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

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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 features which most of the clients find pointless.

    This is why the target audience of your app will guide its business model and its 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 — such 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 ready to rent and 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 property 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 in the app.

    Post-a-room screenshot

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

    Property management apps 

    The gist. Brokers and real estate agents need tools that would help them manage the entire process of selling or renting out apartments. That’s where property management apps come in handy. With these apps 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 — it’s calculated 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’ userbase 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 — fuels 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. And 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. But 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.

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

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    You don’t have to go all-in and get every single add-on there is 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 because 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. Make 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 adore 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 no great cost.

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

    Nice-to-have 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 toursReal estate app users can look through 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 featuresIf 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 juggle between two property listings — they’ll find the app more comfortable to use.
    Extended search featuresWhen was the house built? Are there any foreclosures? What about pools or garages? Advanced filters can help users find the property they’re looking for quickly.
    Mortgage calculators and current mortgage rates*Some homebuyers will find it useful — they won’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 — keep the amount of ads and their size reasonable.

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

    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 get money for using the app.

    Key steps of real estate mobile app development 

    At Purrweb, we’ve been creating MVPs for 8 years — thus far developed over 300 projects.  Before starting development, it’s essential to find a team of experienced professionals — this largely defines 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 every developer you may need already works there, so you won’t have to search for a candidate yourself.

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    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. And help figure out how 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. Be 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 — in this way, you’ll 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 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. In the end, 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 awe 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 mark the complete end of the real estate app development cycle. We listen to the feedback which our MVP’s users provide — with it, we 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 to move into in London. 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.

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

    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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    FAQ s

    • 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? And 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.