MLS iPad apps have NOT gone far enough yet

by Marilyn Wilson on February 19, 2012

Realtor.com iPad appRecently, WAV Group has completed several customer satisfaction surveys from around the country in the Southwest, Mid-West, Southeast and Mid-Atlantic regions. In every case there has been a lot of discussion and requests for more MLS access via smartphones and especially for iPads and other tablet devices. While many MLSs think of their iPad application as a property search tool, agents want their MLS iPad apps to go much further than that.

Even for those that have launched Tablet solutions, there are two major areas of dissatisfaction that MLSs need to address to make mobile MLS applications truly useful for their agents and brokers.

Setting up a listing in the field

First, agents are demanding that an iPad application become “THE” place to set-up a listing.  It makes sense considering that the agent could access the iPad application while they are in the home of their seller.  It’s not enough just to view properties from an iPad. Agents want it to become their core tool for setting up new listings.

They would like to be able to take photos of the rooms and upload them in real-time. Ideally, the system will be able to easily indicate which room the photo is from and allow the agents to easily set the priority of display for the main photo from the application as well.

Agents would also like an easy way to measure room dimensions using the device instead of having to measure every room by hand. Ideally this method of measurement would be more accurate than hand measurements as well. They would like the tool to automatically pull in public records information for tax information and then be able to over-ride square footage with more up to date information as necessary.

Marketing and Staging

Ideally, the tool would also create the private and public versions of a virtual tour in real time. This may create a great opportunity to create an upgrade path to generate non-dues revenue from inside the application.

MLS software developers may also consider offering something like Houzz, an application that provides ideas for interior design. While discussing staging the home with a seller, an agent might be able to pull up a photo from this application to demonstrate how to more effectively merchandise their home using an example from the site.  It would be even more exciting if the agent could take a photo of a room and then the app could create virtual “makeovers” for the room instantly.

Usability

The second largest area of opportunity for Tablet Apps is better usability. Agents are used to simple, easy to use, wizard-based iPad apps and they are demanding that MLSs deliver the same simplicity and ease of use as other applications.

They also want the property search tools to be just as robust as REALTOR.com mobile apps.  I would love to see REALTOR.com license their application to MLSs and allow them to brand it as their own. Why recreate the wheel when we already have a great application “in the family”?  The Realtor.com app could be private labelled and offered as a consumer-facing app. for MLS Consumer Websites as well.

As WAV Group predicted over a year ago, the Tablet is quickly overtaking the smartphone as the mobile device of choice.  If you don’t have a tablet app or smartphone app, skip the smartphone and move directly to Tablet. If you already have a tablet device, it’s time to take your application to the next level.

If you want to learn more about developers that may be able to help you launch or update your mobile applications click here:

{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

Dave Keillor February 19, 2012 at 9:17 am

There is no need for a separate app for either tablets or smartphones. One URL (website) should — and can — handle all types of devices directly from the tablet or smartphone browser.

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Mike Audet February 20, 2012 at 6:10 am

Good post Marilyn! This was definitely echoed in the WAV Group 2011 MLS Technology survey as well from over 12,000 users. There is a significant lag between state of the art iPad and Mobile apps and what we are seeing as a rule in the Mobile front in real estate, however, that is starting to change. I like what I am seeing in products like Solid Earth’s “Spring” system designed totally around mobile access as well as specialty mobile apps like Mobile Realty Apps offers, that are including Add/Edit features in their mobile products. Great to see! I also applaud Solid Earth for understanding that their mobile MLS product does not have to mirror their legacy product, not everything has to be included as you move a product forward. Feeling obligated to bring every feature and functionality forward on new platforms is a trap that has killed vendors in the past. New platforms need to bring with them new thinking about how real estate professionals really use the MLS system. When 90% of the agents only use about 20% of the functions it should tell you something.

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david metoyer April 7, 2012 at 6:11 pm

When we speak of mobile apps the tendency is to only mention I pad and iphone, there are also those android devices which seem to be ignored.

Another thought is the URL can recognize if you are on a mobile device and operating system and should adjust as necessary. Many mobile apps were written when smartphones had limited memory, not so today.

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