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Real estate is undergoing a significant change right now, and technologies are the primary driver of this process. For the past several years, the US real estate market has been entirely in realtor's hands. Agents wielded the ultimate access to the market, and no sale/rent deal could be sealed without their participation. But that was before the digitalization struck the real estate industry.
So what's the key to making a successful real estate platform? Which technologies are driving the market further? And which features should a successful platform include? We will explore in this article.
What Is a Real Estate Platform and Which Problems Does It Solve?
Real estate platform is a multi-role digital space where realtors, home sellers, and homebuyers can get in touch to make a purchase or rent contract for a real estate item.
As a digital product, a real estate platform should efficiently solve a user’s problem – search for a new home in a quick and troublesome way. To do that, an app should help to:
- Provide enough options of properties for potential buyers and renters;
- Enable users to find the best matching property;
- Provide the possibility to reach a real estate agent;
- Allow for effective research of a real estate item.
Among the most popular real estate platforms, one can name Compass, Zillow, Trulia, Zoopla. These are real estate websites that have revolutionized the real estate domain, opening up the market to real users.
Tech Trends in Real Estate Right Now
Tech transformation is making waves through various industries, including real estates. Some real estate platforms have already adopted the latest technologies, while others are only about to do so. These are the trending technologies that demand your attention.
Big data refers to the collection of the information left by users in the digital realm. This data is now reused to empower other platforms. Real estate apps like Zillow and Trulia already use big data to generate real estate options based on the databases. Thus, the apps can provide information about the neighborhood, the crime rate in the region, schools, and even the number of children in the area (so that your child won’t be alone if you move there).
AI and Machine Learning
This one is still paving the way for the industry. Now the property search engines provide results based on such data as location and size. AI and machine learning integration will help engines sort out search results based on the user’s values, preferences, tastes, and even personality traits.
Besides that, AI may also help to predict price movements on the market. The technology analyzes historical price movements to forecast changes to the property price in the future. It does so by considering factors such as local crime rate, schools, transportation, and marketplace activities.
Virtual and Augmented Reality (VR/AR)
The major part of the property selection process takes place online. According to the National Association of Realtors, nearly half of all potential homebuyers search for properties on the internet first. VR/AR helps realtors and home sellers conduct virtual home tours, making the online customer experience more engaging. Needless to say, virtual home tours are becoming increasingly relevant during the COVID-19 massive lockdowns.
Internet of Things (IoT)
This technology relates to a network of smart devices connected to the e-cloud, continually sending, receiving, and updating information. In the future, IoT can help homebuyers download full details of the property’s upkeep and maintenance history. Thus, there is no longer a need for costly bills for inspections.
4 Features Your Real Estate Platform Cannot Exist Without
The app market is swarmed with different real estate websites, of different complexity and features. Yet, there is a list of features that must be included in a real estate platform to satisfy the users. Let us dive into each of them.
The list of available listings is the cornerstone of any real estate website. The broader it is, the more popular the platform becomes. The good news is you can develop such a database by yourself using brokers’ databases.
Which databases you will integrate with your platforms depends on the region your platform will cover. Let’s take the US real estate market as an example. The primary sources for this market are the US National Association of Realtors (NAR) and the Multiple Listing Service (MLS).
Authentication and personalisation
User experience at real estate websites is usually personalized for three user roles: agents, homebuyers, and home sellers. The profiles for different user roles should include other functions and allow you to switch roles on the website.
Real estate platforms like Zillow and Trulia also feature a registration via Facebook, Instagram, and Gmail. Social network integration helps accelerate the signup process while integrating some additional personal data, like photos, gender, age, location, etc.
As the platform uses personal data for a more customized experience, you need to ensure data protection. So make sure your website complies with the OWASP standards and GDCP regulations.
A user friendly search engine capable of performing complex searches is an essential component of a real estate platform. The simplest iteration of search would only include such conventional filters as location, price, size, etc. However, modern real estate platforms leverage the power of big data and integrations to provide much more detailed information about properties:
- Opinion of the local citizens about the neighborhood, its infrastructure, schools, maintenance, etc;
- Information about the crime rate in the region;
- LGBT protection rate that reflects how the locals and the local legislation treats LGBT people;
- Likelihood of natural disasters;
- Average age rate, family status, education of the local citizens.
A real estate platform is hardly conceivable without maps, as a property’s location is one of the basic considerations for a potential homebuyer. The majority of real estate websites use Google Maps, mostly because users are accustomed to it. Yet, you can also use a map service called Open Street Maps as an alternative option.
Besides only showing the location based on user IP and GPS, real estate platforms integrate with many web services to deliver useful statistics on the map: nearby restaurants, schools, and even streetlights. This is how Trulia displays this information in the Neighbourhood section:
Top 3 Features that Will Make Your Real Estate Platform Stand Out
While the must-have features form the backbone of a platform, good-to-have features make it special and customizable for a user. The list of additional features is not overwhelming, as you can always make up and add one of your own. Here is a small list of additional features already implemented in other real estate platforms:
This one is a custom feature, allowing a user to add some options in the search results to the favorites' list, like you put products in a cart on a typical e-commerce website.
The 'favorites' section allows users to weigh their options without rushing into buying/renting a house. Data gathered from the favorites list can also be used for analyses and generating new property suggestions.
In-app Messaging Solution
Once the user made a decision, he/she will probably want to contact a realtor or a home seller to discuss the details. In-app user chat is the best way he/she can communicate efficiently.
Calendar for an Appointment Booking
Once a user has selected an apartment/house, he/she will want to take a tour around there. To do that, he/she would need to contact a realtor and schedule a visit. However, a far more comfy option would be to browse the calendar on the app for available slots.
Uptech has implemented this one in a real estate project called Nomad. At the user tests and following the product’s launch, we could see that a calendar for appointments can largely simplify searching and minimize unnecessary arrangements.
How Can We Help with Creating Real Estate Websites
Uptech has broad experience in building real estate websites. With profound experience, our team has provided a product management consultancy for the client.
Nomad is a digital platform that uses technology to simplify buying and renting homes in Dubai. Nomad was founded in 2019 to turn a traditionally cumbersome offline experience into one that is online and seamless. Like traditional real estate services, Nomad provides a listing database and search engine to find a property. The website features 3D virtual tours and in-person visits. The platform relieves users from the fuss of financing, registration, and ownership transfer, which usually involves tedious paperwork.'
For Nomad we did a full-scale Discovery stage, which includes:
- Profound market research;
- Numerous user interviews;
- Multiple users tests.
We also provided UX/UI Design, a full web development cycle, helped to launch an MVP and the first version.
We have in-depth knowledge of the real estate domain, including the industry’s top trends and most popular features. We also have experience integrating third-party components, like maps, admin panels, and multi-listing services into the platforms.
You need to include some basic features in your real estate platform, so it hits the mark. At the same time, there are some unapparent tools you could use to make your website stand out among the myriad of other real estate platforms.
If you want to know more about our experience or like to share an idea for the product, do not hesitate to contact us.