While gathering leads is certainly the goal, the best ones will come to those agents who leverage the app’s connectivity to each other, and who remain active in curating relevant market content
Real is a mobile agent-to-agent social messaging and consumer search app.
Platforms: iOS, Android
Ideal for: Growing agents, small teams, brokerages
Top selling points:
- Moments short-form feature
- Less-formal home-surf approach
- Familiar, social app UX
- Direct to agent leads
- Property-specific chat threads
It’s going to take a lot for any app to usurp Zillow and the other portals in the user screen-time game. Agents should think about their intent when considering joining the Real community, as it’s designed to be a true social app, as opposed to a business tool — which could be its advantage.
What you should know:
Real is a mobile social application for real estate agents first and their clients second. A close second. While gathering leads is certainly the goal, the best ones will come to those agents who leverage the app’s connectivity to each other and who remain active in curating relevant market content.
The app provides dynamic agent profile pages, unique home browsing experiences, in-app messaging, property-specific discussions and direct-to-agent lead routing.
The app nicely minimizes the amount of input a consumer needs to provide to deliver the best possible property matches. It does so by focusing on user hang-time, an attempt to get them to stick around for as long as possible, largely through its Explore screen, which tiles a wide range of market availability with very little user filtering.
This allows the app to more accurately track the journey as the user clicks through to their ultimate preference. The company calls the tactic, “heavy load content in a short-attention format,” and it’s a clever method.
I admit to not paying a ton of attention to this app upon its launch. It’s easy to assume that reality agent Fredrik Eklund’s involvement was mere window dressing hung up by an app developer to ignite marketing at launch. This wouldn’t be the first time my expectations have been adjusted about a product once prodded enough to actually demo it. Hey — learning to change your mind is a crucial part of journalism. (Admitting it is the hard part.)
Assuming it can gain the traction required to sustain an app — any app — the passion of co-founder Thomas Ma should be able to carry it from there. This is a guy passionate about the mission and transparent enough to tell me the goal isn’t to make a formal business app, but a fun tool with a real estate bent.
In software development, mindsets drive feature creation. What do you want the app to be? To do? After all, apps need to make money, and that depends on designing an interface that suspends the user within the most valuable features. With Real, there’s no hard push to get a user to a checkout page or incessant reminders to provide data, which appeals to users’ willingness to stick around for a while. Sure, there are calls to action, but there’s a softer sales pitch and more camaraderie. Its intent is simply less overt.
The little filtering there includes a labeled tagging system. Tapping a few desired characteristics, such as living room, kitchen and outdoor area, quickly retiles the magazine-inspired Explore layout, with better matches appearing in as larger blocks on the screen.
The Explore feature also presents live-action thumbnails, a great way to pull in the user. On that note, the new Moments tool gives agents a mechanism for short-form video, such as the last moments of a sunset outside the listing, a water feature or just the walk up to the front door. It’s not intended for home listing walk-throughs or wordy narration, just spur-of-the-moment property content. I dig it.
Agent profile pages look a lot like Instagram and include grids with listing content, as well as ways to reach out in-app and find out more about their market.
The curated news feed, a list of available properties, is the consumer’s starting point. Each listing is assigned a rating for quality of location, value for money and quality of the home. It’s a little redundant having the badges on both the thumbnail and expanded view, but it’s not overly distracting.
Agents need to ensure they have enough photos to fill the grid on the listing details page, as blank thumbnail holders really stand out, giving an appearance of half-hearted marketing. In this era, a consumer should never have to ask for more pictures.
Not a lot of agents in my small market are active on Real yet, but one that is surfaced on my feed, and should I be so inclined, a tap of the chat button, then tapping send, would alert the person to my interest in their listing. It’s fast.
Consumers can follow agents, as they would a friend on Instagram, tracking new listings, moments they record and other related content. Agents can do the same with each other.
Some other features are on the way with Real, such as a price feedback tool, CRM integrations and enhanced team pages. There’s a Reels feature in the works, which gives agents the chance to record thoughts on a listing. When done en mass, the compounding could help generate more views and a sense of importance around the property.
I was told that the lead generation aspects will be augmented with a “360” approach, meaning agents will be given breakdowns of users’ geographic preferences, property likes and sentiment analysis to generate a more well-rounded user profile. The hope is that it will make matching even more accurate at the outset.
If you want some tools to compare to Real, look at 1060 and Courted, the latter being a more much business-focused tool, but as of now, better at connecting agents to one another and helping them analyze performance. The former is listing search heavy, emulating TikTok. It’s also had a few years of use abroad to work out the kinks. Rila, too, deserves a look.
I worry Real is going to run out of runway before its full capacity is realized. It’s hard to sell directly to agents, even harder to sell to consumers. Without agents onboard, the consumers still have too many options in the existing search and social media landscape. Even with Ma’s passion and penchant for selling his idea, it’s a steep climb.
The app itself has a number of smart features and incentives for people to try it, provided they can get to it.