It is no secret that the real estate business is trending toward mobile.
Following years of steady growth, NAR reported for the first time this year that buyers used mobile devices as often as computers when searching for homes.
Considering that mobile usage is even more common in the younger generations that will soon dominate home buying markets, two questions arise:
1) Can mobile IDX apps replace traditional real estate websites?
2) How soon will it happen?
The answers are an unequivocal yes and probably sooner than you think.
Opportunity for Agents
In the technological change cycle, it is pretty clear we are in the diffusion stage for IDX app platforms. More and more real estate clients are turning to mobile, and soon mobile most likely will lead home searches.
This presents an opportunity for agents to be on the leading technological edge and capture new business. As more clients look to mobile, the agents with the tools and applications they seek will have an advantage.
But if anything, it seems most agents and brokers are lagging behind. In the same NAR report reporting mobile growth, just 47 percent of Realtors said they expect to use local MLS apps and similar technology over the next year.
Do you have an IDX app to capture mobile home searches?
Advantages of Apps Versus Websites
In some ways, the growth of mobile in real estate simply reflects the changing nature of property search. With the ubiquity of listings, property search has essentially become a 18-hour-a-day affair with home buyers checking market updates continually throughout the day.
But mobile IDX apps also offer several advantages over traditional real estate websites for clients and brokerages.
Mobile devices are exactly that—mobile. They live in the pocket of their owners and go wherever they go. This provides unmatched access between real estate agents and their customers. If a client downloads your app, that app will live on their home screen and be visible whenever they engage with their phone, be it for a phone call, to send an email, to tune up a podcast, or any other reason.
Mobile app IDX platforms for phones and tablets also provide an additional avenue to provide updates to customers. Accuracy and timeliness are essential in the real estate business. If you can push a notification and reach clients faster via an app, you have an edge.
Agents with an IDX app also have more branding opportunities than those that rely exclusively on traditional websites. Yes, most sites are now mobile optimized, allowing users to browse on desktop or a mobile phone. But only a custom branded real estate IDX app, allows agents to extend their logo and marketing directly to a device home screen, putting their business on par with all the other functions of daily mobile phone use.
In many cases, the user experience is improved on apps compared to websites. First of all, apps minimize typing and point-and-click in favor of taps and swipes. This makes for a faster, more intuitive home search experience. But mobile IDX app platforms also provide features such as animated transitions and splash screens that make home search more pleasant.
Finally, mobile app IDX platforms integrate really well with other communication methods in ways that traditional real estate websites don’t. In one click, users can call you directly. IDX apps also provide streamlined links to Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn and other platforms because most social media use occurs on mobile.
There’s a lot of debate about how technology will affect real estate agents and their work in the future. But at least this case seems pretty clear. Mobile app IDX platforms likely will replace real estate websites as the dominant tool for property search in the short to medium term. Those who embrace the transition will be better placed.
For more information and useful IDX app tips, check out the following blogs: