When it comes to 'mobilizing' websites, real estate industry lags

Give smartphone-using home shoppers a better mobile experience

By Inman News Feed
Add Comment Add Comment | Comments: 0 | Posted Jan. 20, 2012

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Give smartphone-using home shoppers a better mobile experience

Steve Bergsman
Inman News®

It's estimated in today's marketplace that up to 20 percent of Web traffic is now generated from mobile devices, mostly this generation's iteration of smartphones, but that's just a starting point. By the end of 2012, as much as 33 percent of Web traffic could come from these mobile devices.

The problem is, there's a very sharp disconnect in the market. Most website managers have not kept up with the trend lines. That is, they have not formatted for viewing from a mobile device.

Realtors are even further behind, which will make John Lim even busier than he is today. Lim is CEO of Mobile Card Cast Inc. in Tarrytown, N.Y., and its offshoot, Mobile Real Estate LLC, which offers products for the residential real estate professional.

"We have a major initiative in our company to ensure that every single Realtor has a mobile-enabled website in 2012," he said. "An agent or broker not having a 'mobilized' website only hurts the industry as a whole."

Personally, I hate to be a party pooper, but I just don't see Lim attaining that goal. After all, he was the one who informed me that in terms of market penetration, only 11 percent of the major websites in this country have "mobilized" websites, and in the real estate world the numbers are worse: down in the 6 percent to 7 percent range.

This is a real weakness in the real estate brokerage community, because, as Lim pointed out, recent studies show that 25 percent of homebuyers are visiting real estate-related websites from their Web-enabled mobile devices -- mostly smartphones.

If a website isn't "mobilized," it's not only a bit harder to access, but maneuvering through it can be clunky and time consuming.

"Single-property mobile websites, along with agent websites can be optimized for the specific Web-enabled device being used so they display appropriately on an iPhone, Android or Blackberry," Lim said. "Because of this, they offer ease of use and the best user experience for the consumer."

To which he added, "Functionality is the most important factor to keep an average 1 out of 4 visitors engaged in order to turn the visit into an active lead."

Lim's firm doesn't just mobilize websites, but has been involved in text messaging and QR codes as well.

Text messaging, where one dials a listed code number to ascertain further information, has been around for a while, but QR codes are newer and Lim's firm has been creating cutting-edge technology for that specific messaging device.

QR, which stands for quick response, is a square icon, composed of smaller squares, found in advertisements that works similarly to the bar code found on items in the supermarket. You scan the icon using your Web-enabled mobile device's camera, and it can be loads a single-property website, where you can ascertain more information and pictures about the home you might be interested in, for example.

Mobile Real Estate's advancement in QR usage involves GPS technology. Normally, every QR code is different, but with QR codes now being used on sign riders, this can get expensive. So, Mobile Real Estate developed a single QR code that when you scan it, the GPS technology gives you access to only the one house you are standing before.

"We have over 60,000 signs throughout the country with the exact same QR code," said Lim. "This allows the brokers to save tremendous money in management for those codes because they all look the same. However, when you scan that code on the sign, it uses GPS technology so you only enter the website for the home before you."

Here's the way it works: If potential homebuyers were standing in front of a house, they would take out their Android smartphone or iPhone and open up a QR code reader that uses the camera on the phone to automatically scan that code. One scan and you are transferred to a mobilized property website.

Back in November, The Real Estate Book, the digest-sized for-sale properties magazine found in grocery stores, convenience stores and restaurants, decided to expand its advertising package using mobile marketing tools from Mobile Real Estate.

The most common usage is text messaging.

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