Commercial real estate is a $15 Billion industry in the U.S. alone, and one that’s desperately in need of a technological makeover. According to Skyline Exchange CEO William Robertson, “Though one of the oldest industries in the United States, commercial real estate has lagged behind other industries in terms of innovation, particularly when it comes to adopting and advancing technology.”
I know what all you mobile entrepreneurs out there are thinking. A huge market ripe for disruption? Time to start brainstorming.
And you’d be right.
Before you start building your baller app, though, you should ask yourself a few questions which will help you figure out the four most essential criteria needed for your app to succeed. They are an idea, a user acquisition strategy, user retention features and a business model.
To help you answer these questions, let’s turn to 3 kickass real estate startups we think you can learn a lot from - Roomi, Curb Call, and Realync. So let’s start our questionnaire!
1. How can you make your app stand out?
Learning a little more about what makes these apps tick might shed a little light on this most important of mobile app questions.
Realync (Free for buyers for Web, iOS, and Android)
With Realync, users get access to thousands of pre-recorded and live video tours of property for rent or sale. Buyers can request a live tour, chat with an agent, and save pictures from the tour to share with friends or social media. Real estate agents can do business even if a face-to-face meeting is impossible.
Realync’s “wow factor” is its dashboard of tools to be used in concert with a video tour, including a camera, notepad, and chat function. This makes it easy for users to keep track of what they like and dislike about a given property all in one place.
Curb Call - “Uber for Real Estate.” (Free for iOS and Android)
“Curb Call is an app which gives home buyers on-demand access to walkthroughs of listed properties, and real estate agents a shot at connecting with hot leads. Users find a property, ping an agent, and get a personal tour.
Curb Call offers users safety features. User status "On a showing" and current location are displayed on the brokerage's Curb Call dashboard, so when a user feels threatened during a showing, they can hit the “Panic” button which will notify their broker and an emergency contact via SMS. What is more, if a user unexpectedly leaves the showing, like in the case of kidnapping, the Curb Call RADIUS system will automatically trigger an emergency alert to the broker and the emergency contact.
Roomi - “Rent the easy way and live with people you can trust.” (Free for iOS)
Roomi is like a dating-app for finding the perfect roommate. Users can post info about available rooms for rent, find and conduct interviews with users who fit their preferences for a “Roomi,” and even pay rent through the app.
Roomi stands out because it offers an all-in-one platform for finding a roommate and paying bills. More than just a glorified “dating app,” it’s a medium for conducting all the work that goes into renting.
So how do build an app that stands out?
The short answer is: do something that no one else has done, and offer useful features users won’t be able to live without.
Read also: Interview: fypio real estate app
2. How can you acquire new users?
This is a question that plagues all startups, not just ones entering the CRE space.
We’ve all heard the amazing story of how Airbnb exploded in popularity after automatically posting their listings on Craiglist (if you haven’t, read this), and a similar integration strategy might work if your app is, like Roomi, oriented at renters.
Roomi also benefits from the fact that is the first all-in-one app for renters in New York. Being first is always a good strategy for mobile app startups.
Realync and Curb Call can gain new users through partnerships with existing real-estate firms, of which there are over 100,000 in the U.S. In fact, the former is already partnered with Century 21, the American agent which boasts the nation’s most frequented real estate site.
Read also: Development of a real estate app like Zillow
3. How can you hold on to the users you already have?
Engagement is essential for building an app that users do more with than download and delete. In an industry like real-estate, though, it might seem like a challenge to keep your audience interested. After all, how many apartments is one person going to rent?
The solution to this puzzle depends largely on your audience. If you’re renter-focused, like Roomi, you can offer your users tools which they’ll need to access once or more a month. If I’m getting rent paid through your app, there’s no way I’m going to delete it.
For realtor-oriented apps, the way to retain users is to offer a product that makes them money (or at least generates leads). As long as Curb Call and Realync stay relevant for those looking to connect with potential buyers, they’ll have no problem holding on to users.
4. How can your startup make money?
So you’ve built an awesome real estate app and now it’s time to start thinking about how to convert users into paying customers. Fortunately, there are a lot of good ways to do this if you’re a real estate startup.
Subscription models are perfect if you’re like Realync, and offer live-streamed tours. That startup already offers tiered packages to real estate agents which range from $9.99 a month for 50 minutes if streaming to $89.99 a month for 600 minutes.
Curb Call, though still free for all users, could also monetize by charging realtors a subscription fee for its service, or even offering a pay-per-lead model which directed inquiries from potential buyers to the salesmen willing to fork over the most dough.
In-app advertising is another great monetization strategy, especially if your app is focused on a competitive market, as is the case with Roomi. Apartment complexes looking for tenants could pay to notify users of special deals or vacancies, or to see their properties listed hire up in search results.
If you’re thinking about building an app for the real estate market, give us a call. We’ll help you find answers to these 4 questions and build a mobile product that will take the real estate industry by storm.