go home and dig deeper using their desktop. It’s a neat dance, but an exciting time that has not been fully mastered yet.
GlobeSt.com: What will drive the next wave of service in the real estate market as these apps have?
Moyle: Service is a really good word there. A lot of customers—homeowners and homebuyers—are doing self-service to a point. They’re smarter and have access to more information than they used to have. The real estate community and realtors need to embrace this. The concept of using a pretty brochure and pretty pictures as enough to sell a property is long gone. Getting information to the buyer 48 hours after they’ve asked for it is not going to work. So, a lot of realtors are doing a great job of understanding that homebuyers have real-time needs. They need to be very responsive and come up with more data.
GlobeSt.com: What else are you noticing about technology and the real estate industry?
Moyle: What we get excited about—and we’re data geeks—is the blurred lines between marketing and information. Photo-shopping and making things look perfect used to be the order of the day, but nobody is fooled by that anymore. There are pros and cons to everything, and people are excited about learning the hard facts.
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