Help-U-Sell Real Estate, a Sarasota, Fla.-based flat-fee real estate franchise company, has launched a cross-platform, HTML5-powered mobile site. Mobile sites are not technically apps, which usually must be downloaded from a platform-specific app store and don’t run via a browser.
Mobile sites are often referred to as "Web-based apps," however, because they deliver an "app-like" experience and can be launched from an icon on a phone’s screen, just like an app native to a particular platform, such as iPhone or Android.
"We chose to go this route because it is quicker and more cost-effective to maintain than an iPhone app, mobile users are redirected to the site automatically — users don’t need to search for and download it — and we can create many more user functions than we can in an app," said Robert Stevens, Help-U-Sell Real Estate’s chief technology officer, in a statement.
Help-U-Sell’s Web-based app is currently accessible on iPhones by typing www.helpusell.com into a browser. The company is currently adjusting the app so that it has the correct dimensions for Android and iPad devices, a company spokeswoman told Inman News. Those versions of the app will roll out over the next few weeks and the user interface will look and act the same across devices, the company said.
The app allows users to access their Help-U-Sell accounts, save listings and searches, and set up email notifications for new listings that match their search criteria. Sellers can also view their property listings and page views from the app, the company said.
Help-U-Sell reported that it will also roll out redesigned franchisee broker websites on March 1. The sites’ template, designed and maintained in-house, will allow users to search by city, state, ZIP code or multiple listings service number, and filter by property type, property status, price range, search radius, number of bedrooms, and number of bathrooms.
Brokers will be able to control their sites’ navigation, available filters, and content such as videos, the company said.
Help-U-Sell’s Greensboro, N.C., office was selected to test the new template early and has already implemented the redesign.
Help-U-Sell has 100 offices, all independently owned and operated, in 25 states and in Washington, D.C.
There is an ongoing discussion among some industry experts over the pros and cons of native (downloadable) mobile applications compared to Web-based mobile apps. Native apps may better integrate unique smartphone features, though it may cost more to develop and maintain a suite of mobile apps than to build a mobile-optimized website, for example.