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Real Estate Goes Mobile and One App Takes It to Another Level

When buying or selling a home, people like to be in control of the process. Purchasing a home is likely one of the biggest financial decisions of a person's life. The choice to sell a home can be an equally difficult one, filled with emotions and tough choices.

While buyers and sellers prefer to be in charge of situations like this, they also know the world of real estate can be complicated to navigate on one's own. Real estate agents help people to figure out the complexities and guide them through the process. However, advancements in technology has allowed buyers and sellers to become a little bit less dependent on the expertise of real estate agents.

Influx of mobile A 2013 study by the National Association of Realtors and Google found nearly 90 percent of buyers access homebuying information via mobile devices both at the beginning and throughout their process. More than two-thirds of homebuyers use mobile apps throughout the homebuying process as well.

According to Inman, about one-quarter of homebuyers accessing websites are doing so through mobile devices - mainly iPhones, iPads and Samsung Galaxy phones. This means making real estate information available online isn't enough anymore. Real estate agencies need to be sure their websites are responsive, meaning they are easy to navigate and look good on a mobile device.

This information also means mobile real estate apps are in a good position to gain popularity with buyers and sellers alike. Inman reported many users search for property listings via real estate apps. One of these apps, Zillow, announced that in the third quarter of 2014, the company had an average of 86 million users per month via both mobile and Web.

Disrupting the industry While apps from well-established companies have been advanced as a result of the surge of mobile homebuyers and sellers, new ones have also benefited. One app that has made its way into the hands of many buyers and sellers who wish to stay autonomous in the process is called SQFT.

This app helps sellers list their home online by themselves, according to a press release from the company. The seller is able to upload professional photos of the home, list information and name the chosen selling price of the home. The listing is posted to the Multiple Listings Service and fed to more than 450 real estate websites.

"Every other industry seems to be simplifying the user experience except for real estate. The current model of having to rely completely on a real estate agent working for commission has existed for too long and consumers want to be empowered throughout the process," James Simpson, the co-founder of SQFTx, explained in a press release. "The SQFT app streamlines the real estate process, allowing buyers and sellers to communicate directly with one another, negotiate the sale and take back control of the home buying experience."

Real estate agents can help buyers and sellers through the process if needed. The difference between a traditional real estate agent and one of SQFT's agents is the price of listing. Typically, it costs about 6 percent for an agent to list a home, SQFT explained in a press release. However, SQFT only asks for 1 percent. This enables sellers to save as much as $25,000 on a $500,000 sale. Though the app allows sellers and buyers to be more independent, Simpson told CultureMap Dallas he believes traditional real estate isn't in danger; the app simply gives people more options.

SQFT began in Denver, Colorado, though it is now available in 50 states with affiliates in 18 of them. SQFT has affiliates in both California and Texas - two of the top three states where accessing information is most popular, according to Inman.

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