The all-in-one app is described as a mixture of Zillow, WhatsApp and Instagram for people who love real estate.
A new social app for commercial and residential real estate agents is aiming to give them more control over their business by allowing them to generate free leads without spending money on online ads, emails or cold calling.
The app, REAL, also allows agents to build professional relationships with interested prospects and keeps them connected so that they can stay engaged anytime instead of using multiple platforms to do so.
The app is a collaboration between Fredrik Eklund, founder of Douglas Elliman’s Eklund | Gomes Team—who’s also been seen on Bravo TV’s “Million Dollar Listing New York” and “Million Dollar Listing Los Angeles”— and Thomas Ma, a Hong Kong entrepreneur with experience in proptech and startups.
Eklund described the all-in-one app as a mixture of Zillow, WhatsApp and Instagram for people who love real estate.
Eklund says agents on REAL will be able to curate their own feature images, content and chat topics to reflect their expertise. Interested parties will be able to follow professions whose interests align with their own.
“It’s always been important to me to stay on top of technology, and I’m a big proponent of social media when it comes to real estate,” he said. “I’ve been one of the first people to launch listings and buildings on Instagram and do complete social. I realized it’s something I really have a need of and my team would love it.”
The issue with a lot of the real estate sites, in Eklund’s view, is that there’s so much information that it can become overwhelming.
“There’s a lot of data, which is great, but when you want to scroll on your phone through beautiful properties and you want to search for things that work for you globally … It could be a farmhouse in Tuscany or a penthouse in New York—all price points, but streamlined beautifully on your phone, there isn’t anything like that,” said Eklund. “This is a way for agents like myself to promote my listings and for buyers and sellers to really dive into all of that.”
‘It’s a Mess’
Another feature is that agents are able to speak with one another directly, which is especially important for an increase in off-market transactions while inventory is still low.
“I have 94 agents on my team nationwide in 13 offices and we communicate by sending emails and texts to each other, and it’s a mess,” said Eklund. “This app allows us on my team to communicate together and sends listings, set up appointments, and all of that.”
With real estate giants like Zillow and Realtor.com, promoting a property is a bit of a broken system, Eklund says, since the MLS is an open platform.
“We give it to them for free and they should. Nothing against Zillow, but agents then pay Zillow to be promoted on the website with our data,” said Eklund. “REAL gives the control back to the agents in a way because it’s free and I love that. You don’t have to have an ad to show your buyer. You don’t pay anybody to select the listings that you want to be associated with and show that and promote that and communicate with people.”
Joe Arendt, vice president of Brand Partnerships at Inman, said it’s important for agents to elevate their presence and stand out in the industry.
“REAL is an exciting new way for agents to grow their networks, generate leads and stay connected with other industry insiders,” said Arendt.
‘You Don’t Need to Please Everybody’
Although the app allows users to connect with agents’ online feeds and get to know their personalities, Eklund said he believes it’s key to “stay true to you,” especially for professionals new to the industry.
“You cannot try to copy other successful people. It really has to come from within because sales is that. You have to have your clients look at you and really feel that you’re being genuine and honest,” said Eklund. “I really encourage any new agent to take a long look in the mirror and even things you may think people don’t like, really own it and celebrate those things because all you need is for a few people to identify with you and really trust you in order to start doing your first deals. You don’t need to please everybody.”
Eklund said real estate feels like one of the last industries to be introduced to technology, which he finds exciting. Although he doesn’t believe technology will eventually replace a real estate agent, he believes it’s a stepping stone to making some agents more successful.
“Real estate is a people business, and finding people a home? Technology cannot do that. It can be helpful, and REAL is a good example of that, but you still need a hand to hold through the process and that’s never going to change,” said Eklund.
In the future, Eklund said real estate technology will get faster and more transparent.
“There’s going to be even more tools for the buyer,” he said. “Everything is going to be there but you’re still going to need someone who has your interest to help you navigate.”