Naturally, the first industries to adapt to the digital revolution were digital themselves: online services were naturally in there first, followed soon after by the Big Players in each industry. For estate agents, the market hasn’t been saturated yet, and there’s plenty of opportunity for those who either create their own apps or make use of third party apps to list their properties. Let’s take a look at exactly how apps could help boost your business!
More Eyes = Quicker Sales
First off, the most basic benefit of making your properties available through apps is that you’re going to reach more people. The more eyes you get on each listing, the quicker you can rent it out or sell it. You might think that somebody who finds your property listed through an app might not be as engaged as someone who finds it online; in actual fact, the opposite is true. People might download games on a whim, but not apps to find property!
The fact is that the vast majority of your first-time buyers—younger people who are used to being able to order things through their smartphones—respond positively to the convenience of checking out properties through apps. Look at what you can download on almost any phone these days: Uber, JustEat, AirBnB and more. Most industries are now adapting to fit this change, and estate agencies shouldn’t be any different.
Plenty of Useful Features
So it’s obvious that apps grant the general benefit of increased views and improved sales. But they also offer features that help you sell or rent properties more effectively, like:
1.) Direct contact with the app
Whether you have your own app or advertise through a third party app, it enables your potential clients to find your contact details, and even contact you directly through the app itself. In your own app, you can have a message box, through which interested parties can contact you with any questions or queries they may have. You can set it up so that the messages are sent directly to your email inbox. This helps in two ways: people interested in a property can ask questions about it, and if you’re a lettings agent, your tenants can contact you directly from their phone!
2.) Offer virtual tours
If you have the equipment for it, you can showcase your properties with a virtual tour. You can create panoramas with a smartphone camera, although they might not look as nice—so it’s best to rent the specialist equipment yourself, or failing that, hire a photographer who can do it for you. Either way, people browsing properties love virtual tours because you can get a great perspective on each house or flat before they even book a viewing.
3.) Book viewings in a tap
If somebody wants to view a flat or house, they can do it through your app. There are a couple of approaches you could take: the first, and simplest, is to let people register their interest in viewing a property. You can then send them a message back (or call them) to give them some potential dates and times for their viewing. Alternatively, you can incorporate a calendar into your app, so that people can book viewings for days and times that you’ve already made clear are free!
4.) 24/7 information
Another great thing about apps—less a feature, and more just a reflection of how people use them—is that they’re available 24/7. If somebody wants to look at one of your properties at 3 am, well, they can! Take people who work night shifts: they can browse your properties, send questions, book viewings and find all sorts of details on your app whenever they need to.
You’ll Stand Out
So far we’ve been talking about third-party apps as well as on your own; so, that means listing your properties on apps for RightMove, Zoopla and the like. But what are the specific benefits of having your very own app?
For starters, you’re going to stand out. Not many estate agents have their own app. Admittedly, an app might not be of much benefit if you own a small business with a slow turnover of properties. Especially if you’re ‘hyper-local’, only serving one small town. But if you’re in the city and looking to expand your reach, an app could be the ticket to standing out from the competition, especially if your app is useful!
Build ‘Brand Loyalty’
Brand loyalty is particularly for the letting agents out there. These days, it’s so much more common to up sticks to a cheaper or better house as soon as the tenants have a little money saved up. Why? Because times are tight, and everybody’s looking for the best deal. It’s the same when it comes to jobs, energy suppliers, and—yes—letting agents. You need to give tenants reasons to stay, and one reason could be your app.
Think about it. An app gives people a way to get in touch with you, whenever they need to, without having to jump through hoops. You can also stack your app with useful info on anything and everything from boiler FAQs to what to do/who to call if the house gets flooded. Little things like that can make all the difference—they aren’t going to get that kind of bespoke service anywhere else, and it’s all from a free app.
Costs are Minimal
The best thing is that you don’t have to pay through the nose for a designer anymore, either. The two best options? You can either hire a freelancer through an online platform, and have them do the work. Or you can build one yourself using an app maker for free. No matter which way you go, though, it’s a cheap and cheerful way to boost your business!
Izaak Crook is a Digital Marketing Executive for AppInstitute, a SaaS App Builder platform that allows anyone to create their own iOS and Android app without writing a single line of code.