Real Estate Pro, a new app for LinkedIn — the business-networking platform that serves as an online business card, resume and referral service — enables real estate professionals to add information about property listings and past transactions to their profile pages.
San Francisco-based Rofo, a real estate technology company that offers a real estate search engine, designed the app, which is the first of its kind for LinkedIn’s community of about 70 million users in 200 nations.
Rofo, which launched in 2007, has specialized in the commercial leasing market — particularly office space for companies with fewer than 20 employees — and offers about 100,000 commercial property listings in partnership with companies such as Colliers International and Cushman & Wakefield.
The company grew its operations from the San Francisco Bay Area to the entire state of California, and in late 2009 and early this year the company rolled out into dozens of other markets across the U.S.
Rofo’s free LinkedIn app (view a demo video here) brings the company into the residential realm, allowing all types of real estate agents and brokers to post property and deal information.
Alan Bernier, CEO for Rofo, said he expects the company’s exposure via its LinkedIn app will help to double the company’s listings inventory within a few months.
Bernier said that while Rofo.com "is all about finding the listings and organizing the listings … we didn’t have any sort of profile for brokers on our site."
So the company considered the prospect of building a platform on its own site or partnering with another firm.
Rofo entered into conversations with representatives for LinkedIn, based in Mountain View, Calif. Bernier said there are more than 1 million LinkedIn members who have the term "real estate" listed in their profile.
"A lot of agents are already using (LinkedIn) for … their personal resume and promoting their profile," he said.
The entire development process, from the drawing board to its launch last month, spanned 18 months, Bernier said, and the app took about six months to build.
While social media giant Facebook claims about 550,000 active applications available to its more than 500 million active users, LinkedIn has taken a decidedly more methodical approach to apps — the networking platform has 16 applications, some of which were built by LinkedIn and some built by other companies.
While Rofo’s base is in commercial real estate, Bernier said it made sense to build flexibility into the application to appeal to a broader audience of real estate professionals.
"This is for anybody who has listings and anyone who is a real estate professional. We don’t care what kind of listings that person has," he said.
Listings entered using the app will appear both at Rofo.com and on LinkedIn, and users who click on individual listings and deals at LinkedIn can view additional information at Rofo.com, where they can then click through to an agent’s or broker’s website.
While it’s free for individuals to post real estate listings and deals using the Real Estate Pro app, those listings will only remain visible for 30 days. For a cost of $19 per month, an individual can post up to 11 listings with no time limit.
Rofo also offers discounts for brokerage-level listing deals, and the company can handle bulk data feeds.
"We can take a bulk feed in a variety of different formats from different sources," he said. If Rofo receives broker-level data feeds, agents at that company can automatically populate their profile pages with properties using the LinkedIn app.
Agents can also choose to individually add property and deal data, and can select which active listings and past deals to highlight.
Bernier said Rofo is "talking to other aggregators of residential listings as a possible (new) source for listings," as well as "larger residential brands that could provide listings directly to us."
In addition to agents networking with one another, Bernier said the Real Estate Pro app could be useful to homebuyers and sellers who are searching for agents with particular specialties who are active in their area.
"There is a lot of power for non-real estate professionals to evaluate (who is active)," he said. "Half the battle is finding someone who specializes in your needs."
Rofo earlier released an augmented reality mobile app that overlays property data on a mobile device’s camera view. Junaio provided the augmented reality platform for that search tool. ZipRealty and Trulia are among the online real estate companies offering residential property searches using augmented reality.