It used to be that the only place the curious neighbor or consumer could find public Realtor open houses was to look for the sign on Saturday or Sunday afternoon or consult the weekend real estate section in the local newspaper. These days I seldom see an open house visitor with her well-annotated newspaper. Consumers are learning that they can depend on mobile apps to search for listings that meet their criteria in the vicinity of their current location.
Since Realtors began syndicating listing information to the big, national, internet based real estate portals, Realtor.com, Trulia, and Zillow (as well as many others), those web-based companies have continued to upgrade their services to get more visitors to their sites (and, of course, put more advertising in front of them). A huge part of the evolution is Mobile.
I have done informal testing of these ever-changing mobile apps on my Android phone, so my preferences are much more personal than scientific. The best real estate mobile app for me at this moment in time for open house searches is Trulia. As you can see from the home screen, open houses are prominent, and this app, on my phone at least, is the most responsive of the 3 for location and search.
Realtor.com is a close second. It’s fairly fast and accurate for open houses, but i get bogged down with the filters. Mobile apps should make your life easier, not have you pulled to the side of the road, trying to get your search filters set up right.
Zillow, which seems to be loved by many, did not fare well in my tests, It didn’t find open houses that I had posted on the site, even while I was sitting inside them, and the open houses were showing up on the property descriptions online. Well, I could write that off to a short-term bug, but Zillow’s open house search is obscure compared to its 2 competitors less intuitive to find it.
Over the past months I have asked open house visitors how they found the open house. As you would expect, in high visibility areas, they saw the sign. And while I didn’t tabulate data, very few admitted to looking for open houses in the newspaper. A majority had located open houses online at the portal sites or on their mobile devices, with Trulia trending as their mobile app favorite.
Oh, one more thing, at this time, Open houses are not being syndicated, at least by my MLS. If they are not manually entered, they won’t show up at all; so Realtors, be sure and enter your open houses in the portals and check them for accuracy the day of the open house.
As I said, this is not scientific research; results probably vary wildly by market and market segment. It would be interesting to see some current research on how consumers are finding open houses. If you have research links to share on the topic, or if you a preference for mobile apps or the newspaper, please comment below.