Real Estate Mobile App Development: How to Make an App That Users Love

Real estate mobile app development is a thriving industry. The market is growing by the minute, as more and more people are looking for property to rent — and more realtors and owners are keen on finding new clients.

But the real estate business is very competitive. In order to ensure that a solid product hits the market, entrepreneurs have to get it right on the first try. We’ll tell you all you need to know about real estate app development: the essential features which will increase your customer retention, monetization models, and development steps.

Reading time: 16 minutes

Table of contents

What is a real estate mobile app? 

Real estate mobile apps generally cater to a specific niche in the market. After all, clients and professionals in the real estate business have different needs. For instance, renters and tenants look for rooms and apartments to move into, while landlords and agents are interested in renting their property out. There are also homebuyers and realtors mostly concerned with property ownership.

Essentially, creating a viable singular product that will accommodate the needs of every type of user is impossible — the app will be bloated, riddled with too many features, which most of the clients never use.

This is why the target audience of your app will guide the business model and type. Let’s take a look at some of the most common ones:

Property valuation apps

The gist. These apps calculate the approximate value of a particular apartment or a home. It relies on data gathered from the homeowner or other sources online — this data may include information about the neighborhood, surrounding infrastructure, or prices of similar property. These services can sometimes connect the user to a real estate agent — this way, the professional will analyze the market specifically for the client and state the price of their property.

Example. Trulia is one of the most widely known property valuation apps out there. It gathers information from several sources: what locals say about the neighborhood, interior features, the overall market dynamic. It uses these to calculate the value of a property — and lists it directly in the app.

Trulia app screenshot

When a user taps on the property profile, they see the price of the property on the very top along with reviews and cost history. If that’s not enough, they can request additional info through the app

Property for-sale and rental listings apps 

The gist. When users think of a “real estate app”, they most likely think of this type. These apps feature a database of apartments available for rent or purchase. The end-user can find a property and schedule a meeting with a landlord directly in the app — no other apps necessary. Essentially, these apps act as mediators between users and real estate agents or landlords.

Example. Post-a-room is one of the apps we’ve worked on here at Purrweb. It lists rental properties in London. Landlords use it to rent out rooms, and tenants find the rooms they want with a built-in map. Renters and owners can communicate and schedule a meeting to sign a contract, all within the app.

Post-a-room screenshot

In the app, the user sees the entire apartment and its characteristics

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Property management apps 

The gist. Brokers and real estate agents need tools to help them manage the entire process of selling or renting properties. That’s where property management apps come in. Users can do several things: for example, check which properties from their portfolio are already rented out, and which ones are ready to be inspected by a potential homebuyer. Also, in some apps the users can forecast the price of their property, based on the data which either the app gathers online or the realtor puts in themselves.

Example. Buildium is one such real estate mobile app. It’s a tool where realtors and property managers can control every aspect of property ownership: from collecting rent to even learning how to manage property in a way that gets them more money. And if a resident experiences issues, they can quickly get in touch with their property manager.

Buildium app screenshot

Property managers can resolve accounting and maintenance issues in the app — no other service required

Real estate investment apps

The gist. Given that more people are looking for safer investment opportunities, it comes as no surprise that more people are seeking to invest into real estate. Of course there are traditional options, such as buying a property and becoming a landlord. But several crowdfunding apps have also taken off — after all, not many people can afford to buy a home, so these apps’ user base is constantly growing.

Example. Fundrise is one of the most popular real estate investment apps — it allows the average person to become a full-blown investor into private real estate. It does so by pooling funds from several investors through its platform — essentially crowdfunding. The app automatically takes the initial investment the user makes and spreads it out among various real estate projects.

Fundrise app screenshot

The user can check their assets in the Fundrise app. If they receive a dividend, they get a notification

What’s the situation like at the real estate app market?

Real estate tech industry is still growing. Experts at FMI estimate that the real estate app market will grow 4 times larger in 10 years — from $18.2 billion in 2022 to $86.5 billion in 2032. The emergence of new technologies — VR, automation, and AI are all fuelling this trend. These features  make interacting with real estate easier for any user: from the manager who can check the state of their property in the app, to the tenant who can scroll through listings on the go and find the perfect fit.

Because of this, more investors are looking for ways to fund growing businesses in the real estate industry. The CRETI report shows that property-related technology is continuing to pool more funds, year after year. Investors are trying to find startups with killer features, and the potential to disrupt the market.

To keep up, more real estate companies are creating apps, so if you want to gain new customers and attract investments, now is the perfect time to develop your own app.

Must-have features for a real estate mobile app MVP

So you’ve figured out the type of app you want to make, how can you ensure that it takes off and users find it useful? Creating an MVP first and rolling it out to market is a viable option.

An MVP (minimum viable product) is a simplified version of the app that showcases only its essential features. It’s more budget friendly than a full-blown app, and it helps entrepreneurs to establish whether there is demand for their product. With an MVP, they can gather users’ feedback to improve the app.

See also  How to Build an MVP App: The Definitive Guide 2024

You don’t have to go all-in and use every single add-on to create a solid MVP. Most, if not all real estate mobile apps, share core features. They’re important to include in your own startup, as they’re proven to be effective — users won’t enjoy using the service without them. Here are some ideas to implement in your app — they’ll work best in renting or property for-sale apps.

Registration. This feature is important to include for security reasons. Users can look at each other’s profiles in advance — knowing who the tenants and renters are beforehand makes deals safer and more convenient. Pay attention to UX when integrating registration into your app — customers don’t like when the process drags on.

Post-a-room registration screenshot

Registration shouldn’t be hard to navigate — if it is, users won’t even try to register

Favorites system. With this feature, users save time — they can quickly look through the apartments they’ve already viewed and liked.

Search filters. They make the app easier to navigate. Be sure to include filters like location, price range, and neighborhood. Each of these filters dictates the value of the property, and if the user can see it clearly in the app, they’ll be less likely to leave.

Maps and street view. Two completely identical homes can vary in price by hundreds of thousands of dollars just because they’re built in different locations. This is why maps are essential for any real estate based service — and if a mobile app doesn’t have it, users can easily become frustrated. Also, navigation can help the renters get a general overview of the particular apartment or home — it may lead to them striking a deal with the owner via your platform.

Trulia app map screenshot

In Trulia, a user can see every offer in the surrounding area on a map — it’s convenient

Chat. This feature ensures that users don’t leave your app once they are ready to discuss a real estate asset they found there. Besides, talking on the phone or using a different app is uncomfortable and frustrating for most.

Administrative panel. This is important to include in your MVP because users demand it. They can easily navigate through the deals they’ve made, the investments they paid, and the listings they viewed.

Feedback system. The users will trust your app more — it becomes more transparent in their eyes. Seeing a rating for a certain property or a user in general provides a sense of security.

You won’t have to spend much on incorporating these features. Most of these solutions already exist and can be adapted for your MVP at a fixed cost.

When you’re making an MVP, it’s time to determine how your app will stand out from the rest. Think of a breakthrough feature – so that users choose your app over the competition.

Desirable features for a real estate mobile app

You can scale your product and introduce a variety of real estate app features that will help your users. Here are some of them:

⚙️ Type of feature 🤔 Benefits
Augmented Reality (AR) and virtual tours Real estate app users can look around the property online — see the full layout. If they’re planning on moving in, with AR they can customize some elements of the apartment or home — like wallpaper and furniture — without leaving the app.
Property comparison features If the user is torn between what type of property to buy or invest in, this feature will come in handy. This way, the user won’t have to switch between two property listings — they’ll find the app more comfortable to use.
Extended search features When was the house built? Are there any foreclosures? What about pools or garages? Advanced filters can help users find the exact property they’re looking for, quickly.
Mortgage calculators and current mortgage rates* Some homebuyers will find it useful that they don’t have to quit your app to calculate loan interest, or check the loan repayment schedule.
Calendar* Landlords will be able to keep track of overdue payments, and investors — of overdue dividends. Real estate agents will also be pleased — they’ll quickly schedule appointments with potential buyers right in the app.

Features suitable for rental listings apps are highlighted with an asterisk (*)

How to make money with a real estate mobile app

There are several methods you can use to monetize your real estate app.

Advertising. You can put advertisements on top of the listings, for instance. Make sure they don’t ruin the overall experience of using your app, this means a balance between visible ads and actual content.

Premium subscriptions. Provide extra features for an additional fee. Or make your entire app subscription-based, so that users have to pay to access the app only.

Promotions for realtors. You can let brokers and landlords promote their properties and find new leads for an additional commission fee. This method is by far the easiest to generate money from using the app.

How to choose a tech stack for a real estate app

Why is picking the right technology stack for a real estate app development important?

First off, the chosen tech stack influences how the app works. For example, some technologies are better for handling large datasets or managing extensive real estate listings and information. At the same time, other options help with real-time updates and interactive features. Choosing the tech stack is like choosing building blocks of the app’s architecture, and this decision significantly impacts its future performance and capabilities.

Secondly, there should be no problems with scaling and updating the app. Choose the tech stack properly if you want to stay competitive. Scalability is crucial, especially in the dynamic real estate industry, where user demands and data volumes grow rapidly. A well-chosen tech stack allows the app to handle increased traffic and data without sacrificing performance. For instance, cloud-based solutions enable seamless expansion or contraction of resources based on demand of your app. You can rent server space when you need it or stop renting it as required.

After going through different options, we chose JavaScript frameworks. The choice proved to be good as we successfully developed 300+ projects using this tech stack. Here’s a bit more info on our tech stack:

Back-end Node.js, JavaScript Provides developers with a scalable and efficient backend architecture.
Front-end React Native, React.js, Electron.js React Native saves around 30% on your cross-platform (iOS + Android) mobile app development costs. React.js and Electron.js make web and desktop app development fast and efficient.
Infrastructure AWS, Heroku Provides a scalable infrastructure for hosting the app and offers a range of features such as automatic scaling and continuous integration.
Database PostgreSQL, MySQL, Redis Combining different databases helps to store data and ensure maximum protection. 

Key steps of real estate mobile app development 

At Purrweb, we’ve been creating MVPs for 8 years and thus far have developed over 300 projects. Before starting development, it’s essential to find a team of experienced professionals — this largely determines the success of a project. It can be freelancers, an in-house team, or an outsource development company. The choice is yours, but outsource teams have benefits no one else does. One positive is that they already have every type of developer you may need, so you won’t have to search for a candidate yourself.

See also  How to find and hire a mobile app developer

As for the stages of real estate app development, they differ company by company. We’re no strangers to making real estate apps — in fact, we’ve streamlined our development process into 5 convenient stages.

Step 1. Examine the potential competitors of your product — and their strengths

Conduct market research, identify the appropriate target audience and the problems they face when using existing real estate apps. In our case, we also ask for an entrepreneur’s idea of the final product, which helps us to turn their vision into reality.

At Purrweb, we can take responsibility for this step — the entrepreneur gets one less headache. We’ll analyze other real estate businesses, their success, and where they’ve fallen short. Rest assured — your app won’t have the same mistakes.

Step 2. Prepare a strategy, features to be included, and a listings database

Choose one of the aforementioned monetization options.

In some cases, collect listings. In order to do that, you’ll either have to connect an existing MLS (multiple listing service) system to your app, or talk with brokers and landlords personally.

You’ll also have to select the features which are absolutely necessary to include in the project. Try to omit features which you’ve decided are secondary, to reduce the costs of the app.

Step 3. Create a solid UI/UX design

Think of the ways your potential users will interact with the app — that’s called user flow. Based on data gathered in the first step, try to imagine scenarios of how exactly customers will navigate through the app.

At Purrweb, we create the real estate app design from scratch — assist with UI/UX from start to finish. This way, the entrepreneur can choose the appropriate look and feel for the app. And if, for example, you decide to create custom interface design for iOS and Android versions, we’ll happily accommodate.

Step 4. Develop a stripped-down version of the app and test it

This stage essentially includes coding and QA testing.

We typically create apps from the ground up — our real estate app developers use React Native to make the beta version of the product. Then, we test the app and fix the bugs. The end result is that our client gets a solid, working MVP, which is ready to hit the market.

Step 5. Release the real estate mobile app

You have created a real estate app — now your product is finally ready to roll out and impress your customers. You can start testing your market hypotheses and improving your app. You’ll figure out exactly what users liked — and what needs to change.

At Purrweb, we provide post-launch support. In our experience, releasing the app doesn’t mean the end of the real estate app development cycle. We listen to the feedback which our MVP’s users provide and use it to fix bugs and implement new features which make the app better.

We used this exact methodology to create Pad — a real estate startup which helps tenants find a room in London to move into. We discussed the business strategy with its founder and helped it pivot to a different idea altogether. Then, we chose the core features to include in the app, and refrained from adding others, like an ability to attach files.

Pad app screenshots

When working on Pad, we’ve accompanied the entrepreneur from start to finish. We helped them flesh out their vision, create a solid design and release a fully functional app

We created an MVP in 4 months. As a result, the founder of Pad attracted users and received investments.

See also  We can help struggling companies to pivot: rebooting a British startup. Purrweb’s case

How much does it cost to build a real estate mobile app

Before creating a real estate app, you should understand which factors affect the costs most:

    • If you want to implement advanced features like virtual tours or real-time notifications, it will cost more than an MVP with basic features.
    • Making the app work on different types of devices or platforms (iOS, Android) also makes it more expensive. 
    • Developing an intuitive design that matches the niche and user preferences also takes more time and requires a strong expertise from your web designers.
    • Keeping the data safe is important and requires more work to do and money to invest.
    • Making sure everything works right and keeping the app up to date also adds to the cost. Still, it’s better to spend a bit more at the beginning to make it work well for everyone and save more money in the long run. 

If you want to build a real estate app for smartphones and redesign the whole brand identity, with Purrweb the project will approximately cost $66,100.

The service Estimated time frame Price
UI/UX design 1 month $8 400
Frontend dev 15 weeks (in parallel with back-end) $25 000
Backend dev 15 weeks (in parallel with front-end) $22 500
Project management throughout the entire development $10 200

Remember that real estate apps can greatly vary. The final cost is different for each project. If you’re interested we can always calculate it for you.

5 reasons to invest into real estate app development 

Developing a real estate app offers advantages both for startupers and stable businesses. Let’s have a look at the five reasons why investing into a real estate platform is a good strategic move:

Cover the market demand

Even if the market is crowded — there’s always room for improvement. Imagine a person who wants to invest into real estate, but the sum isn’t enough to hire a professional advisor. It still would make sense to get some professional advice, and that’s when an app with a virtual advisor could help. Obviously, it’s not the only problem real estate app users’ are facing. You can also focus on some particular type of real estate or streamlining the entire process. 

A proper real estate app should become a go-to when a user needs to solve their property-related tasks, much like apps for food delivery that became a part of our daily routine. This level of convenience is what users seek, and by providing it — you’ll secure a spot in this flourishing market.

Stay competitive 

If you already have a real estate app, it’s probably time for an upgrade:

    • Improve the UI  to ensure a user-friendly experience. 
    • Make the app work smoothly on different devices to meet the increasing number of mobile users. 
    • Additionally, implement advanced data security and privacy features to stay on top of constantly developing hacker techniques. 
    • Consistently refine the app through updates that integrate current market trends and user input. 

Through these strategic investments, not only do you provide users with a more convenient platform, but also establish your app or a real estate website as an irreplaceable solution in the real estate industry.

Take advantage of the large cash flow

There’s a lot of money in the real estate business. Especially, if we’re talking about selling and buying property. People will gladly spend $100 for a service that can find the most profitable real estate options, saving them thousands of dollars on realtors.

Besides, the market is continuously growing. So, in the long run, your app can bring a lot of money through different revenue streams. For example, you can take fees for using premium features, transaction fees, or partnerships with mortgage lenders and other related services. 

Integrate AI technologies

Recently, the trend of Artificial Intelligence (AI) has broken the Internet. Imagine taking your real estate app to the next level by integrating this state-of-art technology. For example, you can implement personalized, AI-driven property recommendations. Streamlining the decision-making process for users by offering the most suitable options. Virtual assistants powered by AI enhances customer support, by handling queries in a more interactive and efficient manner.

These technological enhancements not only elevate the capabilities of your app but also significantly boost user engagement. Users benefit from intelligent features that meet their needs, making the property search or transaction process easier. 

Go beyond the typical models

Investing in real estate app development seems like a good idea, because this industry isn’t just about buying/selling/renting at the household level. This means, you can help not only rental applicants, property owners, or property buyers, but some professionals as well. The options are limitless, you can target real estate agencies, experienced investors, construction companies, or suppliers. You can step outside the ordinary app models and provide users with a revolutionary solution like a real estate investment app, for example.

You can build a real estate app that will be a valuable data source by integrating advanced analytics tools. This way, your app becomes a rich source of data, offering valuable insights into user behavior, market trends, and profits of a potential real estate investment. Provide real estate professionals with a new solution for their long-standing problems, and they’ll make your app popular by word of mouth.

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How we develop real estate mobile apps 

We’ve developed over 300 projects, including some real estate apps. A client came to us with an idea of Pad, a platform where people can search for potential tenants or landlords for long term apartment sharing. For example, if someone has a free room to rent for a long term, they just post an advertisement and find a person who’s ready to rent their spare room. We liked the idea and dived into the development.

Screens of the Pad app, developed by Purrweb

The Pad app, developed by Purrweb

The challenge was that in this model, users were interested not just in the property characteristics, but in each other’s personal qualities and lifestyles as well. Both sides wanted to know who they’re going to agree to live with. So, the design and user flow should help users to easily exchange some important information about each other. 

How did we tackle the challenge? Both tenants and landlords would have to go through an onboarding process and provide some essential information about themselves. 

Tenants got five additional screens, owners — eight. This way, it takes more time for users to fill out the forms, but we managed to make it as brief as possible without sacrificing any important details.

Screens of onboarding in the Pad app, developed by Purrweb

Onboarding in the Pad app, developed by Purrweb

One more challenge was that the client got really enthusiastic about the project and wanted to incorporate a lot of features. From our experience, a released MVP is better than any ambitious project that never got released and therefore never found an audience.

Fortunately, we managed to explain to our client the budget and time limitations we had. We agreed that some features can be added later after finishing the MVP version of Pad. That’s why we delayed integrating of subscription for tenants, push-notifications, and ability to attach files in the chat.

As a result, in 4 months of working with us the client got a developed real estate app. It helped them enter a new negotiation stage with investors and prove that the idea was feasible. A project manager, designer, QA specialist, and three software engineers worked on Pad. The full process of real estate software development cost our client $30,000.

Let’s recap

Real estate tech is quite a lucrative market — if you want to create a real estate app, do it now.

If you think of developing a real estate app, consider different monetization methods, like ads and premium subscriptions. Don’t forget to start off with an MVP — a barebones version of the app — in order to test the waters and see if there is demand for your service.

If you have an idea for an app, shoot us a message in the form below. We’ll help calculate the price of your product.

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  • How do real estate apps make money?

    Real estate mobile apps generate revenue through advertisements, premium subscriptions, and commission fees.

  • What should I know before starting real estate app development?

    You’ll need to figure out the market and its needs. Make sure your app provides something new to the market. It doesn’t have to be revolutionary — it’s enough if it makes owning or renting real estate easier and more accessible. You’ll also have to consider how you are going to secure the appropriate amount of rental and property for-sale listings. If your app can only showcase ten properties total, users won’t trust it. Ensure you have a database in store — and create one if you don’t.

  • What expenses are involved in the development of a real estate app?

    You’ll have to spend time — searching databases, securing deals with brokers and landlords, and hiring developers to create a solid MVP. Most entrepreneurs go through that process and lose money along the way. Some landlords can be uncooperative, or they may land an entrepreneur into legal trouble. As for the price, it depends on the project — how complex is its premise and design? How many features do you intend to include? How much time will it take to complete each development step? Overall, the price will most likely be higher than $70,000 — that’s the minimum for a solid MVP which is ready for market.