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How to reap monetary dividends while using Real Estate Apps

Most real estate apps today are like online billboards, when they can really be used to reduce business cycles

Currently today there are thousands of applications specific to Real Estate alone, ranging from information to service to pure advertising ones. So how should Real Estate Professionals use these applications to earn money and reap dividends? How can the industry use technology to provide solve business problems concerning agencies and developers and still deliver a seamless online-offline experience to their customers?

Can the industry really benefit from applications?

First, lets find out what real estate professionals on the WeChat platform are doing today

Applications built on Wechat platform currently operate like a disposable pamper, "use once and throw". Many a times buyer and sellers will come together that one-time and leave together when the fire has cooled. Many a times, these real estate professionals rely on other avenues to meet real buyers and thus feel that applications do not contribute a lot to their overall P/L

Hence the most-used real estate applications on the WeChat platform are developed by large developers such as Wanda, Vanke and Country Garden. Some developers and agencies have come together to develop Applications like the "Home (安客)" app for instance. Since its an industry norm that Applications are not used widely for marketing publicity purposes, its little wonder that most developers do not used them frequently.

So why does Wanda launched its WeChat Application so soon after the feature is available on the platform? More because as a national Icon and large conglomerate with businesses in entertainment, hospitality, sports and tourism, Wanda is easily able to attract tens of millions of users to any platform. The interactive features on their application more than do enough to engage users and draw customers experience closer to the Company, further enhancing Wanda's brand image. As a new feature on WeChat, Wanda is able to use this application to test out customers reaction towards online interactive media, which we believe they will build on this success story to develop more apps in future.

So are Applications really not worth the industry's effort?

Applications are designed to allow users easier access to services, and there are areas of services that applications can bring out better than traditional brick and mortar. For developers, selling a house is in-fact, selling a service. For e.g, selling a residential property is in-fact the starting point of selling other services like real estate management and maintenance service, while selling a commercial property is the start of selling services around the retail industry, or as trends will show, services around education, health and f&b. So the argument here is that if Applications can bring services out to a certain degree then Real Estate industry should be utilising them for the benefit of the larger community.

So what mindset changes are needed for real estate developers and agencies to utilise applications?

  1. Firstly that application cost a bomb. Development costs are costly, especially when Android and IOS versions are both required. So it can be difficult to justify spending on Applications without a good grasp of usership. 
  2. That applications are used to promote a product and not to push notifications. Current model is to sell a property via and help and hope buyers come. That model isn't sustainable when there isn't an element of interaction and anything that improves customer experience than say, going to a showflat. 
  3. Marketing is one of the main reasons why Applications are used. When technology is adopted, Real estate professionals measures their success by how effective their creative methods are used to achieve added publicity.   

Jack Ma predicted in 2014 that Tencent will led the way for the use of Applications to "connect everything"

Tencent built the WeChat platform and its features around to accomplish the following objectives,

  1. Connect people to people
  2. Connect people to services
  3. Connect people to businesses
  4. Connect people to items
People to people connection has been achieved by the WeChat instant messenger application. Wechat has 800 million active users per month today, more than any other platform in the World. Almost every Chinese in China and Worldwide is connected via WeChat.
Connection between people and services are basically achieved by the features and functions built into WeChat, such as content around shopping, entertainment etc.
People to businesses connections are recent phenomenon, achieved by payment gateways and API integrations. Through this we can say that Tencent has connected people to transact with businesses.

Connection to businesses further enhanced by the use of QR codes

Now with QR codes tied to any applications or content, people can easily pull real-world business services and products from the digital world. QR codes have now become the preferred solution to electronic hyperlinks.

From the codes, companies, via their applications, instantly brings customers closer. User experience is enhanced as customers now negate the need for registration forms or flipping through their wallet for cash. These greatly reduces time-to-market for companies and increases speed-to-service for the user. This also increases the likelihood of users coming for seconds if the product experience matches up to the buying experience.

So can an Application really shorten the time to buy-sell a property?

Still today developers and agencies rely on the push effect in the form of calls, smses and instant messages to entice customers. User experience is limited. Now, the QR code solves these problems as users can be mandated sometimes to scan after going through a pleasant experience online, such as reading a well-written blog or looking at a well-made product video. New media has enhanced the user experience in an unprecedented way, and this is what all digital agencies strive their best at with limited success.

Compared to other retail industries, the adaption of technology by real estate developers and agencies used in Sales and Business Development are not high. Few articles are written today on how real estate developers successfully used online campaigns to draw in participants.

Applications and Official Accounts built on WeChat are revolutionary because of their ease of usage and openness to other APIs

Today there are still thousands of agencies and developers who use applications as an exhibition tool, similar to a billboard. As app developers begin to understand the easiness of connecting APIs to WeChat applications, they will then be able to recommend better solutions to their customers, and be able to use applications to really meet the objectives that Tencent has set out in 2014.

From the author: theAsianIR is a Singaporean digital agency implementing business models for companies in traditional sectors to do business with mandarin-speaking demographics digitally. Planning and executing disruptive business on behalf of these companies in the form of apps, softwares and websites, theAsianIR has clients across wholesale, retail, logistics, f&b, built-environments and real estate. Sign up to our newsletter on our website to get tips and exclusive deals about future-proofing your business.

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