Mobile Browsers Are Changing Property Hunting

Steve Jobs’ iPhone and iPad are still changing property hunting.

The next time one of your customers wants to browse listings on realestate.com.au, they may well reach for their touchscreen tablet or phone, instead of their computer.

In our house, for example, browsing the home market is just one of many things that my laptop no longer helps me with. Others are: reading the paper, reading magazines, reading blogs, reading books, online search, making travel arrangements, searching wikipedia and online shopping (is there any other kind?).


Page 10 of the REA Group’s most recent investor presentation reveals how fast mobile is eclipsing the web for Australia’s most important property portal:
  • 34% of total visits to realestate.com.au are now from mobile devices, using the mobile site, the app and the normal website via a tablet
  • Traffic to  realestate.com.au’s mobile web site (not the app) doubled over the last year to 1.3 million Unique Browsers. That’s more than homebound or any other portal competitors except domain receive in total.
  • Meanwhile, desktop traffic to  realestate.com.au stayed mostly flat.
  • 1.1 million copies of the mobile realestate.com.au app have been downloaded (including both tablet and smartphone downloads)
(As an aside for you commercial agents, the above data is for realestate.com.au. realcommercial.com.au just launched its first app, so it is just beginning this process.)



Why It Matters

You might not think it matters to you or other agents whether users of realestate.com.au prefer the mobile app or the the mobile site. But it does.

I’ve reproduced this chart from the REA Group’s investor presentation.

The two ways of viewing your property listings on smart phones and tablets are different in several ways, including the following three key ones.


Functionality
The apps can let users do much more, and this can make it easier for them to contact you by phone and email. The nature of a mobile website means it will always have fewer features.


Agent branding
The mobile app gives realestate.com.au more room and flexibility for agent branding and promotion.
Expect the company to start offering advertising products that are exclusive to the app, and not available online. To wrap your head around this, look at the portal’s home page and notice the advertising opportunities there (mostly not for agents but for third parties, admittedly) that don’t exist in other parts of the site and require separate purchase.
Now, imagine unique ads that could appear in different parts of the mobile and tablet app that you would be willing to buy.


Revenue
The app can serve more mobile ads and generate more revenue for the REA Group, which means there could be less pressure to raise subscription costs. That affects your bottom line.
All three of these distinctions directly and indirectly impact agents who are REA customers.
I’ll leave you with a prescient quote from Steve Jobs’ keynote speech launching the first iPhone, in which he points out the reason smartphones have so transformed online browsing for real estate.


 “An iPod, a phone, an internet mobile communicator… these are NOT three separate devices! And we are calling it iPhone! Today Apple is going to reinvent the phone. And here it is.”

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About Dave Platter

Dave does PR in real estate and technology.

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7 Responses to Mobile Browsers Are Changing Property Hunting

  1. Glenn Rogers August 27, 2012 at 3:11 pm #

    Agents should also have mobile web sites, not an app but a mobile site.
    A list of develpers and approx costs would be interesting.
    Do they need to be updated regularly or do they always mirror the content of the actual web site.?

    I dont think many agents understand how these things work or the costs involved.

  2. Dave Platter August 27, 2012 at 4:02 pm #

    Glenn, you are absolutely right. Agents do need a mobile site. For example, I know that LJ Hooker recently launched mobile sites for all their Australian agents (Real Estate Business article: http://bit.ly/ReYYrY), and that they also have an app.

  3. Scott McCluskey September 10, 2012 at 4:44 pm #

    The above statistics prove that mobile marketing strategies are becoming more and more crucial for agents. QR codes are being used with increased vigour but without a mobile site users may have a poor experience – please consider this before printing your next ad with a QR code. We have also found that video used in conjunction with a mobile strategy can give users a great experience and allow buyers to gain information when and where they want it. Smartphones also allow the user to call an agent, email an agent or get directions to the property using Google maps with the click of one button.

  4. Dave Platter September 11, 2012 at 11:27 am #

    Great comments, Scott. I’d love to hear more about how mobile video works on your platform a QuickRealty.

  5. Dave Platter September 12, 2012 at 11:14 am #

    Simon, thanks for that. I’ve been meaning to post on the whole realestate.com.au incentive (possible) scandal. It’s certainly the biggest news of the moment.

  6. Dave Platter September 12, 2012 at 2:18 pm #

    Simon, I’ve just posted an item on the kickbacks scandal here: http://www.business2.com.au/2012/09/i-am-shocked-shocked-to-find-that-kickbacks-are-going-on-in-here/

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