Seattle-based Zillow had more than 200 million homes viewed on mobile devices in January, representing an astounding 75 homes per second.
Like other apps,
Zillow allows users to customize their searches and send them alerts whenever a property meets their criteria. But Zillow goes a step further and color codes its listings to further help homebuyers sort through all of the data. It also allows potential sellers to test the market without actually listing with an agent by offering a price that would "Make Me Move," which is how Finnegan eventually found his new home in Seattle.
"Mobile (technology) took us from a 9-to-5 service to a 24-hour service," said Jeremy Wacksman, Zillow's vice president of mobile and marketing. "It really did extend the shopping life cycle throughout the day and made it on demand, which clearly benefits the consumer."
But John V. Pinto, who has offices in Silicon Valley and Napa Valley and is the chairman of the business technology forum for the California Association of Realtors, said homebuyers often waste hours looking at listings for homes that already have been sold because some apps pad their listings with out-of-date properties.
So Pinto advises homebuyers to only use apps based on multiple-listing services -- then customize their searches to alert them to properties that are actually for sale.
"The good news, from the realtors perspective, is the consumer winds up doing a lot of the work because of all of these apps," Pinto said. "But real estate consumers are often babes in the woods who get drawn to all kinds of inaccurate information that's been packaged in a pretty way. Clients who find a listing they like can be like a cat who brings you a bird's head looking for approval. Their realtor has to constantly tell them, 'Thanks for being so diligent. That property was sold 30 days ago.' "
After testing out a couple of different apps, Aurora and his agent, Kieffer, are now efficiently texting and emailing one another about listings that Aurora sees daily as he looks for his first condo, which will be the new home for him, his rat terrier, "Stinky," and his parents who live in Canada, but will spend their winters staying with Aurora.
The real estate apps are so easy to use, Aurora said, that he even emails links of promising listings to his mother, Shanta, who is in her late 70s.
"If my mom can figure it all out," Aurora said, "anyone can."
Contact Dan Nakaso at 408-271-3648. Follow him at Twitter.com/dannakaso.
Real estate apps
Most major real estate apps are available on iOS or Android devices and allow users to set up alerts that will let them know when a new property becomes available that meets their preset search criteria, such as price, neighborhood or number of bedrooms and bathrooms.
Offers information on rentals and homes for sale, including rental estimates and mortgage estimates. Sellers can get help pricing their homes, or can toss out a price on Zillow's "Make Me Move" section without actually listing the property and hiring a realtor.
Says it's visited by more than 23 million consumers each month and is "the best place" for agents, brokers, multiple-listing services to market online.
Says that it "shows more homes, faster" and claims it offers 20 percent more homes for sale. Redfin advertises that all of its listings represent homes that are actually for sale.
Says listings on its mobile apps represent more than 800 multiple-listing services and provide "the most accurate and reliable information possible" on properties, communities and up-to-date real estate statistics.
Says its mobile apps have more than 4 million properties listed for sale or rent via interactive maps and allow users to compare property values in the same area.
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