Smarter Agent expands mobile presence for real estate listings

By Dean Takahashi
Smarter Agent has given real estate agents a lot of help in the difficult housing market in the past year. The company provides real estate listings via mobile phones with navigation data so that potential home buyers can easily find homes for sale while driving.

Now the Camden, N.J.-based company is expanding to cover Verizon Wireless phones as well as phones based on the Google Android platform. With those distribution deals in place, Smarter Agent is now widely available. In the past year, the company has launched its app on wireless carriers including Sprint, AT&T and T-Mobile. It has also added iPhones and BlackBerry devices.

The idea is to completely cover the market for Generation X and Y users who are more comfortable using apps on smartphones, said Jennifer Levine, director of strategic marketing, in an interview. And it seems to be working. The app is being downloaded at a rate of one new user every 90 seconds. And more than 450,000 real estate agents are using the app. Users look at 40 or 50 homes per session, and they log in 12 times a month.

smarter 2The Smarter Agent app gives realtors an edge because it lets home buyers search on their own time. If they find a house they want to see, they just tap the “Call to See” button on the phone. That links the buyer to the proper realtor with virtually no hassle.

Consumers can use the app for free. But realtors pay $30 a month to have their homes and phone numbers listed with the service. The app has three location-aware features. These navigation-triggered real estate searches are: homes for sale, recently sold homes, and apartments for rent. The apps use Smarter Agents property search technology to find houses for sale near a user’s location. The searches reveal price, square footage, estimated mortgage, interior and exterior features, the number of bedrooms and baths, pictures and other details such as property taxes. The homes for sale app launched in September, 2008.

Rivals include Zillow and Trulia, but their apps are available on fewer phones. Smarter Agent was founded in 1999 and has 35 employees. The company has raised $15 million to date.