Except it’s not a home search app.
As Glenn Kelman states in the company announcement, this is a “home buying” app. This means that you get listings – indeed, FSBO’s and foreclosures along with the MLS data – but also tools for saving, making notes on and taking photos of those listings. Everything you do on your phone syncs with your account at redfin.com and vice-versa. This makes organizing your own search effort simpler and, more importantly, makes collaborative searching more powerful. In fact, the company has bought all its employee agents iPhones so they can post information and photos of listing to clients’ Redfin accounts.
That’s pretty cool.
Now, to do all this cool stuff, you do have to register for a Redfin account. On the one hand, being prompted to create an account just to favorite a listing is bothersome. It may cause a few users to bail. But what I like about this app is that it’s built for a purpose. By that I mean it’s created specifically for Redfin’s target customer – the serious, tech savvy home buyer – and those who serve them, Redfin agents. If the casual user bails, so be it.
This can be viewed as something of an advancement for mobile real estate apps, for rather than functioning as a fuzzily conceived “mobile play” whose success is measured in downloads, it’s actually a focused complement to the existing business strategy. I think this is an indication of things to come.
I do have a couple quibbles:
First, I think the start screen is too complicated. In my mind, the mobile platform should feel sort of like Europe, where everything is smaller, but characterized by an economy of design that makes that a delight rather than a problem.
So instead of the screen below, I’d like to be taken directly to homes around my location, then permitted to refine or expand my search from there. The Zillow iPhone app does this well.
Second, I don’t like the clustering of homes on the map as seen below. I may be a little slow on the uptake, but I actually had to stop and think about what these numbers meant. Stopping and thinking is bad. It seems unlikely to me that at the default view there would be many cases where listing density makes these markers absolutely necessary.
These things notwithstanding, this is an excellent app. Congrats to the Redfin team!