Realtor.com Puts House-Hunting iPad App on the Market for Free!

The next turf war for real estate information sites has shifted from the Web to mobile devices.

Realtor.com, which is the largest in the highly fragmented market, has launched an iPad application catching up with two of its closest rivals, Trulia and Zillow. Update: The app will actually be live tomorrow.

The top-visited real estate website in March was Realtor.com; however, none of the companies enjoys a commanding lead.  In fact, a new source of traffic for any of them, whether it comes from a mobile phone or tablet, can turn into a first-mover advantage.

Last month, Realtor.com’s market share totaled 6.5 percent, followed by Yahoo! Real Estate and Zillow.com, with 6.04 percent and 5.36 percent respectively. Trulia was listed fourth with 4.63 percent market share, according to Hitwise.

Realtor.com was one of the first online destinations to publish housing listings, and today it is the only one that has a direct relationship with the National Association of REALTORS.

Because of its ties, it gets a direct feed of the information from the Multiple Listing Service and claims to have the most accurate collection of listings because more than 80 percent of all property listings are updated every 15 minutes.

Realtor.com’s parent company, Move Inc., went public in the late ’80s, and last year reported revenues of $197.5 million and a net loss of $20.9 million. Meanwhile, Zillow filed documents with the SEC last week announcing its intentions to go public. In 2010, it’s revenues totaled $30.5 million and it recorded a net loss of $6.8 million. Trulia is also preparing for a public offering.

“Mobile is such an important part of the way you look at real estate now,” said Steve Berkowitz, Move’s CEO. “It’s something we’ve seen grow exponentially year over year.”

The free iPad application is the latest push, joining Realtor.com’s presence on the iPhone, Android and Windows Phone 7. Berkowitz said they don’t break out traffic it receives from mobile devices, but that people are viewing about 10 properties a second from the various apps. So far, mobile traffic does not exceed the PC, but he says the audience is two to three times more engaged than on the Web. Additionally, Realtor.com mobile apps have been downloaded 3.6 million times and active users have increased by 79 percent in the past four months.

With the release of the iPad app, users will be able to use the large screen to search for homes for sale or properties to rent across the country. Users can hunt for homes or open houses based on location, the MLS number, or by city, state, or street name. Listings can be saved to be viewed later, and one feature lets you search a section on the map by circling that area with your fingertip.

As with Realtor.com’s other applications, users can also reach out to an agent to schedule a tour or ask questions. In the past year, Realtor.com mobile apps have contributed to a 240 percent increase in consumer outreach to local agents and in-app communication between agents and consumers has increased by 148 percent since December, Berkowitz said.

Of course, the one downside of the iPad application is that it only works when a user has Wi-Fi connectivity, or if they’ve opted to buy the 3G model.

Realtor.com makes money by charging agents a subscription fee to showcase various listings and make them stand out from the rest. Inclusion in the mobile apps is a part of those rates.


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