Wednesday, 5 August 2009

Iphone apps for the UK real estate market

The rush to get an iphone app into the UK market has now been joined by Rightmove, who yesterday announced their iphone app.

This all follows Nestoria’s first foray and then Globrix. With others sure to follow I thought I would actually take a look at them and see how they compared. In order of launch:

Nestoria – iproperty

Don’t search on your iphone for nestoria, search for iproperty. Nestoria created an api that worked on the iphone and then let the world see what they could create. An excellent idea in principle and as always Nestoria are at the cutting edge of innovation.

Unfortunately, as with many front runners I feel the product needs a little attention. The opening graphics are good, but the search page doesn’t quite resemble anything the user may be familiar with. To be fair, it is not that bad once you get the hang of it, but for some reason my search on Clapham to rent didn’t produce any results. Now I know Clapham is a bit of a dump, but there must be a few places for rent.

The search from my gps location was hard to find, but works well once found and was quick. This function is so, well ... iphonish it needs to stand out more.

The property results page is not particularly attractive, no pictures and it feels as if the property listings are too far apart and not in any particular order. For more information I must click on preview and photo, which is too small and some properties deliver scant information. At first I really didn't like this, but I am getting used to it.

At least I can go directly to the agent’s website quickly and easily and it does feel as if there is no fuss with this application. Being first in innovation is always a challenge and more often than not one needs to revisit and update the product once the rest of the pack have caught up. They have caught up already (see below).

As the only one to charge (£1.79) for the app I fear the uptake will be slow.

App store was showing only 2 reviews, one good, one bad.


Globrix is not an app per se, so you have to use it in your browser on the iphone. Not a problem there and no download (not that this is really an issue). What Globrix have done is to update their mobile site to allow iphone users to search from their gps location (a function that is just made for the iphone). It is a clean and easily identifiable button on the home page which takes one directly to property listing page.

The property listings page is well laid out and I know where I am and what I am doing, good usability with good clear buttons make it easy for me to find my way around. Good information and map details give me all the information I really need.

Drilling further into a property I get a nice large picture and more information along with the button that takes me to the agent.

The site works well and whilst it is not an iphone app in the true sense of the phrase, I like the idea of making it work from the mobile website. Indeed, forethought, as one can allow other technology platforms to benefit from the gps search functionality as when it is available. That said, I like having the app button that I just hit once and there it is.


Rightmove is often overlooked for credit in technology and many agents of course enjoy bashing RM at every opportunity, but the truth is that their back end agent technology is actually very good and their iphone app is very nice indeed (ok, their website isn’t great, but the public still use it above all others).

Anyway, with 30 ratings already, the majority of which are positive, I am expecting good things.

From the opening screen, I am impressed. Good graphics, great use of colour and lovely big buttons. I am in familiar ground and left with little doubt what I am to do.

The property listings page is cleanly presented and again I am in familiar territory. Drilling down to a property reveals a lovely feel good screen with a range of menu options providing all the information I need. A wonderful call the agent button reveals, yes, the telephone number in iphone fashion so you can just press the call button, excellent!

Pictures are well presented and I am also shown a moving gallery of property images. Again, very slick. The search filters work well.

It just looks and feels better! It is also free. From the brand point of view, my property searching habits have grown up with RM and this app just cements my feelings further that if I ever do search on the iphone for a property I will probably hit the RM app button.

It is the only one of the three to truly marry up with the iphone and make use of iphone capability and functionality.


Many agents will still question the large sums they give to Rightmove, but if they continue to develop and innovate in this style I would want to be with them. Before agents poo poo the iphone app as a frivolous foray with their money, one ought to consider for a moment how many of your current clients have iphones. Then consider your future clients.

As an agent I would be working out how to best optimize my pages so my client’s property stands out on the iphone. Heard it before, take good pictures, write real descriptions!!

For the moment, the RM app is staying on my iphone.