Where Real Estate Gets Its Dirt

The Science and Art of REALTOR.com’s new iPad App.

There have been quite a few reviews about REALTOR.com’s new iPad app, Inman News did a great job and I love the thoroughness of what Agent Genius put together was awesome. I just wanted to focus on a few things I think are really special about the app itself, and why I think REALTOR.com has really knocked it out of the park.

The Science

Data, data, data.

What really sets this app far and away from the competition is the data. Nobody has more listings than REALTOR.com. So if Zillow or Trulia’s app were just as good (which they are not) as REALTOR.com’s iPad app you would be hard pressed to rely on their iPad apps alone to do any serious searching for real estate.

Area highlighter.

I think any well executed product has a bit of magic in it. In fact Steve Jobs called the iPad itself, magical. Being able to draw with your finger on to the map the specific area you want to live is not a new feature with online websites or even on mobile device (REALTOR.com’s iPhone app has this ability) But it really shines on the iPad. It just feels like…magic!

The Art

Just a few other things that I also thought worth mentioning.

First I noticed how much more enjoyable and what a better experience I have using the iPad app than actually searching on REALTOR.com. No annoying ads, a better use of screen space, and the interacitveness of the iPad experience really makes me prefer it as a primary environment when searching for homes.

Mapping

Those of you that read my blog know I’m not a big fan of map search on real estate search sites. But I must confess REALTOR.com iPad app makes me a convert, at least on the iPad. Maybe because it reminds me of one site that I have mentioned in the past as my favorite implementation of map search; Estately. Take a look at the screen shots for the map display of Estately and the map display of the iPad app.

REALTOR.com's iPad App

Estately's map search screen

So it’s no wonder why I like it so much!

Recently viewed listings

This is something small but shows an attention to detail that I love about the app. Having a something as simple as a checkmark in the map marker to remind you that you have already looked at the listing is really a winner. It just adds to the overall experience of the app of being an efficient way to search for real estate.

Checkmarks!

The Gallery View

Another thing I believe is great products borrow something from the past. In this app it’s the “Gallery View”, Errol called this view similar to the magazines you would get at supermarkets and grocery stores back in the day. To me the layout reminds me of MLS books. This is especially true when you view the listings in portrait view (of course).

Would I change anything?

While the app is truly a great product everyone, especially a software developer like me, always has a few things they would change or add. For me I just felt the sharing features of the app were the least thought out. I can understand the issues of privacy but it would be really great to see better hooks and tie-ins between the agent and the consumer.

Well that’s it.

I congratulate the entire team at REALTOR.com for putting together such an inspiring piece of software!

  1. Great points, especially about the art. In our consumer testing of real estate sites and products, ads always poll negatively, so the iPad app’s clean, streamlined designed will likely poll much better than the site as you indicated.

    I don’t and won’t have an iPad, so I’m holding my breath for the Android app that has to be coming that they won’t talk about yet! 🙂

  2. Lani, Lani, Lani. You know you harbor a secret lust for an iPad. The rest of us have given into temptation — why do you still resist? It’s only a matter of time…

  3. It really is a great app. R.com took some time coming to the iPad – but their disciplined approach shows. Sometimes slow and steady really does win the race.

    The draw function is awesome but what makes it a real win, as you point out, is the completeness of the inventory – once those pins start popping up. 🙂

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