Realtor.com has a nice iPhone specific url that allows you to view real estate listings from your iPhone. I’m not sure what percentage of U.S. listings are fed into Realtor.com, but I would be suprised if it isn’t most of the major metro area MLS listings. And they are all at your finger tips with your iPhone.
OK, so what? Big deal. Who cares? What problem is solved by having access to nearly all of the Realtor listings in the U.S. through an iPhone? Why not just go home and log in from your web browser if you want to surf listings?
Well, I’m with you. I’m not impressed with “gee wiz” technology just for the sake of technology, but I can think of at least two ways in which this technology benefits me personally and professionally.
First, it’s not uncommon to be showing houses to buyers, and they ask about homes we drive by that are not on our list. This happens all the time.
Normally, if it’s not on our showing list, it’s because it didn’t fit the parameters of the search, or I eliminated it for some other reason. But I don’t always know or remember at the moment the question is asked. If there are flyers, we get one and find out the price and specs, but flyer boxes are usually empty, and sometimes the price isn’t printed on the flyer (because the agent wants you to call and ask, so they can convert you to a “buyer lead”.
I can also call the agent number on the sign, but what do you think the chances are that the call will be answered? Not good. Realtors hardly ever answer their phones.
So instead, now all I have to do is enter a quick search and pull the listing up, complete with pictures and basic details. The screen shot above is the home page you’ll see if you visit iphone.realtor.com with your iPhone.
Let’s walk through more screen shots and see if this is cool and useful, or not. Oh, and I’ll get to reason number two of why this isn’t a complete waste of time eventually, but for now, let’s just see what you can do with Realtor.com and an iPhone.
This next screen shot is what you see after tapping the “Find a Home” menu item on the home page.
You can enter a city and state, but if you know the zip code, it’s quicker and easier to just use that.
Enter any price requirements, along with bedrooms and baths, and click search. I left the price info blank and simply entered a search for homes with at least 4 bedrooms and at least 3 baths.
If you are logged into Realtor.com with a user account (free for anyone to sign up), you can click the “save this search” box and create a library of saved searches.
Let’s see what we come up with on our search.
This is what you see on the search results page. You can save a listing, click the blue arrow to move to the next group of 10 results, or tap a listing to see the details page.
But if browsing for a specific property, this page provides the basics at a quick glance.
Let’s check out 9408 San Lucas.
This is the listing details page. The public comments are not included, but instead some generic data pulled from the MLS listing.
There are three tabs to choose from – Details, Photos and Contact.
Here is the photos tab.
Unlike a lot of mobile MLS feeds, Realtor.com doesn’t skimp on the photos. We get all 12 photos, the limit allowed in the Austin MLS, but there is a catch.
If the listing agent is not paying the $71/mo. for the “enhanced” service at Realtor.com, then your listing will only display 1 photo. This sample listiing is one of ours, and we do pay the additional fee, though I’m not happy about there being an additional fee, but we want our listings to show all photos to online viewers at Realtor.com.
Here is the larger photo view. On your iPhone, you can arrow through all the photos (if there is more than one), or click the ‘x’ to return to the details view.
The last tab is the contact tab. This is where you can see the listing agent contact info. If the agent doesn’t have the “enhanced Realtor.com package, you only get the name and number. Otherwise, you see a photo of the listing agent, and I suppose we should have a logo there. I’ll look into that.
OK, reason number 2. I hate to admit it, but I’m a real estate junky. Whever I visit another city, whether on business or on vacation, I like to drive around and look at houses. Most recently I did this in Lake of the Ozarks Missouri, where we spent 7 days on vacation. On our second to last day there, when Sylvia and the girls were off doing girl stuff (spa, manicure, facials – they are so spoiled), I headed out for a half day of tooling around the lake, visiting open houses, pulling flyers, and checking things out. I didn’t have an iPhone then, but if I’d had one, I would have been able to use the “Homes Nearby” feature to gather information about the homes I saw while driving around.
The “Homes Nearby” feature at Realtor.com requires that you enter two cross streets, a city and state, and will produce a results list similar to the one shown above for the regular search. You can also limit the search result by entering bedrooms, baths and a high and low price.
So, if you already have an iPhone, this is another benefit and feature available to you. I wouldn’t run out and buy one just to see listings on my phone though. I’ve had my iPhone for 10 days now, and I’m not yet convinced that the additional ownership and data plan costs are offset by any notable productivity increases, but I’m still learning how to use it after having a Treo for three years.